Dell Inspiron 27 7000

In just its first year of existence within public reach, virtual reality has become the biggest buzzword in the computing world bar none, and Dell has obviously noticed. The firm’s latest attempt to get VR into the mainstream is the Inspiron 27 7000 all-in-one desktop.

A 27-inch PC housing a Dell’s first InfinityEdge screen on an AIO as sharp as 4K (3,840 x 2,160), the Inspiron 27 7000 includes your choice of AMD Ryzen 5 1400 or Ryzen 7 1700 processors as well as either Radeon RX560 or RX 580 Polaris graphics chips.

Both drives offer up to 32GB of RAM and spinning hard drives as large as 1TB as well as solid-state boot drive combos up to 256GB PCIe SSDs. Starting at $999 (about £779, AU$1,345), this latest Inspiron looks to bring VR to more sorts of folks than just gamers.

Design

With an ostensibly family-friendly, crowd-pleasing appearance, the Inspiron 27 7000 serves both as a computer for all sorts of folks and a vessel to get said folks into virtual worlds. To bridge that gap, however, an optional 4K HDR10 display with incredible color reproduction will have to do. 

The Inspiron 27 7000’s metallic back panel is removable for easier upgrades to storage and RAM, and the sturdy, angular stand has some smart cable management tools.

Dell also equipped this AIO with an infrared camera for Windows Hello login on Windows 10, for the simplest form of secure login around: your face.

As for connectivity, Dell outfitted the Inspiron 27 7000 with four USB 3.1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB Type-C port and two HDMI ports (one out; one in) for easy VR setup. Dual-band AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 round out the wireless connectivity options.

The included wireless mouse and keyboard are just fine, but nothing terribly effective or egregious either way. The travel and feedback are about as deep and punchy as you’d fine on an Inspiron laptop, well meeting standards.

Paving the way for near-ubiquitous VR

Dell’s deeper motive with the Inspiron 27 7000 is to entice general customers into the world of VR. While the device costs a grand to start, it’s more about the form factor of such an approachable, familiar PC bringing that technology forth than anything.

While Oculus Rift and HTC Vive should work just fine with this Inspiron, but the upcoming Dell head-mounted display should pair even better when it (hopefully) lands later this year.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test the model’s VR performance, but a unit equipped with the desktop-grade Radeon RX580 should be more than enough to handle VR games and movies. Ultimately, Dell’s plan to normalize VR makes sense, and we’d like to see it work out if for anything to see VR be enjoyed by more than just gamers.

Early verdict

Dell’s first Inspiron all-in-one with its InfinityEdge display impresses while staying within its price confines, confidently adopting all-AMD technology to bring VR to more types of computer users than before. This is an AIO as ready for you and family to watch 4K movies on as it is ready for you to get some Overwatch in on.

That’s before even getting the VR implications, positioning the Inspiron 27 7000 as quite the impressive everyman machine, with the tools necessary to handle hefty work (and play) loads in a presentation almost anyone can understand. Stay tuned to see how the all-AMD hardware holds up in a full review.

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Dell's Inspiron All-In-Ones Ditch Bezels, One Promises VR Readiness

What will you do with your all-in-one? Dell’s two latest Inspirons cater to two very specific experiences: Its new Inspiron 24 5000 AIO is meant to stream video like a champ with anti-buffering software, whereas the Inspiron 27 7000 AIO is VR-ready and can handle games and content creation.

Both of the All-in-Ones have Dell’s InfinityEdge displays, like what you’ll find on the XPS 13 laptop, and sleek new silver and black designs, which look far nicer than the previous models with thick bezels. Their hinges bend the screen down towards the desk, just like Microsoft’s Surface Studio.

The Inspiron 24 5000 (available this month starting at $700) has a 24-inch IPS FHD display and runs on a 7th-gen AMD CPU and AMD Polaris RX5000 GPU. Its killer app is Dell’s and Rivet Networks’ Smartbyte, which prioritizes video calls and streaming ahead of other traffic. In theory, this means less time buffering and more time watching video.

