The first and last of AMD’s Polaris GPUs hit the market last year, among them the RX 460 and subsequent Sapphire RX 460 Nitro 4GB, a card that underwhelmed us with unimpressive performance and an ambitious price. Just a few months later, overclocker der8auer implemented a BIOS flash to unlock additional stream processors on some RX 460 cards, bringing the count from 896 to 1024 by just flashing the card BIOS.
Preorders are now open for the iBUYPOWER “Snowblind” system we’ve been covering for the past few months, most recently at CES 2017. The most notable aspect of Project Snowblind is the modified NZXT Noctis 450 enclosure, which uses an LCD side panel in place of a traditional clear window.
To be clear: although the buzz surrounding Project Snowblind is generally about the side panel, Snowblind systems are complete prebuilt machines and their enclosures are not available separately at this time (see our Noctis 450 review for details on the non-LCD version). As such, there are three SKUs available for preorder: Snowblind, Snowblind Pro, and Snowblind Extreme, for $1500, $1800, and $2500 respectively, with monthly payment plans optional. Additional components can be added for additional cost, but only white or silver varieties are allowed in order to give the panel maximum contrast.
CORSAIR today announced updates to their flagship K95 keyboard and their SCIMITAR gaming mouse (the CORSAIR marketing department really likes capital letters). The Scimitar Pro is out now and the K95 Platinum will be available sometime later this month, but both are at Corsair’s CES exhibit. We’ll also be covering Corsair’s RGB Vengeance memory and, albeit briefly, new “gaming” chair.
The K95 Platinum starts at $200 and has already replaced its non-platinum predecessor on the Corsair products page. For comparison, Newegg is selling the older version with Cherry MX Brown or Red switches for $170 (with some extra keycaps thrown in).
A new wireless gaming headset was announced by Logitech today. The G533 features a lower MSRP and higher battery life than its current closest relatives, the G933 Artemis Spectrum and G930, as well as a sleek new look.
Our most recent Logitech headset review was of the Artemis Spectrum, a headset that comes in both wired (G633) and wireless (G933) varieties—technically, we reviewed the wired version, but they’re pretty close to identical. Looking back, the first obvious difference in specs is that the Spectrum has an impedance of 39 Ohms compared to the new G533’s 32. This could explain the second obvious difference, which is the G533’s advertised battery life of 15 hours, up from the Spectrum’s 12 (or even less with its LEDs lit). A power switch, volume adjustment, and a reprogrammable mic mute button are the only external controls, which the Spectrum has in addition to 3 dedicated programmable G-buttons. The rechargeable batteries are removable for easy replacement, one notable improvement over the Spectrum.
In an industry first for the last year, Logitech may also be the only company making a product that moves away from the RGB LED craze, at least partially. Logitech was a bit ahead of the game on LED illumination, and went full "Spectrum" (their RGB LED signifier) for mice, keyboards, and headsets through 2016. Honestly, it's refreshing to not write about a product that bases its entire existence on the premise of RGB LEDs.
NVidia has added to our pile of pre-CES hardware news with the announcement of GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti-equipped laptops. 30+ models from various OEMs will be arriving in Q1 2017, including several using Intel’s new Kaby Lake CPUs this week at CES. Confirmed manufacturers include Acer, Alienware/Dell, ASUS, HP, Lenovo, and MSI.
As mentioned in our laptop 1060/1070/1080 benchmark, improvements to power management mean that nVidia’s 10-series notebook GPUs are the real deal, rather than the neutered “-M” versions that laptops have gotten in the past. The specs listed for the notebook GPUs confirm this, with the only major difference being higher core clock speeds in the notebook 1050 and 1050 Ti. This doesn’t indicate a change in the physical hardware, it mostly seems that nVidia has increased the clock-rate given the high thermal headroom (room to increase heat) as a result of the efficient 1050/Ti GPUs. Like other 10-series laptops, OEMs will probably be allowed an additional +/-10% for overclocking their GPUs.