Maximum PC - News
HTC One Sans Sense Software is Reportedly in Development
Fri, 24 May 2013 19:14:40 +0000
This is the One for stock Android lovers.
Handset makers and wireless carriers love to load up Google's Android platform with custom overlays, user interface tweaks, and third-party programs that don't ship natively with the open source operating system. That's great for them, but most power users would prefer a clean version of Android to work with, which is why the third-party ROM community is popular. Well, following in the footsteps of Samsung and it's custom S4 that was announced at Google I/O, HTC is reportedly kicking around the idea of offering a Google Edition of its One smartphone.
News of the custom HTC One comes from Russell Holly over at Geek.com. Citing un-named sources, Holly says the Google Edition device would be offered in the U.S. first, though it's unclear if it would be carried in the Play Store like the Galaxy S4 will be.
Other details are equally light and vague, though Holly claims an official announcement could come within the next two weeks, with a release likely planned for sometime this summer.
Assuming prices are roughly the same, which would you rather own, a clean version of the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4?
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Windows 8 Causes Dip in Microsoft Customer Satisfaction Rating
Fri, 24 May 2013 03:06:07 +0000
Bad, but not quite Vista
Given its subjective nature, satisfaction isnít something that readily lends itself to quantification, but that hasnít stopped the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) from measuring the satisfaction of U.S. customers for more than 19 years now. The latest ACSI update is of particular interest to us because it sheds some light on Windows 8ís impact on Microsoftís customer satisfaction rating.
Windows 8 hasnít exactly been able to charm PC users off their feet and Microsoftís latest ACSI rating seems to confirm as much, with the companyís customer satisfaction rating falling one point from last yearís score of 75 and as many as four points from the companyís best of 78, which it achieved in 2011.
Things, however, donít appear to be as bad as they were following the launch of Windows Vista. Back then, Redmond shed three rating points. If we go back another year to 2006, the first time Microsoft appeared on ACSIís radar, it is clear that the companyís customers are more satisfied with its products now than they were back then.
ďIt seems clear that the release of Windows 8 did not give Microsoft a significant bump, as the release of Windows 7 did, nor did it dramatically lower customer satisfaction in a rather short time frame, as the release of Vista did," David VanAmburg, director of ACSI, told Computerworld.com, adding that if Microsoftís rating does take a more serious pounding next year then Windows 8 will surely be the one to blame.
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GeForce GTX 780 Benchmarks
Fri, 24 May 2013 21:12:01 +0000
Team Green captures the single-GPU crown, again
Today Nvidia pulls the wraps off its $650 GK110-based 700 series flagship card, the GeForce GTX 780. This board slides directly into the yawning chasm that exists between the $500 GK104-based GTX 680 and the $1,000 GK110-based GTX Titan, though despite its price it's actually much closer in specs and performance to the Titan than it is to the GTX 680.
Like the Titan, the GTX 780 is a GK110 board, so it has all 7.1 billion transistors, a 384-bit memory bus care of six 64-bit memory controllers and two less SMX clusters with 12 for a total of 2,304 CUDA cores. Its 3GB of memory runs at the usual 6GHz clock speed, and its 863MHz core clock speed is just a smidge higher than the Titanís 836MHz clock. Its 900MHz boost clock is also a bit faster than the Titanís 876MHz. Overall, it would be fair to refer to the GTX 780 as the so-called Titan LE that has been rumored for a while now, as itís a basically a slightly neutered version of the Titan, at least as far as gamers are concerned. Performance in games is extremely competitive with the Titan, more so than we thought it would be given its price. When it comes to compute performance, however, the GTX 780 is heavily neutered compared to the Titan, and for good reason. The 1.5 Teraflops of double precision performance that was so welcome in the Titan is nowhere to be seen in the GTX 780, as Nvidia is reserving that feature for the pricier Titan, and is also billing the GTX 780 as strictly a gaming card. The GTX 780 still offers respectable single precision performance though, clocking in at 4 Teraflops compared to the Titan's 4.5 Teraflops. For comparison, the GK104-based GTX 680 can only push 1 Teraflop of single precision, and its double precision performance is just 1/24th of that by Nvidia's design. It wants these "cheap" cards to be used for gaming, period, and its expensive Tesla cards to be used for Compute. This is why the Titan costs $1,000 and the GTX 780 costs $650.
