MSI’s flagship GTX 1080 Ti Lightning GPU made an appearance at the company’s Computex booth this year, where we were able to get hands-on with the card and speak with PMs about VRM and cooling solutions. The 1080 Ti Lightning is an OC-targeted card, as indicated by its LN2 BIOS switch, and will compete with other current flagships (like the Kingpin that we just covered). The Lightning does not yet have a price, but we know the core details about cooling and power.
Starting with cooling: MSI’s 1080 Ti Lightning uses a finned baseplate (think “pin fins” from ICX) to provide additional surface area for dissipation of VRM/VRAM component heat. This baseplate covers the usual areas of the board, but is accompanied by a blackout copper heatpipe over the MOSFETs & driver IC components for heat sinking of power modules. We’ve seen this design get more spread lately, and have found it to be effective for cooling VRM devices. The heatpipe is cooled by the Lightning’s 3-fan solution, as is the rest of the thick finstack above the custom PCB.
Following AMD’s Computex press conference, we headed over to the Gigabyte suite (after our X299 coverage) to look at the X399 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard. The new Gigabyte X399 Gaming 7 board is one of two that we’ve seen thus far – our ASUS coverage is next up – and joins the forces of motherboards ready for AMD’s Threadripper HEDT CPUs.
The Gigabyte X399 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard sockets Threadripper into AMD’s massive socket, dead-center, and uses three Torx screws to get at the LGA pin-out. The CPUs will provide 64 PCIe lanes, as we’ve already reported, with 4x PCIe Gen3 lanes reserved for high-speed transport between the CPU and chipset. The other 60 are assignable at the motherboard manufacturer’s will; in this case, Gigabyte willed for an x16/x8/x16/x8 full-length PCIe slots, with an additional 3x M.2 (x4) slots. That immediately consumes all 60 lanes, with the remaining 4 reserved for the chipset communications.
We ran into professional overclocker Der8auer at G.Skill’s Computex booth, who was keen to give us a hands-on delidding demonstration of a new 10C/20T Intel Skylake-X CPU. During the process, we also got our first real hands-on look at the CPU substrate and package – interesting in its own right – and underlying thermal compound choice. The lack of solder could have an explanation in chip longevity, something we’ll talk about a bit later.
This process involves Der8auer’s new delidding kit, an Allen wrench (looked like a 5mm wrench), and some force. Nothing difficult. The process is identical for both KBL-X and SKY-X, with the disclaimer that larger SKY-X CPU dies (like 14-18C chips) could pose some difficulties with extra capacitor density surrounding the CPU die. There’s much greater risk of damaging or destroying the 14C to 18C CPUs given this challenge, and although the 10C CPU was trivial, risk of damage is also present. SMD components sit close to the outer glue of the IHS, which means that delidding could potentially rip one of the SMDs off of the substrate. The SMDs on the sides of the CPU die are for memory channels, with the capacitor and RFID chip in the corner being less critical.
We attended EVGA’s Press Day in Taipei before the start of Computex, where we tore down the new Kingpin 1080 Ti card and spoke with engineering staff about power design. EVGA showcased a number of other items too, including the DG-70 line of cases, a new mechanical keyboard, and EVGA’s new SC15 laptop.
The new ATX mid-tower cases are the DG-73, DG-75, and DG-76, all of which use the same tooling (from what we’ve seen thus far), meaning the differences are largely cosmetic. The DG-73 will be the most budget-focused and features an acrylic side panel window, while the DG-75/76 have tempered glass panels. All three have a tempered glass front panel that is slightly offset, which could allow for front airflow intake through side ventilation, something we’ve seen before. Cable routing could prove to be difficult as there are no dedicated pass-throughs or grommets; instead, the DG-73, DG-75, and DG-76 use an open plate style design for cable management.
Maligned as they are by gamers, rubber dome keyboards have one great advantage (other than price): they’re hard to get dirty and easy to clean, thanks to the eponymous rubber membrane, which usually keeps dust and liquid away from the underlying contacts. Corsair now intends to correct this with their new extra-durable K68 keyboard.
