AnandTech | Intel Iris Pro 5200 Graphics Review: Core i7-4950HQ Tested

The Prelude

As Intel got into the chipset business it quickly found itself faced with an interesting problem. As the number of supported IO interfaces increased (back then we were talking about things like AGP, FSB), the size of the North Bridge die had to increase in order to accommodate all of the external facing IO. Eventually Intel ended up in a situation where IO dictated a minimum die area for the chipset, but the actual controllers driving that IO didn’t need all of that die area. Intel effectively had some free space on its North Bridge die to do whatever it wanted with. In the late 90s Micron saw this problem and contemplating throwing some L3 cache onto its North Bridges. Intel’s solution was to give graphics away for free.

The budget for Intel graphics was always whatever free space remained once all other necessary controllers in the North Bridge were accounted for. As a result, Intel’s integrated graphics was never particularly good. Intel didn’t care about graphics, it just had some free space on a necessary piece of silicon and decided to do something with it. High performance GPUs need lots of transistors, something Intel would never give its graphics architects – they only got the bare minimum. It also didn’t make sense to focus on things like driver optimizations and image quality. Investing in people and infrastructure to support something you’re giving away for free never made a lot of sense.

Intel hired some very passionate graphics engineers, who always petitioned Intel management to give them more die area to work with, but the answer always came back no. Intel was a pure blooded CPU company, and the GPU industry wasn’t interesting enough at the time. Intel’s GPU leadership needed another approach.

A few years ago they got that break. Once again, it had to do with IO demands on chipset die area. Intel’s chipsets were always built on a n-1 or n-2 process. If Intel was building a 45nm CPU, the chipset would be built on 65nm or 90nm. This waterfall effect allowed Intel to help get more mileage out of its older fabs, which made the accountants at Intel quite happy as those $2 – $3B buildings are painfully useless once obsolete. As the PC industry grew, so did shipments of Intel chipsets. Each Intel CPU sold needed at least one other Intel chip built on a previous generation node. Interface widths as well as the number of IOs required on chipsets continued to increase, driving chipset die areas up once again. This time however, the problem wasn’t as easy to deal with as giving the graphics guys more die area to work with. Looking at demand for Intel chipsets, and the increasing die area, it became clear that one of two things had to happen: Intel would either have to build more fabs on older process nodes to keep up with demand, or Intel would have to integrate parts of the chipset into the CPU.

Not wanting to invest in older fab technology, Intel management green-lit the second option: to move the Graphics and Memory Controller Hub onto the CPU die. All that would remain off-die would be a lightweight IO controller for things like SATA and USB. PCIe, the memory controller, and graphics would all move onto the CPU package, and then eventually share the same die with the CPU cores.

Pure economics and an unwillingness to invest in older fabs made the GPU a first class citizen in Intel silicon terms, but Intel management still didn’t have the motivation to dedicate more die area to the GPU. That encouragement would come externally, from Apple.

Looking at the past few years of Apple products, you’ll recognize one common thread: Apple as a company values GPU performance. As a small customer of Intel’s, Apple’s GPU desires didn’t really matter, but as Apple grew, so did its influence within Intel. With every microprocessor generation, Intel talks to its major customers and uses their input to help shape the designs. There’s no sense in building silicon that no one wants to buy, so Intel engages its customers and rolls their feedback into silicon. Apple eventually got to the point where it was buying enough high-margin Intel silicon to influence Intel’s roadmap. That’s how we got Intel’s HD 3000. And that’s how we got here.

Read the full review @ AnandTech.

AnandTech | The Haswell Review: Intel Core i7-4770K & i5-4560K Tested

The Launch Lineup: Quad Cores For All

As was the case with the launch of Ivy Bridge last year, Intel is initially launching with their high-end quad core parts, and as the year passes on will progressively rollout dual cores, low voltage parts, and other lower-end parts. That means the bigger notebooks and naturally the performance desktops will arrive first, followed by the ultraportables, Ultrabooks and more affordable desktops. One change however is that Intel will be launching their first BGA (non-socketed) Haswell part right away, the Iris Pro equipped i7-4770R.

Intel 4th Gen Core i7 Desktop Processors
Model Core i7-4770K Core i7-4770 Core i7-4770S Core i7-4770T Core i7-4770R Core i7-4765T
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8
CPU Base Freq 3.5 3.4 3.1 2.5 3.2 2.0
Max Turbo 3.9 (Unlocked) 3.9 3.9 3.7 3.9 3.0
Test TDP 84W 84W 65W 45W 65W 35W
HD Graphics 4600 4600 4600 4600 Iris Pro 5200 4600
GPU Max Clock 1250 1200 1200 1200 1300 1200
L3 Cache 8MB 8MB 8MB 8MB 6MB 8MB
DDR3 Support 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600
vPro/TXT/VT-d/SIPP No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Package LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 BGA LGA-1150
Price $339 $303 $303 $303 OEM $303

Starting at the top of the product and performance stack, we have the desktop Core i7 parts. All of these CPUs feature Hyper-Threading Technology, so they’re the same quad-core with four virtual cores that we’ve seen since Bloomfield hit the scene. The fastest chip for most purposes remains the K-series 4770K, with its unlocked multiplier and slightly higher base clock speed. Base core clocks as well as maximum Turbo Boost clocks are basically dictated by the TDP, with the 4770S being less likely to maintain maximum turbo most likely, and the 4770T and 4765T giving up quite a bit more in clock speed in order to hit substantially lower power targets.

It’s worth pointing out that the highest “Test TDP” values are up slightly relative to the last generation Ivy Bridge equivalents—84W instead of 77W. Mobile TDPs are a different matter, and as we’ll discuss elsewhere they’re all 2W higher, but that is further offset by the improved idle power consumption Haswell brings.

Nearly all of these are GT2 graphics configurations (20 EUs), so they should be slightly faster than the last generation HD 4000 in graphics workloads. The one exception is the i7-4770R, which is also the only chip that comes in a BGA package. The reasoning here is simple: if you want the fastest iGPU configuration (GT3e with 40 EUs and embedded DRAM), you’re probably not going to have a discrete GPU and will most likely be purchasing an OEM desktop. Interestingly, the 4770R also drops the L3 cache down to 6MB, and it’s not clear whether this is due to it having no real benefit (i.e. the eDRAM may function as an even larger L4 cache), or if it’s to reduce power use slightly, or Intel may have a separate die for this particular configuration. Then again, maybe Intel is just busily creating a bit of extra market segmentation.

Not included in the above table are all the common features to the entire Core i7 line: AVX2 instructions, Quick Sync, AES-NI, PCIe 3.0, and Intel Virtualization Technology. As we’ve seen in the past, the K-series parts (and now the R-series as well) omit support for vPro, TXT, VT-d, and SIPP from the list. The 4770K is an enthusiast part with overclocking support, so that makes some sense, but the 4770R doesn’t really have the same qualification. Presumably it’s intended for the consumer market, as businesses are less likely to need the Iris Pro graphics.

Intel 4th Gen Core i5 Desktop Processors
Model Core i5-4670K Core i5-4670 Core i5-4670S Core i5-4670T Core i5-4570 Core i5-4570S
Cores/Threads 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4 4/4
CPU Base Freq 3.4 3.4 3.1 2.3 3.2 2.9
Max Turbo 3.8 (Unlocked) 3.8 3.8 3.3 3.6 3.6
Test TDP 84W 84W 65W 45W 84W 65W
HD Graphics 4600 4600 4600 4600 4600 4600
GPU Max Clock 1200 1200 1200 1200 1150 1150
L3 Cache 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB
DDR3 Support 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600 1333/1600
vPro/TXT/VT-d/SIPP No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Package LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150 LGA-1150
Price $242 $213 $213 $213 $192 $192

The Core i5 lineup basically rehashes the above story, only now without Hyper-Threading. For many users, Core i5 is the sweet spot of price and performance, delivering nearly all the performance of the i7 models at 2/3 the price. There aren’t any Iris or Iris Pro Core i5 desktop parts, at least not yet, and all of the above CPUs are using the GT2 graphics configuration. As above, the K-series part also lacks vPro/TXT/VT-d support but comes with an unlocked multiplier.

Obviously we’re still missing all of the Core i3 parts, which are likely to be dual-core once more, along with some dual-core i5 parts as well. These are probably going to come in another quarter, or at least a month or two out, as there’s no real need for Intel to launch their lower cost parts right now. Similarly, we don’t have any Celeron or Pentium Haswell derivatives launching yet, and judging by the Ivy Bridge rollout I suspect it may be a couple quarters before Intel pushes out ultra-budget Haswell chips. For now, the Ivy Bridge Celeron/Pentium parts are likely as low as Intel wants to go down the food chain for their “big core” architectures.

Read the full review @ AnandTech.

AnandTech | MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Review

In recent motherboard generations, the ‘in style’ thing to do is to separate the SKU line of a company into several compartments – channel/mainstream, overclocking, budget, smaller-than-ATX, X feature enabled (such as Thunderbolt), and gaming. The latest addition to the gaming scene is MSI, who have recently released their Z77 Gaming range, despite being a stones throw away from Haswell launch.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Box Board2_678x452

So when a reviewer comes across a product designated ‘gaming’, we are clearly wanting to see and feel why it is a gaming product. This would mean specific features aimed at the gaming crowd, to help reduce lag, boost frame rates, and increase the experience of the whole package. We already have contenders in this space aside from MSI – ASUS has their Republic Of Gamers range which we have rated very highly, Gigabyte has the G1 range, and ASRock wheels out Fatal1ty. Off the back of CeBIT 2013, MSI have launched four gaming boards in the Z77 range: the Z77A-GD65 Gaming, the Z77A-G45 Gaming, the Z77A-G43 Gaming and the B75A-G43 Gaming.

These motherboards come off the back of a successful gaming laptop range for MSI. In the wake of the global depression, every motherboard manufacturer needed to diversify its portfolio in order to cover itself, and MSI did this in the notebook arena. The gaming notebooks feature a red and black color scheme, which seems to be the going rate for gaming product lines:

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Top_575px

From left to right – ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional, MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming, ASUS Maximus V Formula

The only company that bucks this trend is Gigabyte, aiming for a gaming green instead, or orange for the overclocking range. MSI aim for yellow with their overclocking range – the MPower and Lightning GPUs being the prime examples (the XPower is still relatively undefined in the blue end of the spectrum). However MSI is tying their ranges together, at least in color scheme – the Gaming range will have GPUs featuring a red Twin Frozr 4 cooler, and there have been a lot of images online featuring these two with red-LED Avexir memory.

While MSI have had great success of their GPU lines (the Lightning range constantly breaks overclocking world records and is more often than not the fastest pre-overclocked version of each card), the motherboard range needs a boost. MSI is aimed primarily low to mid-range, as seen by the lack of a Z77 PLX 8747 enabled motherboard in the lineup for three-way and above – even the GD80 and MPower are non-PLX. Thus if they want to release a gaming motherboard, gamers will want the best available, especially if they have that extreme setup. The Z77A-GD65 Gaming, despite being the top of the range so far, is the one we are reviewing today. It hits the line down the middle, going for that single and dual GPU gamer, but given how close we are to Haswell, was it worth the effort?

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Overview

Speaking to MSI Europe, the reason for releasing a Z77 Gaming product line was due to the Haswell delay. They have had plans for a Z87 Gaming range since they got the specifications through for Haswell, but the additional 4-6 month delay means that the gaming range was brought forward. The only issue was that the gaming range on Z87 will have a different naming; the Z77 gaming range is a naming hybrid for now.

One of the first thoughts that popped into my mind when I started this review is ‘this looks like a normal GD65’. There are a large number of similarities:
MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Top_575px

In actual fact, we are dealing with almost the exact same layout. Same number of SATA ports, same VRM configuration, same location for OC buttons, USB ports, voltage check points, fan headers, the lot. The difference it seems is in the ‘gaming details’.

