AMD’s CES 2017 meeting room was primarily stocked with untouchable demos: Ryzen populated about half the room, Vega took a small (but critical) corner, and HDR screens took the rest. Given the challenges of demonstrating HDR in any medium other than analog (read: human eyes), we’ll skip that for now and focus on some of the Ryzen information. If Vega interests you, check out our write-up on the basics.
AMD’s suite served as a home to motherboards from MSI, Gigabyte, ASRock, and Biostar. We already spent some time with the MSI motherboards, including a look at the VRM design for each of the two configurations on display, and will today be focusing on Gigabyte’s X370, B350, and A320 motherboards. The company didn’t have any X300 mini-ITX boards at AMD’s suite, unfortunately, but did have micro-ATX displayed alongside the usual ATX form factor motherboards.
Last week, Gigabyte announced the Gigabyte XTC700 tower CPU cooler to go along with their “Xtreme Gaming” peripherals, which include a slew of new products that mostly feature RGB LEDs. The XTC700 comes with an RGB top plate featuring the Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming logo, a pair of 120mm fans for push/pull, and Gigabyte branding for a unified aesthetic with Gigabyte motherboards and video cards. The RGB top plate, like all RGB Xtreme Gaming products, will be controllable through Gigabyte’s Spectrum software. The Gigabyte XTC700 will support Intel sockets 2011, 1366, 1156, 1155,1151,1150, 775, including the upcoming Kaby Lake. Additionally, the cooler will support AMD’s FM2+, FM2, FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939, and 754 sockets -- basically everything from each vendor.
Owners of Gigabyte motherboards in the list defined below will now be able to flash BIOS for next-gen Intel CPU support. This includes Kaby Lake processors, which use the same socket type as found on the Z170, H170, H110, and B150 motherboards. Owners or new buyers of these motherboards can make a migration with BIOS updates, as have now been released by a handful of motherboard manufacturers.
Buildzoid returns this week to analyze the PCB and VRM of Gigabyte's GTX 1080 Xtreme Water Force GPU, providing new insight to the card's overclocking capabilities. We showed a maximum overclock of 2151.5MHz on the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Xtreme Water Force, but the card's stable OC landed it at just 2100.5MHz. Compared to the FTW Hybrid (2151.5MHz overclock sustained) and MSI Sea Hawk 1080 (2050MHz overclock sustained), the Gigabyte Xtreme Water Force's overkill VRM & cooling land it between the two competitors.
But we talk about all of that in the review; today, we're focused on the PCB and VRM exclusively.
The card uses a 12-phase core voltage VRM with a 2-phase memory voltage VRM, relying on Fairchild Semiconductor and uPI Micro for most the other components. Learn more here:
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.
As we board planes for our impending trip to Southern California (office tours upcoming), we've just finalized the Gigabyte GTX 1080 Xtreme Water Force tear-down coverage. The Gigabyte GTX 1080 Xtreme Water Force makes use of a similar cooling philosophy as the EVGA GTX 1080 FTW Hybrid, which we recently tore-down and reviewed vs. the Corsair Hydro GFX.
Gigabyte's using a closed-loop liquid cooler to deal with the heat generation on the GP104-400 GPU, but isn't taking the “hybrid” approach that its competitors have taken. There's no VRM/VRAM blower fan for this unit; instead, the power and memory components are cooled by an additional copper and aluminum heatsink, which are bridged by a heatpipe. That copper plate (mounted atop the VRAM) transfers its heat to the coldplate of what we believe to be a Cooler Master CLC, which then sinks everything for dissipation by the 120mm radiator.
Gigabyte and EKWB will be launching limited-time bundles of their new waterblocks and motherboards. The EK-FB GA-Z170X Monoblock will be sold along with the Z170X-GAMING 7-EK motherboard, and the X99-ULTRA GAMING-EK will be bundled with EK-Supremacy EVO X99 monoblock.
The EK-FB GA-Z170X waterblock will provide cooling to CPU and the motherboard’s MOSFETs, all without having to remove the motherboard’s FET heatsinks. Traditional liquid cooling setups do not often cover the FET heatsinks, and the only cooling they get is from tower cooler fans, case fans, or low-hanging vapor chambers.
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:
Computex – the show that never ends. For video card coverage, we've looked at the latest EVGA GTX 1080 Hybrid & Classified cards, ASUS' Strix 1080, the MSI Twin Frozr VI (even overclocked it at the show), and AMD's new Radeon RX480. Now, hopefully rounding-out most of our AIB partner coverage, we're looking at Gigabyte's GTX 1080 G1 Gaming and GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming Windforce Stacked Fan (a mouthful, we assure you).
The Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming cards introduce a new branding initiative for the company. Both cards at Computex are equipped with triple-fan coolers – maybe a bit unnecessary for the GP104-400, but temperature reductions have already shown use – and fall under the Xtreme Gaming branding. The G1 Gaming continues Gigabyte's G1 line, targeting mainstream gamers while advertising its superior cooling solution to reference (not hard, to be fair).
One of our most commonly received Ask GN questions is “which video card manufacturer is 'the best?'” (scare quotes added). The truth of the matter is, as we've often said, they're all similar in the most critical matter – the GPU is the same. If MSI sells an R9 380X and PowerColor sells an R9 380X, they're both using the same GPU (Tonga) and silicon; core performance will be nearly identical. The same is true for the GTX cards – EVGA and PNY both sell GTX 960 video cards, and all of their models implement the same GM206 GPU. The differences are generally rooted in pre-overclocking, cooling units, support and warranties, and aesthetics.
All our content combined, we've spent hours and tens of thousands of words talking about which video cards perform the best in various categories. That's great -- but sometimes it's fun to do something different. This video allows each GPU manufacturer one minute to explain who makes the best graphics cards for gaming. It's a speed-round, to be sure.
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