Corsair imagines a horrifying, over-the-top scenario:
Preceding the embargo lift of Intel’s X299 announcement, we met with Gigabyte at Computex 2017 to discuss the company’s new line of X299 motherboards. New launches include the Gaming 9, Gaming 7, Gaming 3, and Ultra Durable 4 motherboards (along with a workstation board, which we won’t focus on) for the X299 chipset, hosting KBL-X and SKY-X CPUs. We’ve already detailed some of EVGA’s boards as well, so if KBL-X or SKY-X interests you, also check that content out.
That said, we’re still not quite sure why KBL-X exists. It’s an odd part: Kaby Lake refreshed on a new socket type, where half the motherboards will be comparatively overpriced by means of being outfitted for Skylake-X parts. KBL-X won’t, for instance, be able to leverage the left half of the DIMM slots on the X299 boards, while SKY-X will. It’s a weird move from Intel. Regardless, they’re not our focus right now: Let’s start with Gigabyte’s Gaming 9 line and work our way down, keeping in mind that these boards are really best leveraged with Skylake-X, though are technically compatible with KBL-X.
EVGA’s GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin made its first debut to a group of press before Computex 2017, and we were given the privilege of being the first media to tear-down the card. The Kingpin edition 1080 Ti is EVGA’s highest-end video card – price TBD – and is built for extreme overclockers and enthusiasts.
The GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin uses an oversized PCB that’s similar to the FTW3, though with different components, and a two-slot cooler that partners with NTC thermistors on the VRM + VRAM components. This means that, like the FTW3, the cooling solution slaves to independent component temperatures, with a hard target of keeping all ICs under 60C (even when unnecessary or functionally useless, like for the MCUs). The Kingpin model card uses a copper-plated heatsink, six heatpipes, and the usual assortment of protrusions on the baseplate for additional surface area, but also makes accommodations for LN2 overclocking. We’ll start with detailing the air cooler, then get into LN2 and power coverage.
Rounding-out our Best Of coverage from Computex 2016 – and being written from a plane over the Pacific – we're back to recap some of the major GTX 1080 AIB cards from the show. AMD's RX480 was only just announced at Computex, and so board partner versions are not yet ready (and weren't present), and the GTX 1070 only had one card present. For that reason, we're focusing the recap on GTX 1080 GP104-400 video cards from AIB partners.
Until a point at which all of these cards have been properly in our hands for review in the lab, we'd recommend holding off on purchases – but we're getting there. We've already looked at the GTX 1080 reference card (“Founders Edition,” by new nomenclature) and built our own GTX 1080 Hybrid. The rest will be arriving soon enough.
For now, though, here's a round-up of the EVGA, ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI AIB GTX 1080s at Computex. You can read/watch for more individualized info at each of these links:
We've made it a habit to cover the best gaming cases at every CES show for a few years now, but our (first ever) visit to Computex has revealed something: Computex is a huge show for PC hardware; bigger than CES, in many ways, and that includes new case unveils.
Following our coverage for Computex 2016, this gaming case round-up highlights some of the best PC towers of the year. Several of these cases aren't yet on sale – and some may never be – but the majority of manufacturers are targeting a 2H16 launch for their enclosures. For this best cases of Computex 2016 round-up, we look at SilverStone, Lian-Li, In-Win, Be Quiet!, Corsair, Thermaltake, and Rosewill. Other manufacturers were present in droves – Nanoxia, Cooler Master, Deep Cool, and others – but these were the stand-out cases of booths we visited.
No particular order to the below listing. "HM" stands for "Honorable Mention."
It's gotten a little ridiculous, really. Everyone has some sort of “VR Premium” or “VR Ready” or “VR Certified” badge. Even case manufacturers are finding ways to drop “VR” onto their products. The industry has entered into a frenzy in desperate attempt to capitalize on a new trend, leveraging two letters with mouth-foaming pyrexia to front an appearance of innovation, failing actual innovation.
But it's “VR Ready.”
And so begins the first of the major trends set for 2016 by Computex, tallied in total as: RGB LEDs on everything, VR badges on everything (and unnecessary VR accessories), armor-equipped motherboards, and video cards with needlessly complex power designs.
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