Asus Releases XG-C100C 10GBASE-T NIC For $99

Asus rounded out the branded 10GbE ecosystem today with a desktop add-in network interface card to go with the previously released XG-U2008 unmanaged switch ($250 on Amazon). For less than $100 you get massive bandwidth with priority queuing for enhanced gaming support.

10GbE delivers just over 1,000MBps, which is just what you need to take advantage of your new NVMe protocol SSD across the network. The market is ready for a network upgrade, but we need products like the new XG-100C NIC and motherboards with the feature onboard to jump start demand, according to industry insiders.

The XG-C100C supports 10GbE and the latest 2.5 and 5GbE standards. The lower bandwidth standards have yet to appear in a home-focused switch, but when they’re available, they’ll allow you to use legacy CAT5e cabling to avoid the expense of running new wire throughout your home. In our testing, we’ve found that users can still use CAT5e to achieve 10GbE speeds for short distances.

IEEE 802.1p Priority Queuing is a supported feature on the XG-C100C, and it allows users to utilize Quality-of-Service (QoS) technology. This allows you to prioritize game packets over other traffic, for example, to help make sure you experience smooth gameplay even if you’re using your network for other things at the same time.

The NIC will set your system back four PCI Express 3.0 lanes as required by the Aquantia AQtion Client Controller. There are two specifications that make this product stand out from other 10GbE NICs shipping today. The first is the low $99 price tag. Amazon already has a product page for the XG-C100C, but doesn’t have stock at time of writing. The MSRP is low and we expect pricing to get better over time. The second standout feature is related to why the market has adopted the AQtion AQC107 controller: it consumes very little power, and thus produces very little heat. The products we’ve seen use a low-cost heat sink–or no heat sink at all, in the case on onboard designs. Both features run contrary to enterprise-focused products, which are expensive and require cooling beyond what most of us use in our quiet desktops.

The question many will ask is: What the hell do you do with 1,000MBps of network bandwidth? If you have to ask, then this might not be the upgrade for you. More products will support the 10GbE and Multi-Gigabit standards in time. Wouldn’t it be nice to watch a high-definition movie from across the network without stuttering? 10GbE ships on nearly all of the latest network-attached storage appliances costing north of $450. Just like USB 3.1 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3, and NVMe, 10GbE enhances storage bandwidth, and that’s what you need to increase before life-like gameplay can become a reality. Until then, you will just have to live with very fast file transfers and lower latency.

Product Asus XG-C100C
Chipset Aquantia AQtion AQC107 Client Controller
Port Attributes RJ-45 100Mbps, 1Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 5Gbps/10Gbps
Auto-Negotiation
Standards IEEE 802.3an 10GBASE-T
IEEE 802.3u 100Base-TX Fast Ethernet
IEEE 802ab 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet
IEEE 802az Energy Efficient Ethernet
IEEE 802.1p Priority Queuing
Performance Jumbo Frame Support: 9 KB

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Asus’ ZenScreen monitor lets you go dual-screen with your laptop

Asus has announced that its ZenScreen MB16AC portable monitor is now on sale over in the US, where it will set you back $250 (around £200, AU$330).

The idea here is that you can have a slim screen – it’s only 8mm thick and weighs 780g – which can be easily carted about with your ultra-thin laptop to use as a second screen for the likes of presentations, or simply to make you more productive, aping a multi-monitor setup as seen with a desktop PC.

The ZenScreen runs with a 15.6-inch display that offers Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution, with Asus promising ‘outstanding’ color reproduction, no less. You’ll certainly get wide viewing angles, allowing everyone to see those aforementioned presentations clearly, because this is an IPS panel.

Nice and neat

Maintaining the streamlined vibe when it comes to hooking the screen up to a notebook, only a single USB cable is needed – this carries both power and video signal – and it supports USB Type-C connectors as well as older Type-A ports.

Asus provides DisplayWidget software which allows the screen to detect its orientation and automatically switch between landscape and portrait modes. The ZenScreen further benefits from a pair of eye-strain combating measures, namely flicker-free technology and a low-blue-light filter.