Over the base GD65 model we get a Qualcomm Atheros Killer NIC E2205-B gigabit Ethernet controller, a regular feature on the MSI Gaming notebook range. This NIC is designed to offload network features, such at packet priority, onto the NIC itself rather than the CPU, as well as bypassing the Windows network stack for high priority applications. Most motherboards now offer some form of network management tool, however these usually require CPU intervention in order to keep everything in the right order. While I cannot say that a Killer NIC is vital in improving FPS or response times, it could help reduce the ‘user’ end side of the lag in gaming. Though if you are suffering from lag due to your own computer, turn off downloads, Facebook and updates during competitions.

Similar to ASRock’s Fatal1ty range, the MSI Gaming also has a ‘Gaming Device Port’, which should allow for higher polling rate mice (500-1000 Hz) to be used. Whether a higher polling mouse rate is useful is still debatable depending on the frame rate – if you are polling up to 16-32x more than the FPS of the game, the PC has to decide on the average acceleration and location vs. the latest acceleration/location and inject it into the gaming stream appropriately.

Read the full review @ AnandTech | MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Review.

HTC First with Facebook Home review

dsc05424-1365523689

With a billion users, it’d be an understatement to say Facebook has done a good job conquering the desktop world. Mobile, however, is the social network’s next frontier: although it has a significant presence on every major smartphone and tablet platform, the company has a reputation for bringing its key features to the PC environment long before they arrive on mobile — if at all.

But the April 4th reveal of Facebook Home, a solidly built Android launcher, reflects a change in attitude for Mark Zuckerberg and Co. Instead of simply maintaining a smartphone presence, Facebook is ready to go to battle and is putting mobile on the top of its list of priorities. It’s even adding a proper piece of hardware to its arsenal in the form of the HTC First, a 4.3-inch device on AT&T with LTE, reasonable mid-range specs and a gorgeous display. Is it worth $99 with a two-year commitment to purchase a handset dedicated to the social cause? Should you just wait until Home is available as a free download in the Google Play Store? Or is it best to ignore it altogether? Continue reading to find out.

Read the full Review @ engadget.com.

AnandTech | The HTC One Review

It is nearly impossible to begin to review the HTC One without some context, and I’ll begin our review of the HTC One (formerly the device known as codename M7) much the same way I did my impressions piece simply by stating that HTC is in an interesting position as a result of last year’s product cycle. If there’s one thing Anand has really driven home for me in my time writing for AnandTech, it’s that in the fast-paced mobile industry, a silicon vendor or OEM really only has to miss one product cycle in a very bad way to get into a very difficult position. The reality of things is that for HTC with this last product cycle there were products with solid industrial design and specs for the most part, but not the right wins with mobile operators in the United States, and not the right marketing message abroad. It’s easy to armchair the previous product cycle now that we have a year of perspective, but that’s the reality of things. HTC now needs a winner more than ever.


HTC One X, HTC Butterfly, HTC One

For 2013 HTC is starting out a bit differently. Rather than announce the entire lineup of phones, it’s beginning with the interestingly-named HTC One. It’s just the HTC One — no S or X or V or any other monikers at all. It’s clear that the HTC One is the unadulterated representation of HTC’s vision for what the flagship of its smartphone lineup should be. HTC is different from other OEMs in that it only makes smartphones, and as a result the flagship clearly defines the rest of the product portfolio below it. With the One it looks as though HTC is making that kind of statement by literally letting it define the entire One brand.

Enough about the position and the strategy for HTC, these are mostly things that are interesting to enthusiasts and industry, but not really relevant to consumers or the review of a singular product. Let’s talk about the HTC One.

Hardware

For whatever reason I always start with industrial design and aesthetics, probably because it’s the most obvious superficial thing that hits you when picking up almost anything for the first time. With a smartphone that’s even more important, since there’s so much that revolves around the in-hand feel. I pick up my phone too many times a day to count for better or worse, thus the material quality and in-hand feel really do make a big difference.

The HTC One’s fit and finish are phenomenal. There, I said it. You almost don’t even need to read the rest of this section. In my books, fit and finish goes, in descending order of quality, metal, glass, and finally plastic. Or instead of plastic, polymer, or polycarbonate, or whatever overly-specific word we use to avoid saying plastic.

I’ve talked with a lot of people about HTC’s lineup last year, and even though the One X was a well constructed plastic phone, the One S really stuck out in my mind for being a level above and beyond in terms of construction and industrial design. I asked Vivek Gowri (our resident Mechanical Engineering slash industrial design connoisseur slash mobile reviewer extraordinaire) if I was crazy, and he agreed that the One S was one of, if not the, best industrial designs of 2012.

So when I heard about M7 being on the horizon as the next flagship, I couldn’t help but worry that there would no longer be a primarily-metal contender at the high end from HTC. The HTC One is that contender, and brings unibody metal construction to an entirely new level. It is the realization of HTC’s dream for an all-metal phone.

HTC begins construction of the One from a solid piece of aluminum. Two hundred minutes of CNC cuts later, a finished One chassis emerges. Plastic gets injected into the chassis between cuts during machining for the antenna bands and side of the case, which also gets machined. The result is HTC’s “zero-gap” construction which – as the name implies – really has no gaps between aluminum and polymer at all for those unibody parts. There’s no matching parts together from different cuts to achieve an optimal fit, everything in the main chassis is cut as one solid unit. It’s the kind of manufacturing story that previously only the likes of Apple could lay claim to, and the HTC One is really the first Android device which reaches the level of construction quality previously owned almost entirely by the iPhone.

Read the ful review @ AnandTech | The HTC One Review.

Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review | bit-tech.net

Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review | bit-tech.net.

We’ve lost a few water-cooling companies in recent years but one of the longest-standing, and still-running has to be Primochill. It has always been a big advocate of interesting reservoirs and general water-cooling customisation, but with the likes of EK Waterblocks and Phobya now on the scene, it’s had to revamp its range to keep up with the times.

We didn’t look at its recent Myriad reservoir, but we heard a few stories about it being tricky to fit together. For the moment, Primochill has turned its focus away from bay reservoirs and clearly spent some time pondering how to make a difference in the tube reservoir arena. its offering, called the Compression Tube Reservoir (CTR), looks to solve a number of problems encountered when using this type of reservoir. 

Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review


Its available in 80mm, 120mm, 240mm (tested) and 400mm variants, starting at a modest $40 and rising to $60 for the giant 400mm version. At the time of writing, we don’t have a firm UK price or stockist, but we’ll update the article as and when we do – at the moment, prices look like they’ll be somewhere between £30 and £50. It’s also one of the first tube reservoirs that’s available with different coloured acrylic, sporting blood red, yellow, UV blue and pink and even frosted versions.

Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review


If you’re keen on showing off your coolant, then the CTR has the lowest-profile end caps we’ve seen, allowing for a huge area of uninterrupted eye-candy with less than 10mm of the tube taken up securing the end caps. This is thanks to a new end cap fitting method, which we’re guessing gave the CTR its name, rather than having anything to do with compression fittings. One cap has four ports, with the other having two. Sadly, there are no blanking plugs provided and you’ll likely need to buy up to four of these if you’re just going with the standard inlet and outlet setup, to blank the remaining holes – something you don’t have to do with most other tube reservoirs.

Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review Primochill Compression Tube Reservoir Review


The caps are actually two-piece affairs but unlike pretty much every other tube reservoir we’ve used, they don’t involve threads. We’ve certainly been on the receiving end of at least one cracked reservoir having over-tightened the end caps to stop a persistent leak so we were keen to see just how Primochill has got around this. An O-ring is sandwiched in the middle of the two sections of end cap. We took one apart and were initially stumped as to how to get it back together again. The excited teenager in us then subsided and we did the sensible thing of reaching for the instructions. 

AnandTech | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Review: Bringing Balance To The Force

AnandTech | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Review: Bringing Balance To The Force.



To get our weekly geekiness quota out of the way early, the desktop video card industry is a lot like The Force. There are two sides constantly at odds with each other for dominance of the galaxy/market, and balance between the two sides is considered one of the central tenants of the system. Furthermore when the system isn’t in balance something bad happens, whether it’s galactic domination or uncompetitive video card prices and designs.

To that end – and to bring things back to a technical discussion – while AMD and NVIDIA’s ultimate goals are to rule the video card market, in practice they serve to keep each other in check and keep the market as a whole balanced. This is accomplished by their doing what they can to offer similarly competitive video cards at most price points, particularly the sub-$300 market where the bulk of all video card sales take place. On the other hand when that balance is disrupted by the introduction of a new GPU and/or new video card, AMD and NVIDIA will try to roll out new products to restore that balance.

This brings us to the subject of today’s launch. Friday saw the launch of AMD’s Radeon HD 7790, a $149 entry-level 1080p card based on their new Bonaire GPU. AMD had for roughly the last half-year been operating with a significant price and performance gap between their 7770 and 7850 products, leaving the mid-$100 market open to NVIDIA’s GTX 650 Ti. With the 7790 AMD finally has a GTX 650 Ti competitor and more, and left unchallenged this would mean AMD would control the market between $150 and $200.

NVIDIA for their part has no interest in letting AMD take that piece of the market without a fight, and as such will be immediately countering with a new video card: the GTX 650 Ti Boost. Launching today, the GTX 650 Ti Boost is based on the same GK106 GPU as the GTX 650 Ti and GTX 660, and is essentially a filler card to bridge the gap between them. By adding GPU boost back into the mix and using a slightly more powerful core configuration, NVIDIA intends to plug their own performance gap and at the same time counter AMD’s 7850 and 7790 before the latter even reaches retail. It’s never quite that simple of course, but as we’ll see the GTX 650 Ti Boost does indeed bring some balance back to the Force.

NVIDIA GPU Specification Comparison
GTX 660 GTX 650 Ti Boost GTX 650 Ti GTX 550 Ti
Stream Processors
960
768
768
192
Texture Units
80
64
64
32
ROPs
24
24
16
16
Core Clock
980MHz
980MHz
925MHz
900MHz
Boost Clock
1033MHz
1033MHz
N/A
N/A
Memory Clock
6.008GHz GDDR5
6.008GHz GDDR5
5.4GHz GDDR5
4.1GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width
192-bit
192-bit
128-bit
192-bit
VRAM
2GB
1GB/2GB
1GB/2GB
1GB
FP64
1/24 FP32
1/24 FP32
1/24 FP32
1/12 FP32
TDP
140W
134W
110W
116W
GPU
GK106
GK106
GK106
GF116
Architecture
Kepler
Kepler
Kepler
Fermi
Transistor Count
2.54B
2.54B
2.54B
1.17B
Manufacturing Process
TSMC 28nm
TSMC 28nm
TSMC 28nm
TSMC 40nm
Launch Price $229 $149/$169 $149 $149

When NVIDIA produced the original GTX 650 Ti, they cut down their GK106 GPU by a fairly large degree to reach the performance and power levels we see with that card. From 5 SMXes and 3 ROP/Memory partitions, GK106 was cut down to 4 SMXes and 2 ROP partitions, along with having GPU boost removed and overall clockspeeds lowered. In practice this left a pretty big gap between the GTX 650 Ti and the GTX 660, one which AMD’s 7850 and now their 7790 serve to fill.

Despite the name GTX 650 Ti Boost, it’s probably more meaningful to call NVIDIA’s new card the GTX 660 light. The GTX 650 Ti Boost restores many of the cuts NVIDIA made for the GTX 650 Ti; this latest 650 has the core clockspeed, memory clockspeed, GPU boost functionality, and ROP partitions of the GTX 660. In fact the only thing differentiating the GTX 660 from the GTX 650 Ti Boost is a single SMX; the GTX 650 Ti Boost is still a 4 SMX part, and this is what makes it a 650 in NVIDIA’s product stack (note that this means GTX 650 Ti Boost parts will similarly have either 2 or 3 GPCs depending on which SMX is cut). Because clockspeeds are identical to the GTX 660, the GTX 650 Ti Boost will be shipping at 980MHz for the base clock, 1033MHz for the boost clock, and 6GHz for the memory clock.

