Frequency is the most advertised spec of RAM. As anyone who’s dug a little deeper knows, memory performance depends on timings as well--and not just the primary ones. We found this out the hard way while doing comparative testing for an article on extremely high frequency memory which refused to stabilize. We shelved that article indefinitely, but due to reader interest (thanks, John), we decided to explore memory subtimings in greater depth.
This content hopes to define memory timings and demystify the primary timings, including CAS (CL), tRAS, tRP, tRAS, and tRCD. As we define primary memory timings, we’ll also demonstrate how some memory ratios work (and how they sometimes can operate out of ratio), and how much tertiary and secondary timings (like tRFC) can impact performance. Our goal is to revisit this topic with a secondary and tertiary timings deep-dive, similar to this one.
We got information and advice from several memory and motherboard manufacturers in the course of our research, and we were warned multiple times about the difficulty of tackling this subject. On the one hand, it’s easy to get lost in minutiae, and on the other it’s easy to summarize things incorrectly. As ASUS told us, “you need to take your time on this one.” This is a general introduction, to be followed by another article with more detail on secondary and tertiary timings.
Kingston has announced their first NVMe SSD, and it will debut under the KC series as the KC1000. In recent years, Kingston has seemingly directed power users and gamers towards the HyperX brand, but the KC1000 could help guide the KC series in a different direction.
Kingston seems to be targeting a very wide audience with the new KC1000, as Kingston lists the video editing, virtual reality, CAD, streaming, and gaming applications for the KC1000. Here's a list of the targeted use cases of the KC1000:
- High-resolution video editing
- Virtual and augmented reality applications
- CAD software applications
- Streaming media
- Graphically intensive video games
- Data visualization
- Real-time analytics
As the pre-CES hardware news keeps pouring in, HyperX has announced new products today that will further their peripherals and components aimed at the gaming market. HyperX has introduced two new Alloy keyboards, a Pulsefire Gaming Mouse, a new Cloud Revolver S Headset, and HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB LED Memory.
We will be visiting HyperX and Kingston this week, and hope to have more in-depth, on-site coverage from the show floor. For now, we’ve got the basic specs and introductory information for each new peripheral and memory kit.
Starting with the audio gear, HyperX has announced the new headset that will be showcased at CES 2017 -- the Cloud Revolver S. The new gaming headset will feature plug-and-play Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound via a connected USB dongle. HyperX claims no additional software or audiobox will be needed to get the Dolby 7.1 surround sound functional. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an implementation of 7.1 surround in this fashion -- Turtle Beach and Plantronics have done this for ages -- but it’s the first major noise HyperX is making about Dolby Surround.
More unique to the unit, the HyperX Cloud Revolver S will have a condenser microphone with a bi-directional pattern; the condenser mic, although we’ll have to test it, could be promising for streamers and video casters who’d rather not use standalone input hardware. The HyperX Cloud Revolver S will be available February of 2017 for $150 USD.
Following the Cloud I, II, and Revolver, Kingston's branched-off HyperX brand has now entered the $50 headset market with its HyperX Stinger. The company is targeting a more affordable market with this product launch, and aims to compete most directly with the Logitech G430 headset. The launch of the Stinger headset is accompanied by the FPS Alloy mechanical keyboard, priced at $100, which we also covered while at the show.
The Stinger is fairly simple in its componentry: Two ear-cups, obviously, and a mutable microphone, along with an on-ear volume slider. The headset is largely made of plastics and doesn't have the quality feel of higher-end units, like the Cloud II, but that's the trade off of building a cheaper product. A metal headband exists quietly under the plastic exterior, and similar foam padding is present in the headband and ear cups.
Two new SSDs piqued our interest from Kingston Technology at this year's CES: the Kingston UV400 and unnamed PCIe HyperX SSD. The second drive comes from the gaming side of the company – badged under its HyperX branding – and is a high-performance, NVMe drive set to champion the Predator SSD.
Kingston's UV400 SSD is the manufacturer's first foray into TLC Flash NAND. The drive isn't really new, though – it's just new to the US. The product was first tested in a few foreign markets to see how buyer response would be; in India and Russia, for instance, a price delta of a few bucks can be the swing needed to crush or propel a product into its market position. Following the company's international experiments, the UV400 is being brought to US e-tailers near the end of 2Q16. TLC will drive price down to a yet-unnannounced, but predicted, "very affordable" class.
HyperX’s new Cloud Revolver headset champions the Cloud II, in the process shifting toward revitalized ID and badging. The Revolver demonstrably tunes headset fitment with the introduction of a suspension headband design, similar in core concept to some popular SteelSeires headsets, and mounts more circular ear cups. The Cloud II (reviewed here) uses somewhat of an oblong circle for its head phone design, an immutable headband, different drivers, and a different mic. Everything’s different at some level – probably a good thing for a maturing division of a large company.
