Raspberry Pi 3 review: Still the ultimate hobbyist computer?

Raspberry Pi 3 review
Our Rating
Price when reviewed
30
inc VAT

The latest version of the budget maker board builds on the success of its predecessors

Pros
Drains less power than the Pi 2
Wide choice of operating systems
Cons
Wi-Fi isn’t very quick

Update: The Raspberry Pi 3 is an excellent hobbyist’s mini PC, but since this review was first written a new, faster, better-equipped version has emerged.

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+  has faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi where the original Pi 3 Model B has 802.11n. It has faster wired networking, with 300Mbits/sec Ethernet. And the processor is a tad nippier as well.

The practical differences aren’t huge, though, so if you can find the Model B at a discount the Model B is still worth picking up. If not, it makes more sense to opt for a Model B+ instead.

Our original Raspberry Pi 3 review continues below:

Raspberry Pi 3 review: In full

It may have sold more than eight million of its Pi mini-computers, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation wasn’t resting on its laurels when it came up with its latest flagship model. The Pi 3 (or, to use its full name, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B) can claim an impressive list of features of features and upgrades from the Pi 2, including a speed boost (the Foundation claims a 50% increase) as well as built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability. The inclusion of Wi-Fi is particularly handy, as it means you’ll no longer need to take up one of your precious USB ports with a Wi-Fi adapter.

There have also been some changes to the physical layout of the Pi 3’s motherboard, although it remains physically the same size as the Pi 2. The power and activity lights have migrated from the top left to the bottom left of the board, which may be a problem depending on your case’s design. The RUN (reset) header is now on the other side of the GPIO pins.

One change we approve of is that the microSD card slot has switched from a spring-loaded model to a simpler friction slot. This is one less thing to go wrong: we’ve had a spring-loaded slot break on a Pi 2 and had to hold the microSD card in with electrical tape.

READ NEXT: Best mini PCs

The more straightforward friction slot means that the tape stays in the drawer. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with four USB ports and Ethernet on the rear, plus HDMI and a 3.5mm audio and composite video port. The all-important 40 general-purpose input/output pins are present for hobbyist use, as are the interfaces for the optional camera and LCD display modules.

Image of Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Quad Core CPU 1.2 GHz 1 GB RAM Motherboard

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Quad Core CPU 1.2 GHz 1 GB RAM Motherboard

£27.98Buy now

The easiest way to install an operating system on the Raspberry Pi is to download the NOOBS installer from raspberrypi.org and copy it to a microSD card, which should be 8GB minimum, and ideally rated at Class 10, the fastest you can get. When you boot up the Pi, you’ll get a choice of operating systems to install, from the easy-to-use Linux distro Raspbian to the OpenELEC media centre to the twilight zone of RISC OS. While Raspbian will be the default OS of choice for many, having the option of so many operating systems through NOOBS is brilliant.

Raspberry Pi 3 review: Wi-Fi

In the office, we initially had some trouble with the Raspberry Pi 3’s Wi-Fi; it was fussy about connecting to a number of routers, and when it finally managed to connect, we only achieved a throughput of around 1Mbit/sec. However, we had no such trouble testing with identical networking equipment at home.

We, therefore, suspect that the office environment was just too noisy for the Pi 3 to cope, owing to the dozens of routers and Wi-Fi-enabled computers in the vicinity. When testing the Pi 3’s Wi-Fi throughput at home, we were pleasantly surprised by its range, especially considering the Pi 3 has such a tiny Wi-Fi antenna. At 10m distance from the router and through a couple of walls, the Pi 3 managed to transfer data at 12Mbits/sec, compared to 26Mbits/sec for an 802.11n laptop. Transfer rates weren’t much quicker when we were right next to the router, however; here we saw a maximum of 19Mbits/sec, compared to over 80Mbits/sec from our laptop.

This means the Pi 3’s Wi-Fi isn’t quick enough to max out the average fibre broadband connection, but it’s certainly fine for web browsing, downloading software packages and audio and video streaming.

Raspberry Pi 3 review: Performance

The Pi 2 was equipped with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 chip, but on the Pi 3 it’s a faster Cortex-A53. This makes no difference to boot times, which is around 35 seconds for both systems but LibreOffice ran perceptibly smoother, especially when manipulating vector images in Draw and zooming in and out. YouTube videos were still jerky, but we managed to play 1080p video smoothly using the command-line OMXPlayer.

It’s also a lot faster than the (even smaller) Raspberry Pi Zero W. Running the Sysbench test to verify prime numbers up to 10,000, the Pi 3 completed the task in 182.49 seconds, while the Pi Zero W took 530.27 seconds. As the Pi 3 has a quad-core CPU, it can also improve its completion time to 45.86 seconds by running four threads.

Raspberry Pi 3 review

The video core has had a bump from 250MHz to 400MHz, so we thought we’d get Quake 3 running on the Pi 3 using Raspbian’s guide. Using the game’s built-in benchmark, saw 64.3fps on the Pi 3 at 1,024 x 768 resolution. This is the same frame rate as the Raspberry Pi 2, so the 50MHz increase in the graphics clock speed doesn’t seem to make a difference in this title.

The Pi 3’s processor throttled back to 600MHz when the system was at idle, while according to the CPU clock speed command we ran, the Pi 2’s processor always ran at 900MHz. This made a considerable difference to power consumption: the Pi 2 drew 3.2W at idle and 3.8W under load, while the Pi 3 drew 2.5W and 3.8W. This is a 22% power saving at idle, which is not to be sniffed at. Despite the lower power drain, the Pi 3 was also able to power up and access a 3TB external laptop hard disk, something the Pi 2 couldn’t manage.

Avantree TC418 Bluetooth transmitter review: Play your legacy audio gear through any Bluetooth speaker

avantree tc418 bluetooth transmitter

Streaming to a Bluetooth speaker or headphones from a phone, mobile device or Bluetooth-enabled TV can be super convenient. But some of us have a cornucopia of legacy audio gear that we’d like to stream from as well. No one wants to toss a beloved turntable, stereo receiver, CD player, AM/FM radio, or the like just because it was manufactured before the age of Bluetooth.

Enter Avantree with its TS418 Bluetooth dual-transmitter. The TC418 not only offers both analog and light-pipe digital inputs, it will also stream audio from just about any device (computer, phone, etc.) that supports USB audio.

Video gear is another story because of latency issues. More on that later.