The result of this configuration is that the GTX 650 Ti Boost is much more powerful than the name would let on, and in practice is closer to the GTX 660 in performance than it is the GTX 650 Ti. Compared to the GTX 650 Ti, the GTX 650 TI Boost has just 106% of the shading/texturing/geometry throughput, but due in large part to the return of the 3rd ROP partition, ROP throughput has been boosted to 159%. Meanwhile thanks to the combination of higher memory clocks and the full 192bit memory bus, memory bandwidth has been increased to 166% of the GTX 650 Ti’s. Or compared to a GTX 660, the GTX 650 Ti Boost has 100% the ROP throughput, 100% the memory bandwidth, and 80% of the shading/texturing/geometry performance. The end result being that in memory/ROP bound scenarios performance will trend close to the GTX 660, while in shader/texture/geometry bound situations performance will easily exceed the GTX 650 Ti’s performance by 6-16%, depending on where GPU boost settles at.

Of course GTX 660-like performance does come with some tradeoffs. While the GTX 650 Ti was a 110W TDP part, the GTX 650 Ti Boost will be a 134W part, just shy of the 140W GTX 660. The GTX 650 Ti Boost runs at the same clockspeeds and the same voltages with the same amount of RAM as the GTX 660, meaning the power savings are limited to whatever power is saved from fusing off that SMX, which in practice will not be all that much. Even by NVIDIA’s own reckoning they’re minimal. So what we’re effectively looking at is a somewhat slower GTX 660 operating at near-GTX 660 power levels.

Driving home the point that the GTX 650 Ti Boost is a reconfigured GTX 660, with the TDP being held at 140W NVIDIA and their partners will be recycling their GTX 660 designs for NVIDIA’s new card. Our reference card is identical to our GTX 660 reference card, and the same can be said for many partner designs. Partners need to provide the same power and cooling to the GTX 650 Ti Boost as they do the GTX 660, so there’s little point in rolling new designs and in fact this helps NVIDIA and their partners get the GTX 650 Ti Boost to market sooner.

AnandTech | ASUS Maximus V Formula Z77 ROG Review

IMGP8832_678x452

AnandTech | ASUS Maximus V Formula Z77 ROG Review.

The motherboard market is tough – the enthusiast user would like a motherboard that does everything but is cheap, and the system integrator would like a stripped out motherboard that is even cheaper.  An overclocker would like a minimalist setup that can push the limits of stability, and the gamer would like an all singing, all dancing everything.  The ASUS Maximus V Formula is designed to cater mainly to the gamer, but also to the enthusiast and the overclocker, for an all-in-one product with a distinct ROG feel.  With the combination air/water VRM cooling system, a mini-PCIe combo card with dual band WiFi and an mSATA port, one of the best on-board audio solutions and the regular array of easy-to-use BIOS/Software, ASUS may be onto a winner – and all they ask for is $270-300.

Overclocking for Z77 – Why Focus on Extreme Overclockers?

The motherboard market shrank in 2012, with reports suggesting that from the 80 million motherboards sold in 2011, this was down to 77 million worldwide in 2012.  In order to get market share, each company had to take it from someone else, or find a new niche in an already swollen industry.  To this extent, after the success of the ROG range, the top four motherboard manufacturers now all have weapons when it comes to hitting the enthusiast or power user with an overclocking platform.  These weapons are (with prices correct as of 3/7):

$400 – Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 (our review)
$379 – ASUS Maximus V Extreme
$290 – ASUS Maximus V Formula
$225 – ASRock Z77 OC Formula (our review, Silver Award)
$200 – ASUS Maximus V Gene
$190 – MSI Z77 MPower (our review)

There are two main differentiators between the low (<$300) and the high (>$350) end.  The first is the inclusion of PLX PEX 8747 chip, to allow 3-way or 4-way GPU setups.  We covered how the PLX chip works in our 4-board review here, but this functionality can add $30-$80 onto the board (depending on the bulk purchase order of the manufacturer and the profit margins wanted).  The second is usually attributed to the functionality and power delivery – the 32x IR3550s used on the Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 costs them a pretty penny, and the extensive feature list of the ASUS ROG boards usually filters through.

AnandTech | AMD Radeon HD 7790 Review Feat. Sapphire: The First Desktop Sea Islands

AnandTech | AMD Radeon HD 7790 Review Feat. Sapphire: The First Desktop Sea Islands.


In an industry that has long grown accustomed to annual product updates, the video card industry is one where the flip of a calendar to a new year brings a lot of excitement, anticipation, speculation, and maybe even a bit of dread for consumers and manufacturers alike. It’s no secret then that with AMD launching most of their Radeon HD 7000 series parts in Q1 of 2012 that the company would be looking to refresh their product lineup this year. Indeed, they removed doubt before 2012 even came to a close when they laid out their 8000M plans for the first half of 2013, revealing their first 2013 GPU and giving us a mobile roadmap with clear spots for further GPUs. So we have known for months that new GPUs would be on their way; the questions being what would they be and when would they arrive?
The answer to that, as it turns out, is a lot more complex than anyone was expecting. It’s been something of an epic journey getting to AMD’s 2013 GPU launches, and not all for good reasons. A PR attempt to explain that the existing Radeon HD 7000 series parts would not be going away backfired in a big way, with AMD’s calling their existing product stack “stable through 2013” being incorrectly interpreted as their intention to not release any new products in 2013. This in turn lead to AMD going one step further to rectify the problem by publically laying out their 2013 plans in greater (but not complete) detail, which thankfully cleared a lot of confusion. Though not all confusion and doubt has been erased – after all, AMD has to save something for the GPU introductions – we learned that AMD would be launching new retail desktop 7000 series cards in the first half of this year, and that brings us to today.
Launching today is AMD’s second new GPU for 2013 and the first GPU to make it to the retail desktop market: Bonaire. Bonaire in turn will be powering AMD’s first new retail desktop card for 2013, the Radeon HD 7790. With the 7790 AMD intends to fill the sometimes wide chasm in price and performance between their existing 7770 (Cape Verde) and 7850 (Pitcairn) products, and as a result today we’ll see just how Bonaire and the 7790 fit into the big picture for AMD’s 2013 plans.

AMD GPU Specification Comparison
AMD Radeon HD 7790 AMD Radeon HD 7850 AMD Radeon HD 7770 AMD Radeon HD 6870
Stream Processors 896 1024 640 1120
Texture Units 56 64 40 56
ROPs 16 32 16 32
Core Clock 1000MHz 860MHz 1000MHz 900MHz
Memory Clock 6GHz GDDR5 4.8GHz GDDR5 4.5GHz GDDR5 4.2GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 256-bit 128-bit 256-bit
VRAM 1GB 2GB 1GB 1GB
FP64 1/16 1/16 1/16 N/A
Transistor Count 2.08B 2.8B 1.5B 1.7B
Target Board Power ~85W 150W (TDP) ~80W 151W (TDP)
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm
Architecture GCN 1.1* GCN 1.0 GCN 1.0 VLIW5
Launch Date 03/22/2013 03/05/2012 02/15/2012 10/21/2010
Launch Price $149 $249 $159 $239

Diving right into things like always, Bonaire is designed to be an in-between GPU; something to go between the 10 Compute Unit Cape Verde GPU, and the 20 CU Pitcairn GPU. Pitcairn, as we might recall, is almost entirely twice the GPU that Cape Verde is. It has twice as many shaders, twice as many ROPs, twice as many geometry processors, and twice as wide a memory bus. Not surprisingly then, the performance gap between the two GPUs at similar clockspeeds approaches that two-fold difference, and even with binning and releasing products like the 7850 this leaves a fairly large gap in performance.

As AMD intends to carry the existing Southern Islands family forward into 2013, their strategy for the mid-to-low end of the desktop market has become one of filling in that gap. This is a move made particularly important for AMD due to the fact that NVIDIA’s GK106-powered GeForce GTX 650 Ti sits rather comfortably between AMD’s 7770 and 7850 in price and performance, robbing AMD of that market segment. Bonaire in turn will fill that gap, and the 7790 will be the flagship desktop Bonaire video card.

So what are we looking at for Bonaire and the 7790? As the 7790 will be a fully enabled Bonaire part, what we’ll be seeing with the 7790 today will be everything that Bonaire can offer. On the specification front we’re looking at 14 CUs, which breaks down to 896 stream processors paired with 56 texture units, giving Bonaire 40% more shading and texturing performance than Cape Verde. As a further change to the frontend, the number of geometry engines and command processors (ACEs) has been doubled compared to Cape Verde from 1 to 2 each, giving Bonaire the ability to process up to 2 primitives per clock instead of 1, bringing it up to parity with Pitcairn and Tahiti. Finally, the backend remains unchanged; like Cape Verde, Bonaire has 16 ROPs attached to a 128bit memory bus, giving it equal memory bandwidth and equal ROP throughput at equivalent clockspeeds.

Moving on to the 7790 in particular, the 7790 will be shipping at a familiar 1GHz, the same core clockspeed as the 7770. So all of those performance improvements due to increases in functional units translate straight through – compared to the 7770, the 7790 has 40% more theoretical compute/shading performance, 40% more texturing performance, 100% more geometry throughput, and no change in ROP throughput. Meanwhile in a move mirroring what AMD did with the 7970 GHz Edition last year, AMD has bumped up their memory clocks. 7790 will ship with a 6GHz memory clock thanks to a higher performing (i.e. not from Cape Verde) memory interface, which compared to the 7770’s very conservative 4.5GHz memory clock means that the 7790 will have 33% more memory bandwidth compared to 7770, despite the fact that the memory bus itself is no wider.

Putting it altogether, so as long as the 7790 is not ROP bottlenecked, it stands to be 33%-100% faster than the 7770. Or relative to 7850, the 7790 offers virtually all of the 7850’s texturing and shading performance (it’s actually 2% faster), while offering only around 60% of the memory bandwidth and ROP throughput.

On the power front, unsurprisingly power consumption has gone up a bit. As a reminder, AMD does not quote TDPs, but rather “typical board power”, which is AMD’s estimate for what power consumption will be like under an average workload. 7770’s official TBP is 80W, while 7790’s is 85W. We’ll have our own breakdown on this in our look at power, temperature, and noise, but it’s fair to say that 7790 draws only a small amount of additional power over the 7770. Ultimately this can be attributed to the fact that while Bonaire is a larger chip, it’s not extremely so, with only the addition of the CUs and additional geometry/ACE pipeline separating the two. Mixed with gradual improvements over the last year on TSMC’s 28nm process, and better power management from AMD, and it’s possible to make these kinds of small improvements while not pushing load power too much higher.

On the note of Bonaire versus Cape Verde, let’s also talk a bit about transistor count and die sizes. Unsurprisingly, Bonaire sits between Cape Verde and Pitcairn in transistor count and die size. Altogether Bonaire comes in at 2.08B transistors, occupying a 160mm2 die. This is as compared to Cape Verde’s 1.5B transistors and 123mm2 die size, or Pitcairn’s 2.8B transistors and 212mm2 die size. For AMD their closest chip in terms of die size in recent history would be Juniper, the workhorse of the Evergreen family and the Radeon HD 5770, which came in at 166mm2.

Moving on, as is consistent with AMD’s previous announcements, the 7790 is being launched as just that: the 7790. AMD has told us that they intend to keep the HD 7000 brand in retail this year due to the success of the brand, and to that end our first Bonaire card is a 7700 series card. The namespace collision is unfortunate – sticking with the 7000 series means AMD is facing the pigeonhole principle and has to put new GPUs in existing sub-series – but ultimately this is something AMD shouldn’t have any real problems executing on. We’ll get into the microarchitecture of Bonaire on our next page, but for gamers and other consumers Bonaire may as well be another member of the Southern Islands GPU family, so it fits in nicely in the 7000 series despite being from a new wave of GPUs.

