23.01.14 | ISSUE 15
Happy New Year and welcome to the first issue of ScanZone for 2014. This month we’re particularly excited to announce details of Scan’s partnership with Valve to launch the UK’s first official Steam Machine. In fact, the whole industry has been busy this month, making a deluge of announcements and technology demos at the CES show in Las Vegas. Read on to find out more about all the exciting things that will be coming to market later this year.
1. Scan announces UK’s first official Steam Machine for SteamOS
Scan Computers is proud to announce that it will soon launch the UK’s first official Steam Machine, powered by SteamOS.
The Scan 3XS Steam NC10 is a custom design developed by Scan Computers in conjunction with NVIDIA to provide gamers with the smallest possible PC for their living room. Utilising special components the NC10 is less than a quarter the height of other Small Form Factor PCs making it an ideal fit under your TV on a shelf next to an amplifier, Freeview box or other AV devices.
The Scan 3XS Steam NC10 measures just 202 x 369 x 45mm, giving it a volume of just 3 litres. In comparison, most mini-ITX cube cases have a volume of at least 15 litres – five times larger than the NC10.
As standard it includes a powerful 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M graphics card, Intel Core i3 4000M CPU, 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600MHz and a 500GB Western Digital hard disk. However, as with all Scan 3XS systems, the Steam NC10 will be fully customizable with different CPUs, RAM and storage devices using our online configurator.
‘The buzz generated in the market about the anticipated impact of the new innovations in hardware design to run Steam OS is massive. SteamOS is bridging the gap between true PC gaming and the console. Allowing hardware variations and price points to a new gaming OS for front room gaming is nothing but slick! We’re proud to a hardware launch partner’ said Elan Raja III, Director Scan Computers.
The Scan 3XS Steam NC10 will launch in the second half of 2014 alongside the full version of Steam OS and the official Steam Controller. The estimated end-user price is £699 inc VAT. Steam OS is the exciting new open-platform operating system developed by Valve Corporation, specially designed to give gamers the ultimate living room experience. It incorporates both a TV-friendly interface to the Steam gaming store and social media platform along with your favourite music, TV and movies.
The NC10 was officially unveiled at the CES show in Las Vegas in the first week of January at the Valve press conference announcing SteamOS and we’re very pleased at the reaction to our custom design. Forbes for example wrote that ‘This is currently my favourite form factor of the current crop of Steam Machines’ while Bit-tech said that ‘Just look at that chassis! This is by far the slimmest and most premium looking Steam Machine of the lot.’
You can find out more about the Scan Steam NC10 on the Scan website and the full configuration on the Scan 3XS website.
2. CES at a glance
The CES show in Las Vegas in the first week of January is one of the world’s biggest technology shows and is the place to be to see the latest tech in action. As it would be impossible to cover the whole show in detail in a single article here’s a brief summary of some of the most exciting announcements at the show.
Valve unveiled its forthcoming SteamOS, a heavily customised Linux-based operating system that has a 10-foot TV-friendly interface to ease gaming PCs into the living room. Scan was on hand with its debut Steam Machine, the NC10 (see story above for more details).
Intel spent much of CES demonstrating several concept wearable technologies, such as a headset and watch that promise all sorts of clever features such as monitoring your health. Also on show was Edison, a new 22nm CPU that along with its RAM and an SSD fits onto a PCB the size of a SD memory card.
Big is better seems to have been Samsung’s theme for CES, with a giant 12.2in tablet, the Galaxy NotePro on show plus a 105in 4k TV. However, that wasn’t it for the Korean giant – it was also unveiled a bendable TV which can in mere seconds change from flat to a gentle curve depending on how far you are sitting away from it. Mad undoubtedly, but cool nonetheless.
NVIDIA spent most of CES talking about its new Tegra K1, a new mobile CPU/GPU based on the Kepler architecture found in modern GeForce, Quadro and Tesla cards. The K1 marks a huge step forward in processing power, upping the number of CUDA cores from 72 in Tegra 4 to 192 in Tegra K1. No manufacturers have announced any Tegra K1 devices yet, but I’d expect to see it inside several new tablets and smartphones by the summer.
3. Intel upgrades Xeon E5-2400s with more cores and cache
Compared to desktop and laptop CPUs, server CPUs don’t get updated as often. However, when they do it always marks a big leap forward in performance and energy efficiency. This January it’s time for the Xeon E5-2400 series to get an update. This family of Xeons is designed for small to medium businesses that need the performance of a dual-processor system, but don’t have the budget for a fully-fledged E5-2600 v2 server. Compared to E5-2600 v2 CPUs, the E5-2400 CPUs have fewer cores, less cache and triple-channel versus quad-channel memory. However, they still offer considerably more performance than the entry-level Xeon E3-1200 v3 series.
The new chips in the E5-2400 series have similar model numbers to the previous models, but now have a ‘v2’ stuck on the end. Inside they are totally new chips, being based on the Ivy Bridge, rather than the Sandy Bridge architecture. This means that the v2 chips are made using 22nm transistors, as opposed to the larger 32nm transistors of the original CPUs. The reduced die size means that Intel has been able to increase the number of cores in the v2s. For example, the flagship E5-2470 v2 has 10 cores, while its predecessor the E5-2470 has eight cores. The new v2s also have significantly more cache, using the same chips as in the previous example the new model has 25MB while the older CPU has 20MB. Despite these increases in processing power Intel has also managed to ramp up the clock frequency too, from 2.3 to 2.4GHz.
