The i-Rocks Pilot K70E Capacitive Gaming Keyboard Review: Our First Capacitive Keyboard

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In today’s keyboard review we are taking a look at the first capacitive keyboard that found its way into our labs, the i-Rocks Pilot K70E. The Taiwanese company managed to design and market a capacitive keyboard while keeping the price tag relatively affordable. Today we’ll find out how this keyboard feels and if it is a threat to the already well-established mechanical keyboard market.

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti & RTX 2080 Founders Edition Review: Foundations For A Ray Traced Future

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While it was roughly 2 years from Maxwell 2 to Pascal, the journey to Turing has felt much longer despite a similar 2 year gap. But finally, at Gamescom 2018, NVIDIA announced the GeForce RTX 20 series, built on TSMC’s 12nm “FFN” process and powered by the Turing GPU architecture. Launching today with full general availability is just the GeForce RTX 2080, as the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti was delayed a week to the 27th, while the GeForce RTX 2070 is due in October. So up for review today is the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and GeForce RTX 2080.

But a standard new generation of gaming GPUs this is not. The “GeForce RTX” brand, ousting the long-lived “GeForce GTX” moniker in favor of their announced “RTX technology” for real time ray tracing, aptly underlines NVIDIA’s new vision for the video card future. Like we saw last Friday, Turing and the GeForce RTX 20 series are designed around a set of specialized low-level hardware features and an intertwined ecosystem of supporting software currently in development. The central goal is a long-held dream of computer graphics researchers and engineers alike – real time ray tracing – and NVIDIA is aiming to bring that to gamers with their new cards, and willing to break some traditions on the way. But naturally we’ll see how closely they keep the biggest one: traditional performance in current gaming.

The NVIDIA Turing GPU Architecture Deep Dive: Prelude to GeForce RTX

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It’s been roughly a month since NVIDIA’s Turing architecture was revealed, and if the GeForce RTX 20-series announcement a few weeks ago has clued us in on anything, is that real time raytracing was important enough for NVIDIA to drop “GeForce GTX” for “GeForce RTX” and completely change the tenor of how they talk about gaming video cards. Since then, it’s become clear that Turing and the GeForce RTX 20-series have a lot of moving parts: RT Cores, real time raytracing, Tensor Cores, AI features (i.e. DLSS), raytracing APIs. All of it coming together for a future direction of both game development and GeForce cards.

In a significant departure from past launches, NVIDIA has broken up the embargos around the unveiling of their latest cards into two parts: architecture and performance. For the first part, today NVIDIA has finally lifted the veil on much of the Turing architecture details, and there are many. So many that there are some interesting aspects that have yet to be explained, and some that we’ll need to dig into alongside objective data. But it also gives us an opportunity to pick apart the namesake of GeForce RTX: raytracing.

The MSI GT75 Titan Laptop Review: Hex-Core DTR

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The gaming laptop segment is one of the most profitable around, and MSI has focused their laptops almost exclusively on this market for the last couple of years. Today we are taking a look at the MSI GT75 Titan, otherwise affectionately known as the GT75 Titan-093. The GT lineup is the top of the range for MSI, and the GT75 Titan offers all the accoutrements you’d be expecting in a gaming laptop.

Apple Announces the 2018 iPhones: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, & iPhone XR

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Today at their 2018 “Gather Round” iPhone & watch event, Apple announced the new 2018 iPhone family. The latest and greatest iPhones build off of the industrial design and feature set first rolled out last year with the iPhone X, with all 3 phones being iPhone X decedents in some form. Along with unifying the current-generation phones behind a single design, this latest update to the iPhone family also means that the iPhone X has essentially been split into three models, covering a range of prices and sizes.

The core of the new family is the iPhone XS, which like Apple iPhones before it, has received a mid-generation “S” upgrade. Apple’s big focus this year is on photography, along with an ever-faster SoC at the heart of the phone. The iPhone XS is joined by the even larger iPhone XS Max, which offers the same features with a bigger screen and bigger battery. Meanwhile as a pseudo-replacement for the iPhone 8 family, the iPhone XR is a slightly pared down XS, incorporating many of the same features but dropping the telephoto camera and using an LCD display instead of OLED.

