26.06.14 | ISSUE 20
Hello and welcome to the June issue of ScanZone.
June is always a great time to be a PC enthusiast as it marks the coming together of the tech and gaming industry in two great trade shows: Computex in Taipei and E3 in Los Angeles. Both shows are a real highlight in my calendar as thousands of companies get together to show off all the cool secret products they’ve been working on for the first time.
Highlights from this year’s Computex show include the unveiling of Intel’s new super-overclockable Pentium, Core i5 and Core i7 processors while E3 gave us confirmation after years of speculation than a new Doom game is in the works plus the release of alpha versions of Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous, proving once and for all that these multi-million pound crowd-funded games are not vapourware. Read on to find out more.
1. Intel unleashes new super-overclockable CPUs
After months of teasing, on June 2nd Intel launched its long awaited and hyped Core i5 and i7 CPUs based on the Devils Canyon architecture. The good news about these new CPUs is that they will work in any Z97 motherboard plus most Z87 boards too once you’ve updated the BIOS.
So is there anything in the Devils Canyon chips to justify giving them such an aggressive sounding codename? In a word: yes. Both CPUs, the Core i5 4690K and i7 4790K have been specifically tweaked to run out of the box at much higher frequencies and have much more overclocking headroom – the two biggest complaints about Haswell CPUs.
For example, Intel has replaced the TIM between the CPU die and the underside of the heatspreader with a new polymer based material that conducts heat much more effectively. Intel has also added more capacitors to the underside of the CPU to smooth out power delivery to the CPU, a key factor in maintaining stability at high frequencies.
The end result is that the Core i7 4790K runs at a heady 4GHz, a significant frequency boost versus its predecessor the 4770K which runs at 3.5GHz. What’s more the 4790K will Turboboost up to 4.4GHz depending on load. The i5 4690K has been given a much smaller boost, as its runs at 3.5GHz, just 100MHz faster than its predecessor the 4670K which runs at 3.4GHz.
Both Devils Canyon CPUs are also eminently overclockable with our samples easily hitting 4.8GHz without excessive over-volting. In contact, it was rare for Haswell chips to get higher than 4.6GHz, with most chips limited to around 4.2GHz.
For example, the i7 4790K ran the 3D rendering benchmark Cinebench R15 a massive 26% faster than the i7 4770k. The press has also been very favourable towards the new Core i7, with HEXUS summing up its review by saying that ‘Buying advice is simple enough: if you were in the market for a Core i7-4770K processor, forget it, buy this one instead - it's guaranteed to be faster’ and that it is ‘the fastest Haswell-based processor to date, the Core i7-4790K 'Devil's Canyon' is now the go-to solution for the enthusiast looking to buy the best mainstream processor.’
You can order your very own Core i5 4690K or Core i7 4790K on the Scan website or as part of a pre-built system on the 3XS website.
2. Would you like a 4.5GHz CPU for less than £60?
If so then you should check out the brand new Pentium G3258. Announced at the beginning of June by Intel, our 3XS engineers have been playing with samples of this chip for a few weeks and found that it’s amazingly overclockable.
That’s because like a K edition Core i5 and i7, the G3258 has an unlocked bus multiplier. This means, that although it runs at a comparatively slow 3.2GHz out of the box, it can be easily overclocked to 4.5GHz.
Despite only officially supporting 1333MHz DDR3 we’ve also had no problems running the G3258 with 2133MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3. At these sort of overclocked frequencies the Pentium G3258 makes mincemeat of most games, running them at the same frame rate as the £200 more expensive Core i5 and i7.
The graph below shows an overclocked Pentium G3258 versus a Core i5 and i7 running Battlefield 4 with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770, the most popular graphics card right now with gamers.
3. Intel unveils 3 teraFLOP processor
All you need to take advantage of this awesomely overclockable CPU is a Z87 or Z97 motherboard, a decent CPU cooler and a modicum of overclocking knowledge.
You can pre-order a Pentium G3258 at Scan now, but you better be quick, we predict this one will be a fast seller! Alternatively, you can pre-order an overclocked Pentium G3258 in a Scan 3XS gaming PC
4. Acer announces 4K monitor with NVIDIA G-Sync
Regular readers of ScanZone will know that I’m a big fan of G-Sync, NVIDIA’s proprietary technology that eliminates tearing and stuttering in games. However, you’ll also know that I love my Dell U2711 so much that I couldn’t bear to part with it.
This month however the industry may finally have announced a product to make me retire my beloved monitor: a 4K G-Sync monitor. Announced by Acer a few days ago, the XB280HK is a 28in LED backlit monitor with a full 4K resolution (3840 x 2140) with G-Sync built in. So far Acer hasn’t released the full tech specs of the monitor itself, but the press release does say that the stand will provide tilt, rotation and height adjustment, which normally aren’t the sort of features associated with a low quality panel.
