Our 7900X delidding benchmarks weren’t published by coincidence: Today, we’re expanding on our liquid metal vs. Intel TIM testing with the new Intel i9-7960X and i9-7980XE CPUs, the 16C and 18C Skylake-X parts, respectively. These CPUs are Intel’s highest multithreaded performers in this segment, and are priced alongside that status – the 7960X costs $1700, with the 7980XE at $2000.
Rather than focusing entirely on delidding and thermal benchmarks, we’ll also be including power testing and some production benchmarks (Blender, Premiere). This review of the Intel i9-7960X and i9-7980XE will primarily test thermals, power, delidded thermals, liquid metal thermals, rendering benchmarks, and some synthetics.
Recapping the previous test approach for delidding & liquid metal:
Intel moved-up its news embargo lift for the new Coffee Lake CPU products (“8th Gen Core” processors) following publication of the entire news announcements on leak websites. The news for today pertains to the product stack specifications – at least, as it’s relevant to our audience – and finalizes official listings and prices for the i7-8700K, i7-8700, i5-8600K, i5-8400, i3-8350K, and i3-8100.
First up, the 1K unit pricing of the Intel i7-8700K, the successor to the i7-7700K, will land at $360. This isn’t too distant from previous Intel 1K unit prices for i7 CPUs, though does creep the price about $10-$20 more than the final street price of the 7700K (near launch, anyway). The pricing here, assuming it does land at around $360 USD in North America, could prove reasonable for the CL CPUs. We’ll find out in testing, and will reach a verdict for the review. In the meantime, though, it seems that the rumored $400+ pricing may not come to fruition.
There are many reasons that Intel may have opted for TIM with their CPUs, and given that the company hasn’t offered a statement of substance, we really have no exact idea of why different materials are selected. Using TIM could be a matter of cost – as seems to be the default assumption – and spend, it could be an undisclosed engineering challenge to do with yields (with solder), it could be for government or legal grants pertaining to environmental conscientiousness, or related to conflict-free advertisements, or any number of other things. We don’t know. What we do know, and what we can test, is the efficacy of the TIM as opposed to alternatives. Intel’s statement pertaining to usage of TIM on HEDT (or any) CPUs effectively paraphrases as “as this relates to manufacturing process, we do not discuss it.” Intel sees this as a proprietary process, and so the subject matter is sensitive to share.
With an i7-7700K, TIM is perhaps more defensible – it’s certainly cheaper, and that’s a cheaper part. Once we start looking at the 7900X and other CPUs of a similar class, the ability to argue in favor of Dow Corning’s TIM weakens. To the credit of both Intel and Dow Corning, the TIM selected is highly durable to thermal cycling – it’ll last a long time, won’t need replacement, and shouldn’t exhibit any serious cracking or aging issues in any meaningful amount of time. The usable life of the platform will expire prior to the CPU’s operability, in essence.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t better solutions. Intel has used solder before – there’s precedent for it – and certainly there exist thermal solutions with greater transfer capabilities than what’s used on most of Intel’s CPUs.
MSI is still building GTX 1080 Ti models, it seems. The Pascal 1080 Ti series has to be one of the most prolific AIB partner cards in a long time: EVGA has an insurmountable catalogue, at this point, ASUS and Gigabyte branched-out 1080 Ti units, and MSI is now adding a triple-fan cooler that seems to be taking some of Zotac's style.
The new MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X Trio will join the company's existing line of cards, including the Gaming X, Gaming Z, Lightning X, Lightning Z, Seahawk, et al. The Gaming X Trio switches from "Twin Frozr" to a triple-fan cooler, using two fans of larger size (they look to be 90mm, maybe 100mm) and one of smaller size, located centrally. Unlike some of the competition, all three fans spin in the same direction and use the same blade design, just different sizes.
Traveling once again, so just a quick update for everyone: Linus of Linus Tech Tips revealed on his WAN show tonight that we’d be making a guest appearance in an upcoming Tech Showdown series refresh, alongside other panelists iJustine and “Keys” from NCIXTechTips. Limited further information was given on the series at this time, but we’ll make another post once there’s more to know.