The iPhone XS, XS Max, XR and Apple Watch 4 Hands-On

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Today at Apples iPhone launch event, we saw the unveiling of three new iPhones as well as the Apple Watch Series 4. We go into more detail about the specifications of the new phones in our separate announcement article. Least to say, the new phones are a major upgrade in terms of their hardware capabilities, and also mark the across-the-board adoption of the iPhone X design across the whole product line.

I had a bit of hand-on time with the new phones at the event, and was able to take away a few impressions on the new units.

I had a bit of hand-on time with the new phones at the event, and was able to take away a few impressions on the new units.

One thing that’s pretty evident is that the iPhone XS’ and the XR are pretty much successors to the iPhone X, as they adopt the same design language as their predecessors, along with Apple’s take on “edge-to-edge” displays and the notch design.

In terms of size, there’s quite a bit of mixup in the product line. The new iPhone XS replaces the iPhone 8 as the smallest available phone from Apple, yet this smaller unit is actually identical in size the iPhone X. Effectively this means that Apple no longer offers a really small form-factor unless you go with last generation’s units.

Indeed, just looking at the exterior of the phones you would be hard pressed to differentiate between the iPhone X and iPhone XS, and upon closer inspection there’s only two differentiating features between the two units. On the bottom of the phone there’s now only three instead of six holes on the left side. As a reminder only the right holes actually output sound from the speaker, while the left ones hide the bottom microphone. Instead Apple added one more antenna line here, and this feature is mirrored at the top right corner of the phone as well. We don’t know yet as to what the two new antennas are for, other than they’re there for better reception.

The front of the iPhone XS remains essentially identical to the iPhone X – I do find it a bit unfortunate that Apple decided not to iterate on the bezels and possibly make them smaller, as that would have been a great change and given a better “edge-to-edge” effect.

Apple put a lot of emphasis on the screen size of the iPhone XS Max – and I think it’s well warranted. The new bigger variation of the phones has the same physical footprint as the iPhone 8 Plus and prior Plus variants, however the Xs Max just offers a lot more display thanks to the edge-to-edge design, resulting in a device that’s a lot more fit among the 2018 competition than what we’ve seen last year.

The iPhone XS and XS Max otherwise don’t have any new external features differentiating from what we’ve seen in last year’s X. The camera housing is very much identical, even though the CMOS sensors have been upgraded.

While it was quite hard to evaluate this on-location with the very noisy crowd, the new speakers definitely sounded a lot louder and showcasing better depth to them than what I’ve seen on the iPhone X. Here Apple seems to have done a lot improvement and it seems 2018 will be a year to be remembered where phone manufacturers in earnest try to improve their external speaker sound quality.

The iPhone XR – What I think will be the most popular

Along the XS and the XS Max, Apple also introduced the iPhone XR, which is a lower priced phone that keeps an LCD display versus the higher end OLED found on the XS line. Here Apple actually introduced a new form-factor that’s in-between the XS and the XS Max. Unfortunately Apple didn’t have all three phones side-by-side, but here’s it showcased alongside last year’s iPhone X.

Overall I was a lot more impressed by the iPhone XR than I had expected, and I do think it gives the iPhone XS’ a good run for their money.

It’s still very much and LCD screen and this can be seen by the inferior viewing angles, but for an LCD it was still very much excellent and I saw no faults – besides a quite lower resolution than I had expected from a phone of its size.

On the back of the phone we have a similar design to the iPhone 8 – a glass back which enables wireless charging and a single camera. Here the iPhone XR doesn’t adopt the secondary telephoto module that its siblings employ.

In terms of build-quality, I found the aluminium of the XR nicer than the steel of the iPhone XS’s. Maybe it’s just my subjective opinion as I’m not too great a fan of glossy frames, something I had also commented on other devices this year.

