Hardware

Popular memory manufacturer G.SKILL has announced its answer to the RGB LED movement: the Trident Z RGB series. At this point, it may be hard to pinpoint the derivation of the RGB trend, yet its perpetuation across components and peripherals is one we predicted here at GN, along with some other fads.

The Trident Z RGB series will be—you guessed it—adorned with RGB LEDs in the form of a translucent lightbar affixed to the aluminum heat spreaders. The aforesaid lightbar will run the length of the DIMM operating by default in a “wave-style” effect, offering a range of hues. Such effects are capable of being modified with a future software launch, scheduled for February 2017. The Trident Z RGB lineup is somewhat inimitable in its implementation, chiefly that it does not require any additional power connections from the motherboard for user control; all necessary power is drawn from the DIMM slot. This offers divergence from the Geil EVO X RGB memory, which must be tethered to the motherboard for proper function of the LEDs, and from other LED memory options (Vengeance, Avexir) that are mono-color.

We’re still cranking through content as we roll into the weekend’s holiday, and that’s not going to stop. We’ll be posting on the 25th, as we do each year, and I’ll likely be working on server upgrades. It’s somewhat of a Christmas tradition for GN, it seems.

But until that time, we’ve still got a solid week of production to cut through. This week starts off with the usual Ask GN episode, now #38, and will briefly highlight advantages of the Xeon or i7 CPUs in different use cases, frequency and core count discussion, and threats to Intel’s dominance in the computing world.

We’ll have a new PC build article going live within the next day, too. That’ll feature a few sales for Christmas, so be sure to check that guide. There’ll be a few fairly big ones.

Episode below. Timestamps below that.

LG 32UD99 HDR Display Announced

By Published December 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm

LG has made a preliminary announcement heralding the arrival of a new flagship display: the LG 32UD99. Poised to entice creative professionals, gamers, and prosumers, the LG 32UD99 suggests targeting a more encompassing demographic; a contrast to the fairly recent announcement of LG UltraFine 4K and 5K panels that seemingly left Windows users in the cold. LG plans to demonstrate the 32UD99 at CES next month alongside some other panels. Naturally, many specifications were left undisclosed. Here is what we know so far:

The LG 32UD99 touts a 32” IPS panel at a native resolution of 3840 x 2160, making this a UHD 4K display. The IPS panel is of 10-bit color depth and can reproduce 1.07 billion colors. That’s vs 8-bit with 16.77 million colors. The panel of the LG 32UD99 allegedly saturates 95% of the DCI P3 color space, and LG has reported nothing of other color spaces such as sRGB and Adobe RGB. The LG 32UD99 also supports 3D LUTs (look-up tables), but again, there are no details on the LUTs. As look-up tables are primarily for color enhancement and correction, this is a feature more prepared for users working in digital media.

Hardware news has, somewhat surprisingly, maintained its pace through the late months of the year. We normally expect a slowdown in December, but with AMD’s onslaught of announcements (Instinct, Ryzen, Vega), and with announcements leading into CES, we’ve yet to catch a break.

This week’s hardware news focuses on the RX 460 unlocking discovered by Der8auer, new SSDs from Corsair (MP500) and Zadak, and TSMC’s fab expansion.

Video below:

Albeit in the midst of troubling SSD news, Corsair fans may rejoice. After a seeming lack of focus in the SSD market, Corsair has announced the immediate availability of the new Force Series MP500 M.2 solid-state drives. Although laggardly, Corsair now joins other companies like Samsung, Plextor, Toshiba, and Intel in leaving behind the limited SATA III 6Gb/s connection in favor of NVMe via PCIe x4.

Corsair avers the new MP500 Force Series to be the fastest drive they have yet produced, with sequential read/write speeds rated at 3000/2400 MB/s and random 4K read/write speeds at 250,000/210,000 IOPS, nominally. Theoretically speaking, system boot times, large file transfers, and game load times will see improvement over using a single SATA 6Gb/s connection. This also puts the drive in somewhat parallel performance with the Samsung 960 EVO.

The MP500 series will utilize a Phison PS5007-E7 NVMe memory controller in conjunction with the high bandwidth afforded by PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 lanes. The MP500 conforms to the M.2 2280 form factor and sports a black PCB with a black cover hiding the NAND (and so we haven’t yet identified the modules used). Although not particularly relevant, it does coincide with the recent motherboard color trend and should please users aimed at achieving a uniform aesthetic, in comparison to the overdone green PCBs. The Phison PS5007-E7 controller supports SLC/MLC/TLC and 3D NAND (V-NAND), although we are currently unable to ascertain the specific NAND type used in the Corsair Force MP500. The Force Series MP500 range will offer 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities priced at $110, $170, and $325, respectively.