With that in mind, let’s talk about product positioning and pricing. The 7790 will launch at $149, roughly in between the 7770 and the 7850. AMD will be positioning it as an entry-level 1080p graphics card, and though it’s a 7700 series part its closest competition in AMD’s product stack is more likely to be the 7850, which it’s closer to on the basis of both price and performance.

Against the competition, the 7790’s closest competition will be the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. However with the price of that card regularly falling to $130 and lower, the 7790 is effectively carving out a small niche for itself where it will be a bit ahead of the GTX 650 Ti in both performance and in price. NVIDIA’s next card up is the GTX 660, at more than $200.

For anyone looking to pick up a 7790 today, this is being launched ahead of actual product availability (likely to coincide with GDC 2013 next week). Cards will start showing up in the market on April 2nd, which is about a week and a half from now. Notably, AMD and their partners will be launching stock clocked and factory overclocked parts right away, and from what we’re being told factory overclocked cards will be prolific from day one. Overall we’re expecting this launch to be a lot like the launch of the GTX 560, where NVIDIA did something very similar. In which case we should see both stock and factory overclocked parts right away with more factory overclocked parts than stock parts, and if it does play out like the 560 then stock clocked cards would become a larger piece of the 7790 inventory later in the lifetime of the 7790.

Finally, AMD is wasting no time in extending their Never Settle Reloaded bundle to the 7790. As the 7790 is a cheaper card it won’t come with as many games as the more expensive Radeon cards, but for 7790 buyers they will be receiving a voucher for Bioshock Infinite with their cards. MSRPs/values are usually a poor way to look at the significance of game bundles, but it goes without saying that it’s not too often that $150 cards come with brand-new AAA games.

Spring 2013 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMD Price NVIDIA
$219 GeForce GTX 660
Radeon HD 7850 $179
Radeon HD 7790 $149
$134 GeForce GTX 650 Ti
Radeon HD 7770 $109 GeForce GTX 650
Radeon HD 7750 $99 GeForce GT 640

Read the full review @ AnandTech

HTC One review (2013)


One. In literal terms, it’s a number. To HTC, however, it’s a branding strategy — the foundation upon which the entire company is now based. Just take one look at the One lineup and you’ll easily understand this is the manufacturer’s pride and joy. There’s a very good reason for that: in a crowded smartphone market, HTC is the underdog to titans like Samsung and Apple. The company needs to stand out if it even wants the chance to prove itself to consumers.
Last year’s One X marked a solid start, and while it didn’t pick up the momentum CEO Peter Chou would’ve liked, the follow-up model — simply called the One — takes HTC’s design and imaging chops to the next level, bringing a new UltraPixel camera sensor, among other top-shelf specs. But will it catch the eye of potential smartphone buyers, in light of another key product announcement? We’d say it’s got more than a fighting chance.

HTC One review (2013)

See all photos

HARDWARE

In order to most fully appreciate the One’s hardware, you first need to understand the process that goes on behind the scenes. Rather than opt for the sort of polycarbonate shell used on the One X and One X+, HTC crafted the One out of a single block of anodized aluminum, sprinkled with polycarbonate accents throughout. It’s incredibly intricate: each unit goes through at least 200 minutes of CNC machine cuts, and the aluminum is etched into channels filled with polycarbonate — a technique called zero-gap injection molding. Add chamfered, polished edges that connect the sides of the phone to the glass (Gorilla Glass 2, to be specific), and you have a handset with one of the best industrial designs we’ve ever seen. The amount of detail here is staggering, and it reflects just how crucial this device is to HTC’s future.
Much like the Windows Phone 8X and Droid DNA (globally known as the Butterfly), the One has a pyramid-like internal setup: larger components like the display and battery sit up front, with the parts getting progressively smaller as you move toward the back of the phone. This gives the rear cover a sleek curve that makes it utterly comfortable to hold. Though the One is even slimmer at 9.3mm (0.37 inch) than the 10mm (0.4 inch) 8X, it’s easier to grasp because the edges are contoured the way they are. At 5.04 ounces (143g), it feels a little weightier, but less than you might have guessed; it’s actually relatively light given the materials used.
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
Ultimately, we’re smitten with the One’s design for all sorts of reasons: it’s sexy, it feels secure in the hand and the combination of unibody aluminum and polycarbonate ensures the phone won’t shatter into a million pieces if it were to hit the ground (although it may get dinged or scratched up a bit, depending on the angle).

We’re smitten with the One’s gorgeous industrial design and premium build.

While industrial design, ergonomics and build quality are a good start, there’s much more to this skinny slab of aluminum. The front of the device is home to some of the biggest changes, headlined by a 4.7-inch S-LCD3 panel with 1080p resolution and two capacitive soft keys just below it — a departure from the standard three-button setup. A tiny HTC logo sits where the home button once did, smack-dab in between the two soft keys. In fact, it’s almost a little deceiving: it looks as if the logo should double as a button (we’d prefer it), but unfortunately there’s nothing more than meets the eye. Aluminum strips line the top and bottom of the phone’s face, with a set of BoomSound speaker grilles designed to offer stereo sound when you’re watching movies or listening to music. (The grille setup isn’t unlike what you’d find flanking the keyboard of some laptops.) An LED notification light resides under the top grille, toward the left. A 2.1MP wide-angle, front-facing camera is located in the top-right corner, while a pair of sensors sits over on the top left.
The front is by far the busiest part of the phone, while the edges and back have a more minimal design that helps keep the phone looking refined. The polycarbonate-laced sides angle inward until they meet the Gorilla Glass on the front, with only a chamfer to connect them. The left side is uninterrupted, save for a micro-SIM tray and miniscule ejection port. A micro-USB / MHL port and mic are on the bottom, and the right is taken up by a single volume rocker that uses the same ridge-like exterior as the Droid DNA.
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
The top end is where things get a little more interesting. The 3.5mm headphone jack is nothing new, but the power button has a dual personality: it doubles as an infrared (IR) blaster capable of transmitting and receiving, allowing you to use the handset as a TV remote. Because that power button is housed on the left, the act of locking and unlocking the One could be a bit more awkward for folks who tend to hold their phones in their left hands.
Now we turn to the back, which itself is a study in symmetry and simplicity. Two strips of polycarbonate line the top and bottom, lining up neatly with the top and bottom of the 4.7-inch display on the other side. Squint hard enough and you may see a noise-cancelling mic in the top strip. The camera lens sits in the middle of the back, just barely below the top strip; it’s encircled by a thin layer of polycarbonate and is slightly recessed to prevent the glass from getting scratched. You’ll see an LED flash to the left of the camera; there’s also the obligatory HTC logo set in the absolute center of the device, and Beats Audio branding has a spot just a smidgen above the bottom strip. An NFC transmitter is built into the back around the camera module. Unfortunately, though, one thing you won’t find back here is wireless charging. Sorry, folks.
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
Finally, as you’ve likely already surmised by now, the 2,300mAh battery inside the One isn’t removable or even accessible. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has used an HTC unibody flagship. There’s also no place to stick a microSD card, so the 32 or 64GB of internal storage will have to suffice.
There’s plenty more going on underneath the shell: the One is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T), an Adreno 320 and 2GB DDR2 RAM. While there are two basic versions of the device — the UL and LTE-less U — there will be six different SKUs that feature six different sets of LTE and HSPA+ bands. All of the units are quad-band GSM/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz), but it gets more complicated as the speed goes up: our review unit, which was made for European frequencies, sports 900/1900/2100MHz UMTS/HSPA+ (3G) and 800/1800/2600MHz LTE. The “U” offers the same three frequencies and adds 850MHz for good measure, while Asia’s variant uses 850/900/1900/2100MHz 3G and 1800/2600MHz LTE. Confused yet? Let’s throw the US models into the mix. AT&T will offer 850/1900/2100MHz 3G and 700/850/AWS/1900MHz LTE. T-Mobile’s has 850/AWS/1900/2100MHz 3G and 700/AWS LTE. Finally, Sprint’s version uses 700/AWS 3G, 800/1900MHz CDMA and 1900MHz LTE. If that last paragraph of specs didn’t wear you out, maybe the full data sheet below will. We hope not, because we have a lot more to discuss.

HTC One
Dimensions 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm (5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inch)
Weight 5.04 oz. (143g)
Screen size 4.7 inches
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,080 (468 ppi)
Screen type S-LCD3
Battery 2,300mAh Li-Polymer (non-removable)
Internal storage 32/64GB
External storage None
Rear camera 4MP, BSI, f/2.0, 1/3” sensor size, 2µm pixel size, OIS
Front-facing cam 2.1MP
Video capture 1080p, 30 fps (front and back)
NFC Yes
Radios Depends on market — see hardware section
Bluetooth v4.0 with aptX
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T)
CPU 1.7GHz quad-core
GPU Adreno 320
RAM 2GB
Entertainment MHL, DLNA, IR sensor
WiFi Dual-band, 802.11a/ac/b/g/n, WiFi Direct
Wireless Charging No
Operating system Android 4.1.2 (upgradeable to 4.2), Sense 5 UI

DISPLAY

DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
We praised the One X’s 720p S-LCD2 display when it first showed up on the scene last spring, and there was even more to love a few months later when the Droid DNA came out with a 1080p S-LCD3 panel. Having built up this much momentum, we weren’t expecting anything less than the absolute best from the One. And on paper, certainly, it doesn’t disappoint: the One features the same number of pixels as the DNA, except they’re crammed into a 4.7-inch screen (4.65 inches, to get technical). For the pixel density fanatics out there, this means the One offers an incredible 468 ppi. The setup sounds great on paper, but how does it translate into real life?
To be honest, the display is the area in which we feel the most nitpicky, because the 1080p panels we’ve seen on other flagships so far feature simply jaw-dropping quality. And to pick up on minute differences between these incredible displays, you’d have to really start splitting hairs. In particular, 1080p displays don’t offer nearly as noticeable a difference over 720p as we saw with 720p over qHD. Given how far we’ve come in terms of resolution and pixel density, the only way for screens to stand out above the crowd is to offer the best color, viewing angles, brightness and readability in daylight.

The One’s display is the most stunning we’ve seen thus far, but it’s only slightly better than the Droid DNA’s.

The One’s display does very well in all four areas. It’s slightly brighter than the DNA’s and significantly better than the One X+’s S-LCD2; the darks are sufficient, though still not as rich as what you’d find on an AMOLED; the other colors are incredibly close to fully natural; viewing angles are just as good as the One X+ and DNA, because it’s difficult to get any better; and we could see the display without a problem in the direct sunlight. Movies look amazing on the One, and if we want to get exceedingly picky, the text on the One is slightly more crisp than on the DNA — but this is something that’s only noticeable when you view the two side by side. Tiny details aside, the One’s display is the most gorgeous we’ve seen thus far.

CAMERA

DNP HTC One review 2013
In the days leading up to the One announcement, HTC promised a whole new imaging and sound experience on its new flagship — and it certainly wasn’t exaggerating. With the exception of Nokia with its PureView line, all of the company’s competitors are busy increasing the megapixel count on their latest and greatest cameras. HTC, however, boldly chose to go the opposite direction: itdecreased the resolution to 4MP. As you would expect, there’s a lot more to the story than a simple drop in pixel count — in fact, HTC coined the term UltraPixels to describe its new imaging innovation.
The idea behind the UltraPixels is to take a physically large sensor and combine it with big pixels that are capable of gathering more light than standard-sized ones. Whereas the typical smartphone camera features 1.1µm pixels, the One proudly boasts a one-third-inch BSI sensor with 2µm pixels capable of absorbing 330 percent more photons. But that alone isn’t enough to excel at low-light photography, so HTC also uses a 28mm f/2.0 AF lens and optical image stabilization (OIS) — and just in case you still can’t capture enough light, an LED flash is thrown in for good measure.