The portable monitor also has a foldable smart case to protect the screen when it’s in transit, and it can be used as a stand for when the display is in use, whether in portrait or landscape mode.

For the ability to bring your home or office dual-screen setup along with you, this is far from the worst way you could spend 250 clams.

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'Sega Forever' Brings Classic Games To Mobile Devices

Game companies often peddle in nostalgia. Nintendo continually sells access to its classic titles via the Virtual Console (except on the Switch) or the short-lived NES Classic Edition. Atari is making its first home console since the Atari Jaguar was released in 1993. And now Sega’s getting in on the action with Sega Forever, a program through which it plans to bring games “from every console era” to iOS and Android devices.

Sega Forever will start with five games originally made for the Sega Genesis: Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star II, Kid Chameleon, and Comix Zone. In a press release, Sega said that it plans to expand the program to “include both official emulations and ported games that pan all SEGA console eras, each adapted specifically for mobile devices while remaining faithful to the original games.”

All of these games will be free-to-play and (you guessed it) ad-supported. You do have the option to purchase each game for $2, however, which is less than you’ll pay for mobile versions of other classic games. Sega also built controller support, leaderboards, and cloud saves into the games, and the company said you’ll be able to play them offline, so those cloud-based features shouldn’t bother you while you’re playing.

It’s hard to fault Sega for this approach. The company doesn’t have its own console anymore, but for a while it was Nintendo’s primary competitor. Series like Sonic the Hedgehog, Shining Force, and Streets of Rage were all found on Sega consoles, and Sega Forever could be the first chance many people have to experience these games for themselves. Everyone else can treat themselves to a cheap hit of nostalgia.

Sega said as much in its press release:

“Above all else SEGA Forever is a celebration of nostalgia. It’s about allowing fans to reconnect with past experiences and share them with family and friends in an accessible and convenient way,” explains Mike Evans, CMO of SEGA’s Mobile Division in the West. “Join us on a journey of rediscovery as we roll out two decades of classic games free on mobile. Create your own ‘SEGA Forever folder’ and collect your favorite classics. Enjoy moments of nostalgia on the go, or sync a Bluetooth controller to enjoy a console-like experience in your living room. SEGA Forever democratizes retro gaming, and seeks to change how the world plays, rediscovers, and shares in classic game experiences.”

New titles are expected to be added to the Sega Forever collection every two weeks. You can find download links to the first batch of games on the program’s website, and Sega’s encouraging people to share the games they’d like to see next via the Sega Forever page on Facebook. The options won’t be limited to Genesis titles–Sega said it’s also planning to revive games from the Master System, Dreamcast, and other consoles.

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Onkyo E700M review

Onkyo E700M review

High-Res Audio headphones don’t have to break the bank and can actually be affordable for those on a limited budget. We take a look at the stylish, comfortable and great sounding Onkyo E700M in-ear headphones in our full review. See also: Best budget headphones.

Onkyo E700M Price

You can get a lot of cheap in-ear headphones, often under £50 but it can be worth spending a bit more.

That normally means breaching the £100 barrier but the Onkyo E700M in-ears come in at a very reasonable £74.99. It’s a nice price point for those wanting to spend a bit of cash but not blow a hole in their bank balance.

They’re cheaper than the non-High Res Yamaha EPH-M200 in-ears.

Onkyo E700M Design and Build

Pretty much all in-ear headphones have a similar design; you won’t see law suits between rival companies here. That said, there are some interesting elements about the E700M design to note.

For starters, they come in black or white colour options and you’ll notice that a stand out feature is the twisted cable – one is clear which looks quite cool. This not only makes the cable stand-out but stops them getting tangled which is always pain when you want to just get listening.

We like the angular design of the ear pods which we found fitted nicely and it’s hard to left and right confused here. The aluminium casing looks great with the spun glossy finish and also helps get rid of unwanted vibration, according to Onkyo.