The Inspiron 27 7000 (starting at $1,000) uses “the latest multi-core Ryzen AMD processors” in combination with Polaris RX500 graphics to power either its standard FHD display or an optional 4K UHD screen. Dell said nothing further about which Ryzen chip(s) would be available in the Inspiron 27 7000. Its internal subwoofer promises loud, clear audio and strong bass.

You get far-field voice activation for Cortana, USB Type-C 3.1, and Windows Hello login via infrared cameras on both models. Several storage options, including SSDs and dual drives, are available on either system.

We expect to learn more after Dell’s Computex press conference.

MORE: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU Review

MORE: AMD Ryzen 5 1500X CPU Review

Seth Colaner contributed to this report.

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Dell unleashes a trio of new all-AMD desktops for media and gaming

During this year’s Computex 2017 festivities, Dell has pulled the curtain back on not one, but three brand new, all-AMD desktop PCs. Specifically, an Inspiron all-in-one PC has been shown at both 24- and- 27-inch varieties, as well as a new gaming desktop in disguise.

First up are the Inspiron 24 5000 and Inspiron 27 7000 all-in-ones, which both embody a subdued design so as not to detract from popping full HD and up to 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) touch displays, respectively.

AMD all the way

Both of Dell’s new AIO computers come packing the latest AMD Ryzen processors and Polaris graphics chips. The 24-inch model comes with a 7th generation, quad-core A10 processor paired with a Radeon RX560 graphics chip with 4GB of video memory.

Meanwhile, the 27-incher houses your choice of a quad-core Ryzen 5 1400 or octa-core Ryzen 7 1700 processor with another choice of Radeon RX560 graphics with 4GB of video RAM or Radeon RX580 with 8GB of memory. Both PCs offer up to 32GB of RAM and spinning hard drives as large as 1TB as well as solid-state boot drive combos up to 256GB PCIe SSDs.

Both of these PCs’ nearly bezel-less InfinityEdge screens – the first Dell AIOs to be nearly bezel-free – use interplane switching, or ISP, technology, making sharing movies and games on one screen much easier with wider viewing angles.

Finally, you will find far-field voice-controlled Cortana access from both of these AIOs as well as Windows Hello via infrared cameras, with the 24-incher offering a SmartByte software to prioritize network traffic for uninterrupted streaming sessions. The 24-inch Inspiron 24 5000 hits shelves this month for $699 (about £545, AU$941) to start, while the 27-inch Inspiron 27 7000 asks for a starting price of $999 (about £779, AU$1,345), also available now.

Inspiron goes gaming-ready

Dell also took the Computex stage as the opportunity to unveil its first-ever Inspiron gaming desktop, designed to bring near-boutique gaming PC quality to buyers for far less than the real deal.

The firm is bringing AMD Ryzen and Polaris technology to a potentially new audience inside a device designed to attract gamers with a chassis equipped with “Polar Blue” LED lights.

As for special features, Dell has been mum on those for its new entry-to-mid-level gaming PC for the masses, though keen to tout its PC’s five internal bays for storage upgrades as well as liquid cooling options. The Inspiron Gaming Desktop is available now starting at $699 (about £545, AU$941).

Will Dell’s new all-AMD PC push lead to powerful, sleek devices for less than before? We’ll have to see in some full reviews.

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Intel Fires Back, Announces X-Series 18-core Core-i9 Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X i7, i5, X299 Basin Falls

There’s no question that the resurgent AMD Ryzen processors are pressuring Intel in the mainstream CPU market. Until now, Intel has stood unflinching in the face of the renewed competition and has stoically left its price structure unchanged (except for the Core i3-7350K). And AMD’s recent announcement of its beefy 16C/32T ThreadRipper processors made it clear that the company intends to bring the fight to the HEDT segment as well.

It was only a matter of time before Intel answered, either via lowering its prices or adding more cores. With the release of its new Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X products, it appears to be doing both. Intel announced several new high-end SKUs here at Computex 2017 in Taipei today.

