This episode of Ask GN is the last of our GamersNexus content from the combined PAX West & Whistler trip (with other videos still uploading to the GNSteve side-channel). Episode 58 is something of a special episode, having been shot in the “Peak 2 Peak” Gondola, and provided a unique time trials element to answering the questions.

We tackle topics of memory bandwidth (“what is memory bandwidth?”), Vega voltage validation and undervoltage issues, and daisy chained PCIe cable topics.

Episode below:

Antec P8 Tempered Glass Case Critical Review

By Published September 11, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Antec is a venerable company, founded in 1986, but they’ve been an infrequent guest to GamersNexus. We did a quick summary of the Performance One when it launched in 2012, were intrigued by the more recent Razer Cube, reviewed Antec’s 1250 highly, and reviewed the GX700. But that’s it--until now. Like many other manufacturers, Antec is now experimenting with sub-$100 tempered glass in their new P8 mid tower.

It’s illegal to outright fix prices of products. Manufacturers have varying levels of sway when establishing cost to distributor partners and suggested retail prices, acted on much lower in the chain, and have to produce supply based on expectations of demand. We’ve previously talked about how MDF or other exchanges can be used to inspire retailers to work within some guidelines, but there are limits to the financial and legal extension of those means.

This context in mind, it makes sense that the undertone of discussion pertaining to video card prices – not just AMD’s, but nVidia’s – plants much of the blame squarely on retailers. There’s only so much that AMD and nVidia can do to drive prices at least somewhat close to MSRP. One of those actions is to put out more supply to sate demand but, as we saw during the last mining boom & bust (with emergent ASIC miners), there’s reason for manufacturers to remain hesitant of a major supply commitment. If AMD or nVidia were to place a large order with their fabs, there’d better be some level of confidence that the product will sell. Factory-to-shelf turn-around is a period of months, weeks of which can be shipping (unless opting for prohibitively expensive air freight).  A period of months is a wide window. We’ve seen mining markets “crash” and recover in a period of days, or hours, with oft unpredictable frequency and intensity. That’d explain why AMD might be hesitant to issue large orders of older product, like the RX 500 series, to try and meet demand.

While traveling, the major story that unfolded – and then folded – pertained to the alleged unlocking of Vega 56 shaders, permitting the cards to turn into a “Vega 58” or “Vega 57,” depending. This ultimately was due to a GPU-Z reporting bug, and users claiming increases in performance hadn’t normalized for the clock change or higher power budget. Still, the BIOS flash will modify the DPM tables to adjust for higher clocks and permit greater HBM2 voltage to the memory. Of these changes, the latter is the only real, relevant change – clocks can be manually increased on V56, and the core voltage remains the same after a flash. Powerplay tables can be used to bypass BIOS power limits on V56, though a flash to V64 BIOS permits higher power budget.

Even with all this, it’s still impossible (presently) to flash a modified, custom BIOS onto Vega. We tried this upon review of Vega 56, finding that the card was locked-down to prevent modding. This uses an on-die security coprocessor, relegating our efforts to powerplay tables. Those powerplay tables did ultimately prove successful, as we recently published.

Back at Home Base: Plans for the Month

By Published September 08, 2017 at 9:56 pm

We're finally back at home base. The past week of hardware news and pending releases means a queue the height of the door upon returning, so we've got a busy week ahead of us. Motherboards are in the mix, the Antec P8, multiple other new cases (a quick glance suggests four), feature tests for GPUs and CPUs, and more. We also have some serious website work to get done, including our final and official move to SSL (HTTPS), following which will be fixes to the comments section. We are also looking into overhauling the forums -- it's about time. This becomes a matter of determining how the community is split: A significant portion of direct backers are now in our Patreon Discord, but forums serve an important means for archival and 'slow' support with more searchability, so to speak. That needs to be overhauled. We're considering merging comments and forums on a per-post basis, but aren't sure yet.

Regardless, the first website update in queue is the SSL move, followed by some fixes to the comments and caching systems. These have been inhibiting us for years at this point, and with GN's constant growth, it's about time to get serious about the website's ability to handle an actual user base. This will also include fixes to email activation and the registration system, which has been bugged lately. We intend to keep the forums and comments open for all users in perpetuity, with Discord remaining Patreon-only (for now, anyway).

HW News: X399 & X299 Sales, Coffee Lake, CCXs of 1900X

By Published September 07, 2017 at 6:23 pm

We're on our way home from PAX West & a follow-up trip to Whistler, which means that this post will be exceptionally brief. We'll be back at home base shortly, and will begin normal testing and full-feature production at that point.

In the meantime, our latest news item (shot in the hotel while here) is viewable below. Sorry for the brevity on this one, folks, but we'll be home and producing full-length content ASAP.

Leaked ASRock Z370 Motherboard Shots for Coffee Lake

By Published September 06, 2017 at 11:29 pm

Product photos and renders for ASRock’s alleged Coffee Lake Z370 motherboards have leaked through Videocardz, detailing the ASRock lineup from top-to-bottom. The reported offering from ASRock includes a Z370 “Killer” motherboard (bearing similar branding to Fatal1ty boards), the Z370 Taichi high-end board, Z370M Pro4 Micro-ATX board, Z370M-ITX AC wireless board, and lower-end Z370 Extreme4 and Pro4 motherboards (both ATX).

Der8auer Delids 12-18C Intel Sky-X CPUs

By Published September 05, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Der8auer just delidded his high core-count Skylake-X CPU (12C to 18C), using the same kit that we used in our i9-7900X delidding video from Computex. Der8auer’s findings reveal a larger die than the 10C 7900X that we previously delidded, though the 12-18C units are ultimately using a die with disabled cores from the higher-end Xeon line. The delid also teaches us, critically, that even the 7920X CPUs are still not soldered. This isn’t necessarily a surprise, seeing as Intel’s operation has avoided soldering for the other recent CPUs, but we’re hoping that future Intel product lines move back to solder. Der8auer hasn't posted his findings of the 18C parts yet, so there is still room for a change -- but solder is looking unlikely.

Total War: Warhammer 2 will be officially released on September 28th but, as of August 31st, it was already the most preordered Total War title thus far, just as its predecessor was “the fastest selling Total War title on Steam.” That probably has something to do with Steam’s ever-increasing presence, but the preorder bonus is also tempting: the new TWW 1 Norsca DLC faction comes free (normally $10).

The Warhammer trilogy is being released as three full standalone games, rather than the large-scale expansions Total War fans may be used to. TWW 2 therefore includes several new graphical features: improved SSAO, volumetric fog with god-rays, a new sharpening filter, and improved wet surfaces. That’s good news overall, but it means our TWW 1 benchmark results won’t 100% carry over. Creative Assembly’s official system recommendations are as follows:

EVGA DG-77 White Case Hands-On at PAX West

By Published September 03, 2017 at 9:55 am

EVGA’s booth was among the few hardware exhibitors carrying new product at PAX West. The company’s DG-7 series is finally nearing completion, now going on a year of press coverage, and has one final round of showings prior to a November launch. With that final round, EVGA has begun showing white and white/black two-tone versions of the high-end DG-77. The tooling is the same, it’s just a matter of color preference.

The DG-77 was on show again at PAX West, now in white, and included some semi-finalized specifications for November launch. The DG-77 should likely include four fans – we’re not sure on sizes, but probably 120mm – with support for 280mm front radiators (potentially up to 360mm, unconfirmed) and 240mm top radiators. A single rear exhaust port is also available at 120mm, and likely will be populated stock. The case market is competitive enough right now to demand a $100-$130 price range on the enclosure, but EVGA hasn’t finalized pricing just yet.

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