Features and specs

The TS418 is a Bluetooth 4.2, dual-transmitter device featuring the low-latency version of Qualcomm’s aptX audio transmission codec. Regular aptX, FastStream, and SBC are also supported (aptX HD, however, is not supported). “Dual” means it can stream to two pairs of Bluetooth headsets or speakers simultaneously. That can be handy under a number of circumstances, including two-room setups.

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Avantree

As I said up top, what sets the TC418 apart from many transmitters is the variety of supported connection types. It’s powered via its micro-USB port and functions as a USB audio interface, handily allowing you to transmit sound from your computer and anything else that supports standard US-class audio. The legacy support kicks in with a 3.5mm stereo input that accepts both line-level and microphone-level input, as well as a S/PDIF optical port. This means you can use the output from just about any piece of stereo equipment, no matter the vintage.

Avantree thoughtfully includes all the cables you might need: a 3.5-mm-to-3.5mm male-to-male stereo cable, a stereo RCA-to-3.5mm female cable that converts the first able, as well as an optical S/PDIF light pipe. There’s also a micro-USB to Type A USB cable for the computer connection and power.

There’s no LED readout on the TC418, but there is a connection indicator light for each of the two channels, and pairing the unit is super easy. Simply press the A (channel one) or B (channel two) button, and then the pair button on the Bluetooth receiver you want to use. The process took about five seconds each time with all five of the speakers and headphones I tested the TC418 with.

Performance

I live in a tough environment for wireless, the chicken-wire-over-lath that forms the base for drywall and plaster does a good impression of a Faraday cage. The TS418 is rated a Class 1 transmitter, which means you should be able to stream up to around 30 meters under ideal conditions (i.e., line of sight). I didn’t fare that well; 30 feet was more like it in my apartment, and it reached around 60 feet in the IDG offices.

Avantree TC418 inputs

Avantree

The TC418 has an analog stereo audio input, an optical digital input, and can also take in digital audio via USB.

The “low latency” in the aptX codec’s spec means that the time it takes for audio to travel from the TS418 to the receiving devices is made as short as possible–that’s approximately 40 milliseconds, compared to 70- to 110ms with regular aptX and other protocols. With 40ms of lag, the delay between what happens on screen and the sound being reproduced on your Bluetooth speakers is what I’d describe as livable. Unlike one claim I saw on Qualcomm’s site, it is noticeable, and some with find it irritating.

What’s more, you won’t get that 40ms performance from just any Bluetooth speaker, headset, or other client device: The receiving device must alsosupport low-latency aptX for the whole deal to work, and that’s not particularly common at the moment.

There is a way, however, to basically eliminate latency issues depending on what you’re streaming the video from: If you’re playing movies from a computer, simply play the movie using VLC or Media Player Classic Home Cinema and use that softwares’ synchronization/time-shift functions to add a negative delay as shown below. There might also be system-level software solutions I’m not currently aware of.

mpc hc

IDG

Many computer movie players allow you to time-shift audio to compensate for Bluetooth-induced latency. Some TVs and disc players might as well. Check your equipment if you’re not comfortable with the 40ms of lag that even low-latency aptX suffers.

Some TVs and other devices support audio time-shift as well, though most also transmit Bluetooth, obviating the need for an external transmitter. If you’re using a time-shift remedy, then aptX low latency shouldn’t make much of a difference and you can factor it out of your buying decision.

Strong value

The TC418 is affordable, easy to use, and small enough to tuck out of the way. To boot, it streamed perfectly for me within about a 45-foot unobstructed radius. If you want to stream Bluetooth from your legacy audio equipment, it’s just the ticket.

It can work for video soundtracks as well, depending on how sensitive you are to latency. That’s not a knock on the TS418, which has as low latency as any Bluetooth device I’ve used; it’s just the nature of the technology.

Logitech G613 review: A lag-free, responsive wireless mechanical gaming keyboard

TA-ratings-89If you’ve followed us here at Techaeris for any length of time, you know a few of us are avid gamers and love our mechanical keyboards. There are definitely plenty of choices out there, most of the wired variety. One thing you don’t want to be experiencing while gaming is latency and that’s why gamers usually choose wired peripherals like keyboards, mice, and controllers. Wireless controllers have been around for years on consoles and reliable wireless peripherals have also been making their way to PC gaming. Our Logitech G613 review takes a look at a wireless mechanical gaming keyboard with Romer-G key switches which connects to your computer via Bluetooth or the LIGHTSPEED USB dongle. Read on to find out if it can meet the demands of low latency keystrokes for gaming. NOTE: If you’re looking for a wireless gaming mouse, we’ve also posted our review of the Logitech G603 LIGHTSPEED Wireless Gaming Mouse.

SPECIFICATIONS

The Logitech G613 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard has the following features and specifications:

 Romer-G Key Switches
  • Durability: 70 million keypresses
  • Actuation distance: 0.06 in (1.5 mm)
  • Actuation force: 1.6 oz (45 g)
  • Total travel distance: 0.13 in (3.2 mm)
  • Battery Life: 18 months
  • System Requirements
    • LIGHTSPEED
      • Windows® 7 or later
      • Mac OS® X 10.10 or later
      • Chrome OS™
      • Android™ 3.2 or later
      • USB port
    • Bluetooth
      • Bluetooth-enabled device with Windows® 8 or later
      • Mac OS X 10.12 or later
      • Chrome OS
      • Android 5.0 or later
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 18.8 x 8.5 x 1.3″ (478 x 216 x 33 mm)
  • Weight: 3.1 lb (1410 g) keyboard only; with 2 AA batteries: 3.2 lb (1460 g)

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

  • G613 wireless mechanical keyboard
  • LIGHTSPEED USB receiver
  • Phone stand
  • Extender USB cable
  • 2 AA Batteries
  • User documentation
  • 2-year limited hardware warranty
Logitech-G613-review-07

What’s in the box…

DESIGN

Generally speaking, desktop keyboards have very similar layouts. The Logitech G613 isn’t much different and boasts the usually 6-row layout with the four arrow keys set below the Ins/Del key grouping with a full-sized number pad off to the left. Where it does differ from some other keyboards is the addition of six programmable macro keys on the far left labelled G1 through G6. The Caps Lock indicator light sits above the F11 key while the battery indicator sits above the F12 key. Interestingly enough, there is no Num Lock or Scroll Lock light anywhere on the keyboard which is a pretty big omission — especially in the case of the Num Lock indicator.