Intel is segmenting its new X-Series HEDT lineup into i5, i7, and i9 processors and increasing the core counts. Surprisingly, the company is offering a much lower price point for its core-heavy i9 series. Broadwell-E 10-cores weighed in at an eye-watering $1,723, but the new Skylake-X 10-core retails for only $1,000. Intel’s new branding scheme finds the Skylake-X i9 series with 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18-core models with hyperthreading, which leads to a massive 36 threads on the high-end Core i9-7890XE. The i7 series spans four, six, and eight cores with hyperthreading, while the i5 series has a lone four-core, sans hyperthreading.

Intel’s HEDT lineup traditionally lags a generation (or two) behind its mainstream processors. For example, we had the Broadwell-E architecture on the X99 platform while the Kaby Lake generation shipped for mainstream audiences. That trend also changes with the addition of the four-core Kaby Lake-X i5 and i9 series to the HEDT stable.

And perhaps most interestingly, we’re seeing a jump in clock speeds for the HEDT lineup. The 10C/20T i9-7900X features a mundane 3.3 GHz clock, but that jumps up to 4.3 GHz with TurboBoost 2.0, and an impressive 4.5 GHz with TurboBoost 3.0. That implies a relatively high overclocking ceiling.

Intel’s also reorganized its cache subsystem to boost performance. Along with the normal advances borne of better process technology, the company claims the i9 series offers 15% more performance for single threaded workloads and 10% more for multithreaded workloads.

All of the new models snap into the new LGA2066 socket on X299 “Basin Falls” chipset motherboards, which denotes a fundamental shift from the traditional server chipsets Intel used with the previous HEDT series to a client-oriented chipset.

It’s a lot to take in and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive in.

The Lineup

Intel announced somewhat detailed specifications for the 4-to-12-core offerings, but the 12, 14, 16, and 18 core models were missing from the original slides the company displayed during a briefing. Later, Intel added the new SKUs to an updated slide. Here’s what we’re looking at:

Core i5-7640X Core i7-7740X Core i7-7800X Core i7-7820X Core i9-7900X Core i9-7920X Core i9-7940X Core i9-7960X Core i9-7980XE
Family Kaby Lake-X Kaby Lake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X
Process 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm 14nm 14nm
Cores/Threads 4/4 4/8 6/12 8/16 10/20 12/24 14/28 16/32 18/36
Base Clock (GHz) 4.0 4.3 3.5 3.6 3.3 ? ? ? ?
Intel TurboBoost 2.0 Frequency (GHz) 4.2 4.5 4.0 4.3 4.3 ? ? ? ?
Intel TurboBoost 3.0 Frequency (GHz) NA NA NA 4.5 4.5 ? ? ? ?
L3 Cache 6 8 8.25 11 13.75 ? ? ? ?
PCIe 3.0 Lanes 16 16 28 28 44 ? ? ? ?
Memory Support Dual Channel DDR4-2666 Dual Channel DDR4-2666 Quad Channel DDR4-2400 Quad Channel DDR4-2666 Quad Channel DDR4-2666 ? ? ? ?
TDP 112W 112W 140W 140W 140W ? ? ? 165W
Socket 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066
RCP Pricing (USD 1K Units) $242 $339 $389 $599 $999 $1,199 $1,399 $1,699 $1,999

Of course, pricing is the first thing that attracts the eye. Intel reigned in pricing on the 10-core model from $1,723 with the Broadwell-E i7-6950X to $1,000 with the Skylake-X i9-7900X, thus wiping out the i7-6950X’s resale value immediately. Intel’s asking price for an eight-core CPU drops from $1,089 to $599, which is still more expensive than AMD’s $500 eight-core Ryzen 7 1800X. Given the Ryzen series’ universally unlocked lineup, Intel also contends with the $330 8C/16T Ryzen 7 1700. Intel’s six-core also drops from $583 to $339, which contends with the $249 six-core Ryzen 5 1600X and the $219 Ryzen 5 1600. Of course, similar core counts do not equate to similar performance, so it will make for an interesting battle when we factor in Intel’s claimed performance increases.

