We’ve fixed the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition ($700) card. As stated in the initial review, the card performed reasonably close to nVidia’s “35% > 1080” metric when at 4K resolutions, but generally fell closer to 25-30% faster at 4K. That’s really not bad – but it could be better, even with the reference PCB. It’s the cooler that’s holding nVidia’s card back, as seems to be the trend given GPU Boost 3.0 + FE cooler designs. A reference card is more versatile for deployment to the SIs and wider channel, but for our audience, we can rebuild it. We have the technology.

“Technology,” here, mostly meaning “propylene glycol.”

AMD is set to roll out 17.3.2 Radeon drivers bound for the highly anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda, for which we recently discussed graphics settings and recommended specs.

The new drivers mostly prime the RX 400 series cards for the upcoming Mass Effect launch—most demonstrably the RX 480 8GB, of which AMD notes a 12% performance increase when compared to drivers 17.3.1. Additionally, the drivers will add an “AMD optimized” tessellation profile.

The AMD Ryzen 5 series is set to continue AMD’s launch of its new Zen architecture, debuting earlier this month with the Ryzen 7 (R7) CPUs. Thus far, we’ve seen the release of the 1800X flagship, 1700X, and 1700 CPUs (the last of which being our option of choice). AMD’s subsequent launches will be focused on the R5 line, announced today, and a later-specified R3 line. We’re looking at a retail release date of April 11 for the R5 1400, R5 1500X, R5 1600, and R5 1600X CPUs; the R3 CPUs, meanwhile, are expected for availability in 2H17.

AMD hasn’t fully revealed all the technical details of these SKUs at this time. We know enough of the basics, but will have to wait for more information on how the CCXs are configured in 6C/12T scenarios.

Here’s a listing of prices, to get started:

BitFenix Portal Mini-ITX Case Chambers the GPU

By Published March 15, 2017 at 10:32 am

Press embargo lifts today on a new mini-ITX case from BitFenix, the “subtle, yet remarkable” Portal. The “subtle” aspect might refer to the resemblance of the logo (and to some degree, the case), which appears to resemble the turrets from Valve’s video game of the same name, but that’s really a positive feature.

The Portal is, first and foremost, designed to house HTPCs. The space and thermal limitations of mini-ITX cases typically make it difficult to jam a real gaming PC inside, and the best chance for CPU cooling in this instance is a 120mm intake slot that can fit an AIO radiator. Still, Bitfenix does stress the versatility of the case: there are two 3.5”/2.5” bays and one 2.5” bay, so there should be enough for all the components of a decent gaming system. The 120mm is one of two fan mounts on the main chamber of the case: the other is a tiny 80mm fan (both contain fans by default), something we’re interested in noise testing later. Thermal tests will be interesting--although there’s very little space, the CPU is directly in the path of airflow and the GPU and PSU are thermally isolated, which is promising. Bitfenix describes the fans as “stable airflow for basic Office and Home Theater PCs.”

AMD yesterday released a community update with interesting assertions regarding thread scheduling, temperature reporting, Windows power plan issues, and SMT challenges.

According to AMD’s Robert Hallock, the company has found no indication that Windows 10 thread scheduling is operating improperly for Zen. This should be the final word in any argument that Microsoft thread scheduling issues are sabotaging Ryzen: they aren’t, as stated by AMD below:

“We have investigated reports alleging incorrect thread scheduling on the AMD Ryzen processor. Based on our findings, AMD believes that the Windows 10 thread scheduler is operating properly for ‘Zen,’ and we do not presently believe there is an issue with the scheduler adversely utilizing the logical and physical configurations of the architecture.

“As an extension of this investigation, we have also reviewed topology logs generated by the Sysinternals Coreinfo utility. We have determined that an outdated version of the application was responsible for originating the incorrect topology data that has been widely reported in the media. Coreinfo v3.31 (or later) will produce the correct results.”

