Hardware

“Ye-- ye cain't take pictures h-- here,” a Porky Pig-like voice meekly spoke up from behind the acrylic windshield of a golf cart that'd rolled up behind us, “y-ye cain't be takin' pictures! I'm bein' nice right now!”

Most folks in media production, YouTube or otherwise, have probably run into this. We do regularly. We wanted to shoot an Ask GN episode while in California, and decided to opt for one of the fountains in Fountain Valley as the backdrop. That's not allowed, apparently, because that's just how rare water is in the region – don't look at it the wrong way. It might evaporate. Or something.

But no big deal – we grab the bags and march off wordlessly, as always, because this sort of thing just happens that frequently while on the road.

Regardless, because Andrew was not imprisoned for sneaking a shot of the fountain into our video or taking two pretzel snacks on the plane, Ask GN 29 has now been published to the web. The questions from viewers and readers this week include a focus on “why reviewers re-use GPU benchmark results” (we don't – explained in the video), the scalers in monitors and what “handles stretching” for resolutions, pump lifespan and optimal voltage for AIOs, and theoretical impact from HBM on IGPs.

We were able to get hands-on with the new NZXT S340 Elite enclosure, officially announced today at a $100 price-point. The case is an updated version of the NZXT S340 mid-tower, now two years old, and is primarily distinguished with its tempered glass and updated cable management.

This is the most similar enclosure we've yet seen to iBUYPOWER's Element that's based on the S340 (not available as a standalone product). The front panel sticks with a flat metal, the left side panel has been metamorphosed into a tempered glass window, and the window is fixed to the chassis with four screws. This is similar to all the other tempered glass panels we've seen lately, including the Cullinan and 460X.

NZXT's presence at the recent UCI eSports arena opening made for a silent unveil of new CAM software functionality, when coupled with the company's HUE+ RGB lighting controller. The software update ties Valve's official game state API to NZXT's CAM software, theoretically circumventing any potential anti-cheat concerns by nature of plugging straight into an official Valve programming interface.

At least a dozen game states are made accessible to developers, and NZXT may pick-and-choose which game states cue a visual reaction through attached HUE+ devices. For now, NZXT supports player health, grenade interactions (flashed, in smoke, on fire), and the C4 count-down. Users may customize individual colors of these events, but the demo offered a standard green/red for health, then used a white-ish LED illumination for flash bangs and a similar white-blue for smoke effects. Standing atop ground hit with incendiary grenades offered an orange hue from the HUE, and C4 instated a binary LED pulse – on and off – that matched the count-down timer.

Why 2 Power Adapters for the MSI Dual GTX 1080 Laptop?

By Published September 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

MSI and system integrator CyberPower are selling the new GT83VR Titan SLI notebook, which sells with K-SKU Intel CPUs and dual GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 GPUs. The move away from M-suffixed cards means that these GPUs are effectively identical to their desktop counterparts, with the exception of the GTX 1070's core increase and clock reduction.

That difference, just to quickly clear it away, results in 2048 CUDA cores on the notebook 1070 (vs. 1920 on the desktop) and a baseline clock-rate of 1645MHz on the notebook (1683MHz on the desktop). Despite talk about the 1060, 1070, and 1080 model notebooks, we haven't yet gotten into the SLI models for this generation.

Samsung 960 Pro & 960 EVO SSD Specs Announced

By Published September 21, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Samsung's 900-series SSDs marked the arrival of VNAND (NAND Flash explained here), a new NAND type that expanded capacity vertically to theoretically drive down the cost per gigabyte metric. Today, the company officially announced its 960 series SSDs, including the Samsung 960 Pro and Samsung 960 EVO. Both devices modernize their architecture by supporting NVMe on their new VNAND-based SSDs.

We think NVMe is one of the next big standards, as the standard SATA interface has reached its cap with data transfer rates. Intel and Samsung have both made moves to build the NVMe market and achieve higher throughput than was possible on a SATA bus.