The new Skylake-X models employ the Skylake Xeon HCC, MCC and LCC die. Intel increased memory support up to DDR4-2666 for all of the processors except the i7-7800X and i7-7820X. Intel hasn’t released memory specifications for the higher-end CPUs, but we expect they will follow the same pattern. The Kaby Lake-X models support dual channel memory, while Skylake-X supports quad channel. The i5-7640X and i7-7740X feature a 112W TDP, while the remainder of the sub-12 core lineup has a 140W TDP. We know that the 18-core model has a 165W TDP, but await further details on the remainder of the SKUs. The Core i9-7980XE slots in as the extreme high-end product for $1,999. Intel touts that it is the first desktop Teraflop CPU. It accommodates AVX-512, and, like the rest of the X-Series, supports Optane memory. 

The Faster Things

Intel brings back support for TurboBoost (TB) 2.0 and 3.0, but the company improved TB 3.0 to direct workloads to the fastest two cores, which is an increase from the single-core support in the past. Windows 10 automatically assumes control of the TB 3.0 feature, so it no longer requires a utility or driver. Intel reduced the shared Last Level Cache (LLC-L3) and transitioned from an inclusive scheme to non-inclusive (exclusive), apparently due to efficient caching algorithms that maximize the L2 cache hit rate. Intel also quadrupled L1 capacity from 256KB to 1MB, which benefits multi-threaded performance.

The Skylake-X i7-7800X and i7-7820X feature 28 PCIe 3.0 lanes, while the remainder of the family offers 44 lanes. That’s Intel’s segmentation at its finest. The Kaby Lake-X models have 16 lanes. As expected, all the models have unlocked multipliers. Intel also added a new AVX-512 ratio offset, which is a useful feature to obtain higher overclocks with non-AVX workloads. The company added memory controller trim voltage control. PEG (PCIe) and DMI overclocking also make their return. DMI overclocking is especially helpful to overcome bandwidth limitations. Intel offers its performance tuning protection plan for the new series, which is essentially an additional warranty that covers damage due to overclocking.

The X299 Basin Falls Chipset

The Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X processors drop into the LGA 2066 socket (R4) on the newly-anointed X299 chipset. This chipset marks a shift from Intel’s strategy of using server chipsets for its HEDT lineup. The X299 chipset also features a DMI 3.0 connection and the usual goodies, such as eight SATA 3.0 and 10 USB 3.0 ports, but there is a glaring lack of USB 3.1 support. Intel plans to add it in future chipsets. It also supports 30 HSIO (High Speed I/O) lanes and up to three RST PCIe 3.0 x4 storage devices. Intel’s I218 Jacksonville LAN PHY also makes an appearance.

It seems odd to pair the relatively low-cost 4C/4T i5-7640X and 4C/8T i7-7740X with a (likely) expensive chipset. We asked Intel about the strategy:

Yes, we’re adding two quad-core processors for broader expandability of the platform. These parts enable customers to invest in a more powerful enthusiast platform that provides more headroom and scalability up the X-Series stack when they are ready. These two processors start with a slightly higher base frequency and provide ingredients, like higher memory speed and larger socket, for better overclocking performance compared to their mainstream counterparts. Our Intel Core i7-7700K and the S-line are still great options and by introducing the X-series we’re giving a wide variety of consumers the benefit of choice.

Intel will continue to offer socket 1151. It wouldn’t be surprising to see some stratification of the X299 chipset, thus creating cheaper options, but we’ll have to wait for more information.

What TDP?

The LGA2066 socket is compatible with LGA2011 cooling solutions, which is a plus. However, Intel now recommends water cooling as the minimum cooling option, which will add more cost to the overall solution.

Enter Intel’s own recommended cooler. You can buy the Intel Liquid Cooling TS13X as a separate product. It features a 120mm fan, 150x118x37mm radiator, and an $85-$100 price tag.