GTX 780 Specs
Otherwise the card looks, feels, and runs almost exactly like a Titan. It has the same 10.5-inch length, the same six-pin and eight-pin PCIe connectors, and the same HDMI, DisplayPort , and DVI connectors. It supports up to three-way SLI. The minimum power supply required is 600w, and the card's TDP is 250w, just like the Titan.
Nvidia is releasing the GTX 780 with a fair bit of cool new technology that helps round out the package a bit, so let's look at each of them one by one.
Adaptive Fan Control
Nvidia's all-new Adaptive Fan Control smooths out the speed at which the fans spin up and down, resulting in less noticeable noise during operation.
Even though the GTX Titan was and is a "quiet" GPU by our standards, Nvidia tells us that it's not necessarily fan noise that people notice as much as changes in fan speed, and we have to say there's some truth to that. Once a fan is spinning at a certain RPM we tend to not notice it, especially as the Titan and the GTX 780's fans never really spin very fast. It is certainly noticeable though when the fans spin up or down suddenly; we all hear that. So on the GTX 780 Nvidia has smoothed out the speed at which the fans spin up and down so you don't hear the change in fan speed.
ShadowPlay is designed to improve the in-game video recording experience over FRAPS by consuming less system resources and compressing the videos. It will work with any Kepler GPU and will be released this summer.
Now this is a cool feature, albeit one we have not tested as it was not available just yet. This is software that only works with Kepler GPUs to record your gaming sessions by using the GPU's built-in H.264 video encoder. The software will just record everything you do and keep only the portion that you just played, hence it's name, as it records everything that you just did, like a shadow. You can tell the software to just keep the last five minutes, 10 minutes, or 20 minutes, and it'll intelligently delete what is not needed, helping keep file sizes down by both deleting unneeded video and also through video compression. Nvidia also claims the peformance hit from turning on Shadowplay is less than five percent, so it's main advantages over FRAPS are that it only records what just happened instead of everything, and it requires less system resources to do so. This software will be rolling out this summer and will be available via Nvidia's GeForce Experience software, and will be supported on any Kepler GPU. It should be noted that beginning with this launch driver, the GeForce Experience software will replace the Nvidia Update software in the driver package, and though users can opt out of installing it, by default it will be installed with all Nvidia drivers going forward.
Head on over to page 2 to read about the rest of the new features, see the benchmarks, and our final thoughts.
GPU Boost 2.0
The GTX 780 features GPU Boost 2.0 temperature target settings as well as the ability to overvolt the board.
This feature first appeared on the GTX Titan and it works beautifully. Its main goal is to prevent the GPU from throttling itself due to excessive heat, which results in reduced performance. To prevent this from happening, users can now set the peak temperature for a card, which by default is set to 81C but it can be pushed up to 95C if you like (the card can handle it). Nvidia tells us these cards can go all the way up to 105C before the hardware is damaged, but you'd be lucky to push either a Titan or a GTX 780 past 80C typically since their coolers are so effective. However, the GPU will overclock as high as it can until it reaches that pre-determined temperature, so you can nudge the temperature GPU Boost 2.0 also allows for overvolting a card, so you can overclock it as high as you can get away with by pushing the core clock power target, temperature target, memory, and voltage. Only the Titan and the GTX 780 offers these features at this time. If you try to use them on a GTX 680, for example, they are simply greyed out.