The good news continues with the way that the v2 chips are socket compatible with current E5-2400 series motherboards that have a pair of LGA1356 processor sockets. This means that after a BIOS update you’ll be able to upgrade to the new CPUs without having to replace anything else in your existing servers.
The Intel Xeon E5-2400 v2 series of server processors are available in a variety of Scan 3XS tower and rack servers or as standalone upgrades from Scan.
4. New AMD Kaveri APUs on their way
AMD has had a busy month too, unveiling several new APUs based on the Kaveri architecture. Like AMD’s other APUs, these new chips feature a modestly powerful CPU but a very capable GPU which unlike most other integrated GPUs really can play games. The first two chips to launch, the A10-7850K and A10-7700K are quad-core CPUs, running at 3.7GHz and 3.4GHz respectively, with a TDP of 95W. In short, not a lot to be excited by, although the CPU cores themselves are of the new Steamroller variety, so are individually a little bit faster, clock for clock, than the Piledriver cores used in the previous generation APUs such as the A10-6800K.
What really sets apart these new Kaveri APUs though is their integrated graphics which unlike previous APUs is based on the Hawaii-architecture Radeon HD 290X graphics card. Also known as GCN (Graphics Core Next), according to AMD this architecture delivers around 25% more raw compute performance than previous APUs. Although this doesn’t translate into 25% faster frame rates in games, with various press reports showing a performance increase of around 10%, this is still a very welcome improvement. For example, Tomshardware found that the A10-7850K was nearly fast as the Intel Core i5 4760K in games such as BioShock Infinite and nearly three times as fast in GRID 2.
This really goes to show that the new Kaveri APUs are really worth checking out if you want a gaming PC but can’t afford a system with a discrete graphics card. The AMD A10-7850K and A10-7770K are in stock and available to buy from Scan now.
5. Corsair’s first mini-ITX case is a winner
Up till now most of Corsair’s cases have been large affairs with gallons of space for a high-end water-cooled PC. However, at CES the company unveiled its first mini-ITX case, the diminutive Obsidian 250D.
At 277 x 290 x 351 (WxHxD mm) the 250D is one of the larger mini-ITX cases on the market, closer in size to the Fractal Design Node 304 than some of SilverStone and Cooler Master’s more diminutive designs. However, that means there’s plenty of room inside the 250D for a powerful PC without the whole thing overheating or making a racket.
For example, there is a 140mm intake fan at the front and 120mm exhaust fan on the side included as standard, with room for another 120mm exhaust fan on the side and two 80mm fans on the rear. Alternatively, the side fan mounts could be fitted with a water-cooling system such as Corsair H80 or H100. Corsair has also thoughtfully fitted removable dust filters on all the air intakes.
Continuing inside there is room for a pretty much any dual-slot graphics card, a mini-ITX motherboard plus two 3.5in drives, two 2.5in drives and a 5.25in drive. What’s more, the 250D doesn’t force you buy an expensive miniature PSU – it has room for a standard size (and most effective) ATX PSU.
Corsair has also resisted the temptation to charge a huge premium for the 250D; with a retail price of £71.99 it’s very fairly priced. The Corsair Obsidian 250D is available for pre-order from Scan and in a range of Scan 3XS gaming PCs.
6. Pro Graphics laptops upgraded with Haswell CPUs
The Scan 3XS team is always looking at ways to speed up your modelling, animation and rendering and is pleased to announce two new workstation laptops designed for graphics professionals. The MGW-10 is a high-end Pro Graphics laptop based around the NVIDIA Quadro K3000M professional GPU which has 2GB of memory and 675 CUDA cores. If you’re running more demanding applications then you’ll want to check out the MGW-21, which has the much more powerful NVIDIA Quadro K5000M GPU, with 4GB of memory and 1344 CUDA cores.
Both laptops have high-quality 17.3in screens and are available with a variety of Intel Core i5 and i7 processors based on the 4th generation Haswell architecture along with a wide variety of memory, storage, networking and software options. Each model is also covered with a two year premium warranty for added peace of mind.
For more info about Scan 3XS Pro Graphics laptops visit our website.
7. Win time in recording studio with Scan Pro Audio and Intel
Happy New Year from the Scan Pro Audio department. In this issue of ScanZone I’m pleased to be able to bring you news of a fabulous new competition run by Scan in partnership with Intel, which will be running throughout February, March and April.
If you’re a musician, filmmaker or graphics artist, there are categories for each of you, and the prizes are truly once in a lifetime. For example, in the first category, one of three for musicians, you are required to write a pop song. The winner will get to spend a day in the studio and have their song produced by the legendary team TMS. These are the hottest crew in London and have written and produced songs for Little Mix, Jessie J, Emilie Sande, Professor Green, Ollie Murs among others. Once it’s been produced, it then gets re-mixed by none other than James Reynolds (Jessie J, The Saturdays, Little Mix etc). Like I said, prizes that truly are once in a lifetime.
Similar experiences await the filmmakers / photographers / graphic designers in their respective categories with prizes that include working with luminaries such as Philip Bloom, Trish Meyer and Maxim Jago.
Point your web browser here to submit your entry. Good luck!
8. Get Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for free
Both NVIDIA and AMD are good at bundling games with their high-end graphics cards, and from 9th January onwards, any customer buying an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or higher graphics card will get a free copy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The latest game in the popular Assassin’s Creed-series, Black Flag scored a very commendable 85% on Metacritic and was recently described by PC Gamer as ‘A gorgeous, relentlessly entertaining open-world piracy simulator packed with interesting 18th century rogues.’
See full details of the offer here