In the meantime, we joined Linus briefly on the WAN show to discuss topics of Coffee Lake and Ice Lake, alongside some general industry discussion:
We’ve received a lot of requests from readers to review the Fractal Meshify C, and rightfully so. The case combines three things we’ve liked a lot recently: mesh front panels, tempered glass, and the Fractal Define C. We’ve been advocating cases with this style of cooling for a while now, like the SilverStone RL06, and so we had to put the Meshify through its paces in some real thermal tests.
Fractal’s naming system is getting a little cluttered: the Meshify C is 100% a Define C TG with an angular, “stealth-inspired” front panel that looks “like black diamond facets” (according to Fractal). It is a cool look, and it breaks away from the current trend of plain, flat front panels in a way that’s reminiscent of the Corsair SPEC-04. “C” is the model and Meshify is the series; Define cases focus on noise suppression, while Meshify cases (there’s only one so far) focus on cooling.
Our review of the Fractal Meshify C tests the case for thermals, noise suppression, and performance versus the Define C (and other cases). The Fractal Meshify C can be found on Amazon here, with the Define C here, just so we’re all on the same page.
This review will focus almost entirely on noise and thermals. There’s not much point to discussing ease of installation or build features, as all of those were already covered in our Define C review. The tooling is identical, nearly, it just comes down to the paneling. View our Define C review for the other half of the information.
Today's video showed some of the process of delidding the i9-7900X -- again, following our Computex delid -- and learning how to use liquid metal. It's a first step, and one that we can learn from. The process has already been applied toward dozens of benchmarks, the charts for which are in the creation stage right now. We'll be working on the 7900X thermal and power content over the weekend, leading to a much greater content piece thereafter. It'll all be focused on thermals and power.
As for the 7900X, the delid was fairly straight forward: We used Der8auer's same Delid DieMate tool that we used at Computex, but now with updated hardware. A few notes on this: After the first delid, we learned that the "clamp" (pressing vertically) is meant to reseal and hold the IHS + substrate still. It is not needed for the actual delid process, so that's one of the newly learned aspects of this. The biggest point of education was the liquid metal application process, as LM gets everywhere and spreads sufficiently without anything close to the size of 'blob' you'd use for TIM.
The Be Quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 - White Edition is an upgraded but functionally similar version of the Dark Base 900, the highest of the high end Be Quiet! enclosures. The tagline for this model is “outstanding flexibility and silence,” referring to the fact that the motherboard can be inverted, a feature we previewed at Computex a year ago. We first spotted the white edition at this year’s Computex, where Be Quiet! was showing off the limited edition white variety.
The newest version of the case differs only from previous DBP 900 cases in its color, but as we never reviewed the original Dark Base Pro 900, we’ll be going through the complete review and benchmark today. This Dark Base Pro 900 review includes thermal testing for standard and inverted layouts, ventilation/duct testing, noise testing, and assembly.
GN’s main video producer, Andrew, has been on a bit of a vacation for the past week, and that will continue for a few more days. We’ve also got other upcoming travel this weekend, so content has been in a longer pipeline than normally.
Right now, the two of us at home base have been working on cranking away at upcoming CPU and case content. The cases are part of a renewed push by GN to expand coverage outside of “just” CPUs and GPUs. Not long ago, we added to our case testing by expanding into 3DMark testing for real-world scenarios, Blender testing (for more real-world scenarios), and fortifying our torture workloads. Our case reviews have slowly added testing with and without panels, filters, and optional features, digging for optimal configurations on a per-case basis.
Taking apart EVGA's GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Hybrid isn't too different from the process for all the company's other cards: Two types of Phillips head screws are used in abundance for the backplate, the removal of which effectively dismantles the entire card. Wider-thread screws are used for the shroud, with thinner screws used for areas where the backplate is secured to front-side heatsinks (rather than the plastic shroud).
That's what we did when we got back from our PAX trip -- we dismantled the FTW3 Hybrid. We don't have any immediate plans to review this card, particularly since its conclusions -- aside from thermals -- will be the same as our FTW3 review, but we wanted to at least have a look at the design.
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