We hope to have stock of this monitor in late August/early September with an estimated retail price of £499 inc VAT
5. The best tech at Computex
The tech industry gathered together in Taiwan for the annual Computex trade show earlier this month. Computex is usually a great barometer of the health of the PC industry and this year was no exception with a slew of new products being unveiled for the first time. Here’s a brief summary of some of the more interesting products that were at the show.
6. Be Quite! Prototype Cases
Be Quiet!, makers of our favourite range of CPU air coolers announced that it will be entering the case market for the first time later this year. The prototype case that Be Quiet! showed off at Computex was so new it hasn’t been named yet, though the company already has a £99 target price in mind for when it launches in October. As you’d expect, the case has been engineered to be as quiet as possible, with multiple baffles and panels to stop fan noise reaching your ears. There are also lots of removable fan filters for easy cleaning while Be Quiet! will launch the case with several different trims around the front, including silver, orange and black.
7. Temjin TJ12
The case maestros at SilverStone have also been busy, producing the monstrous Temjin TJ12. Looking more like a 1970s supercomputer than a desktop PC, the cuboid TJ12 is about 68cm tall and 45cm wide, or in words around 150 litres! The TJ12 is so large because it’s been designed around four 180m fans which suck air up from the bottom and blow it up out of the roof. The TJ12 is undoubtedly bonkers, but we’ll have to wait till the end of the year before finding out what price SilverStone has in mind for the Godzilla of cases.
8. Corsair HG-10
Corsair was also extremely busy at Computex, unveiling lots of new products for the first time. Of particular interest is the new HG10 bracket, which in combination with a H55, H60, H75, H80, H100, H105 or H110 watercooling system is designed to replace the noisy and ineffective stock cooler of an AMD Radeon R9 290 or 290X graphics card. Corsair claims it will drop the temperature by as much as 50C which sounds about right for watercooling without having to faff around building a custom watercooled loop. Scan expects to have stock of the HG10 in August, with a version for NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770, 780, 780 Ti and Titan Black graphics cards a few weeks later.
9. Corsair Gaming Keyboards
Corsair also revealed its first two keyboards using the new Cherry MX RGB keyboard switches. These new mechanical switches includes customisable LEDS that can be individually programmed from a palette of 16.8 million different colours. This is a big difference compared to most backlit keyboards, which are divided up into zones rather than giving you control over the colour behind individual keys. Corsair will launch two new keyboards with the new Cherry MX RGB keys in September, the K70 and K95, with a choice of red, blue and brown mechanical keys.
10. AS Rock X99 Extreme
Even though it’s still months away from launch ASrock also took the opportunity at Computex to show off a prototype X99 motherboard. Scheduled for release later this year, the Intel X99 chipset is the replacement for X79 and will usher in support for a new range of Haswell E CPUs with eight cores and DDR4 memory for the ultimate high-end gaming PC/workstation. As you can see from the photo the CPU socket is massive and there are plenty of SATA ports and PCI-E slots to go around. The board also appears to have an extremely dense VRM circuit next to the CPU socket which could mean that Haswell E draws a lot of power and/or is a great overclocker.
11. 3XS Upgrade Assurance
One of the most frequently asked things we get asked is 'can you upgrade my 3XS PC?' to which the answer has always been yes. All you had to do was send in your PC, buy some new components from Scan and we'd simply bill you for how long it took to upgrade your system.
As of June 9th we have improved upon this service by adding Upgrade Assurance to all 3XS gaming PCs and workstations. Upgrade Assurance is available at two levels, the default, Upgrade Premium is free with all eligible systems, means that we'll no longer charge you for labour if you want us to upgrade your graphics card, fit additional HDDs or SSDs or swap a non-overclocked CPU while the system is still under warranty. All you have to do is pay for the new parts plus shipping to and from the 3XS lab, we’ll even send you back the old parts back to you.
Alternatively, if you select Upgrade Ultimate when buying your PC we will upgrade your motherboard, replace your HDD or SSD and reinstall Windows, and upgrade and overclock a new CPU at any point during the system warranty. All you have to pay for are the parts plus shipping to and from the 3XS lab, we’ll even send the old parts back to you. Upgrade Ultimate costs £48 inc VAT for the duration of the warranty, but if you do not use this service will we deduct the same amount from the cost of your next 3XS order.
To select the level of Upgrade Assurance you want when buying a new 3XS system simply keep an eye out of the spanner icon in our online configurator.
12. The best games at E3
Computex wasn’t the only trade show taking place with this month as the gaming industry also gathered together for the E3 on the other side of the world in Los Angeles. Although this year’s E3 was dominated by lots of console games there were still a few exciting announcements for PC gamers which I’ve condensed into this Best of E3 article.
After years of rumours and speculation id Software released a brief teaser trailer for the next Doom game. Even though the cynic in me is still trying to purge Doom 3 from my memory, I’m not ashamed to admit that the ‘door opening’ and ‘shotgun slide’ sound effects towards the end of the trailer had me giggling like a school child and wanting to play this new Doom. We’ll have to wait till the QuakeCon show in late July to find out more, but in the meantime at least we still get to play the awesome Brutal Doom mod that amps up everything in the original Doom to 11.
