AMD’s CES 2017 meeting room was primarily stocked with untouchable demos: Ryzen populated about half the room, Vega took a small (but critical) corner, and HDR screens took the rest. Given the challenges of demonstrating HDR in any medium other than analog (read: human eyes), we’ll skip that for now and focus on some of the Ryzen information. If Vega interests you, check out our write-up on the basics.
AMD’s suite served as a home to motherboards from MSI, Gigabyte, ASRock, and Biostar. We already spent some time with the MSI motherboards, including a look at the VRM design for each of the two configurations on display, and will today be focusing on Gigabyte’s X370, B350, and A320 motherboards. The company didn’t have any X300 mini-ITX boards at AMD’s suite, unfortunately, but did have micro-ATX displayed alongside the usual ATX form factor motherboards.
Following suit with our CES coverage, which is sure to remain incessant throughout the next few days, we have Acer’s prize announcements. Acer pulled the curtain back on several products, but the showcase is undoubtedly the expansion of the Predator product family. Both highly sought (and priced), the Predator series is the zenith of Acer’s gaming offerings.
Below we have a few SKUs to overview. The Predator line up will see the inclusion of three new displays: the flagship Z301CT, the XB252Q, and XB272. Also announced were two gaming notebooks, the Predator 21X and 17X.
Despite the general lack of official documentation on AM4, we were able to get hands-on with some early AM4 motherboards from MSI at CES 2017. This is the first time – from AMD or from others – that we’ve received any detail on the new AM4 products, and the first time they’ve been demonstrated in public. The company debuted its X370 XPOWER Titanium overclocking motherboard (For Ryzen) alongside a mid-range B350 Tomahawk board, neither yet adorned with a price. We do have a release date target, though.
During PAX Prime 2016, we posted some official documentation on lower-end AM4 chipsets that would ship to bulk buyers, for use in HP-like systems at Costco-like places. Since then, we’ve learned that the X370 platform will crown the AM4 chipset accompaniment, with B350 falling next under that, and A320 (already known, see: PAX) at the low-end. A320 would be comparable to A68, were we to draw parallels to previous generation platforms. From what MSI tells us, an X300 chipset will also exist, but is not responsible for lane assignment and I/O tasking in the same way that X370 and B350 are; instead, X300 will likely see exclusive use on SFF platforms, and will perform no substantial functions. This was also detailed in our PAX coverage.
A new wireless gaming headset was announced by Logitech today. The G533 features a lower MSRP and higher battery life than its current closest relatives, the G933 Artemis Spectrum and G930, as well as a sleek new look.
Our most recent Logitech headset review was of the Artemis Spectrum, a headset that comes in both wired (G633) and wireless (G933) varieties—technically, we reviewed the wired version, but they’re pretty close to identical. Looking back, the first obvious difference in specs is that the Spectrum has an impedance of 39 Ohms compared to the new G533’s 32. This could explain the second obvious difference, which is the G533’s advertised battery life of 15 hours, up from the Spectrum’s 12 (or even less with its LEDs lit). A power switch, volume adjustment, and a reprogrammable mic mute button are the only external controls, which the Spectrum has in addition to 3 dedicated programmable G-buttons. The rechargeable batteries are removable for easy replacement, one notable improvement over the Spectrum.
In an industry first for the last year, Logitech may also be the only company making a product that moves away from the RGB LED craze, at least partially. Logitech was a bit ahead of the game on LED illumination, and went full "Spectrum" (their RGB LED signifier) for mice, keyboards, and headsets through 2016. Honestly, it's refreshing to not write about a product that bases its entire existence on the premise of RGB LEDs.
As the pre-CES hardware news keeps pouring in, HyperX has announced new products today that will further their peripherals and components aimed at the gaming market. HyperX has introduced two new Alloy keyboards, a Pulsefire Gaming Mouse, a new Cloud Revolver S Headset, and HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB LED Memory.