When we first began benchmarking Ryzen CPUs, we already had a suspicion that disabling simultaneous multithreading might give a performance boost in games, mirroring the effects of disabling hyperthreading (Intel’s specific twist on SMT) when it was first introduced. Although hyperthreading now has a generally positive effect in our benchmarks, there was a time when it wasn’t accounted for by developers—presumably partly related to what’s happening to AMD now.

In fact, turning SMT off offered relatively minor gaming performance increases outside of Total War: Warhammer—but any increase at all is notable when turning off a feature that’s designed to be positive. Throughout our testing, the most dramatic change in results we saw were from overclocking, specifically on the low stock frequency R7 1700 ($330). This led many readers to ask questions like “why didn’t you test with an overclock and SMT disabled at the same time?” and “how much is Intel paying you?” to which the answers are “time constraints” and “not enough, apparently,” since we’ve now performed those tests. Testing a CPU takes a lot of time. Now, with more time to work on Ryzen, we’ve finally begun revisiting some EFI, clock behavior, and SMT tests.

Thunder Lotus has hit their stride in game making. Their first game, Jotun, made waves largely due to the beautiful hand-drawn visuals. They’ve now embarked on their second title, Sundered, and they’re hoping to do the same again. Shifting to a more “Metroidvania” style game has only benefited from the appeal of Thunder Lotus’ hand drawn aesthetic, which carries over into the new action/platformer title.

In Sundered, you control Eshe, a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world. Separated from your group by an eldritch sandstorm, Eshe is forced to investigate the powerful arcane forces that shattered the world. Throughout the game, enemies come from two fractions: the Valkyries and the Eschatons. The Valkyries were once humanity’s best soldiers, formed to try and stop the cataclysm that shattered the world. The Eschatons, on the other hand, were humans that fell under the sway of those same eldritch powers. Eshe will have to overcome both throughout the game.

The march toward completion continues for Hob, the latest offering from Runic games. Hob is also the first title from Runic since founder Travis Baldree left to form Double Damage Games, following the wild success of the Torchlight dungeon crawler. It's hardly surprising, then, that Hob takes a sharp change in direction from the franchise Runic had previously built. Where the prior series had been a Diablo-esque hack’n’slash dungeon crawler, Hob is moves to focus on world exploration and puzzle solving, using both as a means for storytelling. Adventure is the focal point, here, although some dungeon crawling does remain.

Hob drives a point of world-building in a very literal way. The world of Hob is a striking blend of natural wilds and harsh mechanical creations. In the above realms, you'll find wild animals such as the effable “duckdeer” and overgrown (and aggressive) vines and thorns. This is dotted with mechanical creations, and is where our as-yet-and-to-remain untitled hero comes in. The player leads the hero through both the organic overworld and the metallic underworld to restore both to working order. As we manipulate ancient devices above and below ground, machines come online, and piece by piece the bits of natural world below ground are brought up to complete the natural world above. There’s a slow, methodical transition as organic and metal merge.

MSI’s new-ish GS43 Phantom Pro laptop made an appearance at PAX East this weekend, where we’re presently RNG-ing some tear-downs and live benchmark demonstrations. Our first content piece discussed keyboard input latency testing, and our second piece – this one – will open up the Phantom Pro for a closer look.

As a quick side note, MSI does have “new” camo finish GTX 1060s, Z270 motherboards, and GE62 laptops. We show those briefly in the video, though it’s really not a focal point for today.

Logitech G’s recent history at PAX events includes real-time click latency testing on mice, something the company followed-up today with its keyboard latency testing. The new latency testing contraption is a lot simpler insofar as cost to build, with the BOM almost entirely consisting of an off-the-shelf Raspberry Pi 3, a plastic shell, and some wires. Logitech’s resulting platform enables us to test the response time from key presses between the new Logitech G Pro keyboard ($130) and a Razer Black Widow Tournament Edition keyboard. As with last year’s demonstration, Logitech is less focused on “beating” Razer and more focused on providing a proof of concept for their technology. Razer just happens to serve as a good benchmark, given the company’s proliferation in the PC market.

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