Hardware

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.

Enermax demonstrated to us that case manufacturers are, in fact, capable of creating cases that permit greater airflow through the front panel. It won’t look that way at first glance – the panel on the Saberay defaults to acrylic – but there’s hope yet. As we began to bring up our concerns for airflow on a closed-off panel, our Enermax representative removed the acrylic front, then demonstrated that the front and top panels are interchangeable. Enermax will ship the Saberay with two mesh panels and the acrylic panel, so you’d be able to run all mesh or one mesh and one acrylic, depending. Frankly, this has been the most exciting thing we’ve seen at the show thus far – we’ve been ragging on cases about airflow for a year now. Enermax stepped-up and offered two solutions: One for people like those of us at GN, and one for the showroom displays.

The Saberay was shown at the last CES, technically, but never shipped. This is its final iteration, and the Saberay should be shipping at around $160 in Q1. The case will include three TB RGB fans for the front, one non-RGB fan for the rear, and all included fans will be 120mm in size. Fan placement includes the usual: 3x 120mm front, 1x 120mm rear, and up to 3x 120mm top. The inside of the case also has a fan mounting panel where hard drives typically sit where, upon first glance, it appears that it’d make no sense to place the fans. Air exhausting into a glass panel isn’t particularly efficient airflow. Enermax plans to resolve this by offering a steel panel with honeycomb for the right-side of the case, which would offer some exhaust ports for any internally mounted radiators.

Ahead of  CES 2018, ASUS is announcing their ROG bezel-free kit, a way for gamers to augment the visibility of the display bezels within multi-monitor setups. Such a product theoretically offers a seamless display setup; or rather, the imitation of one. The bezel-free kit makes use of vertical lenses affixed to mounting brackets on the top and bottom, that attach the monitors at a 130 degree angle. From there, the lenses use light refraction to essentially wax away the appearance of the bezels. How well this works, or how obtrusive the lenses or mounts are, remains to be seen. Should GamersNexus get a chance to see this up close, we’ll update accordingly.

NZXT’s First Motherboard: The N7 Z370 at CES 2018

By Published January 09, 2018 at 10:00 am

NZXT today announced its first-ever motherboard, the NZXT N7, a $300 Z370 board with integrated HUE RGB and GRID fan controller. This is NZXT’s first attempt at a motherboard, and seems to take a very NZXT-approach to everything: It’s visuals first, with this one, using the company’s newfound perforated design aesthetic across a steel surface plate on the board. NZXT has a lot of interesting – and odd – design decisions in the N7 motherboard. We’ll walk through some of those today.

The NZXT N7 motherboard is an ATX Z370 option, and we think we found NZXT’s OEM partner – we’ll save that for the end.

At CES 2018, Corsair announced its new K63 wireless gaming keyboard and Dark Core gaming mouse, both of which are slated to battle Logitech in the wireless peripheral arena. Corsair is targeting low latency, moderate battery-life configurations in a TKL Cherry MX Red keyboard, with the mouse using a Pixart 3367 modified optical sensor.

When asked for clarification on the latency figures given – always “1ms” – Corsair told GamersNexus that the 1ms number cites the spec for transmission latency on the wireless signal, not click-to-response latency. We should have the latter eventually, but not today. The mouse is built with two variants, at $80 and $90, with the more expensive model branded the “SE,” and capable of wireless Qi charging. On a “Qi spot,” as they call it.

Yes, really.

GamersNexus secured an early exclusive with the new Gigabyte Gaming 7 motherboard at CES 2018, equipped with what one could confidently assume is an AMD X470 chipset. Given information from AMD on launch timelines, it would also be reasonable to assume that the new motherboards can be expected for roughly April of this year, alongside AMD’s Ryzen CPU refresh. This is all information learned from AMD’s public data. As for the Gigabyte Gaming 7 motherboard, the first thing we noticed is that it has real heatsinks on the VRMs, and that it’s actually running what appears to be a higher-end configuration for what we would assume is the new Ryzen launch.

Starting with the heatsink, Gigabyte has taken pride in listening to media and community concerns about VRM heatsinks, and has now added an actual finstack atop its 10-phase Vcore VRM. To give an idea, we saw significant performance improvement on the EVGA X299 DARK motherboard with just the finned heatsinks, not even using the built-in fans. It’s upwards of 20 degrees Celsius improvement over the fat blocks, in some cases, since the blocks don’t provide any surface area.

This episode of Ask GN is very likely part 1 of a two-parter. We had so many good questions from the previous round that we had to cut a few out for this one, but given the proximity of CES, we may film another prior to the show. For this one, we take several questions that relate to heat generation within a computer, particularly those focused on component failure and early death of components. GPU mining is, of course, a popular topic to do with component longevity, and so makes a lengthy appearance in this episode. We also relate the information to 3D rendering and animation/production work, as it's all really the same idea: Load a component at 100% for most (all?) of its life, then see how long it lasts.

Ad-Hoc Liquid Permeation Check & GPU Diagnostics

By Published December 27, 2017 at 11:17 pm

This content piece is video-centric, but we have a full-length feature article coming tomorrow -- and it's focused on shunt shorting, something we have spent the past few days playing around with. For today's, however, we point you toward our render rig's GPU diagnostics, where we pull a Maxwell Titan from the machine, try to determine why it's overheating, and show some CLC / AIO permeation testing in the process. Rather than weigh the loops, which makes no sense (given the different manufacturing tolerances for the radiators and pumps), we emptied two loops -- one new and one old -- to see if the older unit's liquid had permeated the tubes. If it had, then we'd measure less liquid in the older loop, showing that a year of heavy wear had caused the permeation. You can find out what happened in the video below.

The short of it is that, between the two loops, we saw no meaningful permeation -- we also noted that the pump impellers were still spinning, and that the thermal paste seemed fine. Our next steps will be to remount the CLC and test again.

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