Wednesday, December 5, 2012

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

Small Form Factor Buyer's Guide

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 09:55 PM PST

There have been many interesting developments in the small form factor market segment since our last SFF buyer's guide. Specifically, current-generation Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs and AMD Trinity APUs use less power than their respective predecessors, and GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA are similarly less power hungry than last year's architectures. Using less electricity translates to emitting less heat, meaning small form factor systems are more viable than ever. Further, there are many new mini-ITX cases available to house the latest products from Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD. In this guide we outline budget-friendly general use tiny desktops, a small file server, and svelte gaming systems.

AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta 11 Drivers Available

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 07:30 PM PST

Continuing their work on the 12.11 drivers, AMD has recently released their 12.11 beta 11 driver update. This driver fixes several system hangs while including the previous improvements to performance found in Beta 8. In particular, the driver notes call out to a performance upgrade for Far Cry 3. Here are the direct links to the various drivers:

AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta11 Driver for Windows Vista/7/8
AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta11 Driver for Windows Vista/7/8 - with .NET 4 Support
AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta11 Driver for Linux
AMD Catalyst 12.11 CAP2

AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta Release Notes

  • Improves performance in Far Cry 3 (up to 25% with 8xMSAA, SSAO enabled @ 1600p, and up to 15% with 8xMSAA, HDAO enabled @1600p) (AMD Catalyst 12.11 CAP2 must also be installed)
  • Resolves a sporadic system hang encountered with a single AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series GPU seen on X58 and X79 chipsets.
  • Resolves an intermittent hang encountered with AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series GPUs in a CrossFire Eyefinity setup.
  • Resolves image corruption found in certain DirectX 9.0c titles
  • Resolve missing fonts issue in XBMC
  • Resolves no video issue found in Media Player Classic Home Cinema when using full or half floating point processing
  • Resolves stability issues found in the previous AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta8 driver for Linux
  • For users experiencing issues with HDMI Audio under Ubuntu 12.04, users should try installing the “dkms-hda - 0.201211291615~precise1” package from and reboot; this will resolve the HDMI Audio issue found in Ubuntu 12.04
  • AMD Catalyst 12.11 CAP2 has just been released, and should be used in conjunction with AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta11
    • Improves Far Cry 3 performance for single GPU configurations with AA enabled

NVIDIA GeForce 310.70 Beta Drivers Available

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:00 PM PST

Seeking a candidate for WHQL certification, NVIDIA has just released their 310.70 beta driver update for desktops and laptops. The driver continues to iterate on the 310.33 beta driver, which focused on improving performance for various games while updating SLI and Ambient Occlusion profiles. This driver update has come less than a week after NVIDIA’s 310.64 update, which focused on improvements for the newly released Far Cry 3.

The driver notes specifically call out improved performance over the 310.64 beta driver for Far Cry 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, Assassin’s Creed III, and Battlefield 3. The driver also adds TXAA support to Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Assassin's Creed III (while resolving a shadow flickering issue in the latter) and continues to add SLI profiles for several games. Additionally, there are various “Driver Not Responding” errors that should no longer occur. Here are the direct links to the various drivers:

Desktop 32-bit Windows Vista/7/8
Desktop 64-bit Windows Vista/7/8
Mobile 32-bit Windows Vista/7/8
Mobile 64-bit Windows Vista/7/8

Latest WebKit Build Doubles Scrolling Performance on MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 07:51 AM PST

In both of our MacBook Pro with Retina Display reviews (13-inch & 15-inch), I pointed out a big downside to the user experience today: UI performance in some applications is significantly reduced compared to non-Retina models. I couldn't find a direct cause for the issue, just that whatever work Apple does to make OS X look like OS X ends up requiring quite a bit of CPU power, and the workload scales with resolution. I've seen this in applications like Mail and Safari, although it's present in more than just that. 

In our 13-inch rMBP review I proposed a couple of solutions: 1) a dramatic increase in single-threaded CPU performance, and/or 2) software improvements (e.g. the move to Mountain Lion for example shifted more animation workload over to the GPU, improving scrolling performance vs. Lion on rMBPs). 

