The RTX 2080 Ti failures aren’t as widespread as they might have seemed from initial reddit threads, but they are absolutely real. When discussing internally whether we thought the issue of artifacting and dying RTX cards had been blown out of proportion by the internet, we had two frames of mind: On one side, the level of attention did seem disproportionate to the size of the issue, particularly as RMA rates are within the norm. Partners are still often under 1% and retailers are under 3.5%, which is standard. The other frame of mind is that, actually, nothing was blown out of proportion for people who spent $1250 and received a brick in return. For those affected buyers, the artifacting is absolutely a real issue, and it deserves real attention.
This content marks the closing of a storyline for us. We published previous videos detailing a few of the failures on our viewers’ cards (borrowed by GN on loan), including an unrelated issue of a 1350MHz lock and BSOD issue. We also tested cards in our livestream to show what the artifacting looks like, seen here. Today, we’re mostly looking at thermals, firmware, the OS, downclocking impact, and finding a conclusion of what the problem isn’t (rather than what it 100% is).
With over a dozen cards mailed in to us, we had a lot to sort through over the past week. This issue certainly exists in a very real way for those who spent $1200+ on an unusable video card, but it isn’t affecting everyone. It’s far from “widespread,” fortunately, and our present understanding is that RMA rates remain within reason for most of the industry. That said, NVIDIA’s response times to some RMA requests have been slow, from what our viewers have expressed, and replacements can take upwards of a month given supply constraints in some regions. That’s a problem.
This content stars our viewers and readers. We charted the most popular video cards over the launch period for NVIDIA’s RTX devices, as we were curious if GTX or RTX gained the most sales in this time. We’ve also got some AMD data toward the end, but the focus here is on a shifting momentum between Pascal and Turing architectures and what the consumers want.
We’re looking exclusively at what our viewers and readers have purchased over the two-month launch window since RTX was announced. This samples several hundred purchases, but is in no way at all a representative sample of the whole. Keep in mind that we have a lot of sampling biases here, the primary of which is that it’s our audience – that means these are people who are more enthusiast-leaning, likely buy higher end, and probably follow at least some of our suggestions. You can’t extrapolate this data market-wide, but it is an interesting cross-section for our audience.
The Intel i9-9980XE is a revamped i9-7980XE with solder and higher out-of-box clocks. It’s also got much higher out-of-the-box thermals as compared to a delidded 7980XE, as you’ll see in our testing, and is disappointingly limited in its overclocking headroom when using practical cooling solutions. The 9980XE should effectively be a higher clocked 7980XE with a better stock cooling interface and could be a good candidate for future streams where we RIP YouTube personalities. That is, it would be with chilled water on top of it, whereas the 7980XE has more thermal headroom out of the delid tool. Regardless, we have full benchmarks of this new CPU, including perspectives from both the enthusiast overclocker’s viewpoint and the professional user’s viewpoint. Testing includes overclocking, thermals, Photoshop, Premiere, Blender, gaming, power, and more.
Differences between the 7980XE and 9980XE are relatively minimal when compared to launches with new architectures. The 9980XE functionally is a 7980XE, it’s just soldered and faster – a pre-overclock, more or less. We immediately ran into overclocking limitations on the X299 DARK and Gigabyte Gaming 9 motherboards alike, the former of which has been used by our team to claim (fleeting) TimeSpy world records. These limitations stemmed from a lack of thermal headroom, something our delidded 7980XE doesn’t face to the same degree.
The X299 DARK was used for overclocking tests and the Gigabyte Gaming 9 was used for 'stock' tests, although its MCE toggle apparently does nothing. We used the latest BIOS for each motherboard. Additional test methodology information is in our 9900K review.
Respected manufacturers of silence-focused PC cases like be quiet! and Fractal Design use a number of tricks to keep noise levels down. These often include specially designed fans, thick pads of noise-damping foam, sealed front panels, and elaborately baffled vents. We tend to prefer high airflow to silence when given a choice, and it usually is presented that way: as a choice. The reality is that it doesn’t have to be a choice, and that an airflow-oriented case can, with minor work, achieve equivalent noise levels to a silence-focused case (while offering better thermals).
Our testing tends to reinforce that idea of a choice: our baseline results are measured with the case fans at maximum speed and therefore maximum noise, making cases like the SilverStone RL06 sound like jet engines. The baseline torture tests are good for consistency, showcasing maximum performance, and for highlighting the performance differences between cases, but they don’t represent how most users run their PCs for 24/7 usage. Instead, most users would likely turn down the fans to an acceptable noise level--maybe even the same level as intentionally quiet cases like the Silent Base 601.
Our thesis for this benchmark paper proposes that fans can be turned down sufficiently to equate noise levels of a silence-focused case, but while still achieving superior thermal performance. The candidates chosen as a case study were the Silverstone Redline 06 and the be quiet! Silent Base 601. The RL06 is one of the best-ventilated and noisiest cases we’ve tested in the past couple of years, while the SB601 is silence-focused with restricted airflow.
