PNY GTX 1080 Ti XLR8 OC review: A gorgeous graphics card with great value

pny gtx 1080 ti xlr8 oc 1

Let’s be frank: Most of the customized versions of Nvidia’s beastly GeForce GTX 1080 Ti that you can buy offer largely similar levels of gaming performance. This monstrous GPU pushes Nvidia’s Pascal architecture as far and fast as it’ll go.

That’s good in some ways. Aside from Founders Edition models, you know you aren’t leaving performance on the table by opting for one custom GTX 1080 Ti over another, and you shouldn’t have any problem pushing clock speeds up around the 2GHz range if you want to try your hand at manual overclocking. But it also means that custom cards need to bring a little something extra to the table if they want to stand out from the crowd.

The PNY GeForce GTX 1080 Ti XLR8 OC ($720 on Newegg) does just that with a strong focus on the basics and some design decisions that make it refreshingly unique compared to many of today’s high-end graphics cards.


  • Meet the PNY GTX 1080 Ti XLR8
  • Our test system
  • The Division
  • Hitman
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

Meet the PNY GTX 1080 Ti XLR8

Before we dive into the customizations found in the PNY GTX 1080 Ti XLR8 OC (“accelerate,” get it?) let’s quickly look at the reference specifications from the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition.

gtx 1080 ti tech specs


Stock GTX 1080 Ti reference specs

The biggest under-the-hood change lies in the GTX 1080 TI XLR8 OC’s core clock speeds, which have been bumped up to a 1,531MHz base clock and 1,645MHz boost clock. Again, that brings it in line with other custom GTX 1080 Ti cards, ready to chew through 4K games even when all the bells and whistles are cranked. Despite the boost, the PNY card still packs the same 250W TDP as the Founders Edition, along with the same 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors.

The card’s physical design is more interesting, for a couple of different reasons.

First: its thickness. While most custom GTX 1080 Ti cards expanded to beefy three-slot thicknesses to tame the ferocious GPU’s temperatures, PNY’s card joins EVGA’s GTX 1080 Ti SC2 and Nvidia’s Founder Edition model in being a standard two-slot size. Bad news for small systems, though: The XLR8 compensates by stretching out to a looooong 12.36 inches to house its triple-fan cooling solution and massive heatsink.

pny gtx 1080 ti xlr8 oc 11

Brad Chacos/IDG

The PNY GTX 1080 Ti XLR8 OC.

PNY’s XLR8 OC also ditches the gaudy RGB LED-laden aesthetics that most recent high-end graphics cards have embraced. Instead, it opts for a graceful metal shroud, with angular accents somewhat reminiscent of Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards, broken up by the translucent-black plastic fans.

pny gtx 1080 ti xlr8 oc 7

Brad Chacos/IDG

The top of the card sports a black aluminum backplate with “GeForce GTX 1080 Ti” emblazoned in discreet gray letters. It’s an understated, yet attractive look overall—one likely to appeal to folks who loathe PC innards lit up like the Fourth of July.

pny gtx 1080 ti xlr8 oc 8


How Bad Is The Leak Of The Windows 10 Source Code?

Microsoft has confirmed that part of the Windows 10 source code has been leaked online.

The code, which was posted to the Windows enthusiast site Beta Archives, contains parts of the Windows 10 code for Windows 10 drivers related to USB, Wi-Fi, and data storage.

Old Data?

The Register, the site which first reported the leak, claims that the data includes “top-secret builds of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, none of which have been released to the public.” However, a spokesperson for Microsoft told the Verge that the leak in question consists of files which are already available to Microsoft’s partners and original equipment manufacturers.

The Register has also stated that the leak consists of 32TB of data, but that is disputed by the Beta Archives’ owner Andrew Whyman. While his site has since removed the file, Whyman said that the leak only consisted of 1.2GB of data. As Whyman points out, a file of 1.2GB could not contain core source code as there simply isn’t enough room. He also said that sharing the Windows 10 core source code would be a violation of the site’s rules.

It is still unclear where the Register obtained the information regarding a 32TB leak. In his post on the Beat Archives forums, Whyman speculated that they were referring to a leak that occurred on March 24. However, he notes that leak, while large, was deemed safe to publish.

Security Concerns Of The Windows 10 Leak

While there is always the danger of someone obtaining data and using it for malicious purposes, the threat of this leak is fairly low. The bits of source code that were leaked consisted of versions of Windows that had been available to either the public or Microsoft partners for several months now. Despite the trouble caused by WannaCry, which included tools developed by the NSA, Microsoft is generally very careful about keeping its software secure. The issue from WannaCry was that users were relying on old operating systems that had not been updated.

