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.

The Pure Base 600 is the newest, cheapest, and smallest of Be Quiet!’s silent enclosures, but it manages to hold its own in the current lineup. It’s a stark contrast to previous Be Quiet! cases like the Silent Base 800, a chunky enclosure that we found pleasant to work with but fairly expensive at $140.

As a $90 mid tower, the Pure Base 600 fits into the same category as the S340 Elite (reviewed) and other high-end cases, although notably without tempered glass or indeed any side window at all. In fact, Be Quiet! also manages to dodge the entirety of the RGB LED craze, making the Pure Base 600 oddly unique in its “older” approach to case features. Granted, there will be a tempered glass variant in March for an extra $10.

Instead of all these extras, the 600 derives its value from Be Quiet!’s hallmark blend of acoustic foam, rubber grommets, and case fans intended to deaden noise as much as possible. We’ll cover acoustic testing later on, but for now, our first impressions:

GPU diode is a bad means for controlling fan RPM, at this point; it’s not an indicator of total board performance by any stretch of use. GPUs have become efficient enough that GPU-governed PWM for fans means lower RPMs, which means less noise – a good thing – but also worsened performance on the still-hot VRMs. We have been talking about this for a while now, most recently in our in-depth EVGA VRM analysis during the Great Thermal Pad Fracas of 2016. That analysis showed that the thermals were largely a non-issue, but not totally inexcusable. EVGA’s subsequent VBIOS update and thermal pad mods were sufficient to resolve any concern that lingered, though if you’re curious to learn more about that, it’s really worth just checking out the original post.

VBIOS updates and thermal pad mods were not EVGA’s only response to this. Internally, the company set forth to design a new PCB+cooler combination that would better detect high heat operation on non-GPU components, and would further protect said components with a 10A fuse.

In our testing today, we’ll be fully analyzing the efficacy of EVGA’s new “ICX” cooler design, to coexist with the long-standing ACX cooler. In our thermal analysis and review of the EVGA GTX 1080 FTW2 (~$630) & SC2 ICX cards (~$590), we’ll compare ACX vs. ICX coolers on the same card, MOSFET & VRAM temperatures with thermocouples and NTC thermistors, and individual cooler component performance. This includes analysis down to the impact the new backplate makes, among other tests.

Of note: There will be no FPS benchmarks for this review. All ICX cards with SC2 and FTW2 suffixes ship at the exact same base/boost clock-rates as their preceding SC & FTW counterparts. This means that FPS will only be governed by GPU Boost 3.0; that is to say, any FPS difference seen between an EVGA GTX 1080 FTW & EVGA GTX 1080 FTW2 will be entirely resultant of uncontrollable (in test) manufacturing differences at the GPU-level. Such differences will be within a percentage point or two, and are, again, not a result of the ICX cooler. Our efforts are therefore better spent on the only thing that matters with this redesign: Cooling performance and noise. Gaming performance remains the same, barring any thermal throttle scenarios – and those aren’t a concern here, as you’ll see.

Intel i3-7350K Review, Benchmarks, & 5.0GHz Overclock

By Published February 09, 2017 at 12:30 pm

The first unlocked i3 CPU, upon its pre-release disclosure to GN, sounded like one of Intel’s most interesting moves for the Kaby Lake generation. Expanding overclocking down to a low/mid-tier SKU could eat away at low-end i5 CPUs, if done properly, and might mark a reprisal of the G3258’s brief era of adoration. The G3258 didn’t hold for long, but its overclocking prowess made the CPU an easy $60-$70 bargain pickup with a small window of high-performance gaming; granted, it did have issues in more multi-threaded games. The idea with the G3258 was to purchase the chip with a Z-series platform, then upgrade a year later with something higher-end.

The i3-7350K doesn’t quite lend itself to that same mindset, seeing as it’s ~$180 and leaves little room between neighboring i5 CPUs. This is something that you buy more permanently than those burner Pentium chips. The i3-7350K is also something that should absolutely only be purchased under the pretense of overclocking; this is not something that should be bought “just in case.” Do or do not – if you’re not overclocking, do not bother to consider a purchase. It’s not uncommon for non-overclockers to purchase K-SKU Core i7 CPUs, generally for desire of “having the best,” but the 7350K isn’t good enough on its own to purchase for that same reason. Without overclocking, it’s immediately a waste.

The question is whether overclocking makes the Intel i3-7350K worthwhile, and that’s what we’ll be exploring in this review’s set of benchmarks. We test Blender rendering, gaming FPS, thermals, and synthetics in today’s review.

For comparison, neighboring non-K Intel products would include the Intel i5-7500 (3.4GHz) for $205, the i3-7100 for $120, and Intel i3-7320 (4.1GHz) for $165. These sandwich the 7350K into a brutal price category, but overclocking might save the chip – we’ll find out shortly.

To catch everyone up, we’ve also already reviewed the Intel i7-7700K ($350) and Intel i5-7600K ($240), both of which can be found below:

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