HTC One sample shots

See all photos

HTC’s also developed a next-gen image signal processor (ISP), aptly named ImageChip 2. Despite a lower megapixel count, the new chip is capable of continuous autofocus in less than 200ms, reduced noise, real-time lens compensation and 1080p HDR video recording. It also offers a buffered-capture cycle with pre- and post-shutter recording, not unlike what you get with BlackBerry’s Time Shift, Scalado’s Rewind, Samsung’s Best Face and Nokia’s Smart Shoot. In other words, don’t worry about the resolution on the camera — instead, let the images do the talking.
The front-facing camera hasn’t been neglected either. The 2.1MP module comes with an f/2.0 wide-angle (88-degree) lens and is capable of capturing up to 1080p video, much like its compadre on the back of the One. Even though it can’t do the same fancy scene modes (for video or stills) as the rear camera, you can at least grab HDR shots and tweak white balance if necessary. In a nutshell, all of the usual customizable settings are there: white balance, ISO up to 1600, exposure control, HDR, face detection, a specific macro mode, panorama, three crop styles, plenty of filters and a post-shot photo editor. There’s a clever UI trick that lets you switch between rear and front cameras by dragging your finger down from either side of the phone. The only thing that’s sorely missing is the ability to touch and hold the on-screen shutter button to lock exposure and focus, even when the One’s burst-shooting mode is disabled.
DNP HTC One review 2013
When it comes to performance, there are so many places we could start, so we’ll begin by discussing the megapixel myth. It’s so easy to just naturally assume that a camera with lower resolution is worse than one capable of capturing a larger number of pixels, but that isn’t always the case. Indeed, cameras with higher resolutions allow for better cropping and digital zooming. When shots are viewed at their regular size, however, there isn’t any visible degradation of detail. Colors are impressively natural, and white balance is excellent as well. The only issue we found with stills was that the camera tended to overexpose subjects in direct sunlight.
DNP HTC One review 2013
The One camera truly outshines almost everything else in low-light situations. It usually produces better shots at night than the Nokia Lumia 920, and comes in second only to the current imaging king, the Nokia 808 PureView. We were amazed by how much errant light it picked up; the One could snag perfectly usable shots on pitch-black streets, and the OIS worked like a charm. The only time noise actually became a problem was in extremely dark scenarios, but otherwise we were quite impressed by how clear most of the images came out.

We were blown away by how much light the One camera was able to grab at night.

In short, even though it’s not perfect and we’d love to be able to get more detail from zoomed-in shots, the One’s UltraPixels methodology appears to be completely sound. We’re confident enough in its quality, in fact, to declare the One as our new go-to camera.
On the video side, there’s plenty to keep you occupied as well. Since the ImageChip 2 is capable of recording 1080p video at about 30 fps and 720p at 60 fps (this includes HDR functionality as well), you can take these options out for a spin at any time, in addition to HTC’s signature slow-motion mode. We’ve compiled samples from each mode above for you to check out. In our time with the One, daytime videos were not only crisp and smooth visually, the One’s noise-cancellation mics did a great job filtering out wind and other unwanted background noise, while picking up our own voices very well at the same time. HDR videos are pretty good, but we noticed the occasional weird artifact on some frames, while brightness mysteriously jumps at times. Videos taken at night were quite clean, though the frame rate appears to suffer, dropping down from 30 fps to around 20, and there are fairly minor issues with white balance as well.
As if the UltraPixel camera isn’t enough indication that imaging plays a huge part in HTC’s strategy to gain market share, it’s also introduced a unique feature called Zoe. When looking at one, it’s hard not to envision an old-fashioned zoetrope spinning around and around to create a short movie. The feature is capable of capturing four to five full-res stills per second while recording a few seconds of 1080p video. In the end, what you get is a short video segment and a burst of roughly 20 images — think of the moving pictures in Harry Potter, and you’ll get the idea. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like this would be of any practical use, but we started to appreciate it as soon as we saw animated images pop up in our photo gallery. Once we saw the highlight reels and Zoe Share, however, we were completely sold. We’ll discuss these features in the next section.

SENSE 5


One. In literal terms, it’s a number. To HTC, however, it’s a branding strategy — the foundation upon which the entire company is now based. Just take one look at the One lineup and you’ll easily understand this is the manufacturer’s pride and joy. There’s a very good reason for that: in a crowded smartphone market, HTC is the underdog to titans like Samsung and Apple. The company needs to stand out if it even wants the chance to prove itself to consumers.
Last year’s One X marked a solid start, and while it didn’t pick up the momentum CEO Peter Chou would’ve liked, the follow-up model — simply called the One — takes HTC’s design and imaging chops to the next level, bringing a new UltraPixel camera sensor, among other top-shelf specs. But will it catch the eye of potential smartphone buyers, in light of another key product announcement? We’d say it’s got more than a fighting chance.

HTC One review (2013)

See all photos

HARDWARE

In order to most fully appreciate the One’s hardware, you first need to understand the process that goes on behind the scenes. Rather than opt for the sort of polycarbonate shell used on the One X and One X+, HTC crafted the One out of a single block of anodized aluminum, sprinkled with polycarbonate accents throughout. It’s incredibly intricate: each unit goes through at least 200 minutes of CNC machine cuts, and the aluminum is etched into channels filled with polycarbonate — a technique called zero-gap injection molding. Add chamfered, polished edges that connect the sides of the phone to the glass (Gorilla Glass 2, to be specific), and you have a handset with one of the best industrial designs we’ve ever seen. The amount of detail here is staggering, and it reflects just how crucial this device is to HTC’s future.
Much like the Windows Phone 8X and Droid DNA (globally known as the Butterfly), the One has a pyramid-like internal setup: larger components like the display and battery sit up front, with the parts getting progressively smaller as you move toward the back of the phone. This gives the rear cover a sleek curve that makes it utterly comfortable to hold. Though the One is even slimmer at 9.3mm (0.37 inch) than the 10mm (0.4 inch) 8X, it’s easier to grasp because the edges are contoured the way they are. At 5.04 ounces (143g), it feels a little weightier, but less than you might have guessed; it’s actually relatively light given the materials used.
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
Ultimately, we’re smitten with the One’s design for all sorts of reasons: it’s sexy, it feels secure in the hand and the combination of unibody aluminum and polycarbonate ensures the phone won’t shatter into a million pieces if it were to hit the ground (although it may get dinged or scratched up a bit, depending on the angle).

We’re smitten with the One’s gorgeous industrial design and premium build.

While industrial design, ergonomics and build quality are a good start, there’s much more to this skinny slab of aluminum. The front of the device is home to some of the biggest changes, headlined by a 4.7-inch S-LCD3 panel with 1080p resolution and two capacitive soft keys just below it — a departure from the standard three-button setup. A tiny HTC logo sits where the home button once did, smack-dab in between the two soft keys. In fact, it’s almost a little deceiving: it looks as if the logo should double as a button (we’d prefer it), but unfortunately there’s nothing more than meets the eye. Aluminum strips line the top and bottom of the phone’s face, with a set of BoomSound speaker grilles designed to offer stereo sound when you’re watching movies or listening to music. (The grille setup isn’t unlike what you’d find flanking the keyboard of some laptops.) An LED notification light resides under the top grille, toward the left. A 2.1MP wide-angle, front-facing camera is located in the top-right corner, while a pair of sensors sits over on the top left.
The front is by far the busiest part of the phone, while the edges and back have a more minimal design that helps keep the phone looking refined. The polycarbonate-laced sides angle inward until they meet the Gorilla Glass on the front, with only a chamfer to connect them. The left side is uninterrupted, save for a micro-SIM tray and miniscule ejection port. A micro-USB / MHL port and mic are on the bottom, and the right is taken up by a single volume rocker that uses the same ridge-like exterior as the Droid DNA.
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
The top end is where things get a little more interesting. The 3.5mm headphone jack is nothing new, but the power button has a dual personality: it doubles as an infrared (IR) blaster capable of transmitting and receiving, allowing you to use the handset as a TV remote. Because that power button is housed on the left, the act of locking and unlocking the One could be a bit more awkward for folks who tend to hold their phones in their left hands.
Now we turn to the back, which itself is a study in symmetry and simplicity. Two strips of polycarbonate line the top and bottom, lining up neatly with the top and bottom of the 4.7-inch display on the other side. Squint hard enough and you may see a noise-cancelling mic in the top strip. The camera lens sits in the middle of the back, just barely below the top strip; it’s encircled by a thin layer of polycarbonate and is slightly recessed to prevent the glass from getting scratched. You’ll see an LED flash to the left of the camera; there’s also the obligatory HTC logo set in the absolute center of the device, and Beats Audio branding has a spot just a smidgen above the bottom strip. An NFC transmitter is built into the back around the camera module. Unfortunately, though, one thing you won’t find back here is wireless charging. Sorry, folks.
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
Finally, as you’ve likely already surmised by now, the 2,300mAh battery inside the One isn’t removable or even accessible. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has used an HTC unibody flagship. There’s also no place to stick a microSD card, so the 32 or 64GB of internal storage will have to suffice.
There’s plenty more going on underneath the shell: the One is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T), an Adreno 320 and 2GB DDR2 RAM. While there are two basic versions of the device — the UL and LTE-less U — there will be six different SKUs that feature six different sets of LTE and HSPA+ bands. All of the units are quad-band GSM/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz), but it gets more complicated as the speed goes up: our review unit, which was made for European frequencies, sports 900/1900/2100MHz UMTS/HSPA+ (3G) and 800/1800/2600MHz LTE. The “U” offers the same three frequencies and adds 850MHz for good measure, while Asia’s variant uses 850/900/1900/2100MHz 3G and 1800/2600MHz LTE. Confused yet? Let’s throw the US models into the mix. AT&T will offer 850/1900/2100MHz 3G and 700/850/AWS/1900MHz LTE. T-Mobile’s has 850/AWS/1900/2100MHz 3G and 700/AWS LTE. Finally, Sprint’s version uses 700/AWS 3G, 800/1900MHz CDMA and 1900MHz LTE. If that last paragraph of specs didn’t wear you out, maybe the full data sheet below will. We hope not, because we have a lot more to discuss.

HTC One
Dimensions 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm (5.41 x 2.69 x 0.37 inch)
Weight 5.04 oz. (143g)
Screen size 4.7 inches
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,080 (468 ppi)
Screen type S-LCD3
Battery 2,300mAh Li-Polymer (non-removable)
Internal storage 32/64GB
External storage None
Rear camera 4MP, BSI, f/2.0, 1/3” sensor size, 2µm pixel size, OIS
Front-facing cam 2.1MP
Video capture 1080p, 30 fps (front and back)
NFC Yes
Radios Depends on market — see hardware section
Bluetooth v4.0 with aptX
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T)
CPU 1.7GHz quad-core
GPU Adreno 320
RAM 2GB
Entertainment MHL, DLNA, IR sensor
WiFi Dual-band, 802.11a/ac/b/g/n, WiFi Direct
Wireless Charging No
Operating system Android 4.1.2 (upgradeable to 4.2), Sense 5 UI

DISPLAY

DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
We praised the One X’s 720p S-LCD2 display when it first showed up on the scene last spring, and there was even more to love a few months later when the Droid DNA came out with a 1080p S-LCD3 panel. Having built up this much momentum, we weren’t expecting anything less than the absolute best from the One. And on paper, certainly, it doesn’t disappoint: the One features the same number of pixels as the DNA, except they’re crammed into a 4.7-inch screen (4.65 inches, to get technical). For the pixel density fanatics out there, this means the One offers an incredible 468 ppi. The setup sounds great on paper, but how does it translate into real life?
To be honest, the display is the area in which we feel the most nitpicky, because the 1080p panels we’ve seen on other flagships so far feature simply jaw-dropping quality. And to pick up on minute differences between these incredible displays, you’d have to really start splitting hairs. In particular, 1080p displays don’t offer nearly as noticeable a difference over 720p as we saw with 720p over qHD. Given how far we’ve come in terms of resolution and pixel density, the only way for screens to stand out above the crowd is to offer the best color, viewing angles, brightness and readability in daylight.