In terms of security vulnerabilities, the main issue is simply not keeping computers updated. Most of the really famous computer exploits occur because hackers are able to discover an old vulnerability that has not been patched on older systems. For reasons we don’t quite understand, there are plenty of people who insist on using outdated versions of Windows well after the expiration date.

We’ll continue to monitor this situation and update this story should new information come to light.


The Galaxy Note 8 Will Be The Most Expensive Samsung Smartphone Ever Once It Launches In September

Prolific and reliable leaker Evan Blass claimed that the Galaxy Note 8 will be the most expensive Samsung smartphone yet and that it will launch in late September. Will the device overshadow the shortcomings of the failed Galaxy Note 7?  ( Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images )

The Galaxy Note 8 will be the most expensive Samsung smartphone ever once it launches in the second half of September, according to prolific leaker Evan Blass.

While the price tag is something that fans may have expected, Blass’s statement that the Galaxy Note 8 will launch in late September contradicts reports that the smartphone will be unveiled in late August.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Could Cost $1,000

According to a VentureBeat report by Blass, Samsung will price the Galaxy Note 8 at €999 in Europe, which translates to a price tag of as low as $900 and as high as $1,000 in the United States, depending on currency fluctuations.

In comparison, the current flagship Galaxy S8 starts at a price of $750. Adding at least $150 to that price for the upcoming smartphone makes sense.

If the Galaxy Note 8 does indeed launch within the price range of $900 to $1,000, it will share another trait with Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8. It is widely believed that the price of the premium device will start at $1,000 and will also be the most expensive smartphone ever offered by Apple.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Launch Date

The other big piece of news in Blass’s article is the launch date of the second half of September for the Galaxy Note 8, which is against a previous report that Samsung is planning to announce the Galaxy Note 8 on Aug. 26.

For the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung rushed its production and launch date to beat Apple’s iPhone 7 to the market. We all know how that turned out for Samsung, as the Galaxy Note 7 was recalled twice and eventually shut down due to its exploding batteries.

A late September launch date for the Galaxy Note 8 will align the smartphone’s release with Apple’s new iPhone models, as the company is also expected to unveil the iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and iPhone 8 in September. Such a release time frame will also give Samsung more time to do everything it could to avoid the same embarrassment that it suffered with the Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Specs

Blass also reported on the specifications of the Galaxy Note 8, with the smartphone expected to feature a 6.3-inch edge-to-edge AMOLED display found in the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy Note line traditionally offered a bigger screen compared to the Galaxy S devices, but the Galaxy Note 8 will instead bank on other features to differentiate it from the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+.

The Galaxy Note 8 will use the same Exynos 8895 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipsets as the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, but it will offer higher RAM at 6 GB. It will also be the first Samsung smartphone with dual rear cameras, which will be arranged horizontally beside the flash and heart rate sensor.

Confirming previous reports, Blass said that the fingerprint scanner of the Galaxy Note 8 will still be at the back of the smartphone, as Samsung reportedly encountered issues in embedding the feature into its display. The position of the fingerprint scanner, however, will be moved to be farther away from the rear camera lens.

The Galaxy Note 8 will be powered by a 3,300 mAh battery, as Samsung avoids the trouble that came with the 3,500 mAh battery of the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung has also made certain improvements to the device’s software, including giving the S Pen stylus more functions.

Will Samsung Bounce Back From The Galaxy Note 7 Fiasco?

The Galaxy Note 8 is a very important product for Samsung, as it hopes that the smartphone will allow the company to continue its recovery from the failed Galaxy Note 7.

The revelations made by Blass have not yet been confirmed by Samsung, but his reliability is among the best in the business. Will the device that he described in his report overshadow the Galaxy Note 7’s shortcomings? We’ll just have to wait and see


Sony Xperia X and X Compact getting Android 7.1.1 update

A new update has started hitting the Sony Xperia X and X Compact smartphones. The update carries a build number of 34.3.A.0.194, and bumps the Android OS version from 7.0 to 7.1.1.

Aside from bringing the new OS version, the update also includes Android security fixes for the month of June. A detailed change-log isn’t yet available


Samsung starts mass production of Exynos i T200 IoT chipset

Samsung is manufacturing smartphone chipsets since it launched the Galaxy S series back in 2010. Now with smart devices gaining more and more traction, the company is ready to expand and it announced it started mass production of the Exynos i T200, a solution for the Internet of Things.

