Fractal’s newest case officially released under the name of “Define S2,” but our review has been slightly delayed by the office turning into an overclocking war zone. Fractal has hit a comfortable stride with their cases. The S2 is a successor to the Define S, but to all appearances it’s almost exactly the same as the Define R6, which we reviewed about a year ago. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though: the R6 is a good case and received praise from us for its high build quality and stout form factor.
The Fractal Define S2 case is the R6, ultimately, just with a lot of parts removed. It’s a stripped-down version of the R6 with some optional reservoir mounts and a new front panel, with rough equivalence in MSRP and ~$10 to ~$50 differences in street price. The R6 and S2 are the most direct competitors for each other, so if choosing specifically between these two, Fractal can’t lose. There are, of course, many good cases in the $150 price range, but the R6 and S2 most immediately contend with one another.
We reviewed the behemoth Cooler Master Cosmos C700P almost exactly a year ago, and now CM is back with the even heavier 51.6lb C700M. Like the H500M versus the H500P, this is a higher-end and more expensive model being added to a family of cases rather than replacing them. The new flagship has a few upgrades over the original, but it retains the same basic look with pairs of big aluminum rails at the top and bottom and dual-curved side panels.
Cooler Master’s C700M is very much a halo product, but our review of the C700M will focus on build quality, thermals, acoustics, and cable management. Ultimately, this is a showpiece -- it’s something one might buy because they can afford it, and that’s good enough reason. We will still be reviewing the Cooler Master C700M on its practical merits as an enclosure, as always, but are also taking into consideration its status as a halo product -- that is, something from which features will be pulled to the low-end later.
We've been working hard at building our second iteration of the RIPJAY bench, last featured in a livestream where we beat JayzTwoCents' score in TimeSpy Extreme, taking first place worldwide for a two-GPU system. Since then, Jay has beaten our score -- primarily with water and direct AC cooling -- and we have been revamping our setup to fire back at his score. More on that later this week.
In actual news, though, it's still been busy: RAM prices are behaving in a bipolar fashion, bouncing around based on a mix of supply, demand, and manufacturers trying to maintain high per-unit margins. Intel, meanwhile, is still combating limited supply of its now-strained 14nm process, resulting in some chipsets getting stepped-back to 22nm. AMD is also facing shortages for its A320 and B450 chipsets, though this primarily affects China retail. We also received word of several upcoming launches from Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA -- the RTX 2070 and Polaris 30 news (the latter is presently a rumor) being the most interesting.
You may have heard about the new tariffs impacting PC component prices by now, with increases upwards of 10% to 25% by January 1st of 2019. We’ve spoken with several companies and individuals in the industry to better understand how PC builders can expect prices to increase. On our list of those providing insight is EVGA CEO Andrew Han, NZXT, SilverStone, and Alphacool, among off-record insight from others. In the very least, North American buyers can anticipate price increases as a result of the current administration’s new tariffs – it’s just a question of how much of that is passed on to the consumer.
Here’s the “TLDR” of the tariffs: Nearly every computer component is affected in North America, and those prices can reach outward to other regions as companies try to stabilize for a downtrend in overall revenue. The tariffs were pushed into law by the US Federal Government, with the first 10% taking effect on October 1st of 2018. After this, an additional 15% tariff will be mandated by the US government on January 1st of 2019.
We always like to modify the reference cards – or “Founders Edition,” by nVidia’s new naming – to determine to what extent a cooler might be holding it back. In this instance, we suspected that the power limitations may be a harder limit than cooling, which is rather sad, as the power delivery on nVidia’s RTX 2080 Ti reference board is world-class.
We recently published a video showing the process, step-by-step, for disassembling the Founders Edition cards (in preparation for water blocks). Following this, we posted another piece wherein we built-up a “Hybrid” cooling version of the card, using a mix of high-RPM fans and a be quiet! Silent Loop 280 CLC for cooling the GPU core on a 2080 Ti FE card. Today, we’re summarizing the results of the mod.