When we first heard of this card we figured it would land squarely in between the $500 GTX 680 and the $1,000 GTX Titan, both in performance and price. Then Nvidia informed us the card was priced at $650, and we looked at the benchmark charts and thought this was either a very competitively priced product, or the Titan is really overpriced, at least for gamers. Looking at the benchmark chart (below) you can see the GTX 780 is within five to 15 percent of the Titan in all benchmarks, which is seriously impressive given it costs $350 less. In general we run all games at 2560x1600 with 4XAA enabled, which is extremely taxing on even the most hardcore systems, and yet the GTX 780 was just on the cusp of playing all games extremely smoothly, with the exception of Metro: Last Light, which will remain a ball buster for the forseeable future it seems. Even though we'd prefer to have at least 40-50fps, that is just not possible with a single GPU at the resolution we run, and only the Titan can get close to achieving it. That said, the GTX 780 is damn close, and easily puts some distance on both the GTX 680 and the Radeon HD 7970, making it the fastest sub-$1,000 GPU available at this time. It should also be noted that the card ran cool and quiet throughout testing, and we were able to run it at 1,084MHz with no problems at all.
GTX 780 Benchmarks
This is one wicked fast GPU, and if it was $750 or so like we thought it would be you would see us waffling a bit between this card and the Titan. However, at $650 it is very competitive, though we've yet to compare it to dual GTX 660 Ti cards or GTX 670 cards in SLI, but then you have to deal with dual GPUs. Also, add-in board partners will be releasing their own versions of the GTX 780 with custom cooling solutions, but we do not know at this time whether the boards will be overclocked or offer larger frame buffers.
In our opinion, the best news about the GTX 780 is at the resolution we use for testing there was no such thing as an affordable GPU that could handle it. The GTX 680 and the HD 7970 were all stuck around 20fps or so for newer games, though the Titan could handle them much better. With the GTX 780 we have a truly semi-affordable card that can run newer games at these resolutions and AA settings just fine. Nvidia says the GTX 780 is 34 percent faster than a GTX 680 and that seems about right to us, and 70 percent faster than a GTX 580, so people with older cards will see quite a jump in performance by upgrading. There also might be other 700-series cards in the pipeline, so anyone looking to upgrade might want to wait just a bit before pulling the trigger on a new card.
As far as how AMD will respond, that remains to be seen. The company reminded us that the HD 7970 GHz edition is still the fastest card at its price point of roughly $420, and that is certainly true. Whether or not it will respond with a GCN 2.0 board dubbed Radeon 8790 or similar is anyone's guess, but given the ferocity of the GPU wars as of late we'd be shocked if AMD sat on the sidelines for very long.
PS: Here is a promotional video Nvidia sent us that walks you through the GTX 780's hardware and software.
Psst Microsoft, Windows 8 Users are Barely Touching Metro Apps
Thu, 23 May 2013 17:48:16 +0000
Study reveals surprising stats about Windows 8 app usage.
When Microsoft "re-imagined" its Windows platform with a heavy focus on touch computing, its Metro interface was deemed a critical component to the user experience. Ideally, Windows 8 users would find themselves relying less and less on the traditional desktop and start taking advantage of the tiled UI, downloading apps from the Windows Store in the process. However, a new study by Soluto reveals that Windows 8 users rarely touch apps on their Windows 8-based desktops and tablet PCs.
Soluto analyzed 10,848 Windows 8 machines and examined more than 313,000 Metro app launches across 9,634 unique Metro apps. The result? On average, a Windows 8 user will launch a Metro app 1.52 times per day.
Predictably desktop users are the least active Metro app users with an average of 1.41 launches per day. Just as predictable, tablet users launch the most Metro apps at an average clip of 2.71 per day, besting touch laptop users (2.22 apps) and regular laptop users (1.51 apps).
"To put this number into context, we looked at the percent of people who launch a Metro app less than once a day (i.e. less than 7 Metro app launches per week). We found that among desktop and laptop users, 60 percent of users launch a Metro app less than once a day," Soluto said. "This number significantly improves with tablets, but still 44 percent of Windows 8 tablet users launch a Metro app less than once a day."
