U.2 (pronounced Udot2, lest Bono exercise legal force) has made a major appearance on PC platform updates from motherboard vendors, including Gigabyte with new X99 and Z170X motherboards at PAX. The form factor used to be called SFF-8639 (SSD Form Factor) and was targeted almost entirely at server and enterprise markets. In a move toward greater user-friendliness, the interface has rebranded as “U.2,” easier to remember with the M.2 interface also proliferating across the market.

This “TLDR” article explains the U.2 vs. M.2 vs. SATA Express differences, with a focus on PCI-e lane assignment and speeds or throughputs.

Gigabyte pleasantly surprised us at PAX East 2016 with a small set of unreleased motherboards. These boards will likely surface about the time that Broadwell-E is released – keep an eye out over the next month – so that means these are all prototypes and that everything here is subject to change. What we were shown appears to be a refresh of the Haswell-E and Skylake boards that are already on the market with the addition of U.2 support.

U.2 is a connector that the Small Form Factor Working Group (SFFWG) decided to rename in 2015. It was formerly called “SFF-8639,” and most of the people that were aware of it worked with servers. Part of the reason it’s making its way to desktop boards is that the form factor provides M.2 PCIe speed combined with the drive mounting flexibility of the old SATA cable. This means that you can have as many U.2 drives as your motherboard has U.2 connectors.

On December 5, we broke news on Asetek's Cease & Desist order sent to AMD, pursuant to the sale of its liquid-cooled R9 Fury X video card. Asetek previously won a suit against Cooler Master USA for its closed-loop liquid cooler products (CLCs), to include the Seidon, Nepton, and Glacer (Swiftech-supplied) lines. The patents primarily discussed are 8,240,362 and 8,245,764.

By judge and jury, CMI USA (Cooler Master USA) was found guilty of patent infringement of the pump-on-coldplate design and ordered to pay 14.5% royalties. Inability to pay-out on its ruled dues ultimately saw a royalties percentage increase to 25.375%, followed by banishment of all affected Cooler Master CLCs from US markets.

This article fully details the relevant legal history of liquid cooling companies, including the rise of Asetek & CoolIT, their patent lawsuits against one another, the recent lawsuit against Cooler Master, and the C&D against AMD's R9 Fury X.

Liquid cooler supplier Asetek revealed to GamersNexus that the cooling manufacturer has expanded its legal pursuit of products allegedly infringing upon patents. The company has now issued Cease & Desist orders to AMD over the sale of its liquid-cooled R9 Fury X. This news coincides with additional Asetek-dispatched C&Ds that AIB partner Gigabyte halt sales of its WaterForce video cards, a development we predicted would happen in a previous write-up.

Readers following our story on the Asetek vs. Cooler Master lawsuits may remember a call to attention regarding the Fury X's utilization of a CM Seidon equivalent CLC. Gigabyte's newest GTX 980 WaterForce card uses a 120mm CLC supplied by Cooler Master, with the pump mounted atop the coldplate (GPU block). This falls within Asetek's claims regarding its patent protection – and the company holds patents valid for GPU- and CPU-mounted pumps – and Gigabyte could reasonably be impacted by the resolutions set forth by recent lawsuits.

Intel's Skylake-S PCs will soon be in-hand for analysis, with a launch expected in the first week of August. Gigabyte is among the first motherboard manufacturers to showcase its Z170 motherboards, starting with its high-end G1 Gaming board in red and white.

Save CPUs, all components manufacturing in the PC hardware industry is centered upon the same core philosophy: Design a PCB, design the aesthetics and/or heatsink, and then purchase the semiconductor or Flash supply and build a product. In the case of video cards, board partners are responsible for designing aftermarket coolers (and PCBs, if straying from reference), but purchase the GPU itself from AMD or nVidia. The “hard work” is done by the GPU engineers and fabrication plants, but that's not to trivialize the thermal engineering that board partners invest into coolers.

When our readers ask us which version of a particular video card is “best,” we have to take into account several use-case factors and objective design factors. Fully passive cooling solutions may be best for gaming HTPCs like this one, but can't be deployed for higher-TDP graphics hardware. That's where various aftermarket designs come into play, each prioritizing noise, dissipation, and flair to varying degrees.

Video card manufacturer Gigabyte just announced its fully-equipped “Waterforce” GTX 980s, and they've set the MSRP to $3000. The Waterforce setup includes 3xGTX 980s pre-overclocked, each attached to an individual radiator; the three radiators then get mounted in the external watercooling box, which sits atop the PC enclosure. Pipe clamps, bridges, 5.25” external controllers, and mounting hardware are all included.

Insane.

p35x-1

Low TDP mobile components that still yield performance rivaling desktops means the gaming laptop market can finally build machines that aren't simply “desktop replacements.” Gigabyte's new P35X notebook is one of the thinnest and lightest available in its class, outfitted with a GTX 980M, i7-4710HQ, 8GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and 5TB of storage (2x2TB HDD, 2x512GB mSATA SSD).

 The new unit is slated to ship tomorrow, December 5th, and weighs-in at just 5 pounds (2.2/2.3 kg); the dimensions are measured at 385 x 270 x 20.9 mm (WDH), making the P35X one of the smallest gaming notebooks on the market. Its most immediate competition comes from MSI, in the form of the GS70 Stealth, and CyberPower's Fangbook.

We've covered memory overclocking world records a few times over the last few years. From memory (ha!), our first coverage was of Christian Ney's 4000MHz LN2 OC using a kit of G.Skill Trident RAM. Back in June, Kingston and Gigabyte worked with overclocker "Hicookie" to push a new kit of HyperX memory to 4.5GHz.

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