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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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