Eric Hamilton

Eric Hamilton

Albeit in the midst of troubling SSD news, Corsair fans may rejoice. After a seeming lack of focus in the SSD market, Corsair has announced the immediate availability of the new Force Series MP500 M.2 solid-state drives. Although laggardly, Corsair now joins other companies like Samsung, Plextor, Toshiba, and Intel in leaving behind the limited SATA III 6Gb/s connection in favor of NVMe via PCIe x4.

Corsair avers the new MP500 Force Series to be the fastest drive they have yet produced, with sequential read/write speeds rated at 3000/2400 MB/s and random 4K read/write speeds at 250,000/210,000 IOPS, nominally. Theoretically speaking, system boot times, large file transfers, and game load times will see improvement over using a single SATA 6Gb/s connection. This also puts the drive in somewhat parallel performance with the Samsung 960 EVO.

The MP500 series will utilize a Phison PS5007-E7 NVMe memory controller in conjunction with the high bandwidth afforded by PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 lanes. The MP500 conforms to the M.2 2280 form factor and sports a black PCB with a black cover hiding the NAND (and so we haven’t yet identified the modules used). Although not particularly relevant, it does coincide with the recent motherboard color trend and should please users aimed at achieving a uniform aesthetic, in comparison to the overdone green PCBs. The Phison PS5007-E7 controller supports SLC/MLC/TLC and 3D NAND (V-NAND), although we are currently unable to ascertain the specific NAND type used in the Corsair Force MP500. The Force Series MP500 range will offer 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities priced at $110, $170, and $325, respectively.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has set sights on building a new $15.7 billion facility geared towards the 5 and 3 nanometer chip processes, eyes set for future process nodes. TSMC is the world’s biggest chip maker by revenue, accounting for 55% of the market share. TSMC’s deep-pocketed clients include Qualcomm, nVidia, and Apple, whose iPhone 7 launch was especially pivotal in the record quarter to quarter profits TSMC has been reporting, as TSMC produces the A10 processor for the iPhone 7.

Taiwan Semiconductor houses its base of operations in Northern Taiwan, where several of their fabs are located. This is in addition to leading-edge fabs in Southern Taiwan and Central Taiwan, not to mention manufacturing bases in China.

SSDs are ostensibly a victim of their own success. Competitive pricing has made SSDs more accessible at the consumer level in addition to a proliferated demand in other market segments, such as the obvious smartphones and laptops. Both of these segments have seen the implementation of NAND flash-based storage for increasing capacity while minimizing the form and footprint of devices, not to mention power savings and noise reductions.

Withstanding the circumspect of PC players, Watch Dogs 2 has seemingly launched without a hitch. Mostly, anyway. The usual PC congregations of Steam and Reddit have been mostly devoid of the day one despair that is PC gaming in 2016, partially indicative that Watch Dogs 2 actually runs on a variety of hardware. Not easily, mind you, but it runs. What is more, we recently published our own benchmarks of the game using an assortment of 11 GPUs, from the 1050 & 460 to the 1080. Having found the game playable, albeit demanding, across multiple video cards, we’ll look at a build aimed at outputting reasonably fluid performance at elevated settings, but without going too far over $1000.

This gaming PC build will focus on running Watch Dogs 2 with the “Very High” preset at a resolution of 1080p, with a sustained 60 FPS average.

As an aside, the build will also place a slight emphasis on overclocking with air cooling, while exhibiting very low system noise. We’re also built to be multi-GPU ready, despite the presence of a GTX 1060 (no SLI support for 1060s). This is to ensure that, should you decide to change the video card setup down the road, the rest of the system will permit the change.

Following suit with the rest of our Black Friday coverage, including Best SSDs and power supplies, we’ve next rounded-up a few honorable mentions in the motherboard department. We're specifically looking at Intel boards today, as deals on AMD boards seemed a bit scarce this year. With the looming obsolescence of the AM3/AM3+ socket, we elected to not include those boards. You’ll notice that, save for sharing a common thread in socket type (all supporting Intel’s latest Skylake processors), these picks vary quite a bit. Be assured though, these boards all have a place. Whether it’s a minimalist, no-frills gaming machine for medium to high settings or a high-end, performance-minded overclocker, there’s a board here for it.

This list comprises the best gaming Intel motherboards for Cyber Monday (and onward), including Z170, B150, H110, and other motherboards.

The Z170 boards in this list are of proven quality, and do come recommended; however, it is worth mentioning that Z170 is not tantamount to "better." A poorly designed Z170 board is not inherently superior than a well-constructed B150 or H1xx, even at a comparable price. There's more to it than the chipset. If you are curious as to what the differences are between Intel's Skylake chipsets, view this H110, H170, & Z170 guide.

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