Intel’s i7-7700K Kaby Lake CPU follows-up on Skylake with a microarchitecture that is largely identical, but with key improvements to the process technology. Through what Intel has dubbed “14nm+,” the new process technology has heightened fins and widened the gate pitch, both serving as key contributors to the increased frequency headroom on the 7th Generation Intel Core CPUs. Other key changes, like enablement of finer-tuned frequency switching and AVX settings, theoretically offer better responsiveness to current demand on the CPU. As with most active frequency tuning, the idea is that there’s some power efficiency benefit that is coupled with better overall performance by way of reduced latency between changes.

Kaby Lake CPUs are capable of switching the clock speed at a 1000Hz rate (or once per millisecond), and though we’ve asked for the minimum frequency adjustment per change, we have not yet received a response. AMD recently made similar mentions of this sort of clock adjustment on Ryzen, using the upcoming Zen architecture. More on that later this week.

Today’s focus is on the Intel i7-7700K flagship Kaby Lake CPU, for which we’ve deployed the new MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon ($165) and Gigabyte Z270 Gaming 7 ($240) motherboards. For this Intel i7-7700K review, we’ll be looking at thermal challenges, blender rendering performance, gaming performance, and synthetic applications. Among those, FireStrike, TimeSpy, and Cinebench are included.

gigabyte-aorus-z270x-g7-1  msi-z270-pro-carbon-1

The thermal results should be among the most interesting, for once, though we’ve also found Blender performance to be of noteworthy discussion.

Product availability should begin on January 5, with the official launch today (January 3) for the Intel 7th Gen Core CPU products. Note that some products will not be available until later, like the i3-7350K, which is expected for late January. The i7-7700K will be here once it's available.

There are more than 40 SKUs for the 7th Generation Kaby Lake CPUs, when counting Y-, H-, S-, and U-class CPUs. Starting with the specifications for the 7700K, 7600K, and 7350K CPUs (i7, i5, i3, respectively):

Medieval action/strategy RPG Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord moved one step closer to release when a Steam page was unveiled in October, but still has no official release date.

Confusingly, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is a prequel to Mount & Blade: Warband, itself a 2010 standalone expansion to the 2007 game Mount & Blade—it helps to just think of Warband as a complete overhaul of the original. Warband has maintained a loyal fanbase since release—thanks to the winter sale, steamcharts.com reported roughly 12,000 players in-game as of this writing (a bit more than Elder Scrolls Online). In 2012, developer TaleWorlds announced they would follow-up on Warband’s success with Bannerlord, and have been slowly releasing tidbits of information since. Here’s what we know so far:

The race to invest in semiconductor technology is unabating, it would seem. SK Hynix, the world’s second largest memory chipmaker (after Samsung), has announced plans to construct a new memory semiconductor fab in Cheongju, South Korea. The company will also upgrade DRAM facilities in China, with the total outlay summing $2.6 billion. This comes after global chipmakers like Samsung, Toshiba, and TSMC have spurred investments of their own to expand production.

ZOTAC Announces Mini GTX 1080 for SFF Builds

By Published December 31, 2016 at 5:29 pm

CES is right around the corner and with that, ZOTAC has announced their new GeForce GTX 1080 Mini (ZT-P10800H-10P), which should prove to be useful for SFF systems.

In Win 805i Infinity Critical Case Review

By Published December 31, 2016 at 11:33 am

The RGB illumination of the 805 Infinity first mounted its pedestal at CES 2016, where we showed that the then-prototype case would be adorned with an ‘infinity mirror’ effect for the front panel. The case didn’t even have a name, and In Win asked us to pass along the message to our readers and viewers that they needed to see interest to make the product a reality.

There was interest – a lot of it, actually. The 805 Infinity was eventually introduced to the production line (which we toured), and is now available for a staggering $250. The enclosure is based on the normal In Win 805, a case which vacillates between $150 and $200, depending on how retailers feel that day, but exchanges the front panel for the LEDs.

The In Win 805 is available in four options: Black, for $180, or about $150 after rebates and discounts; gold, which has a gold strip on the front and is priced the same; red, again the same, but with a red strip; and Infinity, which is a name that I actually came up with at CES – to be fair, it’s also not all that unique.

ViewSonic has made public the existence of their new WQHD 27” professional monitor, the VP2771. Following BenQ’s announcement of their newest flagship photography monitor, the ViewSonic VP2771 also wishes to be the display of choice for professional users residing in the realm of photo and video editing, modeling, graphic design, and other content creation.

A common thread shared between both displays is the vowed color accuracy and uniformity, on which color-critical work is no doubt dependent. As such, the VP2771 claims a precise, factory calibrated Delta E ≤2 value. For those who may be unversed in color science, Delta E is the standard metric that quantifies the difference between a primary (source/input) and secondary (reproduced) color. The idea, although somewhat unempirical, is that a dE value of 1.0 is the smallest perceptible difference the human eye can see. The higher the dE value, the greater the distance is between the two samples, producing a more observable dissimilarity.

In this last episode of Ask GN for the year – number 39 – we open a holiday gift from NZXT, talk GeForce Elite & Red Team Plus, and dive into power supplies and their qualities.

The gift was a bit funny. NZXT undoubtedly saw our mostly positive S340 Elite review, but saw within said review that we made fun of the “puck” for VR and cable management. The team took it upon themselves to send us more pucks, along with a signed (from Johnny Hou, CEO) holiday card.

Cheeky bastards.

A bit of fun for the opening, then. After that, we talk about why quality power supplies are a good thing, and why it’s worth considering one. Typical nVidia and AMD discussions follow, including G-Sync and FreeSync physical differences.

PNY announced their CS2030 line of M.2 NVMe SSDs this week. The CS2030 will be available in two capacities at 240GB and 480GB, and both drives will follow the M.2 2280 form factor.

The new CS2030 drives will utilize a Phison PS5007 controller with MLC NAND Flash memory to provide sequential read speeds of 2,750 MB/s and sequential write speeds of 1,500 MB/s for the 240GB model. The larger CS2030 480GB version will provide sequential read speeds of 2,800 MB/s and sequential write speeds of 1,550 MB/s.

CES is Next Week - Quick Notes on GN's Attendance

By Published December 28, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Just a heads-up for regular readers: We’ll be at CES next week, where Intel and AMD are likely to each be sharing news of their new processor architectures. As always, we’ll be covering any events or information stemming from CES, including possible architectural deep-dives and any on-site demonstrations. They’re not the only companies at the show, of course.

We’ve got plans to revise our SSD testing methodology (again) through meetings with major controller and SSD manufacturers, hopefully paving the way for more automated testing under the GN banner in 2017. Meetings include the usual suspects: Samsung, Kingston/HyperX, Plextor, and possibly a few others.

As the Holiday Season ends, we find ourselves in the time of “year-end” sales. Soon to be followed by New Year sales, of course. And then another type of sale, assuredly.

Newegg and Amazon both have some decent hardware deals going on today. While current sales may not be able to compete with Black Friday prices, there is still money to be saved on hardware as we approach 2017. Everything from graphics cards to tempered glass cases can be found this week at discounted prices.

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