Dell's XPS 13 Ultrabook equivalent has moved to the new Intel Kaby Lake architecture. For the past few generations, Intel's small gains in IPC and processing performance have been largely overshadowed by the focus on power efficiency increases. NVIDIA and AMD are also on-board with this focus, and all three silicon manufacturers are pushing to use clock-gating, non-planar process, and algorithmic advancements to lower watt draw.

Reductions in TDP and moves by Intel to improve power efficiency (including idle improvements & S0iX) lengthen battery life, a move with which Dell has synergized by increasing battery capacity to 60Wh. The two together should grant a specified 22 hours of battery life on the XPS 13 notebooks; we are not sure the specifics of the methodology used to make that measurement.

Dell's XPS 13 units ship with Intel i3, i7, and i5 Kaby Lake CPUs (Gen 7). Bottom-up, the laptops will host Intel i3-7100U, i5-7200U, or i7-7500U CPUs and will start at $800 with Ubuntu (unclear on Windows price). Display, CPU, and memory choices dictate price scaling, with the displays alone specified at 1080p (minimally) to 3200x1800. This latter resolution is also used by Razer in the new Blade, which we hope to look at within the next month or two.

Dell also noted the following specifications in its press release:

This episode of Ask GN (#28) addresses the concept of HBM in non-GPU applications, primarily concerning its imminent deployment on CPUs. We also explore GPU Boost 3.0 and its variance within testing when working on the new GTX 1080 cards. The question of Boost's functionality arose as a response to our EVGA GTX 1080 FTW Hybrid vs. MSI Sea Hawk 1080 coverage, and asked why one 1080 was clock-dropping differently from another. We talk about that in this episode.

Discussion begins with proof that the Cullinan finally exists and has been sent to us – because it was impossible to find, after Computex – and carries into Knights Landing (Intel) coverage for MCDRAM, or “CPU HBM.” Testing methods are slotted in between, for an explanation on why some hardware choices are made when building a test environment.

This week's news announcements include AMD AM4 Zen chipset naming (rumors, technically), NZXT's new RGB LED 'Aer' fans, and a pair of cases from Rosewill and Cooler Master.

AMD's initial AM4 chipset announcement was made at PAX, where the B350, A320, and XBA300 chipsets were announced for mainstream and low-end Gen 7 APUs. The high-end Zen chipset for Summit Ridge was concealed during this announcement, but is now known to be the X370 platform.

X370 will ship alongside the Summit Ridge CPUs and will add to the lanes available for high-speed IO devices, mostly SATA and new generation USB. Most of the IO with the Zen architecture will be piped through the CPU itself, with what remains of the chipset acting more as an IO controller than a full chipset.

Taking a break from innovating tediously typed names for graphics cards, Inno3D claims it has now improved GPU AIO cooling with its new “iChiLL BLACK” GTX 1080. For future reference, we'll revert capitalization to something that makes more sense and is less susceptible to triggering sticky keys.

The iChill unit runs a CLC mounted atop the silicon, as one would expect from any AIO-cooled card (review of Hybrid vs. Sea Hawk here), and uses an aluminum baseplate with heatspreaders for the VRM and VRAM cooling. Heat conducted through the baseplate is dissipated with an 80mm blower fan, similar to the Sea Hawk, though Inno3D markets that their fan is capable of spinning down to 0RPM under low load. As far as we can tell, Inno3D does not deploy a copper VRAM cooling plate like EVGA does with its Hybrid, and instead takes a more traditional route of using thermal pads to communicate heat to the baseplate. The plate is cooled entirely independently from the GPU, and vice versa.

Following the Cloud I, II, and Revolver, Kingston's branched-off HyperX brand has now entered the $50 headset market with its HyperX Stinger. The company is targeting a more affordable market with this product launch, and aims to compete most directly with the Logitech G430 headset. The launch of the Stinger headset is accompanied by the FPS Alloy mechanical keyboard, priced at $100, which we also covered while at the show.

The Stinger is fairly simple in its componentry: Two ear-cups, obviously, and a mutable microphone, along with an on-ear volume slider. The headset is largely made of plastics and doesn't have the quality feel of higher-end units, like the Cloud II, but that's the trade off of building a cheaper product. A metal headband exists quietly under the plastic exterior, and similar foam padding is present in the headband and ear cups.

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