Interestingly, the most engaging app appears to be Yahoo Mail, which is loaded an average of 26.91 times per week by those who use it. Below that, several versions of solitaire rank in the top 10, which might be indicative of the Windows Store needing a bigger and better stockpile of apps.
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No BS Podcast #203: Nvidia's GeForce GTX 780, Reader Questions, and an Intern Rant
Fri, 24 May 2013 19:03:11 +0000
GTX 780 mega-podcast!
We were busy little bees this time and could only spare three people: host and Senior Editor Josh Norem, Associate Editor Tom McNamara, and legendary intern Chris Zele. Ironically, we spent most of our time jabbering on about Nvidia's newest high-end video card, the GTX 780. We didn't have the MSRP in time for the taping of episode of #203 of the Maximum PC No BS Podcast, but you can't let missing things like "facts" stop you from having an opinion!
We also tackled reader questions, one of which was about the systems we used at home. So if anyone else was on the edge of their seat and waiting for this information, your day has finally arrived. Also, with Gordon unavailable, we had Chris do his rant at the end. We'll let you judge the results.
Note: We're having our video-editing monkey slave away at editing the video. Provided he doesn't keel over, we'll embed it as soon as we can!
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-Maximum PC Staff
Maker Faire 2013: 50 Pictures
Fri, 24 May 2013 18:08:46 +0000
Pictures from one of the largest DIY conventions in the country
This past weekend Maximum PC had the chance to check out Maker Faire 2013 in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. The event, billing itself as "the greatest show and tell on Earth," is one of the largest DIY conventions in the country and has inventors from all around the globe showing off their latest and greatest doodads. While it is technically an arts and crafts show, technology played a big part of Maker Faire 2013 with inventors showing off everything from interesting PC case mods to robots.
You could really feel the spirit of creativity at the festive event. If you didn't have the good fortune of attending Maker Faire 2013, fret not as you can still see some of the unique devices in our extensive picture gallery below.
What's your favorite DIY invention here? Let us know in the comments!
Windows Button Hitches a Ride on New Mice Models From Microsoft
Thu, 23 May 2013 19:08:21 +0000
A pair of mice made for Windows 8.
Windows 8 is a game changer in more ways than one. Along with a new look and feel, Windows 8 has influenced design changes across the board, even when it comes to peripherals. Witness Microsoft's new Sculpt Comfort Mouse and Sculpt Mobile Mouse, the company's first mice to include a Windows button on them, giving you quick and easy access to specific features in Windows 8.
The Sculpt Mobile Mouse is outfitted with a touch-sensitive blue strip on its side. Microsoft calls this the Windows touch tab, which allows you to interact with Windows 8 via just a touch or the swipe of a finger. If pressed, it takes you to the Start screen.
"If you swipe up on the blue strip, it cycles through all your open Windows Store apps in Windows 8. And if you swipe down, it will reveal all the open apps (on the left side of your screen) for you to select the one you want," Microsoft explains. "You donít have to worry about a tiny USB transceiver since the Sculpt Comfort Mouse uses Bluetooth to connect to your Windows PC or tablet. It also has a comfortable ergonomic design and our BlueTrack technology to be used on pretty much any surface."
The Sculpt Mobile Mouse is essentially a Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 with a Windows touch tab. It has a compact design, a wireless USB transceiver, and BlueTrack technology.
Microsoft says the Sculpt Comfort Mouse will be available in June for $40 and the Sculpt Mobile Mouse in May for $30.
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Netflix Chief Sparks Mini Revolt Among Some BlackBerry 10 Users
Fri, 24 May 2013 16:28:01 +0000
Cries of "boycott!" emanate from the BlackBerry 10 camp.
