The first consumer-priced PCI-e SSDs are finally trickling to market. OCZ's RevoDrive was one of the only consumer-facing PCI-e SSDs, priced out of range for most gamers and facing somewhat widespread endurance and stability issues as the device aged. During a period of SandForce domination, the industry waited for the third-generation refresh of the SF controllers to introduce widespread PCI-e SSDs. The third gen controllers promised what effectively would act as an interface toggle, allowing manufacturers to purchase a single controller supply for all SATA and PCI-e SSDs, then “flip the bit” depending on demand. Such an effort would reduce cost, ultimately passed on to the user. This controller saw unrelenting delays, giving rise to alternatives in the meantime.
Then M.2 became “a thing,” bringing smaller SSDs to notebooks and desktops. The M.2 standard is capable of offering superior throughput to SATA III (6Gbps) by consuming PCI-e lanes. Pushing data through the PCI-e bus, M.2 devices circumnavigate the on-board SATA controller and its abstraction layers, responsible for much of the overhead showcased in peak 550MB/s speeds. The M.2 interface can operate on a four-lane PCI-e 2.0 configuration to afford a maximum throughput of 2GB/s (before overhead), though – as with all interfaces – this speed is only awarded to capable devices. Each PCI-e 2.0 lane pushes 0.5GB/s (GT/s). Some M.2 devices utilize just two PCI-e lanes, restricting themselves to 1GB/s throughput but freeing-up the limited count of PCI-e lanes on Haswell CPUs (16 lanes from the CPU, up to 8 lanes from the chipset).
About a year ago, we published a piece notifying our readers of hoax HDMI-to-VGA passive cables proclaiming that they did absolutely nothing for the buyer; we called them “fake,” indicating that a passive cable is electrically incapable of transforming a signal, and therefore could not serve as a digital-to-analog adapter without some sort of active conversion taking place. There are a few hardware-side exceptions, but they are rare.
It was in this same content that we mentioned “SATA III cables” vs. “SATA II cables,” noting that the two cables were functionally identical; the transfer rates are the same between a “SATA III” cable and a “SATA II” cable. The difference, as defined by the official SATA specification, is a lock-in clip to ensure unshaken contact. Upon being taken viral by LifeHacker, statement of this simple fact was met with a somewhat disheartening amount of resistance from an audience we don't usually cater toward. Today, we had enough spare time to reinforce our statements with objective benchmarking.
The GTC 2015 show floor was home to several technology demonstrations, ranging from gaming graphics / consumer tech to self-navigating vehicle AI. GTC is a more enterprise-driven show than most that we attend, evidenced by ASRock's server rack presence and a heavy saturation of Quadro FX cards, but it's still important to gamers.
Aside from the obvious -- which would be the Titan X unveil -- GTC showcases technology that inevitably works its way down to the consumer market. We visited PNY at the show to look at the upcoming CL4111 Client SSD, the existing CS2111 XLR8 gaming SSD, and a host of graphics adapters.
PAX East’s doors opened at 9AM this morning to press, shortly followed by an impassible, amorphous mass of excited PAX-goers. At Intel’s booth, a monolithic Lian Li case housed Intel’s first NVMe consumer SSD, using PCI-e to interface with the device.
CES has officially ended and the floor was busy. We pushed, elbowed, headbutted, and bit our way through the crowds. Our first destination was Samsung, right in the middle of it all and with their own building-inside-a-building booth construction. After looking around their booth with all the TVs, mobile phone tech, and business options, we managed to find some things that gamers care about.
HyperX is known for producing enthusiast RAM and SSDs, and at this year’s show, Kingston unveiled two new SSD products: the M.2/PCIe Predator and SATA III Savage. If these names sound familiar, it’s because Kingston recently switched-over its system memory kit branding to the same Fury, Savage, Beast/Predator naming scheme.
Samsung announced the launch of its 850 Pro earlier this year, introducing 3D Vertical NAND (VNAND) to the SSD market. 3D VNAND doubles endurance over what triple-level cell (TLC) NAND devices allowed, but simultaneously increases density – two aspects of NAND that have previously been opposed. The density increase comes as a result of stacking the NAND vertically (like an apartment highrise vs. single-home neighborhood), similar in top-level concept to Intel's 3D transistors.
We hope you had your fill of Thanksgiving turkey and survived the ensuing Cyber Monday sales rush. With several of the sales at major retailers ended, we had to dig a bit harder to find remaining good bargains. These left-overs would be great as gifts for the upcoming holidays, or even just to treat yourself after having to sit through hours of family torture and bad football. This weekend, we found sales on RAM, an SSD, a couple video cards, and an mITX case.
Like many sites, our site relies heavily upon referral commission from online retail outlets. It's a fairly straight-forward operation: We help our readers build computers, find the right video card, and test games; in return for this free service, we earn a small commission on sales from Newegg, Amazon, and similar online retail outlets. It's not a lot of money, but it's something.
Now that Black Friday is over and all of the sales are reporting in, we started analyzing data to see which items were the most popular referred purchases through our site. This isn't representative of the most popular hardware in the industry – just what was recommended on our site – but is a good cross-section for what PC builders are interested in.
Continuing this weekend's trend of consumerism, “Cyber Monday” sees the introduction of several more PC hardware and video game sales. Note well that, despite banners on retail websites, sales at this point in the year will remain a constant until the final days before the 25th. Most shockingly, we found a $160 R9 280 3GB GPU, $870 Y50 gaming laptop, 480GB SSD for $180, cases / coolers, CPUs, and a 49" HDTV.
These buyer's guides we've published may provide further assistance, in the event the below (active) sales do not contain what you're after: