Hardware

No reference card has impressed us this generation, insofar as usage by the enthusiast market. Primary complaints have consisted of thermal limitations or excessive heat generation, despite reasonable use cases with SIs and mITX form factor deployments. For our core audience, though, it's made more sense to recommend AIB partner models for superior cooling, pre-overclocks, and (normally) lower prices.

But that's not always the case – sometimes, as with today's review unit, the price climbs. This new child of Corsair and MSI carries on the Hydro GFX and Seahawk branding, respectively, and is posted at ~$750. The card is the construct of a partnership between the two companies, with MSI providing access to the GP104-400 chip and a reference board (FE PCB), and Corsair providing an H55 CLC and SP120L radiator fan. The companies sell their cards separately, but are selling the same product; MSI calls this the “Seahawk GTX 1080 ($750),” and Corsair sells only on its webstore as the “Hydro GFX GTX 1080.” The combination is one we first looked at with the Seahawk 980 Ti vs. the EVGA 980 Ti Hybrid, and we'll be making the EVGA FTW Hybrid vs. Hydro GFX 1080 comparison in the next few days.

For now, we're reviewing the Corsair Hydro GFX GTX 1080 liquid-cooled GPU for thermal performance, endurance throttles, noise, power, FPS, and overclocking potential. We will primarily refer to the card as the Hydro GFX, as Corsair is the company responsible for providing the loaner review sample. Know that it is the same as the Seahawk.

The theoretical end of AMD's Polaris desktop GPU line has just begun shipment, and that's in the form of the RX 460. Back at the pre-Computex press event, AMD informed us that the Polaris line would primarily consist of two GPUs on the Polaris architecture – Polaris 10 & 11 – and that three cards would ship on this platform. Two of the three have already shipped and been reviewed, including the ~$240 RX 480 8GB cards (review here) and ~$180-$200 RX 470 cards (review here). The next architecture will be Vega, in a position to potentially be the first consumer GPU to use HBM2.

Today, we're looking at Polaris 11 in the RX 460. The review sample received is Sapphire's RX 460 Nitro 4GB card, pre-overclocked to 1250MHz. The RX 460, like the 470, is a “partner card,” which means that no reference model will be sold by AMD for rebrand by its partners. AMD has set the MSRP to $110 for the RX 460, but partners will vary widely depending on VRAM capacity (2GB or 4GB), cooler design, pre-overclocks, and component selection. At time of writing, we did not have a list of AIB partner prices and cards available.

As always, we'll be reviewing the Sapphire RX 460 4GB with extensive thermal testing, FPS testing in Overwatch, DOTA2, GTA V, and more, and overclock testing. Be sure to check page 1 for our new PCB analysis and cooler discussion, alongside the in-depth architecture information.

AMD's RX 470 has been on our time table since May, when the pre-Computex press event informed us of a “mid-July” release. Well, it's mid-July – wait.

August 4th. It's August 4th. The RX 470 is available effective today, coinciding with embargo lift on reviews, and we've had time to thoroughly analyze the card's performance. The RX 470 is a partner card and will not be available as a reference model, though some partner cards may as well be reference models; they're using the reference RX 480 cooler, just with new colors, back-plates, or LEDs.

AMD has positioned its RX 470 in the sub-$200 market, listing its MSRP as $180. AIB partners will price their cards according to any custom coolers or pre-overclocks applied, though the floor has been set, more or less. That plants the 470 in a presently unchallenged market position: AMD's biggest current-gen competition in this price-range is its own RX 480 4GB card, the GTX 1060 being nVidia's lowest tier offering.

Before our deep-dive review on the Sapphire RX 470 Platinum, card architecture, thermal & endurance throttles, power, and FPS, let's run through the specs.

In Win 303 Case Review vs. NZXT S340, Corsair 400C

By Published August 03, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Discussion of In Win is normally around trade show systems, often of the “$2400 animatronic deathbot” variety. The not-a-Transformer systems still exceed price-points of $400, as found with the trademark orange-and-glass D-Frame. In Win's image has firmly solidified as one of a designer company: the cases tend to be artful, of high build quality, and expensive, leaving the low-end market to peddle its flimsy steel panels and acrylic windows.

Today marks our first review of an affordable In Win case, and the first affordable In Win case we find legitimately innovative and well-suited for mainstream gaming PCs. The In Win 303 is a $90 enclosure with a full, 3mm-thick tempered glass side window, a half-chamber top-mounted PSU with unique radiator mounting, and a simplified (but not minimalistic) exterior. The case uses 1.2mm thick SECC steel paneling, making it one of the most rigid enclosures on the market – and that's across the entire sub-$200 price-range, not just the budget price-point; that said, most directly competing cases use 0.6mm or 0.8mm steel.

Prior to working on this case, we toured the In Win factory (while in Taipei for Computex – a short drive to Taoyuan) and got a first-hand look at the manufacturing process. The unique experience has afforded us a unique ability to judge the case for its engineering and materials. Check the In-Win Factory Tour content for that.

