This year’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday sales continue, allowing us to compile a list of PC accessories that are aimed at giving your system a boost in aesthetics. Most our guides thus far have been focused on the performance aspect, like our “Best SSDs of 2016” guide, our guide to mechanical keyboards, to 1440p monitors, and recent two PC builds. We’ve also got some coverage of the best PSUs currently on sale, if that’s interesting.
But today, we’re here for visuals. RGB lighting products and sleeved cables are a common trend in the market in 2016 for those looking to improve their setups looks. This year, RGB has gotten big enough that only the craze for tempered glass rivals its popularity; there are RGB fans, mouse pads, controllers, and peripherals of all sorts.
Here’s the shortlist:
Corsair today launched two new cases: The Corsair 570X RGB case, which uses tempered glass on three sides and costs $180, and the Corsair 270R, a $60-$70 budget-oriented solution to the S340 problem. The product page for the 570X is here (Newegg), and the 270R is here (Newegg).
Both cases are in for review. This Corsair 570X and 270R case review demonstrates thermal performance for both enclosures, including CPU, GPU, and case ambient thermals, and noise (dBA) testing versus nearby competitors. The S340 Elite, Rosewill Cullinan, and In Win 303 are included against the new Corsair products. We're building-out this new test bench and still need to add the 400C, 600C, N450, and a few SilverStone/Be Quiet cases.
The 570X was preempted by Corsair's 460X ($140)—yet another tempered glass and RGB enclosure—released just after PAX Prime. The 460X was preempted by the Computex announcement and later launch of the Be Quiet! Dark Base 900 and Rosewill Cullinan (which we reviewed here vs. the Anidees Crystal -- the same case, both by OEM Jonsbo).
All of these cases use tempered glass. That's the theme we predicted back in June, and it seems to have been dead-on. It's all RGB, all glass, all day for 2016 case design. The previous trend was PSU shrouds, and we can't say that wasn't a welcomed change of pace for an industry that had otherwise stagnated. Cases are alive and well this year, it's just a matter of figuring out whose alphabet soup of features is worthwhile and worth the spend.
The video review is below, but the article -- as always -- is published in its entirety in the following pages. If you normally favor the articles, note that we've got a custom animation in this one that's worth a view. It pops-up within the first few minutes, and shows an explosion of the 570X and its tooled components.
Corsair recently announced two new additions to their peripherals lineup: the HARPOON RGB mouse and the K55 RGB keyboard, priced to appeal to gamers on a budget. This follows competitor Logitech's recent release of the Prodigy series, also targeted at entry-level gamers.
Corsair's Harpoon is purchasable right now, while the K55 will be available starting November 22.
We toured Corsair's new offices about a year ago, where we briefly posted about some of the validation facilities and the then-new logo. Now, with the offices fully populated, we're revisiting to talk wind tunnels, thermal chambers, and test vehicles for CPU coolers and fans. Corsair Thermal Engineer Bobby Kinstle walks us through the test processes for determining on-box specs, explaining hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of validation equipment along the way.
This relates to some of our previous content, where we got time with a local thermal chamber to validate our own methodology. You might also be interested to learn about when and why we use delta values for cooler efficacy measurements, and why we sometimes go with straight diode temperatures (like thermal limits on GPUs).
Video here (posting remotely -- can't embed): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf1uI2-I05o
Implementation of liquid coolers on GPUs makes far more sense than on the standard CPU. We've shown in testing that actual performance can improve as a result of a better cooling solution on a GPU, particularly when replacing weak blower fan or reference cooler configurations. With nVidia cards, Boost 3.0 dictates clock-rate based upon a few parameters, one of which is remedied with more efficient GPU cooling solutions. On the AMD side of things, our RX 480 Hybrid mod garnered some additional overclocking headroom (~50MHz), but primarily reduced noise output.
Clock-rate also stabilizes with better cooling solutions (and that includes well-designed air cooling), which helps sustain more consistent frametimes and tighten frame latency. We call these 1% and 0.1% lows, though that presentation of the data is still looking at frametimes at the 99th and 99.9th percentile.