Onkyo E700M review

Onkyo E700M review

The headphones are supplied with a soft carry case and you also get more than the usual three sets of tips in different sizes. You also get a pair of Comply foam tips which are like ear plugs.

The memory foam fills your ear canal very well creating an excellent seal. This improves sound quality by keeping noise out and audio in, plus makes the E700M headphones more comfortable than the vast majority of in-ears.

Aiding comfort is the fact these headphones are lightweight at just 18g. Features like a 1.2m cable and in-line microphone are pretty standard. However, the control has no volume buttons which is a shame.

Onkyo E700M Sound Quality

One of the big issues to tackle here is the fact the E700M are ‘High-Res Audio’ headphones. You’ve probably seen the logo around on various products over the last year or two, but what are High-Res headphones?

The idea is that you experience ‘better than CD quality audio’ but you’ll need to listen to High-Res music files for starters.

In simple terms the logo means they can reach an upper frequency of at least 40kHz which is double that of the human hearing range, which is 20Hz – 20kHz. These Onkyo headphones can cope with 6Hz – 40kHz which seems a little pointless but there’s more to it.

If the headphones can playback frequencies outside your hearing range it can still help what you hear sound better. It also means the headphones can handle frequencies within the normal range with increased accuracy.

Onkyo E700M review headphones

Onkyo E700M review headphones

For those with Hi-Res equipment to plug these headphones into, and the files, the Onkyo E700M in-ears are an affordable option, but what if you don’t have High-Res tech and tracks?

Never fear because the E700M headphones sound great anyway, thanks principally to the large 13.5mm high power neodymium drivers. As mentioned earlier, noise isolation is excellent with the included foam tips.

Headphones will appeal to a wide range of listeners when they are nicely balanced and that’s what we’ve found to be the case here.

The bass is strong and has an impressive richness like there are tiny woofers hidden somewhere, which you rarely find in headphones under £100. However, the low frequencies don’t dominate unless you push the volume up a lot which can sometimes be the case in an effort to make them sound good.

The mid-range and top-end are both detailed so all kind of elements like vocals, guitars, pianos and cymbals are present in the mix. It’s also impressive how loud the E700M headphones can go without dramatically losing quality.

Onkyo E700M: Specs

  • Driver Unit: 13.5mm
  • Frequency Range: 6 – 40,000Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Weight: 18g
  • Cable Length: 1.2m
  • In-Line Remote: Yes
  • Sensitivity: 106dB
  • Colors: Black,White
  • Connector: 3.5mm jack

OUR VERDICT

The Onkyo E700M in-ears are a highly recommendable pair of headphones. We like the stylish design with tangle-resistant cables. They’re super comfy with the foam tips which also aid sound quality, which is great even if you don’t make use of High-Red Audio files. All for an affordable price.

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Hackintosh: Build a DIY Mac for gaming

Fellow Macworld contributor Kirk McElhearn recently built a mini Hackintosh; that is, a generic PC styled like a Mac mini, on which he installed and ran macOS. This is a road I’ve gone down myself, way back in 2008, when I built my Frankenmac. As Kirk was building a relatively low-end Mac clone, and as Apple has ignored the high-end Mac Pro for so many years, I thought it’d be interesting to build a new high-end Frankenmac.

Why build a Hackintosh?

My current machine is a late 2014 5K iMac, and while it works well for most tasks, it really suffers when I pursue my avocation: Flying the X-Plane flight simulator. Frame rates can vary from decent to slow, and the iMac’s fan ramps up nearly as soon as I launch the simulator. In the end, the simulator is what really drove my desire to build a new Frankenmac: I wanted a machine that could run X-Plane really well, without a screaming loud fan, and hopefully be used as my iMac replacement (at least until the “new new” Mac Pro is released).

The key to this project was Nvidia’s announcement of Pascal drivers for the Mac. This meant that I could put in a leading-edge video card—one of the GeForce GTX 10 series cards. These cards will easily outperform (in games, at least) anything in any Mac that Apple currently ships.