We will be visiting HyperX and Kingston this week, and hope to have more in-depth, on-site coverage from the show floor. For now, we’ve got the basic specs and introductory information for each new peripheral and memory kit.
Starting with the audio gear, HyperX has announced the new headset that will be showcased at CES 2017 -- the Cloud Revolver S. The new gaming headset will feature plug-and-play Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound via a connected USB dongle. HyperX claims no additional software or audiobox will be needed to get the Dolby 7.1 surround sound functional. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an implementation of 7.1 surround in this fashion -- Turtle Beach and Plantronics have done this for ages -- but it’s the first major noise HyperX is making about Dolby Surround.
More unique to the unit, the HyperX Cloud Revolver S will have a condenser microphone with a bi-directional pattern; the condenser mic, although we’ll have to test it, could be promising for streamers and video casters who’d rather not use standalone input hardware. The HyperX Cloud Revolver S will be available February of 2017 for $150 USD.
NVidia has added to our pile of pre-CES hardware news with the announcement of GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti-equipped laptops. 30+ models from various OEMs will be arriving in Q1 2017, including several using Intel’s new Kaby Lake CPUs this week at CES. Confirmed manufacturers include Acer, Alienware/Dell, ASUS, HP, Lenovo, and MSI.
As mentioned in our laptop 1060/1070/1080 benchmark, improvements to power management mean that nVidia’s 10-series notebook GPUs are the real deal, rather than the neutered “-M” versions that laptops have gotten in the past. The specs listed for the notebook GPUs confirm this, with the only major difference being higher core clock speeds in the notebook 1050 and 1050 Ti. This doesn’t indicate a change in the physical hardware, it mostly seems that nVidia has increased the clock-rate given the high thermal headroom (room to increase heat) as a result of the efficient 1050/Ti GPUs. Like other 10-series laptops, OEMs will probably be allowed an additional +/-10% for overclocking their GPUs.
CES is right around the corner and with that, ZOTAC has announced their new GeForce GTX 1080 Mini (ZT-P10800H-10P), which should prove to be useful for SFF systems.
ViewSonic has made public the existence of their new WQHD 27” professional monitor, the VP2771. Following BenQ’s announcement of their newest flagship photography monitor, the ViewSonic VP2771 also wishes to be the display of choice for professional users residing in the realm of photo and video editing, modeling, graphic design, and other content creation.
A common thread shared between both displays is the vowed color accuracy and uniformity, on which color-critical work is no doubt dependent. As such, the VP2771 claims a precise, factory calibrated Delta E ≤2 value. For those who may be unversed in color science, Delta E is the standard metric that quantifies the difference between a primary (source/input) and secondary (reproduced) color. The idea, although somewhat unempirical, is that a dE value of 1.0 is the smallest perceptible difference the human eye can see. The higher the dE value, the greater the distance is between the two samples, producing a more observable dissimilarity.
In this last episode of Ask GN for the year – number 39 – we open a holiday gift from NZXT, talk GeForce Elite & Red Team Plus, and dive into power supplies and their qualities.
The gift was a bit funny. NZXT undoubtedly saw our mostly positive S340 Elite review, but saw within said review that we made fun of the “puck” for VR and cable management. The team took it upon themselves to send us more pucks, along with a signed (from Johnny Hou, CEO) holiday card.
A bit of fun for the opening, then. After that, we talk about why quality power supplies are a good thing, and why it’s worth considering one. Typical nVidia and AMD discussions follow, including G-Sync and FreeSync physical differences.
PNY announced their CS2030 line of M.2 NVMe SSDs this week. The CS2030 will be available in two capacities at 240GB and 480GB, and both drives will follow the M.2 2280 form factor.
The new CS2030 drives will utilize a Phison PS5007 controller with MLC NAND Flash memory to provide sequential read speeds of 2,750 MB/s and sequential write speeds of 1,500 MB/s for the 240GB model. The larger CS2030 480GB version will provide sequential read speeds of 2,800 MB/s and sequential write speeds of 1,550 MB/s.
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