All the pyrotechnics in the world couldn't match the gasconade with which GPU & CPU vendors announce their new architectures. You'd halfway expect this promulgation of multipliers and gains and reductions (but only where smaller is better) to mark the end-times for humankind; surely, if some device were crafted to the standards by which it were announced, The Aliens would descend upon us.
But, every now and then, those bombastic announcements have something behind them – there's substance there, and potential for an adequately exciting piece of technology. NVidia's debut of consumer-grade Pascal architecture initializes with GP104, the first of its non-Accelerator cards to host the new 16nm FinFET process node from TSMC. That GPU lands on the GTX 1080 Founders Edition video card first, later to be disseminated through AIB partners with custom cooling or PCB solutions. If the Founders Edition nomenclature confuses you, don't let it – it's a replacement for nVidia's old “Reference” card naming, as we described here.
Anticipation is high for GP104's improvements over Maxwell, particularly in the area of asynchronous compute and command queuing. As the industry pushes ever into DirectX 12 and Vulkan, compute preemption and dynamic task management become the gatekeepers to performance advancements in these new APIs. It also means that LDA & AFR start getting pushed out as frames become more interdependent with post-FX, and so suddenly there are implications for multi-card configurations that point toward increasingly less optimization support going forward.
Our nVidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition review benchmarks the card's FPS performance, thermals, noise levels, and overclocking vs. the 980 Ti, 980, Fury X, and 390X. This nearing-10,000-word review lays-out the architecture from an SM level, talks asynchronous compute changes in Pascal / GTX 1080, provides a quick “how to” primer for overclocking the GTX 1080, and talks simultaneous multi-projection. We've got thermal throttle analysis that's new, too, and we're excited to show it.
The Founders Edition version of the GTX 1080 costs $700, though MSRP for AIBs starts at $600. We expect to see that market fill-in over the next few months. Public availability begins on May 27.
First, the embedded video review and specs table:
Logitech's new Chaos Spectrum G900 mouse has definitively settled the wireless gaming mouse debate: Wireless mice can respond just as fast – if not faster – as their wired counterparts. This topic is one we've explored in-depth below, including discussion on wireless interference and cross-talk/impedance, battery life and weight trade-offs, accuracy, and more.
The Chaos Spectrum G900 was unveiled at GDC as a “wired-wireless” mouse, embodying Logitech's devout effort to demystify wireless mice as “unreliable” for gaming. Logitech informed us that their wireless G900 tested as performing minimally equal to wired competition for responsiveness, and sometimes better.
The new G900 RGB mouse costs $150, making it one of the most expensive gaming-class mice currently on the market. It also makes some of the biggest promises, like 24-hour run-to-die battery life (with RGB LEDs on) and exceedingly tight tolerances for click force variance from mouse-to-mouse. It's a uniquely high-end peripheral that requires a properly in-depth review. Starting us off, the usual specs sheets:
The AMD Athlon X4 880K is the CPU we've been waiting for. Since the A10-7870K and A10-7860K APU reviews, our conclusions have generally been pointing in this direction. For the dGPU-using gaming audience, it makes better sense for budget buyers to grab a cheap CPU and dGPU than to buy an APU alone. There is a place for the APUs – ultra-budget, tiny, quiet HTPCs capable of video streaming and moderate gaming – but for more “core” gaming, the CPU + dGPU move currently does yield major gains. Even just throwing a 250X at an APU has, in some of our tests, nearly doubled gaming performance. For such a dirt-cheap video card, that's a big gain to be had.
And so AMD's Athlon X4 880K enters the scene. The price is all over the map right now. MSRP is $95 from AMD, but the X4 880K isn't (as of this writing) available through major first-party retailers like Amazon and Newegg. We've seen it for $104 from third-party Newegg sellers, but as low as $90 from sites we've never heard of, if you count those. In theory, though, the X4 880K will eventually come to rest at $95.
The new CPU is effectively a step between the 7870K and 7890K, but with the IGP disabled. This lowers validation cost while offering effectively equivalent CPU performance. AMD's X4 880K operates on a two-module, four-core Excavator architecture with a stock clock-rate of 4.0 to 4.2GHz (boosted). For comparison, the A10-7890K runs 4.1 to 4.3GHz, so there's a 100MHz gain over the X4 880K. Easily negated with overclocking, as the 880K is a K-SKU, multiplier-unlocked chip. The 880K has a 95W TDP and is paired with AMD's 125W near-silent (NS) cooler.
This review and benchmark of the Athlon X4 880K tests thermals, gaming (FPS) performance, and compares against higher-end i3 & i5 CPUs, APUs, and the old X4 760K.
SilverStone acts like somewhat of a boutique manufacturer within the US market. The products are often unique or risk-taking, sometimes bench-topping or just plain competitive – but the brand also has lower visibility when compared against US juggernauts Corsair or global market contenders Cooler Master.
One of the newest SilverStone cases competes in the ~$70 price-point, directly matched against recently reviewed cases (Phanteks P400, Rosewill Gungnir, Corsair 400C). The SilverStone Kublai KL05-BW is on bench for review today, including case walkthrough, thermal / temperature benchmarking, cable management, and build quality analysis. The enclosure diverges from recent trends by opting-out of a PSU shroud, it's kept the optical drive bays, and has taken a minimalistic-but-effective approach to cooling. More on that below.