NVidia’s support of its multi-GPU technology has followed a tumultuous course over the years. Following a heavy push for adoption (that landed flat with developers), the company shunted its own SLI tech with Pascal, where multi-GPU support was cut-down to two devices concurrently. Even in press briefings, the company acknowledged waning interest and support in multi-GPU, and so the marketing efforts died entirely with Pascal. Come Turing, a renewed interest in creating multiple-purchasers has spurred development effort to coincide with NVLink, a 100GB/s symmetrical interface for the 2080 Ti. On the 2080, this still maintains a 50GB/s bus. It seems that nVidia may be pushing again for multi-GPU, and NVLink could further enable actual performance scaling with 2x RTX 2080 Tis or RTX 2080s (conclusions notwithstanding). Today, we're benchmarking the RTX 2080 Ti with NVLink (two-way), including tests for PCIe 3.0 bandwidth limitations when using x16/x8 or x8/x8 vs. x16/x16. The GTX 1080 Ti in SLI is also featured.
Note that we most recently visited the topic of PCIe bandwidth limitations in this post, featuring two Titan Vs, and must again revisit this topic. We have to determine whether an 8086K and Z370 platform will be sufficient for benchmarking with multi-GPU, i.e. in x8/x8, and so that requires another platform – the 7980XE and X299 DARK that we used to take a top-three world record previously.
It’s more “RTX OFF” than “RTX ON,” at the moment. The sum of games that include RTX-ready features on launch is 0. The number of tech demos is growing by the hour – the final hours – but tech demos don’t count. It’s impressive to see what nVidia is doing in its “Asteroids” mesh shading and LOD demonstration. It is also impressive to see the Star Wars demo in real-time (although we have no camera manipulation, oddly, which is suspect). Neither of these, unfortunately, are playable games, and the users for whom the RTX cards are presumably made are gamers. You could then argue that nVidia’s Final Fantasy XV benchmark demo, which does feature RTX options, is a “real game” with the technology – except that the demo is utterly, completely untrustworthy, even though it had some of its issues resolved previously (but not all – culling is still dismal).
And so we’re left with RTX OFF at present, which leaves us with a focus primarily upon “normal” games, thermals, noise, overclocking on the RTX 2080 Founders Edition, and rasterization.
We don’t review products based on promises. It’s cool that nVidia wants to push for new features. It was also cool that AMD did with Vega, but we don’t cut slack for features that are unusable by the consumer.
The new nVidia RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti reviews launch today, with cards launching tomorrow, and we have standalone benchmarks going live for both the RTX 2080 Founders Edition and RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition. Additional reviews of EVGA’s XC Ultra and ASUS’ Strix will go live this week, with an overclocking livestream starting tonight (9/19) at around 6-7PM EST starting time. In the meantime, we’re here to start our review series with the RTX 2080 FE card.
NVidia’s Turing architecture has entered the public realm, alongside an 83-page whitepaper, and is now ready for technical detailing. We have spoken with several nVidia engineers over the past few weeks, attended the technical editor’s day presentations, and have read through the whitepaper – there’s a lot to get through, so we will be breaking this content into pieces with easily navigable headers.
Turing is a modified Volta at its core, which is a heavily modified Pascal. Core architecture isn’t wholly unrecognizable between Turing and Pascal – you’d be able to figure out that they’re from the same company – but there are substantive changes within the Turing core.
We're ramping into GPU testing hard this week, with many tests and plans in the pipe for the impending and now-obvious RTX launch. As we ramp those tests, and continue publishing our various liquid metal tests (corrosion and aging tests), we're still working on following hardware news in the industry.
This week's round-up includes a video-only inclusion of the EVGA iCX2 mislabeling discussion that popped-up on reddit (links are still below), with written summaries of IP theft and breach of trust affecting the silicon manufacturing business, "GTX" 2060 theories, the RTX Hydro Copper and Hybrid cards, Intel's 14nm shortage, and more.
Alongside the question of how frequently liquid metal should be replaced, one of the most common liquid metal-related questions pertains to how safe it is to use with different metals. This includes whether liquid metal is safe to use with bare copper, like you’d find in a laptop, or aluminum, and also includes the staining effect of liquid metal on nickel-plated copper (like on an IHS). This content explores the electromechanical interactions of liquid metal with the three most common heatsink materials, and does so using Thermal Grizzly’s Conductonaut liquid metal. Conductonaut is among the most prevalent on the market, but other options are made of similar compound, like Coollaboratory’s Liquid Ultra.
Conductonaut is a eutectic alloy – it is a mix of gallium, indium, and tin. This is Galinstan, but the individual mixtures of liquid metal have different percentages for each element. We don’t know the exact mixture of Conductonaut, but we do know that it uses gallium, indium, and tin. Most liquid metals use this mixture, just with varying percentages of each element. Gallium typically comprises the majority of the mixture.
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