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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Going hands-on at PAX West 2017, we stopped by Logitech’s booth to get more technical details on the Logitech G613 wireless keyboard, G603 wireless mouse, and some follow-up information on the PowerPlay mat and G903/G703 mice. The latter set of information will go live in our pending-publication review. The former is up for discussion today.
Both devices leverage the same wireless hardware used in the G900 mouse, which we previously reviewed and found to perform equivalently or superior to high-end wired mice. The myth of “wireless is always slower” was immolated by that product series, mummified and entombed alongside other black magic gamer peripheral mythology. The G613 is the first high-performance wireless keyboard that we’re aware of, levying Logitech’s Romer G switches (which feel similar to o-ring damped browns) and two modes of wireless connectivity. These include Bluetooth and Logitech’s now-standard high-performance wireless setup, dubbed “Lightspeed.” Interestingly, these two systems can be used asynchronously to create an ad-hoc KVM, switching to wireless for the high-performance machine (e.g. gaming box), then Bluetooth for the accompanying streaming box or compression machine. This, we think, is the most marketable feature of the G613, and so happens to also exist on the new G603.
Ask GN serves as a consistent format in our video series, now 57 episodes strong. We are still filming at a pace of roughly one Ask GN episode every 1-2 weeks, so if you’ve got questions, be sure to submit them in the YT comments section.
This week’s episode gives a brief break from the deeper overclocking, undervolting, and benchmarking topics of late. We briefly visit Pascal temperature response observations, a user’s chipped GPU (and our own tech battle scars), and talk monitor overclocking. The article referenced during the monitor OC section can be found here.
This is just a quick PSA.
We shot an off-the-cuff video about software misreporting Vega’s frequency, to the extent that a “1980MHz overclock” is possible under the misreported conditions. The entire point of the video was to bring awareness to a bug in either software or drivers – not to point blame at AMD – explicitly to ensure consumers understand that the numbers may be inaccurate. Some reviews even cited overclocks of “1980MHz,” but overlooked the fact that scaling ceases around the threshold where the reporting bugs out.
Following the initial rumors stemming from an Overclockers.co.uk post about Vega price soon changing, multiple AIB partners reached out to GamersNexus – and vice versa – to discuss the truth of the content. The post by Gibbo of Overclockers suggested that launch rebates and MDF would be expiring from AMD for Vega, which would drive pricing upward as retailers scramble to make a profit on the new GPU. Launch pricing of Vega 64 was supposed to be $500, but quickly shot to $600 USD in the wake of immediate inventory selling out. This is also why the packs exist – it enables AMD to “lower” the pricing of Vega by making return on other components.
In speaking with different sources from different companies that work with AMD, GamersNexus learned that “Gibbo is right” regarding the AMD rebate expiry and subsequent price jump. AMD purportedly provided the top retailers and etailers with a $499 price on Vega 64, coupling sale of the card with a rebate to reduce spend by retailers, and therefore use leverage to force the lower price. The $100 rebate from AMD is already expiring, hence the price jump by retailers who need return. Rebates were included as a means to encourage retailers to try to sell at the lower $499 price. With those expiring, leverage is gone and retailers/etailers return to their own price structure, as margins are exceptionally low on this product.
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