Logitech-G613-review-02

There are six “G” keys which can be customized with macros or other shortcuts.

Above the Print Screen/Scroll Lock/Pause keys are three low profile round buttons. The first is a game mode switch while the other two are wireless and Bluetooth buttons which can be pressed to toggle wireless or Bluetooth modes. Above the number pad are four low profile media keys with an equally low profile mute button and elongated volume control button. I’m not sure if it’s the lower profile of these buttons, but while nice to have, they do feel a bit on the cheap side but it could just be the finish style on them.

Logitech-G613-review-01

The game mode switch, wireless, BT, and media control buttons.

Even though the keyboard weighs just over three pounds, it does have a lighter weight feeling construction than other mechanical keyboards that I’ve recently reviewed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it looks pretty much like a standard keyboard with a few extra buttons and nothing really design wise to set itself apart. The main frame of the keyboard is a dark gray with black keys and a molded black wrist rest at the bottom. Unfortunately, the wrist rest isn’t removable so if you’re one who prefers a keyboard without, you’ll be stuck with it in this case. The Logitech G logo is printed above the macro keys on the left side in silver. Located on the right edge near the top is an on/off switch for further battery conservation with G613 printed in silver to the left of it.

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Conserve battery life with the on/off switch.

Flip the keyboard over and you’ll find the usual adjustable feet which provide two height levels of use and the battery compartment for the two AA batteries required to power the keyboard.

Logitech-G613-review-04

Adjustable feet for two height modes.

While most mechanical gaming keyboards scream gaming, the Logitech G613 is more your average looking keyboard. Interestingly enough, however, Logitech also includes a simple, but very useful, smartphone stand with the keyboard. The base is molded black plastic with a dark grey u-shaped ledge with the Logitech G logo printed on the middle. Like the keyboard, it’s pretty simple in design but works rather well. More on this in a moment…

Logitech-G613-review-05

Wait… a phone stand?

EASE OF USE

The Logitech G613 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard can be used in two ways: over wireless USB or via Bluetooth. On the wireless USB side, Logitech uses a “pro-grade wireless” technology they developed called LIGHTSPEED, which we’ll talk about more in the Performance section. To the end user, it’s no different setting up than any other wireless keyboard. Simply plug in the wireless USB dongle, turn the keyboard on, and you’re good to go. Alternately, you can connect to your computer or other Bluetooth-enabled devices by pressing the Bluetooth button on the keyboard and pairing it with your smartphone or another device. You may have been wondering why Logitech included a smartphone stand with the keyboard, but after pairing the keyboard to the Google Pixel 2 XL, I can see why. It was actually pretty cool to be able to switch effortlessly back and forth between typing on the computer and the phone with a press of a button.

Logitech-G613-review-06

The phone stand worked great with the Pixel 2 XL in a case and made it easy to type with the keyboard on it via Bluetooth.

SOFTWARE

Of course, you can use the keyboard as is but Logitech also has the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) which allows you to assign macros or other functions to the six programmable macro keys. Programming the six macro keys is pretty easy, simply select the macro key and then enter in your keystroke(s), text block, mouse function, shortcut, hotkey, function, or even Ventrilo command. While it’s somewhat straightforward, the process could be a bit clearer, especially for those inexperienced with creating macros and the like.

LGS-Macros

Logitech Gaming Software Macros screen.

You can also easily set per game gaming profiles and lockout specific keys from interfering with your gameplay, such as the Windows key. In fact, if you wanted to, you can lock out every key except the ones you need to play that specific game.

A fun feature of LGS allows you to track keystrokes and display them as one of two heat maps: a Key Press Heat Map and a Key Duration Heat Map. Both allow you to toggle a weighted center as well, so you can see where your keypress tendencies lie during gameplay or even just typing in general. The Key Press Heat Map also shows your KPM score, as well as the number of times you hit each colour code keys, while the Key Duration Heat Map also shows the total amount of time you spent pressing a particular colour of key on average.

Google unites Chrome OS tools and EMM vendors for single console control

Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA

Google announced today it is integrating its Chrome OS Enterprise device management suite with four leading mobility management vendors to offer unified end-point management (UEM) capabilities.

Last year, Google introduced its Chrome Enterprise suite and offered integration with VMware Workspace ONE’s UEM cloud portal, allowing IT shops to manage Chrome OS devices using both native Chrome Enterprise and VMware tools from a single console.

Google charges $50 per device annually for the Chrome Enterprise management service.

Today, Google said it has partnered with Cisco Meraki, IBM MaaS360, Citrix XenMobile and Zoho to further integrate management tools for Chrome OS with the popular EMM vendors.

Cisco Meraki offers security features and endpoint management through a web-based dashboard interface. IBM MaaS360 with Watson offers the management of smartphones, tablets, laptops and IoT devices from a single console. Citrix XenMobile provides mobile device and application management, while Zoho offers a CRM solution that includes mobile and other endpoint management capabilities.

“With these partnerships in place, enterprises can pick the solution that fits their business best,” Google said.

Google also announced greater capabilities for IT to manage of its Chrome browser. Last December, it unveiled the first of several security enhancements for enterprises. It is now adding enforced existing user sign-on into Chrome.

Google eventually plans to add enterprise reporting capabilities to the browser to give IT admins access to local machine logs so they can better understand each device under their control.

The announcement is part of the company’s continuing strategy to give IT administrators a single pane through which they can manage Chrome OS devices.

The expansion of EMM support is good for enterprises interested in the platform but unsure how to secure, manage and enforce polices on Chrome devices, said Phil Hochmuth, IDC’s program director for Enterprise Mobility.

While Chrome OS has a lot of security benefits, in that it’s a lightweight OS, there have been questions about how to separate personal and work applications and profiles on the devices, Hochmuth said.

“I think just as significant for enterprises – beyond EMM support – is the inclusion of Active Directory support for the devices, allowing for management … outside of the Google identity system,” Hochmuth said via email.

In general, UEM allows IT managers to remotely provision, control and secure everything from cell phones to tablets, laptops, desktops and now, Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Among other things, Google’s integration with EMM vendors will let IT managers  perform a number of tasks such as locking or disabling Chrome OS devices, whitelisting users to sign onto corporate networks via the devices, and manage other user settings.

According to Forrester Research, about 4% of workers globally were using a Chromebook at work in 2017.