MSI RX 480 Gaming X Review & Benchmark

By Published August 02, 2016 at 1:38 pm

AMD's RX 480 Reference received our recommendation as a go-to for the $200-$300 market, but was immediately challenged by the release of the GTX 1060; the choice isn't so clear now, but both cards have appropriate use cases. Still, as with the Founders Edition card reviews, we recommended that our readers wait until AIB partner models of the RX 480 begin shipping, as the cooling performance will improve clock-rate stability on the Polaris 10 chip.

We finally received one of those AIB partner models. The MSI RX 480 Gaming X uses the Twin Frozr VI cooling solution – described in our Computex exclusive – and ships pre-overclocked to 1303MHz from ~1266MHz. The 8GB card's price should rest at $265, or $15 more than the reference RX 480 8GB ($250), and MSI will also be selling 4GB variants of the Gaming X. Our previous coverage of the RX 480 4GB vs. 8GB will help answer questions as to whether the lower capacity card is worth it.

Our thermal benchmarking has expanded to the point that the tests form our most comprehensive section of any review. For this content, we dig deep into endurance testing with nVidia's just-launched GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition card, comparing it to the MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X. The validation testing yields interesting results, particularly with regard to potential throttle points and dips in clock-rate. More on that in a bit.

Today marks the launch of the GTX 1060 ($250-$300), announced about ten days ago. The GTX 1060 fills the mid-range of the market as a 6GB solution on the 16nm FinFET process node debuted in Pascal, and that's done with GP106.

Our GTX 1060 Founders Edition & MSI 1060 Gaming X review looks at FPS (particularly vs. the 1070 and RX 480), Vulkan & Dx12 performance, thermals, noise, power, and overclocking results.

Origin's pre-built “Chronos VR” machine is a mini-ITX box packed with top-tier hardware, hoping to resolve the “VR problem” while maintaining a small form factor. This presents unique thermal and noise challenges, making for interesting content regardless of whether or not the pre-built approach is for you.

In this review of Origin's Chronos VR computer, we'll benchmark FPS performance (GTX 1080 + 6700K), run extensive thermal tests, check noise levels, and look at power draw. Continue on for all of that.

AMD's RX 480 launch introduces the Polaris architecture to the world, arranging an alliterative architecture assortment from both GPU vendors (Pascal, if you're curious, is the other). This is AMD's answer to the largest market segment, shipping in 4GB and 8GB variants that are priced at $200 and $240, respectively.

During the RX 480 press briefing, AMD strongly defended its stance on maturing and tuning its architectures to extract the maximum possible performance prior to an architectural shift. “We don't have a billion dollars to spend on a single architecture,” said AMD SVP & Chief Architect Raja Koduri, clearly referencing nVidia's boastful Order of 10 unveil. Koduri went on to praise his team for doing an “amazing job with existing products,” but welcomed the arrival of a new 14nm FinFET process node to usurp the long-standing ubiquity of 28nm planar process.

The AMD RX 480 8GB is on the bench for review today. In this RX 480 8GB review, we benchmark framerate (FPS) & frametime performance, overclocking, thermals, clockrate vs. time endurance, fan RPMs, and noise levels.

EVGA's GTX 1070 SC introduces the company's ACX 3.0 air cooler, an update we detailed in our Computex coverage of EVGA's GTX 1080 FTW, Hybrid, and Classified cards. The 1070 SC is part of EVGA's “SuperClocked” family, which is the most affordable pre-overclocked card that the company sells. The vertical will likely later add an SSC card, or Super SuperClocked, with non-OC cards falling below SC in price. The GTX 1070 SC has an MSRP of $440, or $10 below the $450 Founders Edition that we reviewed, and is one of EVGA's first 1070s to market.

This review of the EVGA GTX 1070 SC looks at thermals, FPS, noise, and overclocking. We compare the EVGA 1070 SC vs. the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X and NVIDIA GTX 1070 Founders Edition cards.

MSI's GTX 1080 Gaming X was the first AIB partner GTX 1080 to show up at our lab, marking the beginning of AIB partner reign over the GTX 1080 market. We originally reviewed the GTX 1080 and remarked that, although the card is good, it just made far more sense to wait for non-reference (“Founders Edition”) designs. The FE card exhibited some clock-rate instability in some instances, and our DIY Hybrid project served as a proof of concept for aftermarket cooling solutions.

MSI's GTX 1080 Gaming X (priced at $720) tests that theory with a manufacturer-made cooling solution. The GTX 1080 Gaming X uses a new Twin Frozr VI air cooler, ships with three OC settings in the MSI Gaming App (maxing-out at 1847MHz with OC mode), and is stacked in the middle of MSI's options. The company is also working on a Gaming Z card, which we live-overclocked at Computex, and a new SeaHawk – all those are detailed here.

In this MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X review, we look at cooling performance, noise levels, FPS (gaming), and maximum overclocking performance.

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