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Crazy M.2 Tower Cooler with 60mm Fan
An over-the-top M.2 heatsink was just announced by JiuShark in response to the fastest M.2 devices running exceedingly hot. The new heatsink is called the “M.2 Three” and features a familiar tower cooler design complete with direct-contact heat pipe and 60mm fan. The fin stack measures at roughly 75mm by 50mm, and the entire cooler is 82mm tall. The M.2 drive itself is sandwiched between the coldplate and a stamped metal mounting sled with thermal pads for heat transfer.
JiuShark’s own chart claims a massive 20-30 degree reduction in thermals. If we’re to believe these numbers are accurate -- and the results will depend heavily on the SSD cooled (some are still two-sided) -- they might be derived at least partially from the 3000 RPM fan and the size of the heatsink.
The controller needs to stay cool, but the NAND itself lives longer when allowed to stay warm while in operation (though for storage, cooler is better. It’s hard to say if devices like this cooler are actually good in the long run and depends on how or if they contact the NAND. Since SSD layouts are all slightly different, cooler manufacturers have to go for a universal approach. The M.2 Three is currently only available on Taobao for roughly $9 to $13, depending on the color choice.
The biggest limitation to consider with the M.2 Three would be video card compatibility, as it clearly extends into usable vertical space.
Nvidia 30-Series Price Drop and Game Bundle
Nvidia has finally lowered the MSRP of several of its 30-series graphics cards, and retailers have followed suit. These price drops are focused on the high-end of the stack, with the RTX 3090 Ti, 3090, and 3080 Ti affected.
Conveniently, these are also the cards we raised the alarm about when NVIDIA launched them -- alongside the 3070 Ti -- pointing out how much of a cash grab the 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti were in particular. Although not every reviewer agreed with this and some defended the move, in our opinions, it was an instance of NVIDIA overstaying its welcome in the higher price points. Now, that pricing decision has come back to haunt NVIDIA, as the company and its partners sit on mountains of inventory just ahead of the RTX 40 launch. It’s the RTX 20/GTX 10 situation all over again.
The 3090 Ti MSRP has gone from $2000 to $1500 (a staggering 25% drop), the 3090 down from $1500 to $1300, and the 3080 Ti from $1200 to $1100. Current pricing on Newegg and Amazon reflects this change, even for high-end board partner cards.
To sweeten the deal, at least, in the same way you’d sweeten poison, Nvidia has brought back the practice of bundling games with the graphics cards with the “Face Your Demons” promotion. That could be an apt name for Nvidia if the recent rumors about GPU overstock have any truth to them.
Right now, if you buy a 3080 or higher and follow the redemption process, you can get game codes for Ghostwire: Tokyo and DOOM Eternal along with its two major Ancient Gods DLCs. Nvidia calls this “four games,” but we don’t count DLCs as full games around here. Nvidia is trying to win back favor with deals and price cuts as it floats obscene inventory levels, but insulting the intelligence of its customers by calling 2 DLC add-ons “games” is harmful to the very trust Nvidia is trying to earn.
The practice of bundling games along with graphics cards used to be more common, but disappeared during the shortages of the past couple of years. With that shortage now becoming a surplus, AMD and Nvidia both have brought back game bundles.
Only now that crypto is down and new cards are coming later this year do we see these sales tactics come back out. We usually feel like game bundles are only a value add if you were planning on buying those games anyway.
Leak: Intel i9-13900K ES Tested
Tech reviewer Extreme Player has released a video on Bilibili of testing what he claims is an Intel Raptor Lake i9-13900K engineering sample. Samples getting into people’s hands like this usually happens before official launch so this is reasonably likely to be valid, but not indicative of production sample performance. We’ve had engineering samples before that have had significant features removed.
The engineering sample showed 8 performance cores and 16 efficiency cores. It was tested against the Alder Lake 12900KF. Turbo speeds for the P-cores showed as 5.5GHz all-core and 5.8GHz dual-core. For cache, L3 was reported at 35MB and L2 at 32MB; this is up from the 12900KF’s 30MB and 14MB, respectively.
Testing was performed on the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme, which would have just gotten basic support for Raptor Lake as we mentioned earlier. No gaming tests were run, but an array of synthetic tests were shown. Performance uplift over the 12900KF was reportedly at roughly 9% higher average single-thread and 35% average multi-thread.
While these results are interesting if true, they may not reflect final performance figures. Be sure to catch our full review when the time comes.
