Concluding the China Leg of Our Trip

By Published May 26, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I'm not sure why the hotel phone rang – a loud, cursed beige thing – at 11PM. I was asleep; it's 11AM on the East Coast, about bed time, and the woman speaking to me was doing so in Chinese. There's something especially vexing about trying to come-to from a Snorlax-like slumber while also being at the receiving end of an unfamiliar language. I sat there in silence for a moment while trying to piece together what she just said, then realized it was no use – “English?”

She laughed. I said “It's OK,” phonetically stammered out “may qwan qi” – something I learned a few hours prior, and without learning the spelling – and then we hung up. This curious episode was matched moments later, when one of the hotel staff knocked (loudly) on the door. I still wasn't sure of the time, and figured it was room service: “Later?”

Sticking to single words seemed the best bet.

She knocked again. I cracked it open and was handed a lighter, and she was whisked away by the darkness of the hall. After looking at the thing for a moment, I put it on the bathroom counter and returned to bed.

iBUYPOWER is once again empowering eSports. Now, the system integrator is teaming up with TBS to bring eSports to national television. This is a major move into the mainstream for eSports, with traditional broadcasters now expressing interest and posturing themselves as frontrunners for the emerging entertainment sector. When the new “ELeague” division of Turner Broadcast begins May 24th, it will be powered by iBUYPOWER's Revolt 2. The 24 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams competing in ELeague will all be using the rigs for training and competition, which will be hosted on stages and online.

Just as we made it into Taiwan, we're already packing to fly to Shenzhen, China for more factory and HQ tours. During the first leg of our three-part Asia trip, the GN team traveled to Taoyuen, Taiwan – about an hour outside of Taipei – to visit the In-Win case & paint factories. In-Win is best-known for fronting insane projects at tradeshows, like the Transformer-inspired H-Tower and 805 Infinity, and all of those cases get made in the factories we visited.

Touring the In-Win case-making factory gave a look into how PC cases are made; we saw injection-molding machines, automated powder coat booths, giant sanding and CNC machines, 3D coordinate projection validators, and more.

AMD was first-to-market with Doom-ready drivers, but exhibited exceptionally poor performance with a few of its cards. The R9 390X was one of those, being outperformed massively (~40%) by the GTX 970, and nearly matched by the GTX 960 at 1080p. If it's not apparent by the price difference between the two, that's unacceptable; the hardware of the R9 390X should effortlessly outperform the GTX 960, a budget-class card, and it just wasn't happening. Shortly after the game launched and AMD posted its initial driver set (16.5.2), a hotfix (16.5.2.1) was released to resolve performance issues on the R9 390 series cards.

We had a moment to re-benchmark DOOM using the latest drivers between our GTX 1080 Hybrid experiment and current travel to Asia. The good news: AMD's R9 390X has improved performance substantially – about 26% in some tests – and seem to be doing better. Other cards were unaffected by this hot fix (though we did test), so don't expect a performance gain out of your 380X, Fury X, or similar non-390-series device.

Note: These charts now include the GTX 1080 and its overclocked performance.

This episode of Ask GN precedes our imminent trip to Taipei, Taiwan for a two-week trip around Asia. We're likely already in the air – a total of 24 hours through airports and planes – and are prepping for factory tours, HQ meetings, and Computex (comparable in size to CES). It'll be a big week, but before getting to that, we took to the home-base studio one more time for an Ask GN episode.

Questions this week included a focus on our testing methodology (“how much variance is there?”), the point at which a GTX 1080 is bottlenecked by the CPU, price hikes, and more.

Had investigators walked into our Thermal-Lab-And-Video-Set Conglomerate, they'd have been greeted with a horror show worthy of a police report: Two video cards fully dissected – one methodically, the other brutally – with parts blazoned in escalating dismemberment across the anti-static mat.

Judging by some of the comments, you'd think we'd committed a crime by taking apart a new GTX 1080 – but that's the job. Frankly, it didn't really matter if the thing died in the process. We're here to make content and test products for points of failure and success, not to preserve them.

GN's embarking on its most ambitious trip yet: Taipei, then Shenzhen, China and neighboring countries, then back to Taipei. There are many reasons we're doing the Asia tour, but it's all rooted in one of the world's largest consumer electronics shows. Computex rivals CES in size, though arguably has a bigger desktop hardware / component presence than CES (hosted annually in Las Vegas). This year, we're attending – should be a good show.

Here's a quick recap of what PC hardware to expect at Computex 2016.

Epic’s Paragon is getting ready for a free beta weekend later this month -- from May 26th to the 30th. Anyone interested can sign-up here to participate, but you must sign up before the 25th.

Paragon is Epic’s take on the MOBA genre; however, the gameplay in Paragon is more like a third-person shooter than a traditional MOBA game. Also unlike other MOBAs, Paragon’s visuals are nothing to smirk at -- nVidia even brought Epic CEO Tim Sweeney out to their recent media event to use Paragon to show off the GTX 1080.

The test results are in from our post-review DIY project, which started here. Our goal was a simple one: As a bit of a decompression project after our 9000-word analysis of nVidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, we decided to tear-down the GTX 1080, look underneath, and throw a liquid block onto the exposed die. The “Founders Edition” of the GTX 1080 is effectively a reference model, and as such, it'll quickly be outranked by AIB partner cards with regard to cooling and OC potential. The GTX 1080 overclocks reasonably well – we were hitting ~2025-2050MHz with the FE model – but it still feels limited. That limitation is a mix of power limit and thermal throttling.

Our testing discovered that thermal throttles occur at precisely 82C. Each time the card hits 82C absolute, the clock-rate dips and produces a marginal impact to frametimes and framerate. We also encountered clock-rate stability issues over long burn-in periods, and would have had to further step-down the OC to accommodate the 82C threshold. Even when configuring the VRM blower fan to 100% speed, limitations were encountered – but it did perform better, just with the noise levels of a server fan (~60dB, in our tests). That's not really acceptable for a real-world use case. Liquid will bring down noise levels, help sustain higher clock-rates at those noise levels, and keep thermals well under control.

The video (Part 3) is below. This article will cover the results of our DIY liquid-cooled GTX 1080 'Hybrid' vs. the Founders Edition card, including temperatures, VRM fan RPM, overclocking, stability, and FPS. Our clocks vs. time charts are the most interesting.

In the process of tearing apart the new nVidia GTX 1080 video card, we discovered solder points for an additional 8-pin power header positioned at a 90-degree corner to the original 6-pin header. This is shown in our tear-down video (embedded at the bottom of this post), but we've got a photo above, too.

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