We’ve included a few of the other slides in Intel’s presentation deck. Interestingly, Intel has upgraded its “MegaTasking” marketing to “Extreme MegaTasking.”

Closing Thoughts

Intel’s HEDT lineup represents the land of high margins, and the company cashed in with its high-end products during its decade of dominance. AMD’s resurgence hasn’t engendered much of a response thus far from Intel in the mid-range, likely because Ryzen’s lack of integrated graphics severely restricts its own addressable market, and thus the amount of share it can steal from Intel. However, the 16C/32T ThreadRipper posts a clear and present danger to Intel’s HEDT lineup, particularly if AMD continues to offer disruptively low price points. Intel’s first post-Ryzen salvo finds the company making moves that it arguably could have made long ago: lower prices, higher core counts, and performance-boosting optimizations to an existing architecture. That’s the beauty of a newly-competitive CPU market.

Intel is rolling the X-Series out in phases, with the leading-edge 4-10 CPUs working its way to market in the coming weeks. It’s fair to assume that reviews will come shortly. Intel will share more details on the remainder of the series soon.

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Acer Predator Triton 700

Updated: We’ve had some more hands-on time with the Acer Predator Triton 700 at Computex 2017.

Since introducing its Predator-line, Acer’s modus operandi for gaming machines has been go bigger and more powerful. However, the Taiwanese electronic firm’s latest Predator Triton 700 bucks that trend by going thinner than any other gaming notebook out there.

Measuring only 18.9mm thin, it throws its hat into a ring of other ultra-thin gaming laptops like the Razer Blade and MSI GS63 Ghost Pro. However, beyond packing power into a tight package like everyone else, the Triton 700 also features a mechanical keyboard and touchpad unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Design

The Acer Predator Triton 700 takes many of its design cues from the Predator X 21, including a teal-on-black color scheme. More prominently, though, the keyboard sits on the bottom edge of the laptop where the trackpad and palm rests normally are. 

In an unexpected reversal, the touchpad is actually integrated into the window sitting above the keyboard. On top of showing off the Triton 700’s heat pipe and internal cooling fans, Acer managed to fit this transparent window with a digitizer that recognizes your mouse gestures.

It’s an interesting use of space, to say the least. 

One downside of long-time clickers is having to resort to using tap-to-click since there are (understandably) no mechanical elements to the Triton 700’s pointing device.

The mechanical keyboard is another pleasant surprise. The switches are even more tactile than the SteelSeries mechanical-like keyboard implementation in MSI machines. We would say these are on par with the mechanical switches we used on the Razer Blade Pro.

Features

Inputs aside, the laptops other half is an attractive 15.6-inch Full HD Display. From all appearances it looks like the panel on the pre-production model was the same as the Predator 15, which is to say colors look vibrant and well represented on a glare-reducing screen.

In terms of hardware, Triton 700 comes with an Intel Core i5-7300HQ or Intel Core i7 7700HQ processors, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage. Following Nvidia’s Computex 2017 announcement, we now know the Predator Triton 700 features an Nvidia GTX 1080 that users can further overclock.

Before the Max-Q reveal, we expected the Triton 700 might come with just an Nvidia GTX 1060 to compete with the Razer Blade. But now this seems to be the most powerful 15-inch gaming laptop in existence so far. Considering all the chest-beating Acer has done for its revolutionary AeroBlade 3D Gen 2 cooling system, we should be able to really push performance on this slim gaming laptop.

Pricing for the Predator Triton 700 starts at $2,999 (about £2,320, AU$4,020) and that’s downright bonkers in a space of ultra-thin laptops that have been getting progressively more inexpensive. So this 15-inch better really bring the heat when it releases this August.  

Early verdict

Acer continues to put out head turning gaming laptops and the Predator Triton 700 makes a much better case for itself than the digital piano-sized Predator 21 X. That is, until you see the $2,999 (about £2,320, AU$4,020) price tag attached to it. 