Gaming laptops have historically been synonymous with “cinder block” – particularly true for the GTX 980M, GTX 980, and GTX 970M units we've reviewed – but that isn't always the case. Still, slimming down the form factor comes at the substantial risk of increased thermals. Packing high-performance silicon densely into a small box is a breeding ground for poor dissipation potential, offset only by careful controls (throttles) and, normally, a hefty amount of copper. Thermals happen to be our test specialty; we're particularly interested in exploring the temperature readings of MSI's new GE62 Apache Pro 6QD laptop, a 15.6” portable with a GTX 960M and i7-6700HQ.
But it's not all about thermals. Our GE62 6QD Apache Pro ($1300) review benchmarks gaming (FPS) performance of the GTX 960M & i7-6700HQ, looks at thermals, and tests battery life. For a bout of fun, we threw in a battery life test with the keyboard backlight and background software disabled, just to see if it'd increase longevity. Games used for real-world benchmarking include GRID: Autosport (battery life analysis), DiRT Rally, The Witcher 3, GTA V, Metro: Last Light, and Shadow of Mordor.
AMD's newest line of APU refreshes does more than just change the clockrates – they've also improved TDP with the launch of the A10-7860K APU. We just received the A10-7860K and A10-7890K APUs for review, including their new Wraith and Near-Silent heatsinks (Wraith review, Wraith noise comparison). Today, we're benchmarking the A10-7860K for gaming (FPS) and thermal performance, particularly vs. the A10-7870K or cheap dGPU solutions.
The new A10-7860K APU runs on Kaveri architecture with TDP upgrades, similar to what was seen on the recently refreshed 300-series AMD GPUs. The A10-7860K runs the same two-module, four-thread (2C/4T) approach as almost every other APU, including the A10-7870K that we reviewed previously. The 7860K unit operates between 3.6GHz and 4.0GHz (boosted) on its 65W thermal package, with an IGP frequency of 754MHz. The lower heat production and power draw should coincide to theoretically allow for longer boosted periods, too, as the APU won't throttle itself as frequently to control temperatures.
The mid-tower ATX market seems like it's burgeoning with options right now. Everyone's got some kind of mid-tower-with-shroud available, and those who don't already have one on the way. Of late, we've looked at the NZXT S340 (arguably the start to all this), the Corsair 400C – a good progression, Phanteks' disappointing P400, and we'll soon look at SilverStone's RL05B.
All of these cases seem to fall within the $60 to $100 range, too: The NZXT S340 is $60-$70, the Corsair 400C is $90-$100, the Phanteks P400 is $60-$90, and the Gungnir is a flat $65. SilverStone's forthcoming RL05B will land at about $60.
For today, we're reviewing and benchmarking Rosewill's own mid-tower gaming case, the “Gungnir.”
Phanteks' Eclipse P400 is immediately reminiscent of the NZXT S340 enclosure, which we've pinpointed as the origin of the industry's obsession with PSU shrouds and limited drive support. That's not to say there can't be multiple products in the category – it's good to see continual innovation atop well-founded concepts, and new competition drives development further.
The Phanteks Eclipse P400 ($70 to $90) first entered our lives at CES 2016, where we got hands-on with its significantly larger convention sibling, the Project 916. The Phanteks Eclipse P400 review benchmarks cooling performance, looks at thermal walls, ease-of-installation, cable management, and overall value of the case.
System Integrators (SIs) generally don't make much – they're builders, not manufacturers, and source parts at oft-discounted prices to build machines per customer spec. Every now and then, an SI will come out with some exclusive case (Origin and CyberPower have both done this) that's often only exclusive for a couple-month window; for the Revolt 2, iBUYPOWER actually designed and manufactured their own SFF enclosure, opting-out of the usual OEM route taken by the industry.
The iBUYPOWER Revolt 2 gaming PC uses a small form factor enclosure with jutting edges, a showroom-styled top and front panel, and allocates its resources most heavily toward showmanship. For a brand which has historically supported eSports venues with portable rigs for tournaments, it's no wonder that design initiatives drove this aesthetics focus.
Our review of the iBUYPOWER Revolt 2 gaming PC benchmarks temperatures (GPU & CPU thermals), FPS in games (Black Ops III, GTA V, and more), and compares the cost against an equivalent DIY solution.
Teased at CES 2016, Corsair's 400C ($90) enclosure swiftly followed the chart-topping 600C, a case that dominated our GPU cooling charts. The 600C and 600Q cases instituted an inverted motherboard layout – rotating and flipping board installation such that the GPU is oriented “upside-down” – but stuck with tried-and-died optical drive support. To allow for an enclosure more fitting of the “mid-tower” form factor, Corsair removed the 5.25” support in its new Carbide Series 400C & 400Q cases, shrinking the height from ~21 inches to ~18.27 inches.
This review of the Corsair Carbide 400C benchmarks cooling performance for CPUs and GPUs, all accompanied by build quality and installation analysis. The 400Q is more-or-less the same case, just with the window removed and sound-damping material added.
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