Hardware news returns with a lot to talk about, including our newest charity auction of a unique, rare item: A KINGPIN 2080 Ti PCB (no parts on it -- just the board!) has been listed to benefit Cat Angels Pet Adoptions, a no-kill shelter we work with locally. You can only get these if you visit KINGPIN's lab, so they're special items that we reserve for charity events. This is the second of two we've listed, with the first benefitting wildlife following Australian bushfires. In hardware news proper, we're talking about Intel Z490 10-core CPU overclocking expectations (not stock), ASUS finding a way to automate application of Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut liquid metal, Samsung 3nm process delays, and more.
ATX12VO is a new-ish power supply spec published by Intel in July of 2019 that eliminates the 3.3V and 5V rails from power supplies, leaving only the 12V rail. The spec has become a hot buzzword lately because Tier 2 of the California Energy Commision’s Title 20 goes into effect on July 1st, 2021, and these stricter energy regulations were a large part of why the ATX12VO spec was written. We’ve spoken to Intel, a major power supply manufacturer, and a power supply factory on the subject, the latter two off-record, and today we’ll be reporting their thoughts. We’ll also be defining the ATX12VO spec and what it means for computing, along with Intel’s goals for the specification.
In this week's hardware news, we have an exclusive news item pertaining to Intel's 10-core CPU thermal packaging for the Z490 mainstream desktop part. We've verified the news as accurate and are working to verify additional information sent to GamersNexus by industry partners. In the meantime, DDR is in the news again, GDDR5 is almost out of the warehouses as GDDR6 replaces it, and Atari further taints its name.
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EATX is bullshit wannabe half-specification, not a real form factor. At least, not the way it’s being treated right now. It doesn’t mean anything. The name “EATX” implies a standard, but it’s not a standard, it’s a free-for-all. That’s not even getting into EE-ATX, or Enhanced Extended Advanced Technology eXtended, which is actually a name. Things would be a lot easier for everyone if motherboard manufacturers stuck to the dimensions of SSI-EEB without trying to wedge custom form factors in between, or correctly referred to 12”x10.5” boards as SSI-CEB, but that’d require actually trying to follow a spec. Then case manufacturers would have no reason to write “EATX (up to 11 inches)” in every single spec sheet for normal-sized mid towers, and customers would know at a glance exactly what they were getting. We’ve had a hell of a time lately trying to find cases that fit our “E-ATX” motherboards, which range in size from “basically ATX” to “doesn’t fit in any case that says it supports E-ATX, but is still called E-ATX.” We took that frustration and dug into the matter.
Other than technical discussion, we’ll also get the fun of unrolling the acronyms used everywhere in the industry, and talking about how stupid form factors like XL-ATX have three different sizes despite having one name, or how E-ATX has been split into “True E-ATX” and “Full Size E-ATX,” which also don’t mean anything to anyone.
Hardware news this week is abuzz, largely thanks to updates from AMD and Microsoft. AMD confirmed this week that it had confidential files stolen, with the hacker demanding blackmail to stop them from leaking the files publicly. Microsoft, meanwhile, has temporarily paused non-essential updates while its teams work from home, but is also facing a zero-day exploit. In a positive story, Folding @ Home has passed the ExaFLOP threshold in its growing research efforts for COVID-19.
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Our recap of hardware news for the past week follows-up on plans to RIP somebody -- but we're not sure who that should be just yet -- in a Folding @ Home points-chasing competition. To a similar tune, Folding @ Home has now surpassed the top 7 supercomputers in compute power totaled, something that NVIDIA, F@H, and the PCMR sub-reddit all drove together. Other positive news has Razer turning production lines toward N95 mask production for Coronavirus/COVID-19 use in hospitals and elsewhere. Bad news includes hits to the economic side of computer hardware, with motherboard sales falling 30-50%.
We're still in Taiwan this week for factory tours, but that's given us a unique perspective to get first-party information on how COVID-19 is impacting the computer hardware industry. In particular, we've been able to glean information on how companies in the US and Taiwan are handling risk mitigation and limiting spread of the virus in their companies. This has wider impact for consumers, as production will be limited over the next month or two and product delays are inevitable. There are also implications for Computex -- namely, whether it happens or not. In addition to this specific news, we have reporting on new AMD vulnerabilities, the death of the blower fan, and more.
Hardware news was filmed in Taiwan this week, where we've begun our annual factory tour. We've already visited several factories in the deeper supply chain, but need to begin scripting and voice-over work. In the meantime, we're covering hardware news pertaining to CPU updates, YouTube monetization updates, Intel's process commentary, and more.
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The biggest rule in testing coolers is to never trust anything: Don’t trust the numbers, don’t trust the software, don’t trust firmware, and don’t trust the test bench. Every step of the way is a trap lying in wait to sabotage data accuracy. We’ve spent the last 3 years refining our liquid cooler bench and the last 6 months refining our new testing that will feature air coolers and liquid coolers alike. With millions of cells of data, we now know enough to have identified nearly every hidden pitfall in testing and finally feel confident in providing a full picture for accurate CPU cooler performance. The downside is that we’ll never trust anyone else’s numbers again, but the upside is that we can finally start really collecting data. This dissertation will be on the most common and the most obscure landmines for testing, laying a plan for our CPU cooler reviews and helping establish a baseline for quality and data accuracy. We promised a CPU air cooler round-up back at the end of 2016 or 2017, and we’re finally getting around to it and will be publishing a lot of cooler content over the next month or so. We’ll start with an A500 review after this methodology piece goes live, then we’ll break for our factory tour series, then we’ll be back to coolers.
This content is detailed and specific to CPU cooler testing methodology and processes. We will be using this as a reference piece for years, as it will establish testing practices to ensure accurate data. Most data out there regarding CPU coolers is flawed in some way or another, especially the stuff posted in random reddit comments, but the trick is minimizing flaws to the extent possible while remaining real-world, because total elimination of variables and pitfalls is impossible on PC hardware. Users will often randomly post a temperature number and say something like, “my Spire is at 70 degrees,” as if that actually means anything to anyone. Temperature isn’t a 3DMark score – it is completely dependent on each configuration, and so unless you’re looking at relative performance by swapping coolers in a controlled environment, you’re not really providing useful data to the discussion.
In this content, we’re going to show you 6 months of rigorous testing adventures that we’ve embarked on, including several months’ worth of discovering flaws in testing, common and uncommon errors, and bad data that could invalidate most reviews without the reviewer ever even knowing. We know because we’ve spent months catching them, hence our long wait time on publishing this content. Several of these issues will exist in other reviewer configurations without technician knowledge, but the trick is to have the right tools to flag errant testing. These concepts will range from extremely basic to advanced. We wanted to skip some basics, but realized that there’s so much bad information out there that we’d better just cover it all in one big dissertation.
As we prepare to fly out to Taiwan for factory tours, we've got another hardware news round-up to carry through the week: Our final donation count for the wildlife rescue charities is included, followed-up by SK Hynix's response to some Big Navi spec "leaks," JPR's GPU marketshare reporting, Biostar's H61 resurrection, AMD's chiplets aiding in cost reduction, and Intel promising Total Memory Encryption. We also talk about Plague Inc getting pulled due to the coronavirus scare.
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