Without all the details on the just how well the GPU performs or battery life, it’s too early to call if this 15-inch ultra-thin gaming laptop is a winner, but it’s certainly one you’ll want to keep an eye on.

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Nvidia’s Max-Q Will Make Your Gaming Laptops Incredibly Slim

Most gaming laptops are bulky beasts, but soon that may no longer be the case. Today at its press conference at Computex, Nvidia announced its new design approach, Max-Q, which is meant to make gaming laptops thinner, faster, and quieter. You’ll be able to find Max-Q designed laptops with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060 GPUs from major vendors, starting on June 27.

The goal was to make gaming notebooks that are up to 3x thinner with 3x more performance than existing laptops. Now, they can be as slim as 0.7-inches, Nvidia says, with up to 70% more performance than before. These laptops will come from manufacturers including Acer, Alienware, Asus, Clevo, Gigabyte, HP, Lenovo, Maingear, MSI, Origin, and more.

This is all still based on Nvidia’s Pascal architecture, also known as the 10-series GPUs. But now, it’s all precision engineered from the laptop down to the electrical components to make sure everything is as efficient as possible.

Those optimizations include low-voltage clock curves for cards like the GTX 1080 to squeeze out performance while reducing power and better Game Ready drivers to increase efficiency and thermal solutions for laptops to keep them cooler, allowing for higher gaming performance. Gaming laptops designed for Max-Q are are ready for anything GeForce-related from G-Sync screens to VR and 4K gaming.

Additionally, Nvidia announced its new WhisperMode tech, which lets laptops run more quietly while you’re playing games. It configures graphics settings and frame rates to favor power efficiency, which should make laptops, well, whisper quiet. All Pascal-based laptops will get this update soon via a software update in GeForce Experience.

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Nvidia Announces Partnership To Accelerate Machine Learning-Optimized Server Deployment

HGX-1 server with 8 Nvidia GPUsHGX-1 server with 8 Nvidia GPUsNvidia announced a new partnership with top server manufacturers such as Foxconn, Inventec, Quanta, and Wistron that aims to bring the HGX-1 servers faster to market. The servers target “AI cloud computing,” so the primary customers will be data center-owning companies.

HGX-1 Servers

The development of the HGX-1 server chassis was a collaboration between Microsoft, Nvidia, and Ingrasys. The companies optimized the enclosure for machine learning applications and open-sourced its design earlier this year. The HGX-1 boxes support up to eight GPUs in a single chassis, and up to 32 GPUs can work together when four HGX-1 boxes are interconnected.


The HGX-1 supports Nvidia’s latest compute GPUs, including the Pascal-based Tesla P100 and the latest Volta-based Tesla V100. However, HGX-1 also works with AMD Radeon GPUs and Intel machine learning accelerators.

Partnership With Top ODMs

Through the HGX Partner Program, Nvidia will provide top original design manufacturers (ODMs) such as Foxconn, Inventec, Quanta, and Wistron early access to its own HGX reference architecture, GPU technologies, and design guidelines. This partnership should allow the ODMs to build their own HGX boxes faster, thus reducing the time it takes to deploy them in their customers’ data centers.

Nvidia said that all of the top 10 hyperscale businesses use its GPUs to accelerate their machine learning projects. According to the company, its new Volta-based GPUs should be three times faster than the Pascal GPUs. This is in part due to the machine learning-optimized Tensor Cores, which are now included its new compute architecture.

“Accelerated computing is evolving rapidly — in just one year we tripled the deep learning performance in our Tesla GPUs — and this is having a significant impact on the way systems are designed,” said an Nvidia representative.

“Through our HGX partner program, device makers can ensure they’re offering the latest AI technologies to the growing community of cloud computing providers,” he added.

The HGX systems are compatible with Nvidia’s GPU Cloud Platform, which includes support for machine learning software frameworks such as TensorFlow, Caffe2, Cognitive Toolkit, and MXNet.

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