EVGA 3090 Ti PowerLinks
EVGA has seen the recent surge in interest in transient power spikes on upcoming GPUs and is tipping its marketing towards it, this time with some power adapters.
EVGA has two new graphics card accessories called the PowerLink 41s and 52u. The PowerLink 41s is designed to work with only the EVGA RTX 3090 Ti FTW3, and the PowerLink 52u only works EVGA’s new RTX 3090 Ti K|NGP|N. They plug into the respective card’s auxiliary power connectors and look to screw into the backplate for attachment.
The 41s provides conversion from 4x PCIe 8-pin power connectors to 1x PCIe 12-pin high power connector directly connected to the graphics card. The 41s also has ARGB lighting and internal capacitors for power stability, according to EVGA. The 52u does the same sans RGB and plus one more connector on each side, making 2x 12-pins -- so we’re now at a motherboard’s worth of pins on a video card -- and 5x 8-pins, for 40 total pins.
We’re finally in the future.
EVGA markets these as a solution for “power stability,” cable management, and airflow. Cable management could be argued for, but there is no meaningful benefit to airflow whatsoever. EVGA’s own image of the PowerLink 41s installed shows a mess of PCIe power cables sticking out at random. It might be more challenging to cable manage with these attached than without.
These PowerLinks are successors to the original PowerLink, best-known for being a commercial failure that EVGA struggled to even give away. These were primarily pitched as a solution for cable management, but EVGA told us that PowerLinks also helped address transient spikes with a few integrated capacitors. We haven’t validated these claims.
These new PowerLinks are physically larger and should have higher capacitance to address the more aggressive spikes of Ampere versus 10 and 20-series cards. See our video on GPU transients for more information on that topic.
We’re not likely to do our own testing on these, but if you’re experiencing system shutdowns while using the 3090 Ti FTW3 or K|NGP|N this might be a fix for you. If you are experiencing shutdowns you suspect are from transient power spikes, you really should invest in a better power supply. The K|NGP|N currently is only available as a $2500 bundle with EVGA’s SuperNOVA 1600W P2 power supply, so you shouldn’t be getting that problem regardless. The PowerLink 41s is listed at a price of $60 on EVGA’s website, but there is no separate product page for the 52u at the time of writing.
Original PowerLink: https://www.evga.com/articles/archive/01051/evga-powerlink/default.asp
ATX 3.0 PSUs Are Coming
Keeping with the high-powered theme, power supply manufacturers (and rebranders) are starting to reveal their upcoming ATX 3.0 compliant PSUs. As a reminder, the ATX 3.0 spec includes higher transient load spike tolerance as well as PCIe 5.0 for variable PCIe power limiting and up to 600W on one 12+4-pin cable.
We previously covered MSI preparing their new MEG Ai1300P and Ai1000P models with 2x total power and 3x GPU power excursion protection. They note both ATX 3.0 and PCIe 5.0 readiness as well as support for the new 12VHPWR connector.
Thermaltake has officially announced an entire new lineup of ATX 3.0-compatible power supplies, with ATX offerings from 750W up to 1650W in the flagship Toughpower iRGB PLUS Titanium. For SFX form factor, Thermaltake has 750W, 850W, and 1000W models all claimed to be compatible with Intel’s SFX 3.42 and ATX 3.0 standards. The 1000W model is actually SFX-L, so be aware of that if you’re interested in it specifically.
Other companies, like Seasonic, are releasing PSUs that are not ATX 3.0, but have the new 12VHPWR cable either with the new connector on both ends, or converting from two 8-pins on the PSU side. As far as basic power delivery is concerned, this is fine. The four additional pins on 12VHPWR only terminate to ground on two pins and are open on two pins. The second two pins are for signaling data between the device and PSU, but that hasn’t yet been implemented by any PSUs we’ve heard of. That said, you should be aware that just because a PSU has the new cable, that doesn’t make it ATX 3.0 and PCIe 5.0 compliant automatically.
Expect other ATX 3.0 PSUs on the horizon, but these are some of the first from well known brands that we’ve seen details on.
Thermaltake Sources: https://youtu.be/dBv3QW16rv8?t=1874
Retbleed CPU Vulnerability
The ghost of Spectre is still with us by way of Retbleed, a new speculative execution CPU vulnerability affecting both Intel and AMD CPUs. It was discovered by COMSEC, a group of security researchers at ETH Zürich. Both AMD and Intel have published security bulletins regarding the vulnerability.