The One’s display is the most stunning we’ve seen thus far, but it’s only slightly better than the Droid DNA’s.

The One’s display does very well in all four areas. It’s slightly brighter than the DNA’s and significantly better than the One X+’s S-LCD2; the darks are sufficient, though still not as rich as what you’d find on an AMOLED; the other colors are incredibly close to fully natural; viewing angles are just as good as the One X+ and DNA, because it’s difficult to get any better; and we could see the display without a problem in the direct sunlight. Movies look amazing on the One, and if we want to get exceedingly picky, the text on the One is slightly more crisp than on the DNA — but this is something that’s only noticeable when you view the two side by side. Tiny details aside, the One’s display is the most gorgeous we’ve seen thus far.

CAMERA

DNP HTC One review 2013
In the days leading up to the One announcement, HTC promised a whole new imaging and sound experience on its new flagship — and it certainly wasn’t exaggerating. With the exception of Nokia with its PureView line, all of the company’s competitors are busy increasing the megapixel count on their latest and greatest cameras. HTC, however, boldly chose to go the opposite direction: itdecreased the resolution to 4MP. As you would expect, there’s a lot more to the story than a simple drop in pixel count — in fact, HTC coined the term UltraPixels to describe its new imaging innovation.
The idea behind the UltraPixels is to take a physically large sensor and combine it with big pixels that are capable of gathering more light than standard-sized ones. Whereas the typical smartphone camera features 1.1µm pixels, the One proudly boasts a one-third-inch BSI sensor with 2µm pixels capable of absorbing 330 percent more photons. But that alone isn’t enough to excel at low-light photography, so HTC also uses a 28mm f/2.0 AF lens and optical image stabilization (OIS) — and just in case you still can’t capture enough light, an LED flash is thrown in for good measure.

HTC One sample shots

See all photos

HTC’s also developed a next-gen image signal processor (ISP), aptly named ImageChip 2. Despite a lower megapixel count, the new chip is capable of continuous autofocus in less than 200ms, reduced noise, real-time lens compensation and 1080p HDR video recording. It also offers a buffered-capture cycle with pre- and post-shutter recording, not unlike what you get with BlackBerry’s Time Shift, Scalado’s Rewind, Samsung’s Best Face and Nokia’s Smart Shoot. In other words, don’t worry about the resolution on the camera — instead, let the images do the talking.
The front-facing camera hasn’t been neglected either. The 2.1MP module comes with an f/2.0 wide-angle (88-degree) lens and is capable of capturing up to 1080p video, much like its compadre on the back of the One. Even though it can’t do the same fancy scene modes (for video or stills) as the rear camera, you can at least grab HDR shots and tweak white balance if necessary. In a nutshell, all of the usual customizable settings are there: white balance, ISO up to 1600, exposure control, HDR, face detection, a specific macro mode, panorama, three crop styles, plenty of filters and a post-shot photo editor. There’s a clever UI trick that lets you switch between rear and front cameras by dragging your finger down from either side of the phone. The only thing that’s sorely missing is the ability to touch and hold the on-screen shutter button to lock exposure and focus, even when the One’s burst-shooting mode is disabled.
DNP HTC One review 2013
When it comes to performance, there are so many places we could start, so we’ll begin by discussing the megapixel myth. It’s so easy to just naturally assume that a camera with lower resolution is worse than one capable of capturing a larger number of pixels, but that isn’t always the case. Indeed, cameras with higher resolutions allow for better cropping and digital zooming. When shots are viewed at their regular size, however, there isn’t any visible degradation of detail. Colors are impressively natural, and white balance is excellent as well. The only issue we found with stills was that the camera tended to overexpose subjects in direct sunlight.
DNP HTC One review 2013
The One camera truly outshines almost everything else in low-light situations. It usually produces better shots at night than the Nokia Lumia 920, and comes in second only to the current imaging king, the Nokia 808 PureView. We were amazed by how much errant light it picked up; the One could snag perfectly usable shots on pitch-black streets, and the OIS worked like a charm. The only time noise actually became a problem was in extremely dark scenarios, but otherwise we were quite impressed by how clear most of the images came out.

We were blown away by how much light the One camera was able to grab at night.

In short, even though it’s not perfect and we’d love to be able to get more detail from zoomed-in shots, the One’s UltraPixels methodology appears to be completely sound. We’re confident enough in its quality, in fact, to declare the One as our new go-to camera.
On the video side, there’s plenty to keep you occupied as well. Since the ImageChip 2 is capable of recording 1080p video at about 30 fps and 720p at 60 fps (this includes HDR functionality as well), you can take these options out for a spin at any time, in addition to HTC’s signature slow-motion mode. We’ve compiled samples from each mode above for you to check out. In our time with the One, daytime videos were not only crisp and smooth visually, the One’s noise-cancellation mics did a great job filtering out wind and other unwanted background noise, while picking up our own voices very well at the same time. HDR videos are pretty good, but we noticed the occasional weird artifact on some frames, while brightness mysteriously jumps at times. Videos taken at night were quite clean, though the frame rate appears to suffer, dropping down from 30 fps to around 20, and there are fairly minor issues with white balance as well.
As if the UltraPixel camera isn’t enough indication that imaging plays a huge part in HTC’s strategy to gain market share, it’s also introduced a unique feature called Zoe. When looking at one, it’s hard not to envision an old-fashioned zoetrope spinning around and around to create a short movie. The feature is capable of capturing four to five full-res stills per second while recording a few seconds of 1080p video. In the end, what you get is a short video segment and a burst of roughly 20 images — think of the moving pictures in Harry Potter, and you’ll get the idea. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like this would be of any practical use, but we started to appreciate it as soon as we saw animated images pop up in our photo gallery. Once we saw the highlight reels and Zoe Share, however, we were completely sold. We’ll discuss these features in the next section.

SENSE 5

DNP HTC One review 2013
At its core, the One is an Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) device. HTC, however, would much rather have the focus be on the custom skin job it’s put on top of Google’s mobile OS. Known as Sense 5, the next generation of the user interface is very much an evolution from previous iterations — we’d dare say that it’s a completely different experience, much like Sense 4 was from version 3. The fourth iteration was a noticeable improvement, as HTC had finally merged many of its ideas with Google’s general design guidelines. Now, with Sense 5, the UI has changed on nearly everything once again, from the home page to core HTC apps; it’s better than Sense 4 in some ways, but in other ways it’s a step back.
For basic navigation, Sense 5 devices use two soft keys. This is a huge departure from Sense 4 devices, which use a three-button setup consisting of back, home and recent apps (with the latter being customizable to work as the menu button if desired). The One, on the other hand, offers only back and home keys. A long-press on home activates Google Now, while double-tapping the same button brings up a new recent apps menu that is much improved over the card-style version on Sense 4 that reminded us too much of Windows Phone and webOS. Cards are still present this time around, but they’re much smaller and you can view up to nine in total. It’s still possible to flick each one up to remove them, but since we often like to have more than nine apps open at the same time, this limit is too restrictive for our tastes.
Because Sense 5 eschews a menu key, it means many third-party apps have to throw in the virtual menu key at the bottom of the screen. This feels like a step backward to us, especially after the One X was updated to allow menu functionality on the recent apps soft key.
The most striking change in the UI is BlinkFeed, which takes over as the default home page. Thanks to its many tiles of various shapes and sizes, the tool is reminiscent of Flipboard, Motorola’s Blur UI and even Windows Phone. (Dare we say it even brings back memories of the Microsoft Kin?) The idea behind the service is to bring in content from your favorite publications and social networks — Engadget, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr are just a few examples — and put it all together for easy browsing. In fact, the word “casual” should be the main focus here: outside the usual notification bar, BlinkFeed won’t feature your emails or any other critical updates. If something of interest pops up in your feed, just tap on any tile to read the associated post or status update. There’s also a modernized clock and weather widget at the very top, but it only shows up on the main screen — it disappears as soon as you start scrolling down into the depths of your feed.

HTC Sense 5 screenshots

See all photos

Fortunately, you still have full control over BlinkFeed through a hidden pull-down bar nestled in between the tiles and clock widget, which is accessed by dragging your finger down on the starting page (you can also use this gesture to manually update your feeds, although you can set it to auto-refresh on mobile data and WiFi or WiFi-only). A tab on the left lets you pick and choose which feeds you want to look at; for instance, you can opt to view only updates from Engadget or go for the whole kit and kaboodle of topics that interest you. If you want to change which feeds are highlighted, just head to the settings, found in the BlinkFeed menu. Additionally, you’ll also find options to post to Facebook or Twitter directly from this bar.
An SDK will eventually be offered so that devs can publish their apps to BlinkFeed as a means of making the service more useful. This is something we look forward to; the entire concept just feels like it’s too drastic a shift from stock Android. Fortunately, in case you’re not a fan of BlinkFeed being the default screen every time you unlock your phone — and let’s face it, it’s a huge departure from anything we’ve seen on Sense or Android in general, so it’s not going to please everybody — you can choose a different home page. There doesn’t appear to be any way to completely disable it, however, so you’re stuck with it taking up one of your five main panels. This leads to our major frustration: while the idea behind BlinkFeed isn’t terrible (and we imagine serial social networkers and news junkies may find it quite handy), it makes Sense feel a little too cluttered with unnecessary bloat and users should be given the option to disable it if they don’t get any benefit out of it.

BlinkFeed performs well, but it adds to the feeling of unnecessary bloat and can’t be disabled