The chipset is built on a 28-nanometer High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process and features Wi-Fi connectivity.

It utilizes a Cortex-R4 processor and an Cortex-M0+ co-processor, enabling devices to operate without the need for an extra controller. I

To keep up with security requirements from users, Samsung implemented designated security management hardware block in the Exynos i T200.

The new chipset is an upgrade from the Samsung Artik platform, launched back in 2015.


OnePlus 5: Everything you need to know about the budget flagship

oneplus 5 back

The original flagship killer is back with, well, another flagship killer. After weeks of leaks and rumors, OnePlus has released its sixth handset, the OnePlus 5, and it has the major Android players in its sights: the LG G6, Galaxy S8, and HTC U11.

And it looks to be a formidable competitor. With a sleeker design, bigger battery, faster chip, and better camera, the OnePlus 5 is poised to be the breakout star of the Android flagship season, even with a slightly higher price tag.


  • OnePlus 5 specs
  • OnePlus 5 display and design
  • OnePlus 5 performance and battery
  • OnePlus 5 camera
  • OnePlus 5 OS

OnePlus 5 specs

  • Display: 5.5-inch 1080p Full HD AMOLED, 401ppi
  • Dimensions: 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.25 mm
  • Weight: 153g
  • Color: Midnight black, slate gray
  • Operating system: OxygenOS based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (octo-core, 10nm, up to 2.45GHz)
  • GPU: Adreno 540
  • Rear camera: 16MP, f/1.7 + 20MP f/2.6
  • Front camera: 16MP, f/2.0
  • Storage: 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1 2-LANE
  • Ports: USB C, dual nano-SIM slot, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 3,300mAh

OnePlus 5 display and design

OnePlus has always put a premium on design, and the OnePlus 5 looks to be no different. At 7.25mm thick, it’s the thinnest phone OnePlus has made. It has moved the camera to the upper-left corner like the iPhone rather than keeping it centered, and the antenna lines remain, meaning the back is made of aluminum and not glass.

oneplus 5 imageOnePlus
The OnePlus 5 looks a lot like the 3T… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Around the front, OnePlus has resisted the bezel-trimming trend. It looks almost exactly like the 3T, with the same 5.5-inch Full HD 1920×1080 resolution display and pill-shaped home button/fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it also still has the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom edge of the device and an alert slider on the left side. It will be available in two color options at launch: slate gray and midnight black

If you’re confused about the name, there’s a reason OnePlus is jumping from the 3T to the 5. In Chinese culture, the number four is considered unlucky, like the number 13 in the U.S. This is due to the Chinese phonetic pronunciation of the number four being like the word for death and suffering. Many elevators in China skip the fourth floor, much like U.S. hotels often jump from floor 12 to 14.

OnePlus 5 performance and battery

The OnePlus 5 will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip, which comes as no surprise. OnePlus has always packed its flagship handset with the latest silicone, and based on what we’ve seen with the Galaxy S8 and HTC U11, it should be a screamer. Elsewhere, the phone brings 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, Bluetooth 5, and a 3,300mAh battery.

While the battery might not quite be big enough to get through a full day of heavy use, the 5 uses OnePlus’ proprietary Dash Charge system to power up quicker than its competitors. However, since the OnePlus 5 has an aluminum back, it doesn’t support wireless charging like the S8 and G6.

OnePlus 5 camera

OnePlus has hyped the heck out of the camera in the OnePlus 5. It has ditched the single shooter in favor of a dual-camera system, pairing a custom Sony IMX398 16MP sensor with a large f/1.7 aperture with a 20MP telephoto one. Around the front you get a 16MP lens with f/2.0 aperture.

oneplus 5 cameraOnePlus
The OnePlus 5 features dual 16MP and 20MP sensors.

Like HTC, OnePlus has partnered with camera benchmark kings DxOMark to enhance the OnePlus 5’s camera acumen so it can capture “some of the clearest photos around.” The system brings Fast AF and Smart Capture that will let you take shots instantaneously while filtering out noise and inconsistencies in low-light situations, as well as improved HDR and a portrait mode that simulates a depth of field. It also features 2x optical zoom (8x when combined with the digital zoom) as a pro mode that includes a histogram so you can fine-tune the pixels, but notably neither lens features optical image stabilization.

oneplus 5 camera shotOnePlus
The images OnePlus showed off are predictably stunning, but we’ll see how it performs in our testing.

OnePlus has provided some sample photos to show off the 5’s photography prowess, and it’s clear it has put a lot of effort into improving the camera in its flagship. However, we won’t know for sure how good it is until we put it through its paces to see how it stacks up against our current champion, the LG G6.

