Worth Checking Out: HUB's CPU Thermal Throttling Tests

By Published February 15, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Our colleagues at Hardware Unboxed have posted a set of Intel thermal tests on the new 8th Generation CPUs, looking into thermal throttling and boost behavior under thermal load. This is similar to much of our work in case and cooler reviews, where we often demonstrate over-time plots of long burn-ins (30-120 minutes), useful for determining where a CPU may taper-off in clock speed. In Hardware Unboxed's testing, additional benchmarks were performed on the Intel stock cooler and two aftermarket coolers, used in a multitude of CPU benchmarks.

For our audience that has liked our thermal discussion pieces (which is most of them, these days), we think HUB's work is worth seeing. It's a good demonstration of where and when thermal throttling might occur on a CPU, and helps to address the question of less-than-ideal thermal conditions for CPU benchmarking.

As we await arrival of our APUs today, we’ve seen a few news stories reporting “4.56GHz” overclocks (or similarly high clocks) on AMD’s new Ryzen+Vega amalgamation. Seemingly, this significantly higher overclock is achievable merely by entering S3 (sleep) in Windows, and is even easily validated with higher benchmark scores.

In reality, we believe this is the Windows timer bugging out, which has existed on previous platforms and CPUs. The bug is easy to replicate because it only requires entering S3 state – another commonly problematic Windows setting, based on a previous life of lab testing – and waking from S3 causes artificially high clock reports.

Ask GN 69: Mining on Radeon SSG? Ampere, GDDR6, & Boost

By Published February 10, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Our latest Ask GN episode talks methodology and benchmarking challenges with GPU boost, GDDR6 availability, "mining" on AMD's Radeon SSG, and more. This is also our first episode that comes with a new accompaniment, released in the form of a Patreon-only Ask GN. The separate video is  visible to Patreon backers, and answers a couple extra questions that were submitted via the Patreon Discord.

As usual, timestamps are provided below the embedded video. The major focus is on some quick GDDR6 news, then some discussion on GPU benchmarking approaches.

Find out more below:

This hardware news round-up covers the past week in PC hardware, including information on AMD's Ryzen+Vega amalgam, CPU "shortage" sensationalism, Newegg commission changes, and more. As usual, our HW News series is written as a video, but we publish show notes alongside the video. We'll leave those below the embed.

The big news for the week was AMD's 2400G & 2200G APUs, which are due out on Monday of next week. The higher-end APU will be priced around $170, and will primarily compete with low-end CPU+GPU combinations (e.g. GT 1030 and low-end R3). Of course, the APUs also carve an interesting niche in a market with limited dGPU supply. Strategically, this is a good launch window for AMD APUs.

This week's hardware news recap teases some of our upcoming content pieces, including a potential test on Dragonball FighterZ, along with pending-publication interviews of key Spectre & Meltdown researchers. In addition to that, as usual, we discuss major hardware news for the past few days. The headline item is the most notable, and pertains to Samsung's GDDR6 memory entering mass production, nearing readiness for deployment in future products. This will almost certainly include GPU products, alongside the expected mobile device deployments. We also talk AMD's new-hires and RTG restructure, its retiring of the implicit primitive discard accelerator for Vega, and SilverStone's new low-profile air cooler.

Show notes are below the embedded video.

Ask GN returns! We're now on Episode 68, having taken a brief haitus for CES. A lot of questions piled-up in that time, and we dedicated the usual ~25 minutes to address as many as we could in that time window. Of note, a large number of you have been asking about GPU and RAM prices, and we recently had our own encounter with severe price surges at a Microcenter location. We also received questions pertaining to component failure, proper handling of components (ESD, oil/grease, etc.), GPU failure, and must-have tools for our arsenal. 