“What this announcement does show is tremendous interest in Chromebooks in the enterprise,” said Forrester analyst Andrew Hewitt.

As Google tries to push into the enterprise space, one of the features nearly all companies require is device manageability (such as initial setup, security, app management and policy management), according to Jack Gold, principal analyst with J.Gold Associates.

While Google has its own management tools for Chrome, few companies want to deploy stand-alone device management when they’ve already turned to enterprise mobility management (EMM) and UEM solutions from the likes of AirWatch, IBM, Citrix and others for Windows, Android or iOS, Gold said.

“By allowing Chrome powered devices to be managed by these tools, Google is decreasing the level of resistance from IT to bringing in a new OS, as it fits directly into the existing infrastructure tools IT is already using and familiar with,” Gold said via email. “So, it’s very important that Google makes this capability a part of an enterprise Chrome play.”

Microsoft, however, already has a major installed base of UEM capabilities, often due to “give-it-away strategies when enterprises buy other products,” Gold said, noting that Chrome is not integrated with the Microsoft UEM. As a result, Google still has a significant UEM barrier in enterprise.

Windows 10 comes with EMM tools, allowing enterprises to deploy and configure PCs and other Windows devices using “modern management” approaches that include mobile device management (MDM) API hooks and controls.

Many of the basic application and system provisioning functions required for business laptops and PCs running Windows 10 can now be done through the OS’s EMM control consoles

“And not all of the management capabilities inherent in Chrome enterprise devices are available in the Chrome API used by the UEM vendors, so there is still some disparity with management capability between third-party and Google management products,” Gold said.

A a good UEM strategy can consolidate IT roles and policies so that there’s one management strategy for all electronic devices. But the UEM marketplace is still relatively nascent.

UEM vendors include Microsoft, VMWare (AirWatch), MobileIron, Citrix, JAMF and Blackberry. Additionally, JAMF offers a UEM platform for Mac and iOS devices.

“Many businesses will likely ramp up pilots and departmental rollouts of [UEM] technology in 2018, as VMware, MobileIron…and especially Microsoft now have mature products and roadmaps for migrating users from traditional PC management to ‘modern’ management,” Hochmuth said. “I think Chrome getting deeper into enterprise with EMM and [active directory] support will push more enterprises to start thinking about UEM as well.”

Organizations attempting to roll out a UEM strategy should consider small pilots first, according Hochmuth.

For example, if a company is rolling out Windows 10 to some groups, it’s good to think about a unified management strategy to test the waters and see if it works.

In the coming weeks, Google said there will be additional details that offer “deeper looks” into what its new enhancements can mean for businesses.

Microsoft lifts update embargo on Windows 10

Windows security and protection [Windows logo/locks]

Microsoft this week lifted the security update blockade on Windows 10 PCs that do not have approved antivirus software, but kept the no-patches-for-you rule in place for the more popular Windows 7.

The update roadblock was assembled in early January, when Microsoft issued mitigations against the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities stemmed from design flaws in virtually all modern processors made by Intel, AMD and ARM. According to Microsoft, the security updates could brick PCs equipped with antivirus (AV) software that had improperly tapped into kernel memory.

To prevent customers’ machines from encountering “stop errors” – Microsoft’s euphemism for “Blue Screen of Death” or BSOD – during installation of the security updates, the Redmond, Wash. company said that AV vendors had to self-certify that their code was compatible with the Spectre/Meltdown patches. Microsoft also required AV developers to signal that compatibility by writing a new key to the Windows Registry.

If the key was not present, the updates would not download and install.

Bottom line, a Windows PC sans an approved antivirus package would not be patched. Microsoft put it in stark terms: “Customers will not receive the January 2018 security updates (or any subsequent security updates) and will not be protected from security vulnerabilities unless their antivirus software vendor sets the following registry key [emphasis added].”

At the time, Microsoft would not say how long the AV rule would be maintained. Instead, it offered a nebulous until-we-say-so timeline. “Microsoft will continue to enforce this requirement until there is high confidence that the majority of customers will not encounter device crashes after installing the security updates,” a support document stated.

Chris Goettl, product manager with client security and management vendor Ivanti, said of the block, “I think it will be at least a few patch cycles.”

Goettl nailed it, at least for Windows 10, because on Tuesday Microsoft said it had lifted the embargo. “Our recent work with our antivirus (AV) partners on compatibility with Windows updates has now reached a sustained level of broad ecosystem compatibility,” the firm said in a different support document. “Based on our analysis of available data, we are now lifting the AV compatibility check for the March 2018 Windows security updates for supported Windows 10 devices via Windows Update.”

In cases where Microsoft knows that the antivirus software was incompatible with the updates, it will continue to block the latter from reaching affected PCs.

Though the update barrier was removed for Windows 10, it will remain in place for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Users of those editions must continue to have a compatible AV package on board, one that sets the registry key. Alternately, customers can add the registry key themselves by following the “Setting the Registry Key” instructions here.

Because the Windows 10 security updates are cumulative – they include not just the current month’s patches, but all patches issued previously – by applying the March collection, users will again have an up-to-date system.

It was unclear how long Microsoft would maintain the update restriction on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. In a FAQ refreshed this week, the company repeated its vague timeline. “Microsoft will continue to enforce this requirement for older versions of Windows until there is high confidence that the majority of customers will not encounter device crashes after installing the Windows security updates,” one answer read.

“I’ll share more details in the weeks ahead on AV compatibility for older versions of Windows,” added John Cable, director of program management on the Windows servicing and delivery team, in a blog post Tuesday.

Windows 7 has been the most affected by the update stoppage; it was the only edition that did not come with a Microsoft-made AV package. And by blocking security updates from reaching Windows 7 systems, Microsoft affected the biggest-possible audience: During February, Windows 7 powered 48% of all Windows PCs, a user share larger than either Windows 10’s (39%) or Windows 8/8.1’s (8%).

And as part of this week’s Patch Tuesday rollout, said Microsoft’s Cable, Windows 7 x86 and Windows 8.1 x86 were patched against the Meltdown vulnerability. Only the systems with compatible AV software, and a properly-set registry key, will receive those updates, however.

Could these grain-sized computers using blockchain networks thwart counterfeiters?

Within five years, IBM researchers hope to deploy granular microcomputers that, in conjunction with a blockchain electronic ledger, could be used to verify and track goods all over the world.

