Thinking of building a new gaming PC? Struggling with whatever random error your desktop is throwing up this week? Under The Hood gives you a quick and concise run-down of the most important things that happened to the PC master race in the last seven days.
Big, chunky laptops are going out of fashion fast — the future is about small, portable tablets. Samsung’s TabPro S is a 12-inch, super-thin slate with an incredibly beautiful and detailed Super AMOLED display. It’s on sale around the country today, and it wants to dethrone Apple’s iPad Pro as the future of personal computing.
Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that tablets and thin-form-factor touchscreen devices — with keyboards, with pens, with integrated cameras, GPS, and 4G SIM slots — are the future of computing. He said that much at last week’s March event, where the company introduced a new smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro and a smaller 4-inch iPhone SE. Samsung believes that same thing — our combined computing future is about thin, portable, super-light, super-visual tablets. Just ones running Windows, not iOS.
Enter the Samsung TabPro S. Announced at CES 2016 this year, the TabPro S is Samsung’s first Windows-powered device in Australia in quite a long time — since the company dropped out of the laptop game in Australia some years ago. Built on Microsoft’s Windows 10 platform and running an Intel Core M3 low-power system-on-chip, the TabPro S is Samsung’s most ethnographically diverse device in a long while.
Computer cases are, for the most part, boring and annoying. They’re ugly, or they don’t fit your hardcore gaming components. But Swedish case and component brand Fractal Design has a new case, made for the small-and-efficient market, that actually suits PC gamers well at the same time. Fractal Design’s Define Nano S is a refined, straightforward Mini-ITX computer case that will house a high-end system if you need it to, and it will keep it cool and quiet at the same time — I really like it.
It’s small, but large for a mini-ITX box. The Define Nano S is, in essence, a (somewhat) scaled-down version of Fractal Design’s previous Define R5 and Define S. That means it is, for a case that only fits a 170x170mm Mini-ITX motherboard, quite large. Nonetheless at 203x330x400mm and 4.6kg it’s small enough to fit under your arm to carry to a LAN. Crucially for us power-hungry nerds, it’ll still fit a full-size power supply and full-size graphics card, as well as a 240mm water-cooling radiator. The case itself is wide enough to include both a 120mm and a 140mm fan in the front and rear air intakes.
After spending several days playing with the brand new Oculus Rift virtual reality kit, I can finally understand why Facebook pumped $US2 billion into this technology. Forget everything you thought you knew about virtual reality (VR); after a stomach-churning, wallet-burning false start in the early ’90s, VR has finally arrived in a form that shows its incredible potential, though you’re going to have to pay a price to experience it now.
Importing one of these kits from the US works out to cost approximately $1150 once delivery costs and tax are added to the $US599 price tag. And even if you order one now, you won’t get it until July at the earliest, as the first batch sold out in days. You’re also going to need a PC with decent specs to deliver the performance required by virtual reality.
Weighing just 470 grams, the head-mounted display is surprisingly comfortable; even after several hours of use, I didn’t feel any neck strain, nor any form of nausea, both huge issues with earlier VR headsets. There’s also a movement sensor that you plonk on your desk, used to track your head and upper torso position, though Rift is meant to be a seated experience. A very simple Oculus remote can be used for VR applications that don’t need complex inputs, while there’s also a wireless Xbox One control pad for those games that do. It does the job, but later in the year Oculus will release a touch controller, which will allow players to use arm movements to interact with their virtual spaces.
I’m a massive online gamer. I constantly have a set of headphones on my head when at home, and I like to be completely focused on the game while playing. As such, my main point of deliberation when it comes to headsets is whether to go for a noise isolating set or not. I’m a fan of the distraction-free experience, but certain parties within my household have repeatedly told me that it is Very Annoying trying grab my attention while I’m gaming, and would prefer I used an open set. I also often play with my teammates sitting right next to me, so noise-cancelling headphones can be more of a hindrance than help.
Thankfully, the Plantronics Rig 500E provides two interchangeable earcup options, so you can customise your headset depending upon your needs. Now, like Miley Cyrus, you can have the best of both worlds.
PC builders rejoice — your new high-end gaming rig is about to get even more powerful. Samsung has just started mass production of a more efficient lithography for its DDR4 computer memory, using 20 per cent less power while running 30 per cent faster than current DRAM speeds.
The new technology is built on a 10nm process, and Samsung is the first in the industry to reach the tiny production size milestone at a mass production level.
DDR4 is quickly taking over from DDR3 as the RAM specification of choice for mainstream PC and server builders, running at lower voltages and at faster speeds than the older memory bus standard. Samsung’s 10nm DDR4 supports transfer rates of 3200Mbps versus 20nm DDR4’s 2400Mbps, while consuming 10 to 20 per cent less power.
Following a brief video about killer computing apps ranging from Google’s AlphaGo to the Higgs boson, Jen-Hsun Huang takes to the stage to talk up Nvidia’s super-computer credentials. Without further ado we get the first announcement — new updates for Nvidia SDK. This is a catch-all devkit covering every conceivable GPU-based industry and school of learning, from cutting-edge gaming and photo-realistic design to VR projects and autonomous driving.
The reworked SDK is divided into six categories: Computeworks, Gameworks, VRworks, Designworks, Driveworks and Jetpack.