Last week I received a tip (thanks Joan!) pointing me at a Macrumors post claiming that the latest nightly builds of WebKit fixed scrolling performance on the rMBP. I grabbed a build (r135516 - it's no longer the latest build but I assume the later builds also contain the fix) and tried it out on the 13-inch rMBP. Scrolling down my Facebook news feed ended up being one of the best showcases for poor scrolling performance on the rMBPs, so that's obviously the first test I ran. As always I used Quartz Debug to measure UI frame rate. First, here's what the average frame rate looked like using the latest version of Safari on Mountain Lion with the 13-inch rMBP running at the scaled 1440 x 900 setting:

13-inch rMBP, 1440 x 900 scaled setting, Safari Version 6.0.2 (8536.26.17)

Average frame rates end up being around 20 fps, with dips down as low as 17 fps. Now here's the same test but using the r135516 WebKit build:

13-inch rMBP, 1440 x 900 scaled setting, WebKit Nightly r135516 Safari Version 6.0.2 (8536.26.17, 537+)

Performance is more than doubled! Scrolling is so much smoother. I also ran tests on pages that previously worked fine (e.g. the AnandTech front page) and performance hadn't changed there. I haven't managed to figure out exactly what's changed in the codebase to improve performance so much but it's appreciable.

For those of you who are early adopters of Retina MBPs, there looks to be some hope that we might see software solutions to improving UI performance. The real question is when we'll see these types of improvements rolled into OS X. 

Aleutia Relia Industrial PC Review: Ivy Bridge & Q77 in a Fanless Chassis

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 06:00 AM PST

Industrial PCs come with stringent requirements that are not satisfied by generic PCs. It is customary for builders to use active cooling in order to ensure that the components are in proper working order. Ventilation slots are also provided to keep airflow up. Chassis size is also not always a concern. However, these flexibilities are not always possible in industrial PCs. Operating environments for such systems usually call for passive cooling, dust resistance, rugged nature and minimal size (read, mini-ITX).


We have already covered the launch of a few industrial PCs including that of the Aleutia Relia which is being reviewed today. The specifications of the Aleutia Relia also make it attractive to users who are picky about having a completely silent machine in their media center. How well does the Aleutia Relia fare in our benchmarks? What are the effects of going in for a fully passive thermal solution? Read on to find out.

Enhancing Your IT Business Offerings

Posted: 04 Dec 2012 05:00 AM PST

You can’t argue with the notion that an ideal New Year’s resolution would be to increase the performance and speed of each and every one of the IT projects you’ve got your hands on this coming new year. Lucky for you, all it takes is a commitment to embrace some of the finest technology to hit the market so you can be the go-to resource for modern businesses.

Of course, not every company or organization needs the same technology solution. While every enterprise aims to prevail over competitors, the answer that leads to greater efficiency and success this year and every year may be unexpected – but nonetheless welcomed. A qualified IT professional will have that answer.

That’s why more and more companies are turning to VMware Competency Partners to make it easier to deliver virtualization and cloud computing expertise in the marketplace. A good example comes from George Reed, CIO of Seven Corners travel insurance: “Netech holds both a Desktop and Infrastructure Virtualization Solution Competency from VMware. These Competencies and their collaborative approach gave them the expertise our company needed to go beyond the typical efficiency benefits of the cloud to build innovative business services that generate whole new revenues.”

Simply stated, you want to provide your business with tech solutions that allow you to improve your productivity and bottom line. Consider this satisfied customer: “Synchronet used their VMware Infrastructure Virtualization expertise to validate our VMware installation. We quickly realized the results of the high-quality implementation, including a simplified disaster recovery initiative and increased IT efficiency at Myron Steves. Synchronet proved themselves to be the expert consultants that we needed,” reports the insurance brokerage firm Myron Steves.

This year, join the brigade of IT professionals who are improving their business by choosing VMware Competency Partners.  Visit to find a Competency Partner today.

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