EATX is bullshit wannabe half-specification, not a real form factor. At least, not the way it’s being treated right now. It doesn’t mean anything. The name “EATX” implies a standard, but it’s not a standard, it’s a free-for-all. That’s not even getting into EE-ATX, or Enhanced Extended Advanced Technology eXtended, which is actually a name. Things would be a lot easier for everyone if motherboard manufacturers stuck to the dimensions of SSI-EEB without trying to wedge custom form factors in between, or correctly referred to 12”x10.5” boards as SSI-CEB, but that’d require actually trying to follow a spec. Then case manufacturers would have no reason to write “EATX (up to 11 inches)” in every single spec sheet for normal-sized mid towers, and customers would know at a glance exactly what they were getting. We’ve had a hell of a time lately trying to find cases that fit our “E-ATX” motherboards, which range in size from “basically ATX” to “doesn’t fit in any case that says it supports E-ATX, but is still called E-ATX.” We took that frustration and dug into the matter.
Other than technical discussion, we’ll also get the fun of unrolling the acronyms used everywhere in the industry, and talking about how stupid form factors like XL-ATX have three different sizes despite having one name, or how E-ATX has been split into “True E-ATX” and “Full Size E-ATX,” which also don’t mean anything to anyone.
Hardware news this week is abuzz, largely thanks to updates from AMD and Microsoft. AMD confirmed this week that it had confidential files stolen, with the hacker demanding blackmail to stop them from leaking the files publicly. Microsoft, meanwhile, has temporarily paused non-essential updates while its teams work from home, but is also facing a zero-day exploit. In a positive story, Folding @ Home has passed the ExaFLOP threshold in its growing research efforts for COVID-19.
The show notes continue after the embedded video.
Our recap of hardware news for the past week follows-up on plans to RIP somebody -- but we're not sure who that should be just yet -- in a Folding @ Home points-chasing competition. To a similar tune, Folding @ Home has now surpassed the top 7 supercomputers in compute power totaled, something that NVIDIA, F@H, and the PCMR sub-reddit all drove together. Other positive news has Razer turning production lines toward N95 mask production for Coronavirus/COVID-19 use in hospitals and elsewhere. Bad news includes hits to the economic side of computer hardware, with motherboard sales falling 30-50%.
We're still in Taiwan this week for factory tours, but that's given us a unique perspective to get first-party information on how COVID-19 is impacting the computer hardware industry. In particular, we've been able to glean information on how companies in the US and Taiwan are handling risk mitigation and limiting spread of the virus in their companies. This has wider impact for consumers, as production will be limited over the next month or two and product delays are inevitable. There are also implications for Computex -- namely, whether it happens or not. In addition to this specific news, we have reporting on new AMD vulnerabilities, the death of the blower fan, and more.
Hardware news was filmed in Taiwan this week, where we've begun our annual factory tour. We've already visited several factories in the deeper supply chain, but need to begin scripting and voice-over work. In the meantime, we're covering hardware news pertaining to CPU updates, YouTube monetization updates, Intel's process commentary, and more.
Show notes continue below the embedded video.
The biggest rule in testing coolers is to never trust anything: Don’t trust the numbers, don’t trust the software, don’t trust firmware, and don’t trust the test bench. Every step of the way is a trap lying in wait to sabotage data accuracy. We’ve spent the last 3 years refining our liquid cooler bench and the last 6 months refining our new testing that will feature air coolers and liquid coolers alike. With millions of cells of data, we now know enough to have identified nearly every hidden pitfall in testing and finally feel confident in providing a full picture for accurate CPU cooler performance. The downside is that we’ll never trust anyone else’s numbers again, but the upside is that we can finally start really collecting data. This dissertation will be on the most common and the most obscure landmines for testing, laying a plan for our CPU cooler reviews and helping establish a baseline for quality and data accuracy. We promised a CPU air cooler round-up back at the end of 2016 or 2017, and we’re finally getting around to it and will be publishing a lot of cooler content over the next month or so. We’ll start with an A500 review after this methodology piece goes live, then we’ll break for our factory tour series, then we’ll be back to coolers.