IBM has created a microcomputer technology called cryptographic anchors (abbreviated: crypto-anchors) and says they could be used to authenticate anything from pharmaceuticals to luxury goods, such as diamonds, from point of origin to merchant.

Fraud costs the global economy more than $600 billion a year, according to IBM, and in some countries, nearly 70% of certain drugs are counterfeit.

Supply chains can be made up of dozens of entities – from shipper to exporter, importer and freight forwarders – all from multiple countries. As goods move from port to port, criminals have numerous opportunities to tamper with products.

In addition, there is also an enormous amount of documentation associated with cross-border transactions, according to Paul Brody, Ernst & Young’s (EY) Global Innovation Leader for Blockchain Technology.

Although the supply chain and shipping industries have moved on from an all paper-based system to more of an electronic exchange, those systems continue to be siloed within a single company.

“And what is going on is that we all have this digital information but we need a more efficient way to bring it under a single infrastructure,” Brody said. “And that is what blockchain is doing – managing the physical aspect, financial aspect, legal contracts and operations in a single digital contract.”

IBM’s crypto-anchors – such as ink dots or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt – could be embedded in everyday objects and devices, Arvind Krishna, head of IBM Research, wrote in a blog post. “They’ll be used in tandem with blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to ensure an object’s authenticity from its point of origin to when it reaches the hands of the customer,” he said.

Essentially, the crypto-anchors will not only serve as mobile sensors or transmitters but would also contain unique hashes that can authenticate a product’s origin and contents, ensuring it matches the electronic blockchain record.

In the case of liquids or metals that can expand with heat, the crypto-anchors can be outfitted with a special optical device and artificial intelligence algorithms to learn and identify the optical structure and features of certain objects. They can also identify the presence of DNA sequences in minutes, IBM said.

The product-tracking technology, Krishna said, will open the door to new ways of handling food safety, documenting the authenticity of manufactured components, tracking genetically modified products, identifying counterfeit objects and guarding the provenance of luxury goods.

Blockchain electronic ledgers are already being piloted in supply chains to track in real time goods as they transit the globe or simply move between a company and its suppliers.

Challenges with blockchain remain, however, according to Brody.

For example, data immutability on a blockchain makes it ideal for auditing purposes, but it that data is incorrect, it’s also guaranteed to proceed forward on the ledger in an incorrect manner, Brody said.

“You need to make sure that data is accurate, because that will be very important,” Brody said.

Blockchains themselves are incredibly resilient in that they are a distributed, decentralized network of independent nodes – making them extremely hard to take down as a whole. But the distributed ledger tech does have a weakness associated with the custom software built on top of it and on the edges of the network.

“From a cybersecurity perspective, protecting the edges of the network from attack will be key,” Brody said. “Attacks tend to flow toward the weakest points of the network, so even if the blockchain itself is resilient, if there are significant weaknesses in the IoT connectivity, those will be exploited.”

Within five years, IBM researchers hope to deploy granular microcomputers that, in conjunction with a blockchain electronic ledger, could be used to verify and track goods all over the world.

IBM has created a microcomputer technology called cryptographic anchors (abbreviated: crypto-anchors) and says they could be used to authenticate anything from pharmaceuticals to luxury goods, such as diamonds, from point of origin to merchant.

Fraud costs the global economy more than $600 billion a year, according to IBM, and in some countries, nearly 70% of certain drugs are counterfeit.

Supply chains can be made up of dozens of entities – from shipper to exporter, importer and freight forwarders – all from multiple countries. As goods move from port to port, criminals have numerous opportunities to tamper with products.

In addition, there is also an enormous amount of documentation associated with cross-border transactions, according to Paul Brody, Ernst & Young’s (EY) Global Innovation Leader for Blockchain Technology.

Although the supply chain and shipping industries have moved on from an all paper-based system to more of an electronic exchange, those systems continue to be siloed within a single company.

“And what is going on is that we all have this digital information but we need a more efficient way to bring it under a single infrastructure,” Brody said. “And that is what blockchain is doing – managing the physical aspect, financial aspect, legal contracts and operations in a single digital contract.”

IBM’s crypto-anchors – such as ink dots or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt – could be embedded in everyday objects and devices, Arvind Krishna, head of IBM Research, wrote in a blog post. “They’ll be used in tandem with blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to ensure an object’s authenticity from its point of origin to when it reaches the hands of the customer,” he said.

Essentially, the crypto-anchors will not only serve as mobile sensors or transmitters but would also contain unique hashes that can authenticate a product’s origin and contents, ensuring it matches the electronic blockchain record.

In the case of liquids or metals that can expand with heat, the crypto-anchors can be outfitted with a special optical device and artificial intelligence algorithms to learn and identify the optical structure and features of certain objects. They can also identify the presence of DNA sequences in minutes, IBM said.

The product-tracking technology, Krishna said, will open the door to new ways of handling food safety, documenting the authenticity of manufactured components, tracking genetically modified products, identifying counterfeit objects and guarding the provenance of luxury goods.

Blockchain electronic ledgers are already being piloted in supply chains to track in real time goods as they transit the globe or simply move between a company and its suppliers.

Challenges with blockchain remain, however, according to Brody.

For example, data immutability on a blockchain makes it ideal for auditing purposes, but it that data is incorrect, it’s also guaranteed to proceed forward on the ledger in an incorrect manner, Brody said.

“You need to make sure that data is accurate, because that will be very important,” Brody said.

Blockchains themselves are incredibly resilient in that they are a distributed, decentralized network of independent nodes – making them extremely hard to take down as a whole. But the distributed ledger tech does have a weakness associated with the custom software built on top of it and on the edges of the network.

“From a cybersecurity perspective, protecting the edges of the network from attack will be key,” Brody said. “Attacks tend to flow toward the weakest points of the network, so even if the blockchain itself is resilient, if there are significant weaknesses in the IoT connectivity, those will be exploited.”

 

Microsoft shrinks Windows 10’s upgrade downtime

18 re install windows 10

Microsoft today said that upcoming Windows 10 feature upgrades, including the one that will ship early next month, will complete their on-PC migrations with significantly less disruption to their users’ work.

According to the company, future upgrades – the twice-a-year heavy lifts that form the foundation of Microsoft’s Windows-as-a-service claim – will feature a 63% reduction in user downtime compared to a year ago.