I won’t provide as much detail as did Kirk, but here are the components I used.

Motherboard

ga z170x ud3Gigabyte

Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard

Like Kirk, I went with Gigabyte for the motherboard; for me, a GA-Z170X-UD3 ($130 on Amazon). My motherboard doesn’t have Wi-Fi, but I added it with the Fenvi 802.11AC Desktop Wifi Card ($70 on Amazon). This card is favored with Hackintosh builders, as it supposedly supports Handoff and Continuity without any troubles.

Processor

I chose an Intel Core i7 6700K 4.0GHZ CPU ($300 on Amazon). This is basically the fastest desktop-class CPU that’s fully supported in a Hackintosh.

Memory

I ordered 32GB of RAM, given it’s relatively inexpensive and I didn’t want to worry about swap files.

Graphics

Kirk used onboard video, but in my case, that wouldn’t cut it for X-Plane. I chose the Gigabyte GeForce GTX GV-N1080 ($550 on Amazon). This was the most expensive single item in my build, surpassing even the CPU in cost. But it’s a wicked-fast card that will run circles (in gaming) around anything Apple ships.

Amazon Fire HD8 (2017)

If you’re new to tablets, the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) is one of the most appealing deals going. It costs just $80/£80, is slim and portable and gives you access to a lot of the apps you have on your phone, but on a bigger screen.

Those already familiar with the tablet game may be a little disappointed with how little progress Amazon has made with the 2017 edition of the Amazon Fire HD 8, though. In most respects, it’s identical to last year’s version.

The latest change? Alexa support is now built into the Amazon Fire HD 8, letting you ask this digital assistant general knowledge questions and control any Alexa-supporting smart home gear right from the tablet. You get this with the last model with a software update, though. Amazon has also given the speakers a much-needed upgrade.

There are countless other improvements Amazon could have made to the tech, but as lower-cost tablets have barely progressed in the last year there’s not a huge amount of competition, so are the upgrades Amazon has made here enough for us to recommend the Fire HD 8 (2017)?

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) price and release date

  • Out now
  • Starts at $80/£80

The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) is out now in both the US and the UK, with no word on an Australian release.

It starts at $80/£80 (around AU$105) for a 16GB model with lock screen adverts, rising to $95/£90 (roughly AU$125) without adverts, $110/£100 (around AU$145) for a 32GB model with adverts, and topping out at $125/£110 (approximately AU$165) for a 32GB version without adverts.

Key features

  • Low-end specs
  • Value over raw performance
  • Not for the enthusiast crowd

The new Amazon Fire HD 8 is a tablet that packs in low-end tech just good enough to satisfy most buyers. If you’re someone who regularly reads our reviews and follows tech, you’ll be able to find a way to sneer at almost every aspect if you decide to.

Even if you are that kind of person, it doesn’t mean the Fire HD 8 (2017) won’t be suitable for friends and relatives, though. Just like last year, it’s a tablet laser-focused on someone who wants a cheap, reliable slate but doesn’t expect the earth.

Compared to an iPad Pro 10.5, for example, the Amazon Fire HD 8’s screen will seem blocky and less punchy.

This isn’t an incredibly quick tablet either. Most games and apps will run just fine, even high-end ones, but the system isn’t as fast to respond as a powerful Android tablet.

At its core, the Amazon Fire HD 8 runs on Android, but there’s an Amazon-made interface on top called Fire OS. This looks nothing like Android and can seem heavy-handed in the way it pushes you towards Amazon services like Prime Video.

It’s the aim of Amazon tablets like this, really, to get you to read books, watch movies and listen to music through Amazon portals. In return you get a decent, very affordable piece of hardware.

Keep your expectations for camera quality low, though. Photos taken with the Fire HD 8’s 2MP camera are almost certainly going to look worse than those taken with your phone. Unless you still use a phone from the 90s.

The most remarkable thing about the Amazon Fire HD 8 is the price, but that’s the whole idea. And thanks to Amazon’s adherence to basic performance standards, this tablet is still a lot of fun to play around with.