The EVGA GTX 1080 Hybrid has thus far had the most interesting cooling solution we've torn down on an AIO cooled GPU this generation, but Gigabyte's Xtreme Waterforce card threatens to take that title. In this review, we'll benchmark the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Xtreme Water Force card vs. the EVGA 1080 FTW Hybrid and MSI/Corsair 1080 Sea Hawk. Testing is focused on thermals and noise primarily, with FPS and overclocking thrown into the mix.
A quick thanks to viewer and reader Sean for loaning us this card, since Gigabyte doesn't respond to our sample requests.
Corsair announced its new 460X enclosure at PAX West today, demonstrated at the booth alongside the also-new Air 740 case. Both cases build upon familiar Corsair designs, but have made significant enough modifications to assign new SKUs.
The Corsair 460X is familiar to the 400C (reviewed) – the shroud, for one, is exactly the same – but has completely new tooling. The company has made a few changes to the cable routing holes (slight horizontal movement), added a few switches for fan and LED controls, improved radiator mounting support, and added tempered glass to the left and front of the enclosure. That glass measures in at 4mm thick, matching what most of the competition is producing for this year's trending tempered glass designs. As with other cases using tempered glass, In Win's lineup included, Corsair is using four flat-head thumbscrews that pass through the glass and thread into the steel on the other side.
In Corsair's recently released Hydro GFX marketing video, we noticed that the video card on display used the protruded coldplate that we've been talking about since the 980 Ti Hybrid. That plate was recently put to the test in our GTX 1080 Hybrid vs. Sea Hawk review, where we found the protruded unit performs marginally better than the flat plate shipping with the Sea Hawk / Hydro GFX. We reached out to Corsair to discuss the change spotted in the marketing video, hoping to understand why the unannounced* (officially) modification was made, and have outlined the email responses below.
This seems largely to be a non-issue for users who purchased their cards from the official Corsair website, though we do have some contingencies for MSI Sea Hawk buyers. Note also that the temperature difference we spotted between the coolers is partially a result of new information we received regarding the Hydro GFX, primarily that the coldplate had its standoffs machined down by MSI prior to shipment. These machined standoffs have a larger tolerance (~0.2mm) for height than we've seen in from-factory Asetek CLCs (~0.05-0.08mm), which means mounting pressure could contribute to marginal thermal differences.
The video breaks things down most readily, but continue reading if preferred.
We're finally reviewing the real EVGA GTX 1080 Hybrid ($730), having built our own several months ago by using a liquid cooling kit. The EVGA version, though, is more official – and it's also using an FTW custom PCB rather than the 5-phase reference board we relied upon. The FTW Hybrid has better power management and delivery, in theory, alongside a far more advanced cooling solution than we instituted on our own DIY Hybrid.
In this review, we'll primarily and most heavily be focusing on thermals between the Sea Hawk X and the EVGA 1080 FTW Hybrid, but will also look at FPS and overclocking performance. Noise and power testing are additionally available, along with some unique Boost functionality discussion.
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.
Corsair has expanded into a wider range of products than “just” RAM, now including cases, CPU coolers, power supplies, keyboards, mice, headsets, and more. In the mechanical gaming keyboard market especially, Corsair has built-up a relatively solid reputation for performant and discreet-looking keyboards compared to much of its flashier competition. Corsair’s latest addition to its mechanical keyboard lineup is the K RGB Rapidfire series. The K65 and K70 RGB Rapidfire – tenkeyless and full-sized, respectively – are the same as the K65 and K70 LUX RGB counterparts with the exception of the switch. The new K65 Rapidfire keyboard uses Cherry’s new MX Speed switch rather than MX Reds or Browns. The MX Speed switch is currently a Corsair exclusive, but will eventually open up to other vendors.
For those who don’t know, the LUX versions of Corsair’s keyboards are the same as the non-LUX versions, but they feature the larger font style found on the Strafe (reviewed), an updated RGB controller (allowing for 16.8 million colors without flickering), and USB passthrough.
Today, we look at the K65 RGB Rapidfire, Corsair’s new tenkeyless RGB gaming keyboard. Most notably, the K65 Rapidfire markets itself as having unique switches, sturdy build quality, and versatile RGB lighting. Reflecting that feature-set, the K65 RGB Rapidfire is somewhat expensive at $140 -- let’s see if it’s worth it.
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