Gigabyte is releasing security updates for Intel motherboards making use of Intel ME (Management Engine) and TXE (Trusted Execution Engine). The first batch of updates will be for Z370 and 200-series boards, with older generations following. Gigabyte will be supplying patched BIOS versions as well as the latest Intel ME and TXE drivers on their website.
Gigabyte’s announcement follows a notice from the Intel Security Center about “security vulnerabilities that could potentially place impacted platforms at risk.” These vulnerabilities have to do with MINIX, a lightweight OS designed by educator Andrew Tanenbaum (as discussed in this week’s HW News), and its use in Intel’s ME. As reported by Tom’s Hardware earlier this month, a Google team led by software engineer Ron Minnich is responsible for uncovering MINIX’s role in the ME and expressing their concerns in a presentation bluntly titled “Replace your exploit-ridden firmware with a Linux kernel.”
UPDATE: We've issued an update to our initial 8700K review, pursuant to interesting findings on the Gigabyte F2 BIOS revision. Please note that this impacts Cinebench scores and POVRay scores, but not gaming scores. Learn more here.
This content piece aims to explain how Turbo Boost works on Intel’s i7-8700K, 8600K, and other Coffee Lake CPUs. This primarily sets forth to highlight what “Multi-Core Enhancement” is, and why you may want to leave it off when using a CPU without overclocking.
Multi-core “enhancement” options are either enabled, disabled, or “auto” in motherboard BIOS, where “auto” has somewhat nebulous behavior, depending on board maker. Enabling multi-core enhancement means that the CPU ignores the Intel spec, instead locking all-core Turbo to the single-core Turbo speeds, which means a few things: (1) Higher voltage is now necessary, and therefore higher power draw and heat; (2) instability can be introduced to the system, as we observed in Blender on the ASUS Maximus X Hero with multi-core enhancement on the 8700K; (3) performance is bolstered in-step with higher all-core Turbo.
X299 VRM thermals have been a topic of interest in the lab lately, as we’ve continued to learn how to work with our new power testing tools and have fully revamped CPU thermal testing. The time will come eventually, but for now, we’ve worked with Buildzoid to run some calculations on VRM thermals with the Gigabyte X299 Gaming 9 motherboard. These numbers are based off of GN testing for this video, where we overclocked the CPU to 4.5~4.6GHz and checked for power consumption at the 8-pin headers (of which there are two).
The Gigabyte X299 Gaming 9 motherboard makes some interesting choices with its VRM components, ultimately balancing between “ridiculous overkill,” to quote Buildzoid, and merely adequacy. The board is one of the higher quality motherboards out there right now, and so is worth a watch on the PCB break-down:
Gigabyte recently sponsored an extreme overclocking event throughout Computex, where their resident overclockers HiCookie and Sofos teamed with TeamAU’s Dinos22, Youngpro, and SniperOZ. The teams worked to overclock the Intel i7-7740X KBL-X CPU on the new X299 platform.
Gigabyte’s team was able to hit the 7.5GHz mark with the i7-7740X, with the help of LHe (Liquid Helium) – allegedly $20,000 worth. To give some perspective, when we spoke off-camera with Der8auer at the GSkill booth, we learned that LHe costs him about $4.4 per second in his region. With the use of LHe, the team of overclockers were able to drop temperatures to -250° Celsius. Opposed to LN2, LHe has a boiling point of around -269° Celsius, meaning it can take temperatures far lower than LN2.
With the employed LHe, Gigabyte was able to set 4 launch day records in 3DMark03, 3DMark06, and Aquamark. All scores were achieved using the Intel i7-7740X and the Gigabyte X299-SOC Champion motherboard. Memory and GPUs diverge a bit for different benchmarks, as can be seen below.
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.
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.
AMD’s Polaris refresh primarily features a BIOS overhaul, which assists in power management during idle or low-load workloads, but also ships with natively higher clocks and additional overvoltage headroom. Technically, an RX 400-series card could be flashed to its 500-series counterpart, though we haven’t begun investigation into that just yet. The reasoning, though, is because the change between the two series is so small; this is not meant to be an upgrade for existing 400-series users, but an option for buyers in the market for a completely new system.
We’ve already reviewed the RX 580 line by opening up with our MSI RX 580 Gaming X review, a $245 card that competes closely with the EVGA GTX 1060 SSC ($250) alternative from nVidia. Performance was on-point to provide back-and-forth trades depending on games, with power draw boosted over the 400 series when under load, or lowered when idle. This review of the Gigabyte RX 570 4GB Aorus card benchmarks performance versus the RX 470, 480, 580, and GTX 1050 Ti and 1060 cards. We're looking at power consumption, thermals, and FPS.
There’s no new architecture to speak of here. Our RX 480 initial review from last year covers all relevant aspects of architecture for the RX 500 series; if you’re behind on Polaris (or it’s been a while) and need a refresher on what’s happening at a silicon level, check our initial RX 480 review.
Our Gigabyte GTX 1080 Ti Aorus Xtreme ($750) review brings us to look at one of the largest video cards in the 1080 Ti family, matching it well versus the MSI 1080 Ti Gaming X. Our tests today will look at the Aorus Xtreme GPU in thermals (most heavily), noise levels, gaming performance, and overclocking, with particular interest in the efficacy of Gigabyte’s copper insert in the backplate. The Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme is a heavyweight in all departments – size being one of them – and is priced at $750, matching the MSI Gaming X directly. A major point of differentiation is the bigger focus on RGB LEDs with Gigabyte’s model, though the three-fan design is also interesting from a thermal and noise perspective. We’ll look at that more on page 3.
We’ve already posted a tear-down of this card (and friend of the site ‘Buildzoid’ has posted his PCB analysis), but we’ll recap some of the PCB and cooler basics on this first page. The card uses a 3-fan cooler (with smaller fans than the Gaming X-type cards, but more of them) and large aluminum heatsink, ultimately taking up nearly 3 PCI-e slots. It’s the same GPU and memory underneath as all other GTX 1080 Ti cards, with differences primarily in the cooling and power management departments. Clock, of course, does have some pre-OC applied to help boost over the reference model. Gigabyte is shipping the Xtreme variant of the 1080 Ti at 1632/1746MHz (OC mode) or 1607/1721 (gaming mode), toggleable through software if not manually overclocking.
We made Gigabyte aware of an unnecessarily high auto vCore table back in December, prior to the launch and NDA lift of Kaby Lake processors. By the time of review, that still hadn’t been resolved, and we noted in our Gigabyte Aorus Z270X Gaming 7 review that we’d revisit thermals if the company issued an update. Today, we’re doing just that. Gigabyte passed relevant information along to engineering teams and worked quickly to resolve the high auto vCore (and thus high CPU temperatures) on the Gaming 7 motherboard.
We’ve been impressed with Gigabyte’s responses overall. The representatives have been exceptionally helpful in troubleshooting the issue, and were open ears when we presented our initial concerns. The quick turn-around time on a BIOS update and subsequent auto vCore reduction shows that they’re listening, which is more than we can say for a lot of companies in this business. In an industry where it’s easier to jam fingers in ears and ignore a problem, Gigabyte’s fixed this one.
In the latest feature from overclocker Buildzoid, we follow-up on our full review of the Gigabyte Z270X Gaming 7 motherboard with a VRM analysis of the motherboard. The Gigabyte Gaming 7 of the Z270X family, ready for Kaby Lake, is one of the pricier boards at $240 and attempts to justify its cost in two ways: Overclocking features and RGB LEDs (naturally).
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