The playful Nintendo noises emitted from our Switch came as somewhat of a surprise following an extensive tear-down and re-assembly process. Alas, the console does still work, and we left behind breadcrumbs of our dissection within the body of the Switch: a pair of thermocouples mounted to the top-center of the SOC package and one memory package. We can’t get software-level diode readings of the SOC’s internal sensors, particularly given the locked-down nature of a console like Nintendo’s, and so thermal probes allow us the best insight as to the console’s temperature performance. As a general rule, thermal performance is hard to keep in perspective without a comparative metric, so we need something else. That’ll be noise, for this one; we’re testing dBA output of the fan versus an effective tCase on the SOC to determine how the fan ramps.

There’s no good way to measure the Switch’s GPU frequency without hooking up equipment we don’t have, so we won’t be able to plot a frequency versus temperature/time chart. Instead, we’re looking at temperature versus noise, then using ad-hoc testing to observationally determine framerate response to various logged temperatures. Until a point at which we’ve developed tools for monitoring console FPS externally, this is the best combination of procedures we can muster.

AMD Ryzen R7 1700X Review: Odd One Out

By Published March 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

We’ve praised the R7 1700 ($330) for its mixed workload performance and overclocking capabilities at $330, and we’ve criticized the 1800X for its insignificant performance improvements (over the 1700) at $500. That leaves the R7 1700X ($400), positioned precariously between the two with a base clock of 3.4GHz, but the full 95W TDP of its 1800X sibling.

The 1700X performs as expected, given its flanks, landing between the R7 1700 and R7 1800X. All three are 8C/16T chips with the same CCX layout; refer back to our 1800X review for a more thorough description of the R7 CPU & Ryzen architecture. A quick comparison of basic stats reveals that the major advantage of the 1700X is a moderate increase in frequency, with additional XFR headroom as demarcated by the ‘X’ suffix. That said, our R7 1700 easily overclocked to a higher frequency than the native 1700X frequency, with no manual adjustment to voltage or EFI beyond the multiplier. The 1700X has a base clock of 3.4GHz and a boost clock of 3.8GHz, which theoretically means it could come close to the performance of our 3.9GHz 1700 straight out of the box while retaining the benefits of XFR (circumvented by overclocking).

Thermaltake’s Core P1 is a Mini-ITX, semi-open air chassis with a 5mm thick tempered glass side panel and wall mount support. The Core P1 was featured in our Best Gaming PC Cases of 2017 CES Round-Up article and video, though had no release date (or firm price) at the time of those content pieces. Thermaltake just recently announced that their Core P1 has become available for sale in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia and announced a retail price of $100 USD.

Corsair has freshly launched their new K63 Compact Mechanical Keyboard and is available on Corsair’s website as well as Amazon. The K63 keyboard is a tenkey-less design and features Cherry MX Red switches (linear), per-key red LED backlighting, full key rollover, and dedicated media keys. The K63 appears to be based off the Corsair Vengeance K65; however, the K63 is built on a plastic body instead of the aluminium chassis on the K65. Both feature dedicated media keys, although the K63 does add a bit of functionality not found on the K65 with Stop/Start, Fast Forward, and Rewind keys on the top-left side.

RTS Re-Awakening: Northgard Hands-On Preview

By Published March 20, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Northgard is an unusual sidestep for Shiro Games: Moving from the genre-exploring Evoland titles to city building and real-time strategy is not the usual course, it’d seem. Shiro Games assured us that Settlers and Age of Empires were as important to them as gamers as the RPGs that inspired Evoland, and have set forth to build Northgard.

As Evoland picked the most memorable bits from the history of JRPGs, Northgard feels like it must be made of Shiro Games’ favorite bits of the 4x and RTS genres. Those familiar with Settlers will recognize the similarities in Northgard immediately, and AOE fans also have some familiar items.

Intel’s latest memory technology has big aspirations. It has the ability to one day unify the DRAM and non-volatile memory structure, but we’re not there yet. Today, we get the Data Center Optane SSD (the DC P4800X) as a responsive, high-endurance drive specifically targeted at big data users. This is not a consumer product, but the architecture will not change in any significant ways as Optane & 3D Xpoint move to consumer devices. This information is applicable across the user space.

Upon initial release, the DC P4800X drive will be a 375GB PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe HHHL device costing $1520 without Intel’s software, and $1951 with the Intel Memory Drive Technology software package. Later in the lifecycle, we should see 750GB and 1.5TB versions. The Optane SSD is one of three Optane technologies that Intel is marketing: Optane DIMM (fits into a DDR4 slot), Optane SSD (fits into a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot or U.2 connector), and Optane Memory (fits into an M.2 slot).

GTX 1080 Ti FE PCB Analysis & Shunt Mod

By Published March 18, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Buildzoid's latest contribution to our site is his analysis of the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition PCB and VRM, including some additional thoughts on shunt modding the card for additional OC headroom. We already reviewed the GTX 1080 Ti here, modded it for increased performance with liquid cooling, and we're now back to see if nVidia's reference board is any good.

This time, it turns out, the board is seriously overbuilt and a good option for waterblock users (or users who'd like to do a Hybrid mod like we did, considering the thermal limitations of the FE cooler). NVidia's main shortcoming with the 1080 Ti FE is its FE cooler, which limits clock boosting headroom even when operating stock. Here's Buildzoid's analysis:

Anyone who sticks to one medium for gaming -- PC, Xbox, Playstation, destroyed Switch -- inevitably misses out on some games. For us at GamersNexus, Monster Hunter has long been one of those franchises. Luckily, Phoenix Labs felt the same way, and so created a more platform-favorable co-op, behemoth-slaying RPG called “Dauntless.” Dauntless aims to bring a refreshed, new take on the hunting experience, adding a healthy dash of Dark Souls-inspired combat for the PC platform.

The very existence of humanity is being threatened by aether-fueled behemoths, we’re told, and so you shouldn’t feel bad about eradicating entire families of beasts, Design Director Chris Cleroux informed us. Just murder all of them. They’re all bad.

We’ve fixed the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition ($700) card. As stated in the initial review, the card performed reasonably close to nVidia’s “35% > 1080” metric when at 4K resolutions, but generally fell closer to 25-30% faster at 4K. That’s really not bad – but it could be better, even with the reference PCB. It’s the cooler that’s holding nVidia’s card back, as seems to be the trend given GPU Boost 3.0 + FE cooler designs. A reference card is more versatile for deployment to the SIs and wider channel, but for our audience, we can rebuild it. We have the technology.

“Technology,” here, mostly meaning “propylene glycol.”

AMD is set to roll out 17.3.2 Radeon drivers bound for the highly anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda, for which we recently discussed graphics settings and recommended specs.

The new drivers mostly prime the RX 400 series cards for the upcoming Mass Effect launch—most demonstrably the RX 480 8GB, of which AMD notes a 12% performance increase when compared to drivers 17.3.1. Additionally, the drivers will add an “AMD optimized” tessellation profile.

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