We're traveling for an event today, which means the bigger review and feature content is on hold until we're back in the lab.

The last few days have yielded enough intrigue and hardware news to warrant a separate content piece, anyway. AMD and nVidia, as usual, have largely stolen the show with head-to-head events on February 28, working to snipe coverage from one another. Also on the video card front, JPR reports that add-in board sales have increased for 4Q16, and that attach rate of AIB cards to systems has increased year-over-year. Somewhat related, new RX 460 cards from MSI offer a half-height form factor option (pricing TBD) with the 896 core version of the Polaris 11 chip.

 

Watch Dogs 2 CPU Benchmark - Threads Matter

By Published February 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm

With Ryzen around the corner, we wanted to publish a full CPU benchmark of Watch Dogs 2 in our test course, as we’ve recently found the game to be heavily thread-intensive and responsive to CPU changes. The game even posts sizable gains for some overclocks, like on the i5-2500K, and establishes a real-world platform of when CPU choice matters. It’s easy to bottleneck GPUs with Watch Dogs 2, which is something of a unique characteristic for modern games.

Watch Dogs 2 is a familiar title by now at the GN test bench, and while we’ve published a GPU benchmark and a more recent CPU optimization guide, we never published a comprehensive CPU benchmark. We’ve gathered together all our results here, from the 2500K revisit all the way to Kaby Lake reviews (see: 7600K review & 7350K review), and analyzed what exactly makes a CPU work well with Watch Dogs 2 and why.

In this Watch Dogs 2 CPU benchmark, we’ll recap some graphics optimization tips for CPUs and test whether an i7 is worth it, alongside tests of the 7600K, 7700K, 6600K, 7350K, FX-8370, and more.

Hardware Sales - i5-7400, Z270 Motherboard, 16GB DDR4

By
in Sales
Published February 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Newegg is having a President’s Day Sale with some savings to be had on things like a GTX 1070, a Kaby Lake i5, and a 16GB kit of DDR4 RAM. All sales run through at least end of today, so if any of these are of interest, you’ll have a little bit of time to act.

AMD Ryzen Stock Coolers (S1, S2, S3), ASUS X370 Boards

By Published February 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

We’ve got a lot of Ryzen news confirmations leading into the product’s inevitable launch, and will today be focusing on the stock coolers, ASUS X370 motherboards, and die shots of the Ryzen architecture.

And there’ll be more soon, of course!

We previously noted that some motherboards at CES contained text indicating support for an AMD “S3.0 Radiator,” which we could then only assume would be a stock cooler bundled with high-end Ryzen CPUs. This was plainly on display at CES, though we couldn’t get any official information on the cooler from AMD.

The original Sandia & Coolchip style coolers spiked interest in a market segment that’s otherwise relatively stagnant. With a whirling aluminum block serving as both the fan and the heatsink, the cooling concept seemed novel, dangerous, and potentially efficient. That’s a mix to cause some excitement in CPU coolers, which are otherwise the expected mix of metal and air or, if you wanted to get really crazy, liquid, metal, and air.

That concept largely vanished. We haven’t heard much about the use of Sandia-inspired designs since 2014, and certainly haven’t seen any majorly successful executions of either Sandia or Coolchip coolers in the CPU cooling space. Nothing that took the market by force and demanded eyeballs beyond initial tech demos and CES showcases.

Thermaltake decided to take its own stab at this type of cooler, working with Coolchip on technology implementation and execution of the Engine 27 unit that was at CES last month.

Thermaltake’s Engine 27 is $50. It’s a 27mm form factor cooler, meaning it’s one of a select few that could fit in something like a SilverStone PT13 with its 30mm requirement. The direct competition to the Engine 27 is SilverStone’s NT07 and NT08-115XP, the latter of which we’re also testing. This Thermaltake Engine 27 review looks at noise and temperatures versus the SilverStone NT08-115XP & Cryorig C7.

BitFenix’s new flagship case is the Shogun, a “super mid-tower” compatible with up to E-ATX boards, and a thematic successor to the similarly simplistic Shinobi mid-tower. We haven’t covered a BitFenix enclosure since we named the Pandora one of the best mid-range cases of 2015, and we were curious about the company has changed since its LED-laden efforts.

BitFenix made a name for itself with the Prodigy small form factor case a few years ago, and has been trying to recreate that success ever since. The new BitFenix Shogun case is what we’re reviewing today, priced at $160 and targeting the (“super”) mid-tower market with its mix of aluminum, steel, and glass. The case primarily differentiates itself with a slightly user-customizable layout internally, something we’ll talk about in this review.

PC Games Coming Out in 2017 (Release Dates)

By Published February 15, 2017 at 1:20 pm

2017 will be home to release dates for some assuredly popular PC games, both exclusives and cross-platform. With AAA games like Resident Evil 7 (already released), Mass Effect Andromeda, and For Honor all being released within 1H17, the first half of the year is shaping up to be big for PC gaming. That said, the rest of the year seems lacking -- at least, from our current vantage point -- without much hype for anything outside of the expected annualized titles.

Today’s list of PC games for 2017 contains AAA and indie titles and their release dates, looking into the future for game launches this year.

This episode of Ask GN focuses on addressing questions about temperatures, liquid cooling, and air cooling, though does include one question about multi-channel platforms for memory. For something different, the beginning of the episode features a surprise package from NZXT, who’ve lately set to antagonizing us with pucks, and the episode concludes with video clips from our convention adventures.

There’s a of fun stuff in this episode, but as always, we’re not able to really get into the weeds with each individual topic. We go fairly deep on some of the thermal stuff, but there’s a lot more that could be discussed. The multi-channel question, for example, doesn’t account for changes in the world of DDR4 and new platforms. We’ll have to test that at some point.

Timestamps after the embedded video.

Between its visit to the White House and Intel’s annual Investor Day, we’ve collected a fair bit of news regarding Intel’s future.

Beginning with the former, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich elected to use the White House Oval Office as the backdrop for announcing Intel’s plans to bring Fab 42 online, with the intention of preparing the Fab for 7nm production. Based in Chandler, Arizona, Fab 42 was originally built between 2011 and 2013, but Intel shelved plans to finalize the fab in 2014. The rebirth of the Arizona-based factory will expectably facilitate up to 10,000 jobs and completion is projected in 3-4 years. Additionally, Intel is prepared to invest as much as $7 billion to up-fit the fab for their 7nm manufacturing process, although little is known about said process.

Taking a break from internal components, we’ve assembled a list of gaming peripherals on sale for those finishing up a new build or looking to upgrade their current gear. We have found a couple keyboards equipped with Cherry MX switches as well as some gaming mice, and even some RGB mousepads, if you need to have RGB in your set up. If neither of the selected keyboards meet all your needs, check out our Best Mechanical Keyboards of 2016 article for more options.

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