“To achieve this, we moved portions of the work done during the offline phases and placed it in the online phase,” Joseph Conway, a senior program manager on the team responsible for Microsoft’s upgrade technologies, wrote in a post to a company blog.

Windows 10 upgrades take place in two modes: online and offline Conway explained, with the former representing time when the PC can still be used. “This [online] phase is not disruptive to the user as tasks happen in the background,” while the operating system continues to run, he said. Meanwhile, the offline mode is disruptive because the device cannot be used, as the OS is busy updating itself.

The latter is what most Windows 10 users are most familiar with, since it means they’re locked out of work. It’s also the source of most complaints about the time it takes to process a feature upgrade.

“We’ve heard your feedback about the lengthy amount of time your PC is unusable during a feature update installation,” Conway acknowledged.

A year ago, Windows 10 1703, aka “Creators Update,” racked up an average of 83 minutes of offline time as it upgraded PCs. That time fell to 51 minutes for 1709, the October 2017 upgrade, and should average 30 minutes for 1803, the upgrade expected in early April.

Microsoft trimmed the disruptive time by moving two tasks from the offline mode to the background – and online – part of the process. Rather than prepare to migrate the user’s content or move the operating system to a temporary directory while offline, Microsoft has shifted both to online so that the PC can keep running, and the user can keep working.

The total time necessary to complete a feature upgrade may not decrease, because Microsoft simply shifted jobs from one category to another, robbing Peter, to an extent, to pay Paul. But Conway asserted that users would benefit.

“The online phase for the feature update will take longer to complete,” said Conway. “However, this should not be noticeable to most users, as the setup processes run at a low priority, so they won’t have a large impact on a device’s battery life or system performance.”

That Microsoft made an effort to reduce feature upgrade downtime wasn’t surprising. The company has strived to eliminate other pain points related to the more-frequent upgrades, including additional options about when an upgrade is allowed, delays that in some cases can postpone a specific feature upgrade up to a year, and staged roll-outs that theoretically let the company diagnose problems with an upgrade before it reaches a broad audience.

“For Microsoft, a lot of what they’re doing is to remove anything that creates friction that would prevent people from rolling out upgrades,” said Stephen Kleynhans, a research vice president at Gartner Research. “They want to get people updating, they want people to let their machines go forth with each new version.”

There are Microsoft customers who care deeply about upgrade downtime, Kleynhans stressed. “It’s not everyone, but they’re a very vocal minority,” he said, citing one client as an example. “A hospital has machines that are workstations that nurses use. They’re in service 24 hours a day. If you take it down for an hour or hour and a half [for a feature upgrade], you can’t say to the patients, ‘Just wait.'”

Other organizations with similar severe uptime requirements also have had to work around lengthy upgrades, to the point where they’ve postponed upgrades until they could bring in secondary systems to bridge the gap, Kleynhans said.

“I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of this,” he said of the downtime reductions. “Microsoft will continue to do tweaking.”

GIGABYTE at CES 2018: Aero 15x and AORUS X9 Gaming Laptops

Among some of the other announcements GIGABYTE made this year at CES 2018, it also displayed some of their existing gaming laptops in the Aero 15X (now available in pure black) as well as the AORUS X9, a very thin, dual GPU laptop using true laptop mechanical switches.

AORUS X9

The AORUS X9’s claim to fame is how thin it is and able to shoehorn in dual Geforce GTX 1070s in the chassis, as well as its Kailh brown mechanical keys with 2.5mm of key travel. Gigabyte states it is the thinnest laptop in the world with dual GPUs and mechanical keys. The flagship X9 laptop has a 17.3-inch panel available in two resolutions, either QHD (2560×1440) 120Hz WVA panel, or a 4K UHD (3840×2160) with Adobe RGB.

The design of the chassis is said to be inspired by supercars, fighter jets, and a Falcon which is the motif in the base and used as a cooling vent. The chassis is made from aluminum, giving the device a more high-end feel. The AORUS RGB lighting is not only for show but can provide users with information such as volume, battery indicator, CPU/GPU temperature and more. It is also able to sync up with the surrounding RGB chassis lighting (four RGB LED strips and keyboard). The big selling point is just how thin the laptop is measuring just 1.18” tall and able to stuff two GTX 1070s as well as using full travel mechanical keys.

Internally, there is a quad-fan cooling solution which uses a total of eight heat pipes to dissipate the heat created by the dual GPUs, CPU, and the chipset. Cool air is taken in through the falcon shaped vents on the base and exhausted out the back away from the user. This creates a notable rake on the keyboard, but this could be beneficial on the wrists for extended periods of use.

 

The only processor option is the i7-7820HK quad-core which comes in at a base clock of 2.9 GHz with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.9 GHz, all in a 45W package. The processor is overclockable as well. Memory capacity is a maximum of 64GB through its four SO-DIMM slots and is able to support speeds up to DDR4-2400, although exact capacity will vary depending on the retailer. There are three possible locations for internal storage with two 1TB NVMe M.2 SSDs and bulk storage handled by a 2TB 7200 RPM HDD.

There is a range of updated connectivity on the X9, starting from Thunderbolt 3 (1 x Type-C), USB 3.1 Type-C (10 Gbps), three USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) ports, a Mini-DisplayPort (v1.3) and a HDMI 2.0 output. Additionally, it includes a single 3.5mm headphone out, a 3.5mm microphone input, and a single SD card reader. Network duties are handled by a Killer E2500 Ethernet port and a Killer AC 1535 dual-band Wi-Fi card supporting Killer’s Doubleshot Pro functionality which is able to route traffic to the hardwired E2500 or the wireless adapters depending on priority.

Two configurations have been available since the end of October, the first SKU, X9-KL4K4M which has the i7-7820HK CPU, 17.3” UHD IPS screen, GTX 1070 SLI, 2 x 16GB DDR4-2400, 1 x 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD and 1 TB HDD has an MSRP of $3,649. The second SKU is a Newegg exclusive which adds another 512GB PCIe NVMe drive for a total of 2 x 512GB and removes the 1 TB HDD.