OnePlus 5 OS 

The OnePlus 5 runs OxygenOS based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Previous iterations haven’t strayed too far from stock Android, and the OnePlus 5’s version is no different. But there are some new features.

oneplus 5 os


Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer review: Smart lighting, plus a snazzy dimmer

Wemo Wi-Fi Dimmer

Is the Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer the smartest light switch of all time? If you’re handy with a screwdriver and some basic wiring, it’s an easy winner in the dizzying world of the smart home.

Wemo Wi-Fi Dimmer wiring

Christopher Null/TechHive

Fear not the spaghetti bowl; it’s all less complicated than you’d imagine (as long as you have a neutral wire).

The Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer is an upgrade to the venerable Wemo Light Switch, but it does more than just add a dimmer to the package. More on these advanced features later, because if you want to use the Wemo Dimmer, as with the standard Wemo switch, you must first wire it into your wall. The part of the switch that fits inside the wall is quite bulky, much like any in-wall dimmer, so be prepared to use some muscle and creativity to get it into place.

That aside, the design of the switch is handy—you use wire nuts instead of screws on the back or sides of the switch to connect it to your house wiring—but it does take a little knowhow and attention to detail to get the job done. Four wires run out the back: two for load and line, one for the ground, and a fourth neutral wire that must be connected as well. Some older homes aren’t wired with a neutral wire. If you don’t find one inside the junction box, you won’t be able to install the Wemo dimmer at all.

Fortunately, my house had a neutral line, and I had the dimmer installed in about 20 minutes, the only hiccup being that I reversed the load and line wires in my original connections (because the switch I was replacing hadn’t been labeled). Wemo is prepared for this common mistake, and its quick-start guide will alert you of the error before you get too far along in the process. After getting the switch securely in the wall, I spent another 10 minutes installing the app and configuring the switch to access my Wi-Fi network, after which it performed flawlessly throughout my testing.

Wemo Wi-Fi dimmer


A string of vertical lights indicate the current brightness level of the switch.

Front and center is the dimming system. The app walks you through optimizing power levels and dimming speed based on the type of bulbs you have installed, and dimming is smooth and effective whether you’re doing it through the app or through the touch-sensitive panel on the front of the switch.

The Wemo Dimmer has gobs of features, especially in comparison to Leviton’s Decora Smart Wi-Fi switch. Just about anything you can imagine doing with a light bulb can be done through the Wemo app. A sleep timer lets you turn the light off automatically, and a scheduling system lets you automate the lights by time and day (or sync with sunrise and sunset). Night mode lets you set it to automatically dim to a brightness you specify at certain hours.

Wemo app

Christopher Null/TechHive

The Wemo app lets you establish lighting schedules, control other Wemo devices, and more.

If you have additional Wemo devices, you can set them up to work in tandem with the Dimmer, by setting up a “long press” rule in the app. This can be quite handy if you have additional lights in a room that aren’t connected to the wall switch. A long press can turn on the overhead light, and also control the two lamps in opposite corners—provided they’re connected to Wemo smart plugs.

Want to connect to other devices? The Dimmer supports Nest, Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. Because it’s a Wi-Fi device, you don’t need a smart home hub to make any of these connections work. I set it up with an Alexa skill in minutes, and was quickly able to dim the lights by voice command. Compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem is noticeably absent here, but Belkin says it’s working on it.

At a heady $80, the Wemo Dimmer isn’t going to be a low-budget upgrade to your home. That’s more expensive than a smart light bulb, and it’s probably pricier than your ceiling light fixture. But the device works perfectly, and the switch’s thoughtful extras—like multi-device control and broad smart home integration capabilities—add to its overall value proposition.


TCL strikes a deal with Vertu for building its phones

Vertu and TCL have signed a deal for manufacturing a new line of phones. All 30,000 units will be handcrafted in the UK, with a price starting at £7,500 a piece.

This is the first deal Vertu strikes after a change in ownership back in March. A Turkish millionaire named Hakan Uzan bought the company from Godin Holdings, and said he wants to help Vertu reach its full potential.

Now, according to sources, Uzan shared his excitement of working with TCL Communication and “hopes this will be the start of a prosperous new chapter in our relationship.

TCL Communication is a company known for building the latest BlackBerry phones, as well as Alcatel devices.

The Vertu devices should appear in UK, France, China, Russia, Western Europe, the Middle East and Asia around September.


Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Review: Active noise cancellation on a budget

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

Plantronics’ original Backbeat Pro ANC sounded OK, for the money. But they were freakishly large, awkwardly designed, and heavy. This weight was surprising, given the fragile, cheap feel of the plastic used in the headphone’s construction. With the introduction of its $200 Backbeat Pro 2 headphones, Plantronics has strived to iron out these shortcomings, with mixed success.


  • The basics
  • Connectivity
  • Audio performance
  • Design complaints
  • The bottom line

The basics

Those familiar with the first version of the Backbeat Pro will be happy to see that the Backbeat Pro 2 are significantly more svelte. They’ve shed some weight, too: down to 9.6 ounces from 12. That might not sound like a lot, but any reduction in the weight that your neck must support in addition to the heft of your head is a win. Despite this weight and dimensional reduction, the new iteration of the headphones maintains the 24-hour battery life of its predecessor, as well as its ability to hold a charge, unused, for up to six months. When the battery finally does drain, a three-hour charge via micro USB will have you back up and running again.

To make these cans more appealing than their $200 price and longevity already do, Plantronics baked a few additional tricks into them. Convenience features, such as the ability to fold flat for storage; microphones for taking audio calls whilst simultaneously cutting out wind noise; and the ability to pause whatever you’re listening to when the ear cups are pulled away from your head are well implemented and most welcome.


The BackBeat Pro 2 were designed to be a wireless set of cans, connected to your music and communications devices via Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR, HSP 1.2, HFP 1.6 (Wideband). Plantronics claims that the headphones have a range of up to 100 meters (about 328 feet), but your mileage may vary, depending on line of sight. Mine did. Leaving my iPhone 7 Plus inside of my home, near a bay window, I was only able to walk 176 feet away before the quality of the signal began to degrade. It’s also possible to hook the BackBeat Pro 2 into a analog 3.5mm jack.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 in use

Séamus Bellamy

While lighter and slimmer than their predecessors, the Backbeat Pro 2 headphones are still pretty big.

Audio performance

Plantronics must walk a fine line to compete with the big names in active noise-canceling headphones: Price the Backbeat Pro 2 too high, and they’d draw immediate comparisons to top shelf ANC audio brands such as Bose and Sony. Cut too many corners on under-the-hood technology in the name of keeping costs down, and the hit to sound quality and the ability to block noise would make them a non-starter. Plantronics skirts a little too closely to the latter of these options. The Backbeat Pro 2’s 40mm drivers provide passable, but not enjoyable sound.

No matter what I listened to on these phones, low-frequency sounds dominated my ears. That’s great for listening to tracks like Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood,” and the existential dread instilled by the constant low rumble of Lustmord’s “Astronomicon,” but that deep bass comes at a cost: the mid-range sound of any track I listened to was rendered muddy and largely lost through in a sea of low-frequency noise.

This was even more noticeable when high-frequency sound popped in to say hello. The eerie squeal of Warren Ellis’ electronic alchemy in Nick Cave and The Bad Seed’s “Jesus Alone,” for example, trampled over the track’s string section, which plays in a lower register. The strings were present, but the nuance of their performance was lost.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 kit


The Backbeat Pro 2 come with a carrying sleeve, 3.5 mm cable and a USB charging cable.

I was underwhelmed by Backbeat Pro’s active noise cancellation, too. When on, it was up to the task of cutting down the drone of noises like the churning of a lawnmower outside my window, or the drone of airplane cabin noise—but not as completely as Bose’s Quiet Comfort 35 or in-ear Quiet Comfort 30 could. That said, both of these Bose options cost considerably more. If you’re on a budget and desire a set of headphones with ANC, the Backbeat Pro 2s could do the job—so long as you can live with their imperfections.

Design complaints

As with the original Backbeat Pro, the second go around is predominantly made from plastic of a quality that feels cheap to the touch, leading me to worry about the hardware’s long-term durability. Hopefully, if you treat your headphones with kid gloves (as you should,) you’ll never discover whether I’m right about this.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro buttons

Séamus Bellamy

The headphone’s track controls are large enough to not be fiddly, but they’re still difficult to find as they’re flush with the ear cup.

The headphone’s controls could also be better. The track-control buttons are flush with the left ear cup, with no distinguishing ridges or indentations to help you locate them. The volume ring on the right ear cup is easy to find, but I sometimes had to nudge it a couple of times before the volume would go up or down. Finally, the placement of the switches controlling the headset’s noise cancellation and open-listening mode are located on the back of the ear cups, where they’re exposed to dust and rain. Placing them on the bottom of the ear cups would have given the switches more protection from the elements.