Hardware

Ask GN 42: 7700K Delid Plans, DRAM Price Doubling

By Published February 03, 2017 at 9:53 am

At the tail-end of a one-day trip across the country, this episode of Ask GN tides us over until our weekend burst of further content production. We’re currently working on turning around a few case reviews, some game benchmarks, and implementing new thermal calibrators and high-end equipment.

In the meantime, this episode addresses questions involving “doubled” DRAM prices, delidding plans for the i7-7700K, contact between a heatsink and the back of a video card, and a few other topics. Check back posthaste as we’ll ramp into publication of our i5-7600K review within the next day.

Video below, timestamps below that:

German manufacturer be quiet! has launched an update to the Pure Power series of entry-level PSUs: the Pure Power 10 and Pure Power 10 CM models (CM for “Cable Management”). We previously covered the new Pure Power PSUs at CES last year, where it was revealed that the series would be moving to 80 Plus Silver certification (for models at and above 400W) and that the cables would be changed to solid black by popular demand. In speaking with be quiet! at that CES meeting, we also learned that silver-rated PSUs are rough listing on Newegg, since there are so few of them; folks sorting by 80 Plus rating often skip over Silver.

The 300 and 350W supplies have one PCIe connector, 400-500 have two, and 600W+ have four. Modular cables are low-profile and fixed cables are (black) sleeved.

Ask GN 41: Why Do CPUs Have an IHS? & RAM Overclocking

By Published January 25, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Our latest episode of Ask GN talks CPU IHS inclusion, delidding, RAM overclocking, some other tech questions, and a new trial GN shirt. We also talk about and demonstrate the audio quality differences between a Sennheiser MD46 and Sennheiser G3 lav kit, as some readers/viewers had inquired about our audio gear during CES.

The IHS discussion is an interesting one, and we’ll soon be demonstrating the cooling differences between delidded and lidded CPUs. Until then, though, we’re talking strength and the reasoning for an IHS to begin with.

Video below, timestamps to follow:

The first and last of AMD’s Polaris GPUs hit the market last year, among them the RX 460 and subsequent Sapphire RX 460 Nitro 4GB, a card that underwhelmed us with unimpressive performance and an ambitious price. Just a few months later, overclocker der8auer implemented a BIOS flash to unlock additional stream processors on some RX 460 cards, bringing the count from 896 to 1024 by just flashing the card BIOS.

iBUYPOWER Snowblind N450 Specs & Official Launch

By Published January 17, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Preorders are now open for the iBUYPOWER “Snowblind” system we’ve been covering for the past few months, most recently at CES 2017. The most notable aspect of Project Snowblind is the modified NZXT Noctis 450 enclosure, which uses an LCD side panel in place of a traditional clear window.

To be clear: although the buzz surrounding Project Snowblind is generally about the side panel, Snowblind systems are complete prebuilt machines and their enclosures are not available separately at this time (see our Noctis 450 review for details on the non-LCD version). As such, there are three SKUs available for preorder: Snowblind, Snowblind Pro, and Snowblind Extreme, for $1500, $1800, and $2500 respectively, with monthly payment plans optional. Additional components can be added for additional cost, but only white or silver varieties are allowed in order to give the panel maximum contrast.

Ask GN 40: Reflowing Laptops, OEM vs. Non-OEM Parts

By Published January 16, 2017 at 6:08 pm

This is our first episode of Ask GN since returning from CES, responsible for producing about two weeks’ worth of content that we’ve only just finished publishing. For this episode, we’re addressing questions pertaining primarily to reflowing / reballing dead components (laptops & GPUs), OEM vs. non-OEM CPUs, and a couple of airflow topics related to liquid cooling. Other questions include clarification on Kaby Lake & Skylake compatibilities, and keyboard USB passthrough impact on latency.

For our regulars, the usual accompaniment to Ask GN articles is a preview on what’s to come for the week. This week, we’ve got several CPU content items planned, a PC build, and lots of behind-the-scenes testing that will be published next week.

The official reveal of the Nintendo Switch left a lot to be desired, particularly in the hardware department. That’s not particularly surprising with Nintendo -- the company isn’t known for being open with its CPU and GPU specifications -- but we already have a Switch on pre-order for tear-down and in-depth performance analysis in the lab.

Regardless, even without further specs from Nintendo, we can still go through the basics and make some assumptions based on fairly credible leaks that are out there.

AMD may have inadvertently given out information today that could narrow down the release window for their upcoming Ryzen CPUs. The possible release date information was provided by a panel description for the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC), where AMD will host a panel detailing Zen optimization techniques for programmers. GDC 2017 takes place from February 27-March 3. This coupled with the AMD panel description from the GDC website (and our own digging while at CES) tells us that Ryzen will ship at the end of February.

In the original panel description (that has since been changed), AMD was asking session attendees to join their “Game Engineering team members for an introduction to the recently-launched AMD Ryzen CPU.” “Recently-launched” is the key phrase and indicates that the Ryzen CPU would likely already be available prior to GDC 2017, which again is February 27-March 3.

CES 2017 allowed our team to dig deeper into the Zen architecture, its Ryzen family of CPUs, and the ensemble of AM4 motherboards in the pipes. There are currently “more than 50” SKUs of AM4 motherboards, according to the AMD team, and that’ll include the X370, B350, A320, and A/B/X300 chipsets. In this article, we’ll provide a GN-made block diagram of Ryzen’s PCIe lanes and other features, a look at ASRock and Biostar motherboards, and some brief notes on the S3.0 radiator.

For previous coverage of AM4 motherboards, check out our reporting on MSI’s XPOWER Titanium X370 and Gigabyte’s X370 / B350 gaming boards.

Before diving in, here’s a block diagram that GamersNexus created to better represent the Ryzen / Chipset relationship:

We just published our final video walkthrough of iBUYPOWER’s ongoing “Project Snowblind” enclosure, which uses an NZXT Noctis 450 and custom LCD side panel assemblage. The setup has been in our coverage for several months now, starting with PAX Prime in September, followed by an office visit in October (with several upgrades), and now concluding with CES 2017.

In its simplest form, the Snowblind enclosure offers an LCD side panel (rather than traditional case side panel) which is capable of graphics playback or Rainmeter overlay. Really, it can do anything that an extra monitor could do, it’s just limited by visibility and contrast. The Snowblind uses all white/black internals to ensure the side panel’s output remains as legible as possible, and further uses ultra-bright LEDs along the inside wall of the side panel to provide the effective “backlight” for the display. iBUYPOWER is using an expansion slot in the case to host a small card that bridges comms between a DVI link (from the GPU), but the card does not use any motherboard slots. A simple DVI pass-through runs from the video card to the expansion card, which then runs the wiring to the LCD side panel.

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