AORUS X9 (KL4K4M)
On amazon
GIGABYTE AORUS X9
Max Specifications X9-KL4K4M Newegg Exclusive
Warranty Period 2 Year Warranty
Product Page N/A
Price ($US) Starting at $1749 $3649 $$$$
Type Gaming Laptop
Processor Family 7th Generation Intel Core i7
Processors i7-7820HK (2.9 GHz base, 3.9 GHz Turbo)
Memory 4×16 GB DDR4-2400 2 x 16 GB DDR4-2400
Network Connectivity Rivet Networks E2500 GbE
Killer Wireless AC1535
Internal Storage 2 x M.2 PCIe SSD
1 x 2.5″ HDD
1 x 512GB SSD
1 x 1TB HDD
2 x 512GB SSD
Graphics 2 x NVIDIA GTX 1070 SLI GDDR5 8GB
Expansion Slots 1 x SD card reader (UHS-II, PCIe)
Display UHD IPS or
QHD 120Hz WVA
17.3″ UHD 3840×2160 IPS
Ports and Connectors 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C)
1 x USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) Type-C
3 x USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) Type-A
1 x Mini-DisplayPort (v 1.3)
1 x HDMI (v2.0)
1 x 3.5mm Headphone (HiFi, SPDIF)
1 x 3.5mm Mic-In
1 x SD Card Reader (UHS-II, PCIe)
Input Device RGB Mechanical Keyboard (Brown keys)
Camera HD Camera
Power 330W External AC Power adapter,
94.24Wh Battery, Li-Po
Dimensions 16.9″ x 12.4″ x 0.9-1.18″
Weight 7.9 lbs+

 

Aero 15X

The Aero 15X, like the X9, is a thin laptop primarily designed for gaming. The Aero 15X, however, is a bit more understated in its design in that, one could easily put this laptop on a boardroom table, and nobody would be the wiser that the intent would be a gaming machine. The Aero 15X uses NVIDIA’s Max-Q GPUs which are designed with thermals in mind with the physical designm and allows for a slim gaming laptop which is able to support a powerful GPU like the GTX 1080 (Max-Q will have three variants GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060). It is ever so slightly thicker and heavier at 4.8 pounds and 0.8-inches thick compared to the MSI GS63VT Stealth Pro (4.2 lbs 0.7-inches), but it packs a wallop for its small size.

The exterior design is an all-black chassis with the back of the monitor using some carbon fiber at the bottom with the Gigabyte name in silver prominently placed in the middle. Any colors will have to come from the RGB LED per-key backlit keyboard. The regular X models did come with color options, but this simply comes in black or pure black.

Gigabyte uses a 15.6-inch full-HD display and is X-Rite Pantone color calibrated like the X9. The panel covers 106% of the sRGB color gamut and only has 5mm bezels.  Due to the beze size, the camera has been placed in the hinge between the main base and the panel. The Aero 15X uses an NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1070 8GB with Max-Q design which should easily drive the FHD panel. Pushing all the data around is a 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8 GHz-3.8 GHz). Memory support ranges from 8 to 16GB of DDR4-2400 in two slots (maximum of 32GB). Storage options are only available in M.2 form supporting NVME PCIe x4 and SATA modules.

Razer Unveils Project Linda: Turning the Razer Phone into an Android Laptop

As part of their announcements today, Razer is lifting the lid on one of its internal projects. Like other previous Razer prototype developments that get a female name, Linda follows in the footsteps of Christine, Cheryl, Valerie, and Ariana, some of which made it to retail. Linda at its heart is an accessory for the Razer Phone, turning the smartphone into an Android laptop with a bigger screen, more storage, and a bigger battery, all while using the super-loud front facing Razer Phone speakers and the phone display as a configurable touchpad.

Razer’s aim here is to provide Razer Phone owners with the ability to be more productive as well as have a mouse and keyboard gaming experience in a clamshell-like environment from the phone. Linda is still in the prototype phase, with Razer getting extensive feedback. But ultimately what the user gets is a 13.3-inch display in a 0.59-inch (14.99-mm) clamshell with a Razer Chroma enabled keyboard, USB 2.0 ports, enough battery for 3 full recharges of the Razer Phone, 200GB of additional storage, a webcam/array microphone, and perhaps some other features still to be decided.

The Razer Phone sits in the dock in the clamshell, and is fixed into place by the adjustable USB Type-C connector inside the dock that the user controls via a button. Everything is then attached via this USB interface – the display, keyboard, and storage. The idea is that the phone can be installed and removed seamlessly, and apps can take advantage of the dual screen by having the phone display custom buttons during gaming. The USB ports can be used for a mouse, enabling (in Razer’s own words) ‘PC style gaming’, although we should reiterate that this is still an Android system.

For wireless connectivity, the clamshell will use the Wi-Fi or LTE connection of the smartphone, although no additional antenna arrangement would be provided by Linda. The combined device is unlocked using the smartphone fingerprint sensor as well. To save cost, no speakers are in the clamshell, with Razer making full use of the smartphone speakers. It will be interesting to see how the users arms muffle the audio while over the keyboard – while none of the renders we were provided have a 3.5mm headphone jack as part of Linda, we were able to confirm from Razer that one will be there. Adding such a jack would likely require USB Type-C audio passthrough (which is probably electrically noisy), or an additional DAC in Linda which would add to the cost.

Most of the features are still to be ironed out. Razer is aiming to make the display match the resolution and refresh rate of the phone (which will be a big chunk of the cost of Linda), although they are not there yet.

During our briefing, we were probed for thoughts and feedback – my main concern is that most of the time I am on my PC or laptop, I also have my phone out as I use them very differently. For example, when watching a film, I might have social media on my phone, or when working doing a live blog, I’ll be writing on my laptop while taking photos on my phone. If Linda allowed for a wired cable (or wirelessly, though that would take battery) to do the same thing, it might work. However, as an Android device, it might not be terribly useful for my multi-tasking workflow as it stands.  One other thing I requested is the ability to do some level of base functionality without the phone, such as Netflix.

Razer is going after gamers though – the subset of gamers that also bought the Razer Phone. If Linda was to become a retail product, ideally it would work with multiple generations of Razer Phones, which would mean allowing for an adjustable hole in Linda, or keeping the same phone dimensions.

If this sounds a bit like Windows Continuum, where users would dock a Windows Phone and get a Windows-like experience on a large display, it is kind of like that but with Android, similar to the desktop style experiences seen with Samsung’s DeX (Desktop Experience) and Huawei’s smartphone as a desktop feature.

Price of Linda is also a consideration. Even though it’s basically a USB device under the hood and not a full laptop, a 13.3-inch, 120 Hz touch display with 200GB of storage isn’t going to come cheap, especially if the panel is IPS and not TN. I’m guessing that Razer should aim for a bundle with the Phone at $999, although speaking to other editors, anything over $200 would be too much.