Oh, and as a bonus, we take a question on "dream testing methods" that are unachievable (presently) due to time/money/practicality limitations. Great questions this week from the community. Find the video and timestamps below:

Overclocking engineer "Der8auer" has come out with his newest product: The Skylake-X Direct Die Frame cooling bracket. The bracket is intended to replace the ILM (independent loading mechanism) on the motherboard, used to act as a shim between a delidded CPU and a cooler. The goal is to not only delid the CPU and replace the compound, but also completely eliminate the heatspreader. Traditionally, the IHS would be kept post-delid, just with better compound and with removal of the silicone adhesive. In this application, you would delid the CPU, refresh the compound, remove the adhesive, and leave the IHS off, then mount it in the Skylake-X direct die bracket.

Some of our recent delid-focused content, "What We've Learned Delidding Intel CPUs," has highlighted that a light silicone adhesive seal vs. no seal vs. heavy seal can have significant impact on cooling. Heavy seals, for instance, can easily result in worse performance than stock -- even with liquid metal. We recommend not resealing the IHS at all and just allowing the cooler to retain the IHS, but a seal is sometimes needed. Shipping is a good example of this.

Must-Watch Coverage from GN’s CES 2018 Trip

By Published January 14, 2018 at 10:38 pm

This year’s CES saw content expansion for us, adding a second video producer to the road crew. This allowed us to better split article/video load, and balance sleep marginally better with work – up to 5 hours average for everyone, rather than the usual sub-5.

Anyway, there were plenty of products we covered in video format that didn’t make it into articles, and that was entirely due to physical limitations of the time-space continuum. We wanted to bring reader attention to some of the must-watch videos from the show, including our coverage of the Lian Li O11 chassis (the best case we saw at the event), the SilverStone Micro-STX form factor case, and Enermax’s updated Saberay.

Here they are:

The Cherry MX Low-Profile RGB (Red) Switch

By Published January 13, 2018 at 12:56 pm

For the first time in about 30 years, the mechanical switch market has a substantially new piece of technology instead of a modification on an old one. Cherry announced a high-precision switch targeted at notebooks and low-profile desktop keyboards. The switch uses a shallow design while maintaining the well-known characteristics of the standard MX Red switch. After meeting with Cherry, we learned that the company's R&D department had invested over 5 years to achieve the 11.9 mm design that does, after some simple side-by-side comparison, feel a lot like Cherry’s other MX linear switches, the black and red. The MX Low Profile RGB Red is about 35% shallower than the standard MX switches, which measure 18.5 mm. We also learned that the company was originally shooting for a 50-60% size reduction, but found that to be impossible if the standard Cherry MX characteristics were to be maintained. The switch was fully developed and built in Germany, which to der8auer’s approval, means that it fits the “German Engineered Perfection” mantra that we’ve seen in the industry.

Although the actuation characteristics remain about the same, the travel has been reduced from 4.0 to 3.2 mm. This leads to a shorter bounce time (typically 1ms) which results in higher switching frequencies for quick response gaming. Gold-Crosspoint technology is still in use to prevent corrosion or dust build up on the contacts, and the switch is rated for over 50 million keystrokes with no loss of quality. Contrary to what we were told during the meeting, one of the switch specifications is not what we originally thought. The IP rating is IP40, meaning it has no liquid resistance. This was likely just a miscommunication here due to the fact that the Cherry engineer we met with spoke German as his primary language.

Cooler Master H500P Mesh & H500M Cases at CES 2018

By Published January 11, 2018 at 9:40 pm

We have a long, known history with the Cooler Master H500P. Our review set the stage, with our mesh mod “fixing” the product (as we said), and the disappointment build closing-out the year. Although Cooler Master didn’t particularly like what we had to say (and challenged us on the mesh mod), it seems that the company took the criticism to heart. Nearly every issue we complained about has been fixed. The company never told us about these changes, of course – we had to hear about it from you all, via Twitter – but we found out, and we visited the suite to look at the H500P Mesh and H500M.

The H500P Mesh enclosure fixes these primary concerns from our review: (1) The case falling apart, (2) the limited intake, (3) the power supply shroud installation procedure, and (4) the left panel no longer ‘wiggles’ or ‘wobbles’ side-to-side.

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