Hardware

Video card manufacturer Gigabyte just announced its fully-equipped “Waterforce” GTX 980s, and they've set the MSRP to $3000. The Waterforce setup includes 3xGTX 980s pre-overclocked, each attached to an individual radiator; the three radiators then get mounted in the external watercooling box, which sits atop the PC enclosure. Pipe clamps, bridges, 5.25” external controllers, and mounting hardware are all included.

Insane.

With the hard drive storage market slimmed-down to just a few major players – Hitachi now owned by WD – the market has felt relatively stagnant for the past year. Seagate recently announced that its SMR 8TB HDD, branded as an “archive HDD,” will soon be available for $260.

In our review of Syber's new $1500 “PC console” pre-built machine, we criticized the box for using a loud, hot stock Intel CPU cooler in lieu of something higher-end. The unit exceeded TjMax when under 100% CPU load and regularly hit moderate to high temperatures while playing thread-intensive games. We complained that the system would be significantly quieter and cooler with better cooling options, and it looks like Syber listened to that feedback.

Liquid cooling has been done by PC enthusiasts for years, but recently we have seen closed-loop coolers (CLCs) and expandable open loop coolers (OLCs) explode in popularity. Closed-loop coolers aren’t expandable or made to be tinkered with, whereas expandable open loop coolers support adding components to the watercooling loop (like additional GPUs). Swiftech was one of the first manufacturers to begin selling expandable open loop coolers commercially, but they aren't the only one nowadays. Not only has Cooler Master started selling expandable OLCs, but Fractal Design is jumping into the game, too.

In a bid to garner attention in the graphics market, AMD's Radeon graphics division has branded its newest Catalyst driver update simply as “Omega.” Unlike previous iterations, the new driver attaches a codename to symbolize the dramatic changes made to the underlying software. Catalyst Omega introduces direct competitors to NVIDIA technology (like DSR, seen here), offers greater Linux support, and hosts a suite of media playback smoothing options. We'll look into all of those here, along with some driver benchmarks.

Here's a quick overview, as provided by AMD (note that AMD's numbers differ from our benchmark numbers, shown and explained further below):

Samsung 850 EVO Brings VNAND to Consumer SSDs

By Published December 08, 2014 at 12:00 am

Samsung announced the launch of its 850 Pro earlier this year, introducing 3D Vertical NAND (VNAND) to the SSD market. 3D VNAND doubles endurance over what triple-level cell (TLC) NAND devices allowed, but simultaneously increases density – two aspects of NAND that have previously been opposed. The density increase comes as a result of stacking the NAND vertically (like an apartment highrise vs. single-home neighborhood), similar in top-level concept to Intel's 3D transistors.

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Low TDP mobile components that still yield performance rivaling desktops means the gaming laptop market can finally build machines that aren't simply “desktop replacements.” Gigabyte's new P35X notebook is one of the thinnest and lightest available in its class, outfitted with a GTX 980M, i7-4710HQ, 8GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and 5TB of storage (2x2TB HDD, 2x512GB mSATA SSD).

 The new unit is slated to ship tomorrow, December 5th, and weighs-in at just 5 pounds (2.2/2.3 kg); the dimensions are measured at 385 x 270 x 20.9 mm (WDH), making the P35X one of the smallest gaming notebooks on the market. Its most immediate competition comes from MSI, in the form of the GS70 Stealth, and CyberPower's Fangbook.

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The mechanical keyboard market has become overwhelmingly competitive due to the multitude of manufacturers releasing their own product lines. Every case manufacturer on the market, more or less, has now produced some sort of peripheral; they’re all trying to get in on it. Sticking out in such a crowded market can be a challenge.

That being said, case & cooler manufacturer Cougar seems to be resolute about making a name for itself in the gaming-oriented keyboard market.

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CPU cooling and PSU manufacturer Be Quiet! has just announced its first high-end enclosure, the “Silent Base 800.” The company indicated to press earlier this year that it had plans to enter the enclosure market prior to the 2014 holidays, and it looks like that target date was hit.

The Silent Base 800 enclosure is advertised as offering “the perfect symbiosis of noise prevention and cooling performance,” which in non-marketing speak translates to “noise damped and ventillated.”

Server GPUs for HPC (high-performance computing) applications aren't exactly within the realm of our gaming coverage, but the Tesla K80 is worthy of note purely from a technological standpoint. Nvidia's new Tesla graphics accelerator hosts dual-GK210 Kepler GPUs capable of double-precision floating-point performance of approximately 2.91 TFLOPs, or single-precision FP performance at a staggering 8.74TFLOPs. Strictly for reference – because the Tesla is not comparable to gaming cards – the GTX 980 GM204 pushes about 4.6TFLOPs single-precision FP performance.

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