We should note that BlinkFeed’s tiled layout isn’t restricted to that main panel; it’s actually a recurring theme in the gallery as well. The app uses tiles to let you choose between your own photo galleries, your friends’ Facebook albums and other online services like Dropbox and Flickr. When you go into your own photo albums, you may see a few images moving on their own — those Harry Potter-like movies hanging out in your once-stagnant album are Zoe shots. Each picture (Zoe or otherwise) can be starred as a “highlight” so you can show your friends and family the best images from last month’s Disneyland vacation instead of, you know, all of them. You can also upload those precious memories to Zoe Share, a service that generates a URL displaying up to 10 photos which you can share with whomever you want — whether they’re Zoe or plain, old stills. Each website is active for 180 days, in case loved ones or stalkers want to visit over and over. (We’ve generated a sample URL for you to take a peekhere.)
Admittedly, Zoe Share is a much slicker feature than we first gave it credit for, but there’s another clever way to share these five-second clips: the One can take your collection of Zoes and stills from that day and create a professional-style highlight reel complete with images, clips, special effects and music. There aren’t a lot of song choices available yet, and you can’t use your own music, but the stock tones offered are at least diverse. Each individual song comes with its own theme — one comes with an old-timey filter, for instance — and the pictures are synced almost perfectly with the music. These 30-second movies can be uploaded to Zoe Share on a unique URL for 30 days, or it can be uploaded to other services such as YouTube. We had a hard time believing that the resulting movies weren’t done by a human, but this is just one creative way to take advantage of the Snapdragon 600 chipset.
DNP HTC One review 2013
The main home panels on Sense 5 really aren’t that different from what we saw on the previous version. The iconic Sense clock and weather widget is missing by default, but don’t panic, fans — it’s still offered as a widget, so long-press the main screen and you’ll get the standard Sense setup that lets you pick out which widgets, shortcuts and apps you want. You may also notice that the font is different from Senses past, but it’s actually Roboto, the stock font on Android 4.0+ (albeit, Sense uses a different weighted version). The notification bar uses the same setup as before, but it also takes advantage of the new font and a slightly modernized style.
Besides BlinkFeed and the gallery, the other area that received a major revamp is the app menu. The grids, which offer a more Holo-style look than the ones found on Sense 4, are aligned vertically instead of horizontally and come in two different sizes: 3 x 4 and 4 x 5. By default, the grid shows up as 3 x 4, and just as we saw on BlinkFeed, the Holo-style clock and weather widget take up the top row of icons on the very first screen (for either size). App placement is different here than on the stock app tray: you customize your docking tray from here instead of the main screen, you can create or manipulate folders and another pull-down bar with tabs and settings sits between the app icons and clock. This tab allows you to change the grid organization to show alphabetical order or recent apps (folders are non-existent in these modes).
The One makes good use of the included IR blaster with Sense TV, a Peel-powered feature that blends a program guide and universal remote into one app. Stateside, Hulu Plus is integrated and all major cable services are supported; in the UK, Virgin Media, Sky, Freesat and Freeview will be included in the offerings. We’d love to see Netflix supported as well, but HTC hasn’t announced any plans on that end yet, so we’ll become more virtuous by exercising heaps of patience. (It’s a win-win, really.)
DNP HTC One review 2013
As for the remote itself, it still works pretty well but not as flawlessly as the Optimus G Pro’s iteration. It comes with a library of IR codes to support nearly any TV brand, cable service and home theater setup you can think of. The software guides you step by step as you attempt to get your phone properly set up with all of your equipment, even going as far as to tell you to align the One with your universal remote if it’s unsuccessful at getting everything programmed correctly. Once you’re ready to actually use the remote, your mileage may vary depending on your TV brand and cable provider. We weren’t able to turn off the Dish DVR despite easily being able to control the menu, and a Hitachi TV recognized the input menu button on the remote but refused to let us select any of the options in the menu. Aside from this little hiccup, everything worked as advertised. As another nice touch, you can access basic controls and recent channels in the notification tray, use the remote on the lock screen and even tell the app to remind you of upcoming TV shows in BlinkFeed.
Sense 5 also brings with it an updated HTC Sync Manager. This feature is primarily aimed at new users hoping to move their information from iPhones or other Android devices. If you’re coming over from an Apple, you can use Sync Manager to go into iTunes and grab your contacts, calendar appointments, photos, videos and music (DRM-free, natch). If you’re coming from an older Sense device (3.6 or higher), you’ll be able to transfer all of the above as well as texts, bookmarks and preferred settings. You can achieve similar results on other Android phones (2.3 and up) by installing an HTC app from the Play Store, whereas any other devices can still transfer contacts the old-fashioned way — via Bluetooth. Sense 5 also makes it possible to store encrypted backups on your Dropbox account (or Sina, if you’re in China), which is then tied to your Facebook creds. Using this method, you can back up all of your settings, apps, widgets, BlinkFeed, TV, home screen layout and account information. Finally, HTC’s partnered up with Zoodles to add Kid Mode. The app serves as a password- or gesture-protected launcher that your children won’t be able to exit. Once enabled, you have the ability to restrict which apps your children use, while also offering a place to make drawings and read storybooks. Speaking of storybooks, the service lets you record stories via the front-facing cam, so your kids can watch you read The Three Little Pigs to them, even if you’re out of town. There’s also a video mail feature that allows you and your young ‘uns to exchange messages back and forth to each other.
Since your offspring are likely all sorts of ages, each individual child can have their own specific mode in which their favorite apps and preferences (along with your own parental customizations) pop up. As a parent, I found the service to be incredibly handy — it’s no secret that kids have just as intense a love for electronic gadgets as we do, so it’s important to keep them (not to mention our personal data) safe as they play with our phones.

PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY LIFE

DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
Outside of that stunning design, the star of the show is the One’s Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T) chipset, which pairs a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB RAM. This particular piece of silicon is the next logical step up from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064). The CPU features Krait 300 — a bump from the S4 Pro’s Krait 200, which results in a 15 percent improvement in instructions per clock (IPC) and a “speed-enhanced” Adreno 320 GPU. The 600 is also built using a 28nm process, just like the S4 Pro, and offers support for LPDDR3 — even though the One uses LPDDR2 specifically — and 802.11ac support on the WiFi side (in addition to the standard suite of a/b/g/n). This is the same chipset used in the LG Optimus G Pro and ASUS PadFone Infinity, and doubtless countless more over the next few months. It won’t stay king of the Snapdragon hill for long, since Qualcomm expects the 800 to be available in mid-2013.
Still, the fact is that, as of this writing, the Snapdragon 600 is the strongest processor on the market, and the benchmarks — as you’ll see in the chart below — indicate a solid improvement over the S4 Pro chip. We’ve compared the One with its predecessor, the One X+, as well as the S4 Pro-powered Droid DNA and Snapdragon 600-powered Optimus G Pro, so take a look at how the One holds up.

HTC One HTC One X+ HTC Droid DNA LG Optimus G Pro
Quadrant 2.0 12,495 7,457 8,028 12,435
Vellamo 2.0 2,429 1,897 1,752 2,254
AnTuTu 3.1 25,140 15,832 14,474 19,300
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms) 991 1,107 1,150 904
GLBenchmark Egypt 2.5 HD Offscreen (fps) 34 12 31 27
CF-Bench 25,267 14,558 18,386 20,019
SunSpider: lower scores are better

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the One edge out HTC’s older flagships, but it also handily beat the G Pro in all but one benchmark (SunSpider). Since the silicon itself is essentially the same, this likely indicates that Sense 5 is more optimized than LG’s Optimus UI. In any case, the differences aren’t visible to the naked eye. When they’re both that good, tiny discrepancies in performance just aren’t as noticeable: but for what matters most, the One definitely does the job, and does it well. It runs buttery smooth and the screen is quite responsive. We strained our eyes looking for any sort of lag with no success and the graphics in games likeShadowgun, Asphalt 7, Real Racing 3 and Riptide are as quick and detailed as we’ve come to expect with high-performance phones, if not just a little bit more so. (This reviewer’s personal performance when playing games, however, is a completely different story.)

We got almost nine hours of battery life with constant use.

The One’s 2,300mAh battery is a solid improvement in size over previous flagships — the One X used a 1,800mAh cell, while the One X+’s was beefed up to 2,100 — so we were hoping to see a measurable boost in how long its battery held up. Now for the moment of truth: in our rundown endurance test, in which we play an HD video on endless loop, the One made it through six and a half hours before all of its juice was sucked dry — an average result. As a disclaimer, our initial real-world usage tests were conducted on AT&T’s 1900MHz network, which admittedly doesn’t offer consistent HSPA+ speeds in our area; with this in mind, we got almost nine hours of constant use, which consisted of emailing, social media, taking pictures, making a few calls and an assortment of other random activities.
Update: Our UK team just received a unit with full LTE coverage and has had the opportunity to take it for a spin. Noble gentleman Mat Smith shares his experiences, which are quite similar to ours: “On the UK’s EE LTE network, we were picking up download speeds around 10 Mbps, while uploads were often even higher, circling around 22 Mbps during our tests in central London. Further afield, however, it was closer to those 10 Mbps down speeds. During a standard day’s use on LTE (including a heavy-use three-hour stint in a hospital waiting room), our European review model powered down just after eight hours’ use — not far off our HSPA rundown, possibly thanks to Qualcomm’s integrated radios in its new 600 series.”
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
As flashy as the One is, it’s an actual phone first and foremost — and even this aspect of the device is specced out to the max. HTC has thrown in a pair of HDR microphones designed to cancel unnecessary background noise and handle a wide range of sound levels without saturating. Call quality was solid, but what really stood out to us was what we didn’t hear. At one point in a recent conversation, we told the person on the other line to excuse the UPS truck passing by right behind us; our friend couldn’t even tell that anything was in the background, let alone a noisy truck.
Remember those stereo speakers taking up all that room on the front of the One? They’re the best set of external speakers we’ve heard on a phone so far, and as afraid as we are to admit this, Beats Audio may have something to do with it. HTC’s BoomSound technology makes it so you don’t have to use earbuds or an on-ear headset to take advantage of the various codecs Beats has to offer. If you don’t want to annoy others — and why would you? — the phone uses the same 2.55v headphone amp used in the Droid DNA, giving you similar bass levels even when you’re not listening through the speaker. In any case, if you do decide to go the no-headphone route, the result is a much fuller audio experience. Not only that, we cranked the volume as loud as it could go and we couldn’t hear any distortion whatsoever.

WRAP-UP

DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality

Regardless of how well Samsung’s soon-to-be-announced flagship does on the market, we’ll continue to have a soft spot for the One. Last year, we were very impressed by the One X, but that wasn’t enough. HTC pushed itself and made its sequel even more polished than the original. We love the phone’s industrial design and the camera, while the Snapdragon 600 chipset and 1080p display aren’t bad either. We’re not sold on every aspect of Sense 5, such as BlinkFeed and the One’s two-button layout, but overall the user experience is much improved. As far as we’re concerned, HTC has a hit on its hands.
Update: Here’s a ZIP file containing most of our un-retouched full-size HTC One photos along with matching shots taken with other handsets.
Myriam Joire and Mat Smith contributed to this review.
Read the full review @ engadget).
DNP HTC One review 2013
At its core, the One is an Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) device. HTC, however, would much rather have the focus be on the custom skin job it’s put on top of Google’s mobile OS. Known as Sense 5, the next generation of the user interface is very much an evolution from previous iterations — we’d dare say that it’s a completely different experience, much like Sense 4 was from version 3. The fourth iteration was a noticeable improvement, as HTC had finally merged many of its ideas with Google’s general design guidelines. Now, with Sense 5, the UI has changed on nearly everything once again, from the home page to core HTC apps; it’s better than Sense 4 in some ways, but in other ways it’s a step back.
For basic navigation, Sense 5 devices use two soft keys. This is a huge departure from Sense 4 devices, which use a three-button setup consisting of back, home and recent apps (with the latter being customizable to work as the menu button if desired). The One, on the other hand, offers only back and home keys. A long-press on home activates Google Now, while double-tapping the same button brings up a new recent apps menu that is much improved over the card-style version on Sense 4 that reminded us too much of Windows Phone and webOS. Cards are still present this time around, but they’re much smaller and you can view up to nine in total. It’s still possible to flick each one up to remove them, but since we often like to have more than nine apps open at the same time, this limit is too restrictive for our tastes.
Because Sense 5 eschews a menu key, it means many third-party apps have to throw in the virtual menu key at the bottom of the screen. This feels like a step backward to us, especially after the One X was updated to allow menu functionality on the recent apps soft key.
The most striking change in the UI is BlinkFeed, which takes over as the default home page. Thanks to its many tiles of various shapes and sizes, the tool is reminiscent of Flipboard, Motorola’s Blur UI and even Windows Phone. (Dare we say it even brings back memories of the Microsoft Kin?) The idea behind the service is to bring in content from your favorite publications and social networks — Engadget, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr are just a few examples — and put it all together for easy browsing. In fact, the word “casual” should be the main focus here: outside the usual notification bar, BlinkFeed won’t feature your emails or any other critical updates. If something of interest pops up in your feed, just tap on any tile to read the associated post or status update. There’s also a modernized clock and weather widget at the very top, but it only shows up on the main screen — it disappears as soon as you start scrolling down into the depths of your feed.

HTC Sense 5 screenshots

See all photos

Fortunately, you still have full control over BlinkFeed through a hidden pull-down bar nestled in between the tiles and clock widget, which is accessed by dragging your finger down on the starting page (you can also use this gesture to manually update your feeds, although you can set it to auto-refresh on mobile data and WiFi or WiFi-only). A tab on the left lets you pick and choose which feeds you want to look at; for instance, you can opt to view only updates from Engadget or go for the whole kit and kaboodle of topics that interest you. If you want to change which feeds are highlighted, just head to the settings, found in the BlinkFeed menu. Additionally, you’ll also find options to post to Facebook or Twitter directly from this bar.
An SDK will eventually be offered so that devs can publish their apps to BlinkFeed as a means of making the service more useful. This is something we look forward to; the entire concept just feels like it’s too drastic a shift from stock Android. Fortunately, in case you’re not a fan of BlinkFeed being the default screen every time you unlock your phone — and let’s face it, it’s a huge departure from anything we’ve seen on Sense or Android in general, so it’s not going to please everybody — you can choose a different home page. There doesn’t appear to be any way to completely disable it, however, so you’re stuck with it taking up one of your five main panels. This leads to our major frustration: while the idea behind BlinkFeed isn’t terrible (and we imagine serial social networkers and news junkies may find it quite handy), it makes Sense feel a little too cluttered with unnecessary bloat and users should be given the option to disable it if they don’t get any benefit out of it.

