Hardware

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.

Fortunately, this GTX 1060 isn't prepped for mass market or DIY consumer adoption -- we've got enough confusing naming as is. The GTX 1060 presently exists in 3GB and 6GB AICs, with the former also containing one fewer SM (or a 10% core reduction). There is also the lesser-known 1060 6GB card with boosted 9Gbps memory speeds, part of a refreshed effort by nVidia and its partners earlier this year. According to Chinese language website Expreview, a new GTX 1060 5GB card is allegedly planned for release in Asian markets, primarily targeted for use in internet cafes and PC bangs. We have not independently verified the story at this time.

From what the story indicates, it seems as if this particular GTX 1060 model will carry the original 1280 CUDA cores (as opposed to the 1152 FP32 lanes on the 1060 3GB), with the primary difference existing in a 1GB reduction to capacity and 160-bit memory interface.

This episode of Ask GN, shipping on Christmas day, answers a few pertinent questions from the last few weeks: We'll talk about whether we made ROI on the Titan V, whether it makes more sense to buy Ryzen now or wait for Ryzen+/Ryzen2, and then dive into the "minor" topics for the segment. Smaller topics include discussion on choosing games for benchmarking -- primarily, why we don't like ROTTR -- and our thoughts on warranty/support reviews, with some reinforced information on vertical GPU mounting. The conclusion focuses on an ancient video card and some GN modmat information.

The embedded video below contains the episode. Timestamps are below that.

Refilling an AIO with New Fluid - Thermal Test Results

By Published December 23, 2017 at 11:31 pm

We previously went through the process of dismantling, draining, and refilling an Enermax Liqtech TR4 closed-loop liquid cooler (some call these "AIOs") in an attempt to determine how serviceable the CLCs are. This particular cooler wasn't too difficult to refill, as we showed in our accompanying video, but we still wanted to check thermal results to see if the cooler had worsened in performance. The goal wasn't to make it better, just to see if it could be serviced, and without negative impact to cooling ability.

Keep in mind that fluid selection will matter: If the CLC mixes metals, as many do, you'll want to include a biocide of some sort in your refill. There are plenty of mixtures that would achieve this. We used an EK Cryofuel with biocide additive, with distilled water as the primary component (>90%) for the liquid composition. Our thermal test methodology is the same as in all our Threadripper cooler reviews, including the Enermax 360 vs 240 review. If curious how we tested, head over there.

HW News: 1Q18 Ryzen+, EK Executives Join Corsair

By Published December 18, 2017 at 10:46 pm

This week's hardware news recap diverges from Titan V coverage and returns to some normalcy, sort of, except the joining of Corsair by former top EK executives. We also have some loose confirmation of Ryzen+ for 1Q18, MSI's new RX Vega 64 Air Turbo card, and Sapphire's Nitro+ Vega 64 card. Still lots of AMD news, it seems, though Intel popped-up with Gemini Lake, if briefly.

Find the show notes below, or the video embedded:

NVIDIA Titan V Tear-Down & PCB: Bare GPU Look at Volta

By Published December 11, 2017 at 11:56 pm

After completing all of our gaming, power, thermal, and other benchmarks for the new nVidia Titan V graphics card, we took the unit apart for cooler, PCB, and VRM analysis. We’ll be joined by overclocker ‘Buildzoid’ in the next few days for the advanced overclocking analysis of the PCB and VRM, but have some immediate information on the assembly of the Titan V and its cooler.

The card follows the same screw pattern as all previous nVidia Founders Edition cards, including the Titan Xp and GTX 1080, primarily isolating its cooler and shroud into a single, separable unit. Build materials are all the same, assembly is the same, but the underlying GPU, HBM2, VRM, and heatsink are different.

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