One variable that we aren’t equipped to measure is the type of noise. Volume is one thing, but the frequency and subjective annoying-ness matter too. For the most part, noise damping foam addresses concerns of high-frequency whines and shorter wavelengths, while thicker paneling addresses low-frequency hums and longer wavelengths. For today’s testing, we are entirely focusing on noise level at 20” and testing thermals at normalized volumes.
Although the year is winding down, hardware announcements are still heavy through the mid-point in November: NVIDIA pushed a major driver update and has done well to address BSOD issues, the company has added new suppliers to its memory list (a good thing), and RTX should start getting support once Windows updates roll-out. On the flip-side, AMD is pushing 7nm CPU and GPU discussion as high-end serve parts hit the market.
Show notes below the embedded video.
Intel’s TDP has long been questioned, but this particular generation put the 95W TDP under fire as users noticed media outlets measuring power consumption at well over 100W on most boards. It isn’t uncommon to see the 9900K at 150W or more in some AVX workloads, like Blender, thus far-and-away exceeding the 95W number. Aside from TDP being an imperfect specification for power, there’s also a lot that isn’t understood about it – including by motherboard manufacturers, apparently. All manufacturers are exceeding Intel guidance for the Turbo boosting duration in some way, which is causing the uncharacteristically high power consumption that produces unfairly advantaged performance results. The other end of this is that the 9900K looks much hotter in some tests.
Be quiet!’s cases are divided into three groups: Dark Base cases are the high-end flagships, Pure Base are (relatively) budget, and Silent Base is the range of cases in between. We’ve most recently covered the Pure Base 600 and the Dark Base Pro 900 at either end of their price spectrum, and now we’re reviewing the Silent Base 601 in the middle.
Hardware news coverage has largely followed the RTX 2080 Ti story over the past week, and it's one of dying cards of unknown quantities online. We have been investigating the issue further and have a few leads on what's going on, but are awaiting for some of the dead cards to arrive at our office before proceeding further. We also learned about Pascal stock depletion, something that's been a curious topic when given the slow uptake on RTX.
Further news items include industry discussion on Intel's outsourcing to TSMC, its hiring of former AMD graphics staff, and dealings with 14nm shortages. Only one rumor is present this week, and that's of the nearly confirmed RX 590.
EVGA’s RTX 2070 XC Ultra gave us an opportunity to compare the differences between NVIDIA’s varied RTX 2070 SKUs, including a low-end TU106-400 and a higher-end TU106-400A. The difference between these, we’ve learned, is one of pre-selection for ability to attain higher clocks. The XC Ultra runs significantly higher under Boost behavior than the 2070 Black does, which means that there’s now more to consider in the $70 price gap between the cards than just the cooler. This appears to be one of the tools available to board partners so that they can reach the $500 MSRP floor, but there is a performance cost as a result. With Pascal, the performance cost effectively boiled-down to one predicated on thermal and power headroom, but not necessarily chip quality. Turing is different, and chip quality is now a potential limiter.
In this review of the EVGA RTX 2070 XC Ultra, we’ll also be discussing performance variability between the two 2070 GPU SKUs. These theories should extrapolate out to other NVIDIA cards with these sub-GPU options. Note that we are just going to focus on the 2070s today. If you want to see how we compare the 2070’s value versus Vega or Pascal, check our 2070 review and Vega 56 power mod content pieces.
The real discussion is going to be in overclocking and thermals, as gaming performance typically isn’t too varied intra-GPU. That said, the GPU changes between these two (technically), so that’ll make for an interesting data point.
We previously deep-dived on MCE (Multi-Core Enhancement) practices with the 8700K, revealing the performance variance that can occur when motherboard makers “cheat” results by boosting CPUs out of spec. MCE has become less of a problem with Z390 – namely because it is now disabled by default on all boards we’ve tested – but boosted BCLKs are the new issue.
If you think Cinebench is a reliable benchmark, we’ve got a histogram of all of our test results for the Intel i9-9900K at presumably stock settings:
(Yes, the scale starts at non-0 -- given a range of results of 1976 to 2300, we had to zoom-in on the axis for a better histogram view)
The scale is shrunken and non-0 as the results are so tightly clustered, but you can still see that we’re ranging from 1970 cb marks to 2300 cb marks, which is a massive range. That’s the difference between a heavily overclocked R7 2700 and an overclocked 7900X, except this is all on a single CPU. The only difference is that we used 5 different motherboards for these tests, along with a mix of auto, XMP, and MCE settings. The discussion today focuses on when it is considered “cheating” to modify CPU settings via BIOS without the user’s awareness of those changes. The most common change is to the base clock, where BIOS might report a value of 100.00, but actually produce a value of 100.8 or 100.9 on the CPU. This functionally pre-overclocks it, but does so in a way that is hard for most users to ever notice.
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