Netflix has been known to rile up its subscribers on occasion. The biggest example of this is when Netflix tried to sever its DVD-by-mail division into a spinoff called "Qwikster" so that it could focus all its efforts on streaming. That didn't sit very well with consumers, but it wouldn't be the last time the company would make an unpopular decision. Just a few days ago, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hinted that his company currently has no plans of developing a BlackBerry 10 app.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Hastings was asked if he'd had a chance to try out any of the new BB10 devices yet.
"No. Like many people I was a BlackBerry addict from 1997 or 1998 through to the iPhone but I haven't tried it. We don't currently support streaming on the BlackBerry, it's a unique operating system you have to target, and unfortunately there's just not enough volume for entertainment (apps)," Hastings responded.
Hastings conceded it's a "great device" for productivity chores, but when it comes to entertainment, he doesn't believe people interact with BB10 devices the same way they do an iPhone or Android device.
His comments sparked some users on the CrackBerry forum to boycott Netflix and to encourage others to cancel all subscriptions, home and mobile.
"That's right all and when asked why you are cancelling, make damn sure you tell them [it's because] Netflix will not be on BlackBerry devices," the opening post reads.
The post drew support from several users, though not all of them.
"BlackBerry is ultimately responsible for its own ecosystem. It might not be fair, and I KNOW y'all won't agree, but while I concede that BlackBerry has worked hard to rectify the app gap, the absence of an app is BlackBerry's responsibility," a forum user posted. "I believe Netflix will come when an agreement is reached."
In other words, BlackBerry made its bed, now it has to sleep in it, is what the above poster is saying.
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Gigabyte Attaches Cooling Guarantee to Tri-Fan GeForce GTX 780 OC Edition
Fri, 24 May 2013 15:40:26 +0000
High end graphics card keeps its cool.
It's only been a day since Nvidia announced its GeForce GTX 780 graphics card and as expected, the GPU maker's hardware partners are coming out of the woodwork with custom cooling solutions. We saw it with EVGA and its ACX Cooler, and today Gigabyte is giving us a glimpse of its GeForce GTX 780 OC Edition (GV-N780OC-3GD) graphics card with the latest Windforce 3X dual-slot cooling design.
Gigabyte "guarantees gamers an insanely fast, smooth, and whisper-quiet gaming experience," adding that its card is further guaranteed capable of dissipating over 450W of heat.
The Windforce 3X chills the GeForce card using three ultra quiet PWM fans, two 8mm copper heat pipes, four 6mm copper heat pipes, and a RAM heatsink. According to Gigabyte, it's 25 percent better than a stock cooling solution. It also looks pretty gnarly, so there's that.
Cooling aside, Gigabyte's OC Edition card bests Nvidia's reference design with faster clockspeeds. The GPU runs at 954MHz base and 1,006MHz boost, versus 863MHz and 900MHz, respectively. Memory is untouched at 6,008MHz effective (1,502MHz).
No word yet on price or availability.
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Nvidia Releases 320.18 WHQL Drivers with Support for GTX 780
Thu, 23 May 2013 15:56:32 +0000
This is the Game Ready driver for Metro: Last Light.
What would a new graphics card launch be without new drivers to help squeeze out the most performance possible? So it goes, Nvidia today not only introduced the world to its GeForce GTX 780 video card -- check out write-up with benchmarks -- the GPU maker also made available new GeForce R320 Series (320.18) drivers that are WHQL certified and primed for Metro: Last Light.
The new drivers promise up to a 10 percent boost in performance in Metro: Last Light, and if you use GeForce Experience, Nvidia will take care of detecting optimal game settings with PhysX effects and DirectX 11 tessellation.
The highlights for the R320 series are the same as they were for the 320.14 beta drivers, which we covered last week. To quickly recap, you can expect up to 20 percent faster performance in several PC games running on your GeForce 400/500/600 Series GPUs, Nvidia says. You'll also find a bunch of new and updated SLI profiles.
Nvidia Driver Downloads
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