This new exploit is related to the older Spectre attacks due to exploiting the actual mitigation for Spectre, called retpoline. The researchers found they could trigger conditions to manipulate retpolines into giving them access to protected parts of memory. The researches outline the exploit here:
“We found that we can trigger the microarchitectural conditions, on both AMD and Intel CPUs, that forces returns to be predicted like indirect branches. We also built the necessary tools to discover locations in the Linux kernel where these conditions are met.”
“We found that we can inject branch targets that reside inside the kernel address-space, even as an unprivileged user. Even though we cannot access branch targets inside the kernel address-space — branching to such a target results in a page fault — the Branch Prediction Unit will update itself upon observing a branch and assume that it was legally executed, even if it’s to a kernel address.”
COMSEC goes on to explain the differences in their approach for AMD and Intel systems, but the fundamentals are the same. The researchers have verified that Retbleed works against Zen 1, Zen 1+, and Zen 2 on the AMD side, and Gen. 6 through 8 on the Intel Core side.
Mitigations for Retbleed are already possible, but COMSEC’s measurements indicate a performance cost of 14 to 39%, depending on the situation. Phoronix has already confirmed a performance hit in its own article. You can also read COMSEC’s own paper, and the source code is available on Github.
Raptor Lake BIOSes for 12th Gen Motherboards
ASUS has released a set of new BIOSes for many of its Z690 motherboards featuring support for Intel’s upcoming 13th Gen. Raptor Lake processors. Some other B660, H670, and H610 boards also just had a July 15th release.
ASRock already released its own similar updates, and MSI will be following suit after. This confirms the 12th to 13th gen upgrade will be commonly possible. This also further solidifies DDR4 support by Raptor Lake on applicable motherboards.
ASUS does note that its initial BIOS versions are only for basic compatibility and are not suitable for performance testing.
ASUS Source: https://www.asus.com/news/oujwh1old5n6oglf/
Samsung Launches 24Gbps GDDR6
Samsung has launched a new GDDR6 memory revision rated at 24Gbps. It’s made on Samsung’s third generation “10-nanometer-class” (or officially, “1z”) process using extreme ultraviolet lithography techniques.
Samsung touts this new GDDR6 as 30% faster than previous generation’s 18Gbps, which conveniently is the percent increase from 18 to 24 -- so no surprise. How that reflects architecturally on a GPU is likely less linear.
Instead of confusing metrics like gigabits or terabytes per second, Samsung has once again helpfully translated this into the ubiquitous Full HD Movies Per Second (FHDMPS), of which it can do 275 on a fully-loaded graphics card. By our math, that would mean Samsung is counting at least 45.8GB of memory on a single card.
Regardless of unhelpful units of measurement, the performance uplift of this new GDDR6 will be a help to the next generation of graphics cards that should be coming later this year.
Extremely Niche M.2 Add-On Card
If extremely niche hardware solutions are your thing, you may want to pay attention. Silverstone has launched a new SATA controller in a unique form factor.
The new ECS07 is a 5-port SATA3 controller built into an M.2 card. It runs off of two lanes of PCIe Gen3 to a Jmicron JMB585 controller. On top of that controller is a small heat sink to provide “dissipatio,” whatever that is.
This could be useful to people who either are entirely out of ways to connect more SATA drives to their system, or in certain small-form-factor situations. The ECS07 does not, however, provide RAID control.
Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless Keyboard
Corsair has brought to market a new premium wireless keyboard called the K70 Pro Mini Wireless 60%. It’s a very compact “60%” design that lacks a discrete numpad, function row, arrow keys, and home cluster.
The K70 Pro Mini Wireless features swappable Cherry MX style key switches and keycaps, so the user can customize the board to their liking. By default, it comes with either Cherry MX Red or Speed key switches pre-installed. Underneath those switches are RGB LEDs, so clear or translucent switches are necessary to show off the LED effects. In addition to the backlighting itself, the K70 Pro Mini has a strip of LEDs around the sides of the keyboard’s body.
There is also a replaceable “accent bar” on the rear of the housing that Corsair suggests can be swapped for different colors, even though it faces away from the user and would hardly be seen. Connectivity is handled by either a detachable USB-C cable, low-latency Bluetooth wireless, or Corsair’s Slipstream wireless technology. As for polling rate, the keyboard can go up to 2000Hz over Slipstream wireless or 8000Hz over the USB-C cable.
Despite being 40% less keyboard than a standard layout, the price is $180. That is not incredibly expensive for all the features, but is starting to get towards entry-level high-end keyboard pricing.
Host, Writing: Steve Burke
Writing, Research: Jeremy Clayton
Video: Andrew Coleman