Recapping our previous X299 VRM thermal coverage, we found the ASUS X299 Rampage Extreme motherboard to operate against its throttle point when pushing higher overclocks (>4GHz) on the i9-7980XE CPU. The conclusion of that content was, ultimately, that ASUS wasn’t necessarily at fault, but that we must ask whether it is reasonable to assume such a board can take the 500-600W throughput of an overclocked 7980XE CPU. EVGA has now arrived on the scene with its X299 DARK motherboard, which is seemingly the first motherboard of this year to use a fully finned VRM heatsink in a non-WS board. Our EVGA X299 DARK review will initially look at temperatures and VRM throttling on the board, and ultimately look into how much the heatsink design impacts performance.

EVGA went crazy with its X299 DARK motherboard. The craziest thing they did, evidently, was add a real heatsink to it: The heatsink has actual fins, through which a heatpipe routes toward the IO and into another large aluminum block, which is decidedly less finned. The tiny fans on top of the board look a little silly, but we also found them to be unnecessary in most use cases: Just having a real heatsink gets the board far enough, it turns out, and the brilliance of the PCH fan is that it pushes air through M.2 slots and the heatsink near the IO.

EVGA’s X299 DARK motherboard uses some brilliant designs, but also stuff that’s pretty basic. A heatsink with fins, for one, is about as obvious as it gets: More surface area means more spread of heat, and also means fans can more readily dissipate that heat. The extra four phases on the motherboard further support EVGA in dissipating heat over a wider area. EVGA individually places thermal pads on each MOSFET rather than use a large strip, which is mostly just good attention to detail; theoretically, this does improve the cooling performance, but it is not necessarily measurable. Two fans sit atop the heatsink and run upwards of 10,000RPM, with a third, larger fan located over the PCH. The PCH only consumes a few watts and has no need for active cooling, but the fan is located in such a way that (A) it’s larger, and therefore quieter and more effective, and (B) it can push air down the M.2 chamber for active cooling, then force that air into the IO shroud. A second half of the VRM heatsink (connected via heatpipe to the finned sink) is hidden under the shroud, through which the airflow from the PCH fan may flow. That’s exhausted out of the IO shield. Making a 90-degree turn does mean losing about 30% pressure, and the heatsink is far away from the PCH, but it’s enough to get heat out of the hotbox that the shroud creates.

Here's an example of what clock throttling looks like when encountering VRM temperature limits, as demonstrated in our Rampage VI Extreme content:

The revolution of 200mm fans was a short-live one. Large fans are still around, but the brief, bombastic era of sticking a 200mm fan in every slot didn’t last long: The CM HAF X, NZXT Phantom 820, SilverStone Raven 02 (180mm), Throne & Thor, and 500R all have designs that have largely been replaced in the market. That replacement comes in the form of an obsession with the word “sleek” in marketing materials, which generally means flat, unvented paneling that would conflict with the poorer static pressure performance of large fans. That’s not to say 200mm fans are inherently good or bad, just that the industry has trended away from them.

That is, until the Cooler Master H500P, which runs 2x MasterFan MF200R units dead-center, fully garnished with RGB LEDs. We didn’t necessarily like the H500P in its stock configuration (but did fix it), but we know the case is popular, and it’s the best test bench for 200mm fans. There’s a good chance that purchasers of the NF-A20 are buying them for the H500P.

And that’s what we’re reviewing today. In this benchmark, we’re reviewing the Noctua NF-A20 200mm fans versus the Cooler Master MasterFan MF200Rs, which come stock with the H500P. The MF200R fans will almost certainly become available separately, at some point, but presently only ship with the H500P.

Jon Peddie Research reports that the AIB market is likely returning to normal seasonal trends, meaning the market will be flat or moderately down from Q4 2017 through Q1 2018.

In a typical year, the AIB market is flat/down in Q1, down in Q2, up in Q3, and flat/up in Q4. The most dramatic change is usually from Q2 to Q3, on average a 14.4% increase (over the past 10 years). Q3 2016 was roughly twice that average with more than 15 million AIBs shipped, 29.1% more than Q2 and a 21.5% increase year-over-year.

Cyber Monday is over, but “Black Friday” is now “Black November.” December is also Black November. Next year is Black 2018. Welcome to the future, where the deals are infinite and yet 8GB of memory still costs nearly $100.