14. Grand Theft Auto V
After being released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 last year Rockstar announced at E3 that Grand Theft Auto V will be coming to the PC later this year. The PC version promises enhanced graphics with ‘increased resolution and graphical detail, denser traffic, greater draw distances, upgraded AI, new wildlife, and advanced weather and damage effects for the ultimate open world experience’.
15. Far Cry 4
Another long running franchise making a return later this year is Far Cry, with the fourth game taking you a whistle stop tour of a fictional Himalayan country complete with vast mountains and valleys, wingsuits and elephants, yes elephants. Gameplay wise Far Cry 4 looks quite similar to Far Cry 3, though the mountainous terrain should make things more interesting than the comparatively flat jungle islands of the last game. One big improvement though is the merging of single player with multiplayer, allowing to you invite friends to join you on your campaign of destruction. Far Cry 4 is due for release on November 18th.
16. Star Wars - Battlefront
It’s been years since anybody made a decent Star Wars game so that fact that DICE, makers of the Battlefield series are working on a new game is cause for excitement. Star Wars: Battlefront is due for release in late 2015, but DICE showed off some early footage at E3 including battles taking place on the icefields of Hoth and forests of Endor.
17. Star Citizen
Although it isn’t strictly E3 news, I’m so excited about the forthcoming space sim Star Citizen that I thought it worth highlighting that this month marks a major milestone in the crowd-funded games’ development – the release of a single and multiplayer alpha. If you’ve already backed the game you can download the single player alpha right now from the Star Citizen Website . The multiplayer alpha is invite-only at the moment based on your Citizen number, so keep a close watch on your email over the coming weeks. As an early backer myself I can report that for an alpha the game is remarkably stable and fun, though you’ll need to spend some time manually editing XML files to get the most from your joystick.
18. Elite Dangerous
The other crowd-funded space sim in development, Elite Dangerous, also reached a major milestone this month with the release of a beta version to backers. The beta includes five star systems to explore, plus single and multiplayer combat. Alternatively, if you don’t have the cash to back Elite Dangerous at the moment you can feast your eyes on the new Trailer made especially for E3.
19. Rock your body with SubPac
Every so often here at Scan, we get to see products that are totally cool and out there. This month we have the fabulous Subpac to show you.
SubPac is a patent-pending tactile audio technology – it transfers low frequencies directly to your body and provides you with a new physical dimension to the music experience. Feel the boom of a kick drum, the warmth of an 808, the organic expression of a bassist and the richness of soundscapes right within you. Experience intense bass without damaging your hearing.
Basically it’s a sub bass speaker that can be worn or just leant against, and it delivers a huge amount of bass which you feel from within.
Whether you’re a musician, producer or engineer who wants to feel the depth of bass in the studio, or a gamer or movie watcher that wants to experience the low-end thrills of the game or film, Subpac provides a true flat response with no eq or compression.
Don’t ever say we don’t bring you the coolest stuff here in ScanZone.
Pro Audio Ableton Webinar - 26th June at 7.00pm
If your into making music, tune into our Live webinar today at 7.00pm. This week's webinar is on Ableton Live 9 which will cover the Audio to midi and creative sampling topic by our very own Ableton Cerified Trainer Simon Lyon. As with all of the Scan webinars, UK and EU viewers should listen out for the codeword in the broadcast that you can email us back with to get yourselves very special offers on Ableton products and controllers ! Tune in here to view the Live online webinar tonight at 7.00pm and dont worry if you miss it, you can always view it at a later date on our Youtube channel.
A very capable and well thought-out workstation
The graphics gurus at 3D Total reviewed our 3XS GW-HT15 graphics workstation this month.
The review found that the GW-HT15 is ‘Undoubtedly a powerful workstation. It's the fastest single-socket system we have tested, and will give dual-socket workstations from a couple of years ago a real run for their money too. The Corsair water cooling system makes for a neat, uncluttered interior, leaving plenty of free airflow.’
3D Total gave the GW-HT15 a score of 4 out of 5.
You can find out more about the GW-HT15 on the Scan 3XS website or read the full review online on the 3D Total website.
An incredibly tiny machine packed with top-of-the-range components
PC Format took a look at our 3XS Z87 Hadron Hydro system in its latest issue.
Featuring an overclocked and watercooled Core i7 4770K and overclocked and watercooled GeForce GTX 780 Ti, PC Format loved our new system writing that ‘This isn’t just an incredibly tiny machine packed with top-of-the-range components though; Scan has added a chunk of water-cooling magic to the mix, too. How does the machine cope with the latest games? In a word: brilliantly. It’s incredible in fact, and even more so when you consider just how dinky this system is. An incredible machine that manages to pack astounding power into the tiniest of spaces.’
With such praise PC Format gave the Hadron Hydro a score of 4 and a half out of 5.
You can check out the Hadron Hydro in more detail on the 3Xs website and read the full review in Issue 293 of PC Format.