The Revolver is outfitted with one 50mm driver per ear. At this time, HyperX didn’t have available information on diaphragm material and driver spec, but we’ll look more closely at those items when the review window opens. The positioning of the drivers and ear cup design enforces a wider soundstage, something which is generally beneficial to competitive FPS players.
Kingston's rebranding effort to build their HyperX line of business has extended beyond memory and SSDs, reaching into gaming peripheral components like headsets (Cloud II reviewed) and mouse pads. Our previous mouse pad reviews have looked at the Thermaltake Draconem and Razer eXactMatX, both of which are hardened, alloy pads offering grip from corner brackets or an under-mat. HyperX's alternative makes use of a softer cloth surface, deploying a rubberized underside for grippiness; the softer solution is something we've grown fond of over the past year, favoring them for their more gentle nature when dealing with teflon feet of high-end mice.
Following the comparatively bombastic launch of the HyperX Predator SSD, an M.2 SSD fitted to a PCI-e adapter, Kingston this week launched its “Savage” SATA SSD. The Savage SSD assumes the modern branding efforts fronted by HyperX, which has streamlined its product lineup into a hierarchical Fury, Savage, Beast/Predator suite. These efforts eliminate long-standing names like “Genesis” and “Blu,” replacing them with – although sometimes silly – names that are more cohesive in their branding initiative.
The new Savage SSD sees integration of the Phison PS3110-S10 controller, usurping the long-standing HyperX 3K SSD and its SandForce 2nd Gen controller from Kingston's mid-range hot-seat. HyperX's Savage operates on the aging SATA III interface; this ensures claustrophobic post-overhead transfer limitations that can't be bypassed without a faster interface, largely thanks to information transfer protocols that consume substantial bandwidth. 8b/10b encoding, for example, eats into the SATA III 6Gbps spec to the point of reducing its usable throughput to just 4.8Gbps (~600MB/s). This means that, at some point, the argument of SATA SSD selection based upon speed loses merit. Other aspects – endurance and encryption, for two easy ones – should be held in higher regard when conducting the pre-purchase research process.
The first consumer-priced PCI-e SSDs are finally trickling to market. OCZ's RevoDrive was one of the only consumer-facing PCI-e SSDs, priced out of range for most gamers and facing somewhat widespread endurance and stability issues as the device aged. During a period of SandForce domination, the industry waited for the third-generation refresh of the SF controllers to introduce widespread PCI-e SSDs. The third gen controllers promised what effectively would act as an interface toggle, allowing manufacturers to purchase a single controller supply for all SATA and PCI-e SSDs, then “flip the bit” depending on demand. Such an effort would reduce cost, ultimately passed on to the user. This controller saw unrelenting delays, giving rise to alternatives in the meantime.
Then M.2 became “a thing,” bringing smaller SSDs to notebooks and desktops. The M.2 standard is capable of offering superior throughput to SATA III (6Gbps) by consuming PCI-e lanes. Pushing data through the PCI-e bus, M.2 devices circumnavigate the on-board SATA controller and its abstraction layers, responsible for much of the overhead showcased in peak 550MB/s speeds. The M.2 interface can operate on a four-lane PCI-e 2.0 configuration to afford a maximum throughput of 2GB/s (before overhead), though – as with all interfaces – this speed is only awarded to capable devices. Each PCI-e 2.0 lane pushes 0.5GB/s (GT/s). Some M.2 devices utilize just two PCI-e lanes, restricting themselves to 1GB/s throughput but freeing-up the limited count of PCI-e lanes on Haswell CPUs (16 lanes from the CPU, up to 8 lanes from the chipset).
The HyperX Cloud II headset is an update to the first Cloud, using an identical chassis and build with a few key upgrades. The Cloud II still allows swappable ear cups with leatherette or memory foam, uses a braided cable for durability, and uses two 53mm sound drivers. HyperX's use of 53mm drivers grants the Cloud some of the largest gaming headset drivers out there, generally matching up against 40mm and 50mm competition.
The major difference with the Cloud II against its predecessor is the introduction of an in-house designed DSP, responsible for processing virtual surround at 7.1 channels; the original cloud delivered a strict stereo output and was connected via two 3.5mm jacks. Kingston's new Cloud uses a single, 4-pole 3.5mm jack (left output, right output, mic, ground) that connects to the DSP (Digital Signal Processor, basically an in-line sound card), which then attaches to the host via USB. The DSP is tasked with processing the audio, including mic input.
Frequency response (output) is tuned to 15Hz – 25KHz on the Cloud II, affording a range slightly wider than nearby competition (normally 20Hz-20KHz), though this won't necessarily be all that noticeable to most users.
Our long-standing favorites on the site have been Plantronics' GameCom 780 ($60) & 788 refresh ($80). Priced at $80, the Cloud II headset serves as a direct alternative to the Plantronics 788 and offers similar gaming audio features.
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