Where the XR definitely beats the XS’ is in terms of colour options. Reminiscent of the colour options of the iPhone SE, I find the options offered on the XR to be a fresh breath of air for Apple and the blue, yellow, red and coral colours are definitely very attractive, on top of the white and black variants that are traditionally available. Gold is the only version that the XS’ have going for themselves in this regard.

Overall for the vast majority of people, the iPhone XR will be the phone of choice as the few missing features are well worth the $250 lower price tag.

The Apple Watch Series 4

The new Apple Watch was today’s first announcement, and it seems positively a great improvement in every aspect. The new variant comes in 40 or 44mm size variants, and the key feature of the new units is that they have a bigger screen filling up more of the watch front – increasing the display-to-body ratio.

The screen seemed excellent and t

The Apple 2018 iPhone Event Live Blog (Starts at 1pm ET)

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With fall quickly approaching, it’s that time of year again in the tech industry as well: iPhone season. To that end, kicking off in a few hours for Apple’s annual iPhone event, with this year’s event being branded as "Gather Round".

Apple’s event is once again taking place at the Steve Jobs theater on the Apple Park campus. And while the company isn’t giving up anything in advance, it’s a foregone conclusion that we’ll once again be seeing multiple iPhones, along with potentially some other iOS devices. How will Apple iterate on the iPhone X design? What’s happening to Apple’s cheaper, traditional phone models? What will be this year’s "notch"? We’ll find out here in a few hours.

The MSI Z370-A Pro Motherboard Review: Entry Level Business (And Pleasure)

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The MSI Z370-A Pro is an inexpensive motherboard from MSI’s ‘Pro’ series of boards. The Pro series boards are designed for content creators and professionals who can use the horsepower of the high-end Coffee-Lake CPUs and require reliability and performance. The Z370-A Pro in this review strives to accomplish fitting in here with its complement of features, as well as supporting overclocking to get the most out of the installed processor.

HiSilicon Announces The Kirin 980: First A76, G76 on 7nm

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This year at IFA, instead of suddenly finding the new silicon on the show floor, Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu announced this year’s new Kirin 980 during the company’s keynote speech. For readers who’ve been attentively following our articles over the last few months, today’s news should hopefully not come at too big of a surprise, as I’ve been heavily hinting at the timing of the first new 7nm Cortex A76 silicon designs coming later this year in commercial devices, with HiSilicon being the prime candidate for being the first vendor on the market with the their new generation SoC.

Huawei’s silicon design division HiSilicon has been a key strategic component for the company’s products, as it enables it to differentiate itself in a more drastic way than what we usually see from other vendors who simply rely on established open-market SoC vendors such as Qualcomm. This kind of strategy of course is a double-edged sword, as if you’re all-in with your in-house silicon, it also means that these designs must be executed properly, as otherwise you find yourself in an unfavourable competitive position.

The Kirin 950 was an impressive chip as it boasted the first Cortex A72 design on a then new TSMC 16FF manufacturing process – this paid off plenty for Huawei as the combination of new IP as a new manufacturing node resulted in a very competitive silicon which directly translated into favourable characteristics of the handsets in that it was used in.

The Kirin 960 and Kirin 970 on the other hand showcased the risky side of this strategy, and where things can go off-track – the Kirin 960 was a 16nm SoC released in a device generation where 10nm competitors such as the Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895 dominated. The Kirin 970 fared better when switching to a 10nm manufacturing node, but this time around HiSilicon wasn’t able to include the newest Arm CPU IP, relying on an A73 CPU while the Snapdragon 845 embraced the new A75. Furthermore the last two Kirin generations had showcased extremely uncompetitive GPU performance and efficiency figures – here HiSilicon is stuck and is at the whim of IP vendors’ ability to produce competitive designs against market leaders such as Qualcomm.