Regardless, we’ve got a few that are worthwhile: There’s an i7-7700K for $290, an EVGA SuperNova 650 for $65, and an AMD bundle kit below.

Thermaltake Core P90 Chassis Gets Abstract

By Published November 30, 2017 at 8:14 pm

“Chassis” is pretty loose, here. The Thermaltake Core P90 follows the Core P3 and Core P5 lines, but only insofar as being an open air, semi-exposed bench-style “case.” It’s more of a mounting board for parts, really, and presents them in a triangular layout, the board and VGA on flanking sides.

The case includes 2x 5mm tempered glass side panels (though we think it might be a decent bench platform without the glass), mounts the power supply within the central frame, and is dotted with cable routing holes on both component-hosting panels. This case remains wall-mountable, just like its P3 and P5 successors, though may be a bit unwieldy to get onto the stud mounts, if for no other reason than radiator support up to 480mm. That’s a lot of liquid to hang on the wall.

Intel’s 8600K CPU changes the story significantly for the company’s i5 lineup. When AMD’s R5 CPUs launched, we noted that the i5-7600K 4C/4T CPU had a “fading grasp,” highlighting that the R5 1600(X) achieved close enough gaming performance while offering greater versatility. The gap between an R7 and i7 remained much more significant – enough that we could, and do, still recommend an i7 for some workloads – but the R5 and i5 distance grew closer, and so the R5s became easy to recommend. Now, with the i5-8600K, Intel moves its mid-range lineup to 6C/6T designs, maintains high clocks (higher, even), and potentially makes up for losses on the 4C units.

We just bought Intel’s i5-8600K CPU for $300, following high demand for a review, and ran it through the benchmark ringer. We’ve previously reviewed other Intel 8th Gen units, including the i7-8700K (review here), the i5-8400 (review here), and the i3-8350K (review here). This review looks at the Intel i5-8600K benchmark performance, including overclocking (to 5GHz), Blender, gaming, thermals, and power consumption.

On the heels of what already seemed like a remarkable discount, considering how relatively new Ryzen is, it seems that retailer Amazon has now cut AMD R7 CPU prices even further. It’s the typical, “hurry up and buy! This is the last day of the sale!” situation, while whispering that tomorrow’s sale will be even better.

Regardless, for those who didn’t buy in on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, the R7 1700 CPU (which we strongly recommend with a quick overclock) and R7 1700X CPU are now marked down to $243 and $252, respectively. List price is about $400 on the 1700X and about $330 on the 1700, though both have been marked down closer to the $300-$350 range for the last few months.

Cyber-Monday/Black Friday/Holiday Sales/End of Year closeout sales continue on, and we thought it might be helpful to put together some more discounts for those who are still in the market for hardware. This sales round-up for PC components includes the AMD R7 1700, R5 1600X, Samsung 850 EVO SSD sales, and a couple of PSUs.

MSI has updated BIOS versions for their Intel 100, 200, and 300 series motherboards. They’re the latest of several manufacturers, including Gigabyte a week ago, to address security vulnerabilities in Intel’s TXE (Trusted Execution Engine). Intel says they have “provided system and motherboard manufacturers with the necessary firmware and software updates,” so it’s now up to those manufacturers to implement them. An Intel tool that detects whether systems are vulnerable is available here, as well as a list of vendors that have already released updates.

Owners of affected MSI motherboards should visit and find their model. BIOS and other downloads can be found under the “service” tab for each board. Instructions are similar for most other manufacturers.

PC builds are always challenged by commenters with alternative component options and whatifs and whatabouts. We took this to mean that PC build lists need more comparative tests, so we tested two different variants of this build: One with a single stick of RAM versus two sticks of RAM, because you can sometimes save money by going 1 stick, and then one with a GTX 1050 versus an RX 560. This should give a somewhat wide spread of understanding for what a base platform G4560 and HD3 motherboard can achieve.

This gaming PC build targets a sub-$500 price, using budget parts, like the Intel G4560 and RX 560/GTX 1050, in order to achieve a machine capable of playing games at 1080p/High or Medium.

Prices are crazy volatile right now. When we started this project, there were discounts on memory and power supplies that dropped an additional $40 off the price at the time of filming. In all likelihood, once this goes live on Cyber Monday, those sales will probably be re-applied either directly or to directly competing products. Nonetheless, we can say that this build is under $500 – it’s been as low as $430, at times, depending on the sales, but always under $500.

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