Steve Burke

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

This is something we haven’t seen before. NVidia has taken a relatively successful card, the GT 1030, and has implanted DDR4 in place of GDDR5. It’s actually getting system memory on it, which is a tremendous downgrade. The memory bandwidth reduction is several-fold, dropping from 48GB/s to about 16GB/s with DDR4, but the part that’s truly wrong is that they used the same product name.

The GT 1030 has always been an interesting product, and that’s only true because of the mining boom and GPU scarcity issues of earlier this year. Typically, the GT 1030 – or similarly ultra-low-end cards – would not get our recommendation, as a GTX 1050 or RX 550 would make more sense and be close in price. Earlier this year, even GTX 1050s and RX 550s had evaporated, leaving only overpriced GT 1030 GDDR5 cards (that we were somewhat OK with recommending). Fortunately, performance was decent. Was. Before the DDR4 surgery.

It’s time to benchmark the GT 1030 versus the GT 1030 Bad Edition, which ships with DDR4 instead of GDDR5, but has the same name as the original product. In a previous rant, we railed against these choices because it misleads consumers – whether intentionally or unintentionally – into purchasing a product that doesn’t reflect the benchmarks. If someone looks up GT 1030 benchmarks, they’ll find our GDDR5 version tests, and those results are wildly different from the similarly priced GT 1030 DDR4 card’s performance. On average, particularly on Newegg, there is about a $10 difference between the two cards.

The GT 1030 with DDR4 is one of the most egregious missteps we’ve seen when it comes to product marketing. NVidia has made a lot of great products in the past year – and we’ve even recommended the GT 1030 GDDR5 card in some instances, which is rare for us – but the DDR4 version under the same name was a mistake.

There's been some online internet outrage about a leaked nVidia NDA, as published by previously. Some of the online comments got a little out of hand and were severely misguided, so we decided to get on a call with a US-based, licensed lawyer, rather than continue to watch as armchair "experts" tried to extract any nefarious meaning they could from the document.

We'll leave this one to audio format. Our call with our legal correspondent goes through the document line-by-line and should answer any remaining questions. Overall, we think this was a mountain made of a molehill, and that little language in the document is abnormal or 'dangerous.' Note also that parties may terminate at any time (despite what some commenters will tell you), and that such an NDA  doesn't somehow magically "prevent GPP2" from getting out because, remember, that wouldn't be covered under "Confidential Information." GPP was never disclosed to press by NV -- that was all third-party sources, and so that information is not covered under the agreement.

Audio/video below -- you can just tab away from this one, it's primarily audio:

One of our Computex advertisers was CableMod, who are making a new vertical GPU mount that positions the video card farther back in the case, theoretically lowering thermals. We wanted to test this claim properly. It makes logical sense that a card positioned farther from the glass would operate cooler, but we wanted to test to what degree that’s true. Most vertical GPU mounts do fine for open loop cooling, but suffocate air-cooled cards by limiting the gap between the glass to less than an inch or two. The CableMod mount should push cards close to the motherboard, which has other interesting thermal characteristics that we’ll get into today.

We saw several cases at Computex that aim to move to rotating PCIe expansion slots, meaning that some future cases will accommodate GPUs positioned further toward the motherboard. Not all cases are doing this, leaving room for CableMod to compete, but it looks like Thermaltake and Cooler Master are moving this direction.

Getting this cooler working was a bit of a struggle. It was some parts human error, on our end, and some parts mechanical error. This thing is a $100 cooler from Aliexpress, and it uses both open loop liquid cooling for a few of its pipes while also using traditional air cooling and heatpipes. We had some small (read: significant) leaks during our livestream, and after the stream, we discovered that the screws securing the inlet manifold to the tower were loose, causing significant leakage as the water filled the pipes. After fixing this, we were finally able to fully test this truly unique hybrid water-air cooler.

The cooler is an interesting one. We’re planning a separate tear-down of the cooler to see what’s going on under the coldplate – likely not much – but for now, we’ve done exhaustive thermal testing under various conditions. Some tests were just straight pump/reservoir hookups to the cooler, while others included a 360mm radiator and 3 high-end fans. The W120 has been sitting on shelves for a while, clearly, as it was first shown at Computex 2011, and the box we received had dried thermal paste and yellowing on the product box. We still wanted to test it, as the unique combination of G-1/4” fittings, open loop support through 4 water pipes, and traditional air cooling meant the cooler could perform peculiarly. You’d assume that there’s a reason this isn’t really done, but we still wanted to find out why.

Manufacturing a single case can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to design and develop, but the machinery used to make those cases costs millions of dollars. In a recent tour of Lian Li’s case manufacturing facility in Taiwan, we got to see first-hand the advanced and largely autonomous hydraulic presses, laser cutters, automatic shaping machines, and other equipment used to make a case. Some of these tools apply hundreds of thousands of pounds of force to case paneling, upwards of 1 million Newtons, and others will use high voltage to spot-weld pieces to aluminum paneling. Today, we’re walking through the start-to-finish process of how a case is made.

The first steps of case manufacturing at the Lian Li facility is to design the product. Once this process is done, CAD files go to Lian Li’s factory across the street to be turned into a case. In a simplified, canonical view of the manufacturing process, the first step is design, then raw materials and preparation of raw materials, followed by either a laser cutter for basic shapes or a press for tooled punch-outs, then washing, grinding, flattening, welding, and anodizing.

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