We’re getting some hands-on time with the prototype at CES, more info to come.

Here’s a quick refresher on the history of Razer projects:

Razer Internal Projects
AnandTech Year Concept Status
Female Names:
Linda 2018  Smartphone Clamshell Dock Prototype
Cheryl 2017 Razer Phone On Sale
Valerie 2017 Tri-Screen Laptop Stolen
Ariana 2017 Display Projector with Chroma Prototype
Sheena 2015 Capture Card Prototype
Winona 2015 Streaming Camera Razer Kiyo ?
Christine 2014 Modular Gaming PC Concept
Fiona 2012 Dual Controller Gaming Tablet See Nintendo Switch
 Male Names : None.
Other Names:
Breadwinner 2016 Toaster April Fool
McFly 2015 Hover Mouse April Fool
Switchblade 2011 7-inch Gaming Netbook Prototype

The GIGABYTE Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 Review: Dual Audio Codecs

oday we are having a look at a LED-laden, gaming-focused, ATX motherboard from GIGABYTE: the Aorus AX370-Gaming 5. If a user wants LEDs for Ryzen at under $200, here is one of the primary contenders. Being part of GIGABYTE’s gaming product line means we get SLI support, and GIGABYTE is using a gaming-focused network controller (one of two) and some overclocking options for the processor. The interesting part of this board, however, is the use of dual audio codecs: one for the rear panel and one for the front panel. To physically do this requires a couple of compromises, so we have put the board through its paces to see if it is worth buying.

To read specifically about the X370/B350 chip/platform and the specifications therein, our deep dive into what it is can be found at this link.

Planned Reviews

  • $260 – ASRock X370 Professional Gaming
  • $230 – ASRock X370 Taichi
  • $175 – GIGABYTE AX370-Gaming 5 [this review]
  • $120 – ASRock B350 Gaming K4
  • $110 – Biostar X370GTN [review]
  • $98 – MSI B350 Tomahawk

The GIGABYTE Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 Overview

The GIGABYTE AX370-Gaming 5 shows that not every motherboard has to conform to the regular gaming themed combination of black PCB with red or silver aluminium heatsinks. With the Gaming 5, it has a wave of black and white contrasting heatsinks featured across the board. GIGABYTE has opted to implement a fairly standard X370 PCIe layout consisting of two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots powered by the CPU, which feature support for dual graphics card configurations on either SLI or CrossFire and have additional rigidity support. This is in addition to a single full-length slot present at the bottom which operates at PCIe 2.0 x4 also with rigidity support, and three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots.

It gets a little interesting when we start discussing the controllers. Powering the onboard audio are a pair of Realtek ALC1220 codecs, with one dedicated for the back panel and one specifically for the front. Very few boards (if ever?) have had this arrangement, making the Gaming 5 special in that regard. The audio comes bundled with SoundBlaster’s X-Fi MB5 software utility. For networking, the primary port is derived from the gaming-focused Killer E2500 Gigabit controller, and a second from an Intel I211-AT controller.

Featured is a 10-phase power design, which GIGABYTE aims for solid and consistent power delivery, and claims it is useful for overclocking. It is worth noting that the VRM is split into a 4+2 design with the phases dedicated to the SoC using a doubler to give an 8+2 phase design overall.

Storage wise, the Gaming 5 has eight SATA 6Gbs ports which are accompanied by two SATA Express ports. PCIe storage comes via a single U.2 port, which shares bandwidth with a single M.2-2280 slot found between the first two full-length PCIe slots.

Buy GIGABYTE AORUS GA-AX370-Gaming 5 on Amazon.com

Performance on the Gaming 5 essentially matches what we see on the other X370 boards. Despite the dual audio codecs, this means that each codec only has half of the space, so our audio results show that it is one of the weaker ALC1220 solutions (although better than the ALC892 units we have tested). Power consumption at idle was within a couple of watts of our other boards despite the LEDs, and at load the system actually drew 15W less than our other tests, to which we’re still looking into an explanation. Overclocking, as explained below, was relatively easy.

The Gaming 5 sits near the top of the pile of GIGABYTE’s current X370 offerings, with the only model above it being the AX370-Gaming K7. It is also worth noting that GIGABYTE’s X370 range stops just short of $200 even with their top AX370-Gaming K7 model; with the very similar AX370-Gaming 5 which this review is actually on coming in at $184 (at the time of review).

Overclocking

Most, if not all, mid-range motherboards are very capable of overclocking the processor, and most include a one-click OC button (either physical or in the BIOS) which gives the task to the motherboard based on how far it believes it can be done safely. The only caveat of this is that virtually every motherboard I have used this with is very cautious about not giving enough voltage, so over-volts the CPU. This gives the overclock more chance to remain stable, but plays havoc for little gains at the price of extra energy lost as heat; thermal sensors can start to kick in even if the auto-option is safe. With the Gaming 5, both automatic overclocking and a manual overclocking is available.

Methodology

Our standard overclocking methodology is as follows. We select the automatic overclock options and test for stability with POV-Ray and OCCT to simulate high-end workloads. These stability tests aim to catch any immediate causes for memory or CPU errors.

For manual overclocks, based on the information gathered from previous testing, starts off at a nominal voltage and CPU multiplier, and the multiplier is increased until the stability tests are failed. The CPU voltage is increased gradually until the stability tests are passed, and the process repeated until the motherboard reduces the multiplier automatically (due to safety protocol) or the CPU temperature reaches a stupidly high level (100ºC+). Our test bed is not in a case, which should push overclocks higher with fresher (cooler) air.

Overclocking Results

Referencing back to the Biostar X370GTN review, our Ryzen 7 1700 CPU does have a limitation between 3.9GHz and 4.0GHz; at least on the boards we have tested thus far. This is down to silicon lottery and a combination of a sharp ramp of voltage to temperature when moving up each different step; therefore, cutting out/throttling due to thermal limitations when pushed too far on ambient cooling.

POV-Ray @ 3.9GHz

Power OCCT (w/GTX 980) - Overclocking

The Ryzen 7 1700 processor we are using has a 3.0 GHz base core clock speed and a 3.7 GHz turbo, and is rated at 65W. When overclocked to 3.9 GHz with 1.375v, the overall power consumption taken at the wall was pushing just under 187W at peak.