The reason as to why I reiterated what happened to the last few generations, is that this time around HiSilicon finds itself in a very favourable position where IP and manufacturing is aligned into what is essentially a best-case scenario for the new design. Arm’s new Cortex A76 and Mali G76 both promise great leaps in terms of performance and power efficiency, and TSMC is in mass production of its new 7nm manufacturing node.

Today we present the new Kirin 980, the first announced TSMC 7nm SoC as well as the first Cortex A76 and Mali G76 design:

HiSilicon High-End Kirin SoC Lineup
SoC Kirin 980 Kirin 970 Kirin 960
CPU 2x A76 @ 2.60 GHz
2x A76 @ 1.92 GHz
@ 512KB L2’s

4x A55 @ 1.80 GHz
@ 128KB L2’s


4MB DSU L3

4x A73 @ 2.36 GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84 GHz

2MB L2

4x A73 @ 2.36GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84GHz

2MB L2

GPU ARM Mali-G76MP10
@ 720 MHz
ARM Mali-G72MP12
@ 746 MHz
ARM Mali-G71MP8
@ 1037MHz
LPDDR4
Memory
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4X @ 2133MHz 34.1GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4X @ 1833 MHz
29.9GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1866MHz
29.9GB/s
Storage I/F UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1
ISP/Camera New Dual ISP
+46% speed
Dual 14-bit ISP Dual 14-bit ISP
(Improved)
Encode/Decode 2160p60 Decode

2160p?? Encode
2160p60 Decode
2160p30 Encode
1080p H.264
Decode & Encode

2160p30 HEVC
Decode

Integrated Modem Kirin 980 Integrated LTE
(Category 21/18)

DL = 1400 Mbps
4×4 MIMO
3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
(5CA no MIMO)

UL = 200 Mbps
2×2 MIMO
1x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

Kirin 970 Integrated LTE
(Category 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Kirin 960 Integrated LTE
(Category 12/13)

DL = 600Mbps
4x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Sensor Hub i8 i7 i6
NPU Dual @ >2x perf Yes No
Mfc. Process TSMC 7nm TSMC 10nm TSMC 16nm FFC

The new Kirin 980 checks off all of the newest available IPs from Arm, finally employing a new DynamIQ CPU cluster configuration comprised of 4 Cortex A76’s and 4 Cortex A55s.

The biggest surprise to today’s announcem

Huawei To Announce Kirin 980 Today at IFA

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In the smartphone wars, the chip inside powering the devices is becoming ever more important. Raw performance plus accelerators are pushing the boundaries of what we used to think was possible. Huawei’s unique selling point is that it designs its own chips for its smartphones, based a lot on Arm’s reference cores. Today, Huawei will be announcing its next generation SoC to the world.

As proudly declared on stage at the Honor launch event yesterday, with Honor’s own upcoming Magic 2 smartphone having it inside, Honor’s CEO George Zhao proudly declared that Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei CBG, will be announcing the Kirin 980 today.

Huawei’s current flagship SoC is the Kirin 970, which sits inside the Mate 10, P20, P20 Pro, and Honor’s Play, Honor 10, and Honor View 10. All of Huawei’s chips are made by their internal design house, HiSilicon, and the Kirin 970 was announced last year at IFA, so it makes sense that this year we would see the next generation, the Kirin 980, around this time.

Huawei has a long tradition of being a primary Arm partner, often using its latest design options where possible to get the edge of the competition. The Kirin 980, as with the silicon before it, aims for the highest echelons of performance in order to set it apart from the competition. You can also expect the Kirin 980 to be promoted alongside Huawei’s other ‘features’, such as GPU Turbo.

As for the internals of the Kirin 980, we’ve had a pre-briefing and can’t tell you much until the actual presentation at the event due to NDAs. We went into a lot of detail with Huawei’s Benjamin Wang about the new chip design, and suffice to say that it follows in Huawei’s tradition to be a large number of ‘firsts’.