Design and display

  • Solid build given the price
  • Pleasant but reflective and low-res screen
  • Highly portable

Until you get the 2017 Amazon Fire HD 8 and last year’s model side-by-side, they look identical. It’s a slim-feeling 9.7mm thick plastic tablet whose 8-inch widescreen display makes it seem much more an alternative to an iPad Mini 4 than a full-size iPad.

This is the sort of tablet you might sling in a bag to kill a few minutes on a boring work commute. It’s inoffensive, plain and practical.

The Fire HD 8 also comes in a few different colors. We’re using the blue version. Black, yellow and red versions are available too. The blue model is a bit darker than last year’s, perhaps an attempt to make it seem more grown-up, to avoid the toy-like look of a bright plastic gadget.

Amazon’s low-end tablets have always offered surprisingly good build quality, and this actually seems to have improved further this year. A bit of finger pressure would make parts of the old model’s back flex and actually ‘click’ as the plastic hit the internals, but the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) seems dense and flex-free. In an $80/£80 tablet, that’s impressive.

You don’t, however, get any of the fancy features that have migrated from phones to tablets. There’s no fingerprint scanner, no water resistance.

The basic Fire HD 8 comes with 16GB of storage, but you can upgrade to 32GB for an extra $30/£20 if you like. There’s also a microSD slot on the side that supports cards of up to a huge 256GB, giving you as much room for media files as a laptop. Even the standard 16GB gives you enough space for a good selection of apps and games.

Considering the price, the display isn’t too bad either. The crucial element is that Amazon uses IPS LCD screens in its low-cost tablets. This kind of display looks fine no matter what angle you look at it from, where the TN LCD screens still used in cheap laptops look shadowy and inverted if you tilt your head the wrong way.

Resolution is low at 1280 x 800 pixels, providing 189 pixels per inch, and that means you can see some pixelation quite clearly. However, we don’t think it’s enough to ruin the experience. You can still read text and games don’t look super-blocky.

Color is good for a low-end screen as well. Its character seems ever-so-slightly tweaked since the last model, but the effect is largely the same: tones look punchy enough to make games and movies satisfying.

You don’t get the same sort of color richness you’d see in an iPad Mini or Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, but it doesn’t compare too badly to Samsung’s lower-cost (but still more expensive) Galaxy Tab A 7.0.

The one part we’d love to see Amazon address, though, is the contrast-reducing structure of the screen. A lot of high-quality tablets now use a process called full screen lamination, which is where the touchscreen and display layers are fused together instead of sitting on top of each other.

You don’t get that in the Fire HD 8 (2017), and it leads to the screen image seeming slightly recessed below the surface and the display looking grey rather than pitch-black when the screen is off.

The new iPad isn’t laminated either, but the ill effects are far more pronounced here. Comparing directly with last year’s model, Amazon seems to have made some small improvements here, but full screen lamination would boost image quality into the next league.

As-is, the Fire HD 8’s display is very reflective, and contrast gets eaten away in well-lit rooms or outdoors. Like most cheaper tablets there’s no auto brightness setting either, so you need to remember to jack up the brightness when outside or you’ll barely be able to see what’s on-screen.

We can’t count the number of times a friend has complained their phone/tablet screen isn’t working properly only to realize it’s because they haven’t tweaked the brightness.

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How to use Nvidia Ansel

While it may sound complicated, taking professional-level game screenshots is simple. Here, we show you how to use Nvidia Ansel to take amazing in-game screenshots.

Take high quality game screenshots with Nvidia Ansel – here’s how


By

Nvidia, the company responsible for making some of the best graphics cards in the world, now offers a free way for gamers to take professional-level screenshots in some of their favourite games dubbed Nvidia Ansel.

The most impressive feature of Nvidia Ansel? Once activated, you can take free-reign of the in-game camera and capture any angle you desire with no constraints or annoying UIs to be found. It also offers a range of editing tools to help you achieve the desired look.