BlinkFeed performs well, but it adds to the feeling of unnecessary bloat and can’t be disabled

We should note that BlinkFeed’s tiled layout isn’t restricted to that main panel; it’s actually a recurring theme in the gallery as well. The app uses tiles to let you choose between your own photo galleries, your friends’ Facebook albums and other online services like Dropbox and Flickr. When you go into your own photo albums, you may see a few images moving on their own — those Harry Potter-like movies hanging out in your once-stagnant album are Zoe shots. Each picture (Zoe or otherwise) can be starred as a “highlight” so you can show your friends and family the best images from last month’s Disneyland vacation instead of, you know, all of them. You can also upload those precious memories to Zoe Share, a service that generates a URL displaying up to 10 photos which you can share with whomever you want — whether they’re Zoe or plain, old stills. Each website is active for 180 days, in case loved ones or stalkers want to visit over and over. (We’ve generated a sample URL for you to take a peekhere.)
Admittedly, Zoe Share is a much slicker feature than we first gave it credit for, but there’s another clever way to share these five-second clips: the One can take your collection of Zoes and stills from that day and create a professional-style highlight reel complete with images, clips, special effects and music. There aren’t a lot of song choices available yet, and you can’t use your own music, but the stock tones offered are at least diverse. Each individual song comes with its own theme — one comes with an old-timey filter, for instance — and the pictures are synced almost perfectly with the music. These 30-second movies can be uploaded to Zoe Share on a unique URL for 30 days, or it can be uploaded to other services such as YouTube. We had a hard time believing that the resulting movies weren’t done by a human, but this is just one creative way to take advantage of the Snapdragon 600 chipset.
DNP HTC One review 2013
The main home panels on Sense 5 really aren’t that different from what we saw on the previous version. The iconic Sense clock and weather widget is missing by default, but don’t panic, fans — it’s still offered as a widget, so long-press the main screen and you’ll get the standard Sense setup that lets you pick out which widgets, shortcuts and apps you want. You may also notice that the font is different from Senses past, but it’s actually Roboto, the stock font on Android 4.0+ (albeit, Sense uses a different weighted version). The notification bar uses the same setup as before, but it also takes advantage of the new font and a slightly modernized style.
Besides BlinkFeed and the gallery, the other area that received a major revamp is the app menu. The grids, which offer a more Holo-style look than the ones found on Sense 4, are aligned vertically instead of horizontally and come in two different sizes: 3 x 4 and 4 x 5. By default, the grid shows up as 3 x 4, and just as we saw on BlinkFeed, the Holo-style clock and weather widget take up the top row of icons on the very first screen (for either size). App placement is different here than on the stock app tray: you customize your docking tray from here instead of the main screen, you can create or manipulate folders and another pull-down bar with tabs and settings sits between the app icons and clock. This tab allows you to change the grid organization to show alphabetical order or recent apps (folders are non-existent in these modes).
The One makes good use of the included IR blaster with Sense TV, a Peel-powered feature that blends a program guide and universal remote into one app. Stateside, Hulu Plus is integrated and all major cable services are supported; in the UK, Virgin Media, Sky, Freesat and Freeview will be included in the offerings. We’d love to see Netflix supported as well, but HTC hasn’t announced any plans on that end yet, so we’ll become more virtuous by exercising heaps of patience. (It’s a win-win, really.)
DNP HTC One review 2013
As for the remote itself, it still works pretty well but not as flawlessly as the Optimus G Pro’s iteration. It comes with a library of IR codes to support nearly any TV brand, cable service and home theater setup you can think of. The software guides you step by step as you attempt to get your phone properly set up with all of your equipment, even going as far as to tell you to align the One with your universal remote if it’s unsuccessful at getting everything programmed correctly. Once you’re ready to actually use the remote, your mileage may vary depending on your TV brand and cable provider. We weren’t able to turn off the Dish DVR despite easily being able to control the menu, and a Hitachi TV recognized the input menu button on the remote but refused to let us select any of the options in the menu. Aside from this little hiccup, everything worked as advertised. As another nice touch, you can access basic controls and recent channels in the notification tray, use the remote on the lock screen and even tell the app to remind you of upcoming TV shows in BlinkFeed.
Sense 5 also brings with it an updated HTC Sync Manager. This feature is primarily aimed at new users hoping to move their information from iPhones or other Android devices. If you’re coming over from an Apple, you can use Sync Manager to go into iTunes and grab your contacts, calendar appointments, photos, videos and music (DRM-free, natch). If you’re coming from an older Sense device (3.6 or higher), you’ll be able to transfer all of the above as well as texts, bookmarks and preferred settings. You can achieve similar results on other Android phones (2.3 and up) by installing an HTC app from the Play Store, whereas any other devices can still transfer contacts the old-fashioned way — via Bluetooth. Sense 5 also makes it possible to store encrypted backups on your Dropbox account (or Sina, if you’re in China), which is then tied to your Facebook creds. Using this method, you can back up all of your settings, apps, widgets, BlinkFeed, TV, home screen layout and account information. Finally, HTC’s partnered up with Zoodles to add Kid Mode. The app serves as a password- or gesture-protected launcher that your children won’t be able to exit. Once enabled, you have the ability to restrict which apps your children use, while also offering a place to make drawings and read storybooks. Speaking of storybooks, the service lets you record stories via the front-facing cam, so your kids can watch you read The Three Little Pigs to them, even if you’re out of town. There’s also a video mail feature that allows you and your young ‘uns to exchange messages back and forth to each other.
Since your offspring are likely all sorts of ages, each individual child can have their own specific mode in which their favorite apps and preferences (along with your own parental customizations) pop up. As a parent, I found the service to be incredibly handy — it’s no secret that kids have just as intense a love for electronic gadgets as we do, so it’s important to keep them (not to mention our personal data) safe as they play with our phones.

PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY LIFE

DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
Outside of that stunning design, the star of the show is the One’s Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T) chipset, which pairs a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB RAM. This particular piece of silicon is the next logical step up from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064). The CPU features Krait 300 — a bump from the S4 Pro’s Krait 200, which results in a 15 percent improvement in instructions per clock (IPC) and a “speed-enhanced” Adreno 320 GPU. The 600 is also built using a 28nm process, just like the S4 Pro, and offers support for LPDDR3 — even though the One uses LPDDR2 specifically — and 802.11ac support on the WiFi side (in addition to the standard suite of a/b/g/n). This is the same chipset used in the LG Optimus G Pro and ASUS PadFone Infinity, and doubtless countless more over the next few months. It won’t stay king of the Snapdragon hill for long, since Qualcomm expects the 800 to be available in mid-2013.
Still, the fact is that, as of this writing, the Snapdragon 600 is the strongest processor on the market, and the benchmarks — as you’ll see in the chart below — indicate a solid improvement over the S4 Pro chip. We’ve compared the One with its predecessor, the One X+, as well as the S4 Pro-powered Droid DNA and Snapdragon 600-powered Optimus G Pro, so take a look at how the One holds up.

HTC One HTC One X+ HTC Droid DNA LG Optimus G Pro
Quadrant 2.0 12,495 7,457 8,028 12,435
Vellamo 2.0 2,429 1,897 1,752 2,254
AnTuTu 3.1 25,140 15,832 14,474 19,300
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms) 991 1,107 1,150 904
GLBenchmark Egypt 2.5 HD Offscreen (fps) 34 12 31 27
CF-Bench 25,267 14,558 18,386 20,019
SunSpider: lower scores are better

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the One edge out HTC’s older flagships, but it also handily beat the G Pro in all but one benchmark (SunSpider). Since the silicon itself is essentially the same, this likely indicates that Sense 5 is more optimized than LG’s Optimus UI. In any case, the differences aren’t visible to the naked eye. When they’re both that good, tiny discrepancies in performance just aren’t as noticeable: but for what matters most, the One definitely does the job, and does it well. It runs buttery smooth and the screen is quite responsive. We strained our eyes looking for any sort of lag with no success and the graphics in games likeShadowgun, Asphalt 7, Real Racing 3 and Riptide are as quick and detailed as we’ve come to expect with high-performance phones, if not just a little bit more so. (This reviewer’s personal performance when playing games, however, is a completely different story.)

We got almost nine hours of battery life with constant use.

The One’s 2,300mAh battery is a solid improvement in size over previous flagships — the One X used a 1,800mAh cell, while the One X+’s was beefed up to 2,100 — so we were hoping to see a measurable boost in how long its battery held up. Now for the moment of truth: in our rundown endurance test, in which we play an HD video on endless loop, the One made it through six and a half hours before all of its juice was sucked dry — an average result. As a disclaimer, our initial real-world usage tests were conducted on AT&T’s 1900MHz network, which admittedly doesn’t offer consistent HSPA+ speeds in our area; with this in mind, we got almost nine hours of constant use, which consisted of emailing, social media, taking pictures, making a few calls and an assortment of other random activities.
Update: Our UK team just received a unit with full LTE coverage and has had the opportunity to take it for a spin. Noble gentleman Mat Smith shares his experiences, which are quite similar to ours: “On the UK’s EE LTE network, we were picking up download speeds around 10 Mbps, while uploads were often even higher, circling around 22 Mbps during our tests in central London. Further afield, however, it was closer to those 10 Mbps down speeds. During a standard day’s use on LTE (including a heavy-use three-hour stint in a hospital waiting room), our European review model powered down just after eight hours’ use — not far off our HSPA rundown, possibly thanks to Qualcomm’s integrated radios in its new 600 series.”
DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality
As flashy as the One is, it’s an actual phone first and foremost — and even this aspect of the device is specced out to the max. HTC has thrown in a pair of HDR microphones designed to cancel unnecessary background noise and handle a wide range of sound levels without saturating. Call quality was solid, but what really stood out to us was what we didn’t hear. At one point in a recent conversation, we told the person on the other line to excuse the UPS truck passing by right behind us; our friend couldn’t even tell that anything was in the background, let alone a noisy truck.
Remember those stereo speakers taking up all that room on the front of the One? They’re the best set of external speakers we’ve heard on a phone so far, and as afraid as we are to admit this, Beats Audio may have something to do with it. HTC’s BoomSound technology makes it so you don’t have to use earbuds or an on-ear headset to take advantage of the various codecs Beats has to offer. If you don’t want to annoy others — and why would you? — the phone uses the same 2.55v headphone amp used in the Droid DNA, giving you similar bass levels even when you’re not listening through the speaker. In any case, if you do decide to go the no-headphone route, the result is a much fuller audio experience. Not only that, we cranked the volume as loud as it could go and we couldn’t hear any distortion whatsoever.

WRAP-UP

DNP HTC One review insert obvious Matrix pun here for minimal originality

Regardless of how well Samsung’s soon-to-be-announced flagship does on the market, we’ll continue to have a soft spot for the One. Last year, we were very impressed by the One X, but that wasn’t enough. HTC pushed itself and made its sequel even more polished than the original. We love the phone’s industrial design and the camera, while the Snapdragon 600 chipset and 1080p display aren’t bad either. We’re not sold on every aspect of Sense 5, such as BlinkFeed and the One’s two-button layout, but overall the user experience is much improved. As far as we’re concerned, HTC has a hit on its hands.
Update: Here’s a ZIP file containing most of our un-retouched full-size HTC One photos along with matching shots taken with other handsets.
Myriam Joire and Mat Smith contributed to this review.
Read the full review @ engadget).