This content is detailed and specific to CPU cooler testing methodology and processes. We will be using this as a reference piece for years, as it will establish testing practices to ensure accurate data. Most data out there regarding CPU coolers is flawed in some way or another, especially the stuff posted in random reddit comments, but the trick is minimizing flaws to the extent possible while remaining real-world, because total elimination of variables and pitfalls is impossible on PC hardware. Users will often randomly post a temperature number and say something like, “my Spire is at 70 degrees,” as if that actually means anything to anyone. Temperature isn’t a 3DMark score – it is completely dependent on each configuration, and so unless you’re looking at relative performance by swapping coolers in a controlled environment, you’re not really providing useful data to the discussion.
In this content, we’re going to show you 6 months of rigorous testing adventures that we’ve embarked on, including several months’ worth of discovering flaws in testing, common and uncommon errors, and bad data that could invalidate most reviews without the reviewer ever even knowing. We know because we’ve spent months catching them, hence our long wait time on publishing this content. Several of these issues will exist in other reviewer configurations without technician knowledge, but the trick is to have the right tools to flag errant testing. These concepts will range from extremely basic to advanced. We wanted to skip some basics, but realized that there’s so much bad information out there that we’d better just cover it all in one big dissertation.
As we prepare to fly out to Taiwan for factory tours, we've got another hardware news round-up to carry through the week: Our final donation count for the wildlife rescue charities is included, followed-up by SK Hynix's response to some Big Navi spec "leaks," JPR's GPU marketshare reporting, Biostar's H61 resurrection, AMD's chiplets aiding in cost reduction, and Intel promising Total Memory Encryption. We also talk about Plague Inc getting pulled due to the coronavirus scare.
AMD's been in the news a lot this week, but for various reasons. One of the bigger stories was that of the Threadripper 3990X and its compatibility with various Windows versions, like Windows 10 Pro versus Windows 10 Enterprise. AMD has officially responded to some of those concerns, all discussed in our news recap today. AMD was also in the news for Google's adoption of more Epyc CPUs. Accompanying AMD, Samsung makes the news for advancements in its EUV fabs for 7nm and 6nm products, and Phanteks makes the rounds for its blatant rip-off of the Lian Li O11 Dynamic.
Show notes continue after the embedded video.
We’ve been hot and cold on Fractal over the past couple years. Their whole lineup has had consistently high build quality, but our opinions have ranged from the highly-rated Meshify cases that have excellent cooling potential (with some aftermarket fans added in) down to the highly-priced and unexciting Define S2 Vision RGB. Today we’re reviewing the Define 7, successor to the Define R6, a case that fell on the positive end of that scale in our review. We’re sure there’s some reason for Fractal dropping the “R,” but we neglected to ask.
As soon as the Define 7 was out of the box, we noticed how lightly tinted the glass was. The Define 7 TG comes in both dark tint and light tint versions, and the light tinted version with a white interior is a stark contrast to almost every other tinted glass case we’ve reviewed. For whatever reason, case manufacturers have tended towards extremely dark glass tints for years, which is a step back from the transparent plastic windows that were more common in the olden days (a decade ago). The choice is there for customers who want the dark tint, but we much prefer clear glass that lets the white interior shine.
We've decided, clearly, to cancel the China leg of our upcoming factory tour series as a result of the Coronavirus, which is a word that YouTube is currently demonetizing for being "controversial" (working around that one is fun). That said, it has enabled us to extend our Taiwan trip, and we've found new factories we didn't know even existed. More on that in the news video, if interested, but rest assured that we'll be safe in Taiwan as it has very few cases and, despite being a neighbor to China, seems to have things under control. We're greatly looking forward to visiting power supply factories, supply chain factories, raw metal factories, and more in Taiwan in March.
We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.