HiSilicon High-End Kirin SoC Lineup
SoC Kirin 980 Kirin 970 Kirin 960
CPU POWER* 4x A73 @ 2.36 GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84 GHz
4x A73 @ 2.36GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84GHz
GPU TURBO* ARM Mali-G72MP12
746 MHz
ARM Mali-G71MP8
1037MHz
LPDDR4
Memory
SOME* 4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1833 MHz
29.9GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1866MHz
29.9GB/s
Interconnect YES ARM CCI ARM CCI-550
Storage I/F  NO DOUBT* UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1
ISP/Camera SMILE* Dual 14-bit ISP Dual 14-bit ISP
(Improved)
Encode/Decode FAST* 2160p60 Decode
2160p30 Encode
2160p30 HEVC & H.264
Decode & Encode

2160p60 HEVC
Decode

Integrated Modem IF YOU INSIST* Kirin 970 Integrated LTE
(Category 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Kirin 960 Integrated LTE
(Category 12/13)

DL = 600Mbps
4x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Sensor Hub AFFIRMATIVE* i7 i6
NPU 8-BALL SAYS YES* Yes No
Mfc. Process ??? TSMC 10nm TSMC 16nm FFC
*May be subject to change

Huawei’s keynote is today at 2pm CEST (8am ET), which will be live blogged if the data allows. Our embargo for the Kirin 980 information is half-an-hour later, at 2:30pm CEST. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Stay tuned.

Related Reading

The Samsung Portable SSD X5 Review – Thunderbolt 3 and NVMe in a Premium Enclosure

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Samsung is launching their first Thunderbolt 3 SSD, the Portable SSD X5, today. It places an OEM version of their 970 EVO NVMe SSD behind an Alpine Ridge controller in a stylish bus-powered magnesium-heavy enclosure. Claimed performance numbers are reads up to 2800 MBps and writes up to 2300 MBps. How does the X5 stack up in our direct-attached storage evaluation? Read on to find out.

MSI B360 Gaming Plus & B360 Gaming Arctic Review: Paternal Twins On The Cheap

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Today we get an opportunity to look at two motherboards out of MSI’s B360 stable in the form of the B360 Gaming Plus and B360 Gaming Arctic. The two boards look dramatically different – with one black and red and the other white – however, under the hood they share the same DNA. Both boards include a single PCIe x4 M.2 slot, five SATA ports, Crossfire support, Intel Ethernet, Realtek audio and more making for a well-rounded option in the non-overclocking B360 lineup. We’ll take a look at the boards to see what makes them tick and run them through our performance tests. 

Kishonti GFXBench 5.0 Aztec Ruins OpenGL & Vulkan Benchmark Hands-On

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Today Kishonti have finally released their final update to GFXBench version 5.0. The update introduces the new Aztec Ruins scene in two complexity modes as well as OpenGL, Vulkan, and Metal. The new version runs on a new in-house rendering engine and introduces two new tests: Aztec Ruins (High Tier) and Aztec Ruins (Normal Tier). The scene is very much reminiscent of Tomb Raider, showcasing a jungle ruin environment, with an action-adventure like scene. We picked up some devices and profiled the new tests.

 

The MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC (mITX) Motherboard Review: Balanced Gaming Diet

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Today we’re looking at one of MSI’s Mini-ITX motherboards, the Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC. The Gaming Pro Carbon AC supports 8th Gen Intel Core Coffee Lake-based processors with DDR4 memory support up to DDR4-4600. The board includes the latest Realtek audio codec, along with Nahimic 2+ audio processing, Intel-based LAN and wireless, USB 3.1 ports out back, a well as a single M.2 drive. RGB is also in abundance, all in a Mini-ITX package. 

The Corsair RM850x (2018) PSU Review: Exceptional Electrical Performance

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In today’s review we are taking a look at the new revision of Corsair’s RM850x power supply. Corsair’s RM series is renowned for delivering high performance and quiet operation at a reasonable price. The new revision boasts upgraded electrical efficiency, better performance, and a 10-year warranty, all without increasing the price of the series. 

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