While it may sound complicated, it’s much easier than you might think; here, we show you how to use Nvidia Ansel to take amazing in-game screenshots.

Interested in other Nvidia technology? Find out everything you need to know about Nvidia Max-Q.

Before you begin

Before you jump in and get creative with Nvidia’s professional-level screenshot software, it’s worth noting that there are a couple of requirements first: a Nvidia-powered graphics card and an Ansel-compatible game.

Nvidia graphics card

The first requirement is a Nvidia graphics card. While this may make some gamers concerned (especially those with an older PC), there’s no need to worry as chances are, it’ll be supported. Why? Ansel offers support for all Nvidia graphics cards all the way back to the 6-series, including mobile processors.

For a full list of supported graphics cards, you can check out the Nvidia website.

Ansel-compatible games

Even if you’ve got a compatible Nvidia graphics card, you also need an Ansel-compatible game.

Like with any new technology, it takes developers time to offer support in their games. With that being said, Nvidia Ansel is only compatible with 13 games at the time of writing. These include:

  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • Ark: Survival Evolved
  • Dishonored 2
  • Conan Exiles
  • For Honor
  • Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  • Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
  • Obduction
  • Paragon
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • The Witness
  • War Thunder
  • Watch Dogs 2

Although it isn’t a huge list at the moment, the technology was only launched little over a year ago. Nvidia confirmed at E3 2017 that the upcoming Destiny 2 will feature Nvidia Ansel support when it’s released later this year, and we imagine that many – if not all – upcoming AAA game releases will offer support for Nvidia Ansel. For an up to date list of Ansel-compatible games, check out the Nvidia website.

Want to find out more about upcoming games? Take a look at the best upcoming games of 2017.

How to use Nvidia Ansel

If you play one of the currently supported games and have a compatible graphics card then you can use Nvidia Ansel to take truly awe-inspiring screenshots.

Find the perfect angle and effects

To use Nvidia Ansel in-game to take professional level screenshots, the first step is to press Alt + F2. Once pressed, the game should automatically pause and the Ansel overlay should appear.  

From here, you can pan around the environment using your mouse and keyboard to find the right angle. Want to catch the right angle of that peak in Mass Effect: Andromeda? Or did you want to get an over-the-shoulder shot of the incredible vistas presented in Ghost Recon: Wildlands? It’s possible.

Simply use your mouse’s left button to drag the Ansel camera around the scene, or control it via the WASD on your keyboard. You can also control the elevation of the camera with Z and X, and press Shift to move faster.

In the Camera & Capture menu, you can adjust the roll and field of view to see more (or less) of the overall shot and give the screenshot a different perspective. Wide-angle shots are perfect for capturing landscapes, while subject-based screenshots are usually much tighter.

Once you’ve found the perfect angle for your shot, it’s time to get stuck into the range of photo features available.

Select Filter to select a range of pre-made Instagram-esque photo filters to help give your screenshot a specific look. While the range isn’t amazingly varied, it’s a start and we hope Nvidia adds more in future. You can also adjust the intensity of the filter if it’s a little ‘much’ for you.

Next, you can expand the Adjustments menu to tweak the brightness, contrast and vibrancy of your shot. Though not as advanced as the likes of Photoshop, it’s enough to correct any lighting issues in your screenshot.

The FX menu offers the finishing touches to your screenshot, like the ability to enhance the colour, apply a vignette or apply the Sketch filter (although we feel it’s a little out of place in this menu!).

Exporting your Ansel screenshots

Finally, it’s time to head back to the Camera & Capture menu to decide how to export your screenshot. In addition to being able to export is as a standard screenshot in your current resolution, Nvidia Ansel provides options like Super Resolution to export your images in 4K at minimum, along with 360 and 360 Stereo for VR viewing. Cool right?

Simply select your desired format and select Snap in the bottom-left of the display to save the screenshot.

It’s that simple! Now go forth, capture stunning in-game shots of your favourite games and share them with us on Twitter too.

Read next: Best upcoming VR games of 2017

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