AMD Ryzen Zen CPU Shown at Horizon Event

By Published December 13, 2016 at 4:55 pm

The article title might need a few more "-zen" and "-zon" syllables.

AMD’s new Zen architecture today made its public debut under the “Ryzen” 8C/16T CPU, an IGP-less competitor to Intel’s high-end enthusiast platforms. Ryzen, a combination of “Horizon” and “Zen” (we’re told), was demonstrated as operating at approximately 3.4GHz base clock, with boosting capabilities that brought it into competition with Intel’s Broadwell-E i7-6900K.

The Ryzen CPU aims to operate at approximately 3.4GHz base clock, leveraging a form of SMT to achieve 16 logical threads on 8 physical cores. We’ve also learned that Ryzen, due out in 1Q17, will host 20MB of combined L2+L3 cache. We are presently unsure of any more specifics on the caching architecture, and are due for briefings with AMD to develop a deeper understanding of Zen and its cache.

Gigabyte XTC700 CPU Cooler Announced

By Published December 13, 2016 at 8:00 am

Last week, Gigabyte announced the Gigabyte XTC700 tower CPU cooler to go along with their “Xtreme Gaming” peripherals, which include a slew of new products that mostly feature RGB LEDs. The XTC700 comes with an RGB top plate featuring the Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming logo, a pair of 120mm fans for push/pull, and Gigabyte branding for a unified aesthetic with Gigabyte motherboards and video cards. The RGB top plate, like all RGB Xtreme Gaming products, will be controllable through Gigabyte’s Spectrum software. The Gigabyte XTC700 will support Intel sockets 2011, 1366, 1156, 1155,1151,1150, 775, including the upcoming Kaby Lake. Additionally, the cooler will support AMD’s FM2+, FM2, FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939, and 754 sockets -- basically everything from each vendor.

This issue has been driving us crazy for weeks. All of our test machines connect to shared drives on central terminal (which has Windows 10 installed). As tests are completed, we launch a Windows Explorer tab (file explorer) and navigate to \\COMPUTER-NAME\data to drop our results into the system. This setup is used for rapid file sharing across gigabit internal lines, rather than going through cumbersome USB keys or bloating our NAS with small test files.

Unfortunately, updating our primary test benches to Windows 10 Anniversary Edition broke this functionality. We’d normally enter \\COMPUTER-NAME\data to access the shared drive over the network, but that started returning an “incorrect username or password” error (despite using the correct username and password) after said Win10 update. The issue was worked around for a few weeks, but it finally became annoying enough to require some quick research.

Ask GN 37: Rising SSD Prices, Poor Game Optimization

By Published December 10, 2016 at 10:55 am

In the midst of running another half-dozen thermal tests on upcoming liquid-cooled graphics benchmarks, we took a break from the (increasingly hot) test room for an Ask GN episode. Considering the video set is about 9-10C cooler than the test lab, it was a welcomed break.

This episode’s questions primarily focus on increasing SSD prices, game and driver optimization for GPUs, some brief computer history, and benchmarking. About half of the discussion somehow relates to game benchmarking or testing, with a few interesting tidbits from our previous computer history discussions.

Regardless, video and timestamps below:

Intel Z270 vs. H270 Chipset Differences & Specs

By Published December 05, 2016 at 1:03 pm

It’s not yet time to pen a full, in-depth comparison between Intel’s forthcoming Kaby Lake chipsets, including Z270, H270, and whatever may become of the lower-end H- and B- lines. There’s still data we’re waiting on, and won’t have access to for a little while yet. Still, some preliminary Z270 & H270 chipset specs have been reported by Benchlife, including information on PCI-e lane count and HSIO lanes. This coverage follows the same format as our Z170 vs. H170, H110, B150, & Q150 differences article.

If the early information is to be believed, the Kaby Lake-ready platform primarily focuses its efforts on largely minor improvements, like additional HSIO lanes to support a burgeoning PCI-e-enabled SSD market. Z270 will move from Z170’s 26 HSIO (High-Speed I/O) lanes to 30 HSIO lanes, providing an additional 4 lanes for M.2 and PCI-e AICs (add-in cards). H270, meanwhile, will move from H170’s 22 lanes up to parity with the Z-series platform, also hosting 30 HSIO lanes. The additional lanes fall into the category of “general purpose” PCI-e lanes, resulting in the following configuration:

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