AMD's RX 480 Reference received our recommendation as a go-to for the $200-$300 market, but was immediately challenged by the release of the GTX 1060; the choice isn't so clear now, but both cards have appropriate use cases. Still, as with the Founders Edition card reviews, we recommended that our readers wait until AIB partner models of the RX 480 begin shipping, as the cooling performance will improve clock-rate stability on the Polaris 10 chip.
We finally received one of those AIB partner models. The MSI RX 480 Gaming X uses the Twin Frozr VI cooling solution – described in our Computex exclusive – and ships pre-overclocked to 1303MHz from ~1266MHz. The 8GB card's price should rest at $265, or $15 more than the reference RX 480 8GB ($250), and MSI will also be selling 4GB variants of the Gaming X. Our previous coverage of the RX 480 4GB vs. 8GB will help answer questions as to whether the lower capacity card is worth it.
MSI recently announced that they will be launching a new addition to their Aegis PC line dubbed the Aegis Ti. The new PC will be the company’s flagship desktop gaming PC. The Aegis Ti is a black mid-tower sporting vibrant RGB LEDs on its front panel.
Let’s get to the specs: the Aegis Ti comes with either an i5-6600K or i7-6700K CPU, a Z170 motherboard, up to 2 GTX 1080s in SLI, and an 850W 80 Plus Platinum PSU. For networking, you get a Killer LAN E2400 network adapter coupled with a Killer WiFi 1435 AC wireless card and Bluetooth 4.1. The Aegis Ti can support up to 64GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM.
MSI's GTX 1080 Gaming X was the first AIB partner GTX 1080 to show up at our lab, marking the beginning of AIB partner reign over the GTX 1080 market. We originally reviewed the GTX 1080 and remarked that, although the card is good, it just made far more sense to wait for non-reference (“Founders Edition”) designs. The FE card exhibited some clock-rate instability in some instances, and our DIY Hybrid project served as a proof of concept for aftermarket cooling solutions.
MSI's GTX 1080 Gaming X (priced at $720) tests that theory with a manufacturer-made cooling solution. The GTX 1080 Gaming X uses a new Twin Frozr VI air cooler, ships with three OC settings in the MSI Gaming App (maxing-out at 1847MHz with OC mode), and is stacked in the middle of MSI's options. The company is also working on a Gaming Z card, which we live-overclocked at Computex, and a new SeaHawk – all those are detailed here.
In this MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X review, we look at cooling performance, noise levels, FPS (gaming), and maximum overclocking performance.
Our GTX 1070 SLI benchmarking endeavor began with an amusing challenge – one which we've captured well in our forthcoming video: The new SLI bridges are all rigid, and that means cards of various heights cannot easily be accommodated as the bridges only work well with same-height cards. After some failed attempts to hack something together, and after researching the usage of two ribbon cables (don't do this – more below), we ultimately realized that a riser cable would work. It's not ideal, but the latency impact should be minimal and the performance is more-or-less representative of real-world SLI framerates for dual GTX 1070s in SLI.
Definitely a fun challenge. Be sure to subscribe for our video later today.
The GTX 1070 SLI configuration teetered in our test rig, no screws holding the second card, but it worked. We've been told that there aren't any plans for ribbon cable versions of the new High Bandwidth Bridges (“HB Bridge”), so this new generation of Pascal GPUs – if using the HB Bridge – will likely drive users toward same-same video card arrays. This step coincides with other simplifications to the multi-GPU process with the 10-series, like a reduction from triple- and quad-SLI to focus just on two-way SLI. We explain nVidia's decision to do this in our GTX 1080 review and mention it in the GTX 1070 review.
This GTX 1070 SLI benchmark tests the framerate of two GTX 1070s vs. a GTX 1080, 980 Ti, 980, 970, Fury X, R9 390X, and more. We briefly look at power requirements as well, helping to provide a guideline for power supply capacity. The joint cost of two GTX 1070s, if buying the lowest-cost GTX 1070s out there, would be roughly $760 – $380*2. The GTX 1070 scales up to $450 for the Founders Edition and likely for some aftermarket AIB partner cards as well.
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:
We're getting sick of hearing “VR” at every meeting. It's not that the technology is bad – it's just getting a little exhausting to hear as a tag-along to literally anything. Everything is VR premium, VR-ready, VR approved, VR, VR, VR.
Despite this, we're still posting some coverage of a few VR trends that make more sense than empty badges or paid-for certifications. MSI's VR backpack is one of the noteworthy creations, seemingly inspired from Intel's prototype VR backpack at CES 2016, and arrives at Computex alongside immediate competitors from ASUS and Zotac.
Day one of our Computex 2016 coverage began and ended with MSI's product lineup. We haven't yet gotten to the VR backpack – that'll come soon enough – but we did go over the new GTX 1080 Twin Frozr VI cards. The MSI HQ also brought to bear its updated X99 motherboards for Broadwell-E. The new BW-E Intel CPUs are compatible with the “old” socket type and chipset from Haswell-E (though firmware will need to be updated on older boards), though most motherboard manufacturers are launching entirely new, refreshed lines to coincide with the BW-E launch.
The new motherboards are branded with the “X99A” prefix/suffix combo. That “A” denotes that the product is part of the new motherboards coinciding with the BW-E launch; it is not an entirely new chipset, just a suffix notation. The boards mentioned in our meetings are of the Titanium (“X99A Titanium”), Gaming (“X99A Gaming Pro Carbon”), and SLI (“X99A SLI Plus”) lines, which cover the high-end enthusiast market, mid-range gaming market, and entry-level X99 market (e.g. 5820K).
As many of our regular visitors know, our DIY GTX 1080 Hybrid project revealed that nVidia's GTX 1080 could yield additional clock-rate increases if accompanied by a custom VBIOS and more advanced power management. The Founders Edition of the card has a few points of capping with regard to overclocking: The first is thermal, which was resolved with our Hybrid solution, as sustained clock-rates become impossible when the GPU saturates its heatsink and hits 82C; a 100% VRM blower RPM will mitigate this issue, but that is unusable in a real-world environment. The second issue, once thermal is resolved (and it will be by these AIB partners), is voltage regulation. Not power – we weren't fully tapping the available power supply to the card – but voltage.
The stock GTX 1080 is limited by its 5+1-phase VRM in some ways, but is more limited by VBIOS restrictions that prohibit extreme overvoltage in order to protect the card. This makes sense in some regard – allowing the users full voltage control would result in an insurmountable wall of RMA'd bricks – but does feel a bit like a tease to enthusiast users.
While at an MSI press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, in preparation for Computex, we pulled aside MSI Corp. Executive Vice President Charles Chiang, VGA Product Marketer Ernest Liu, and Product Marketing Manager Joran Schoonderwoerd to discuss the new Twin Frozr VI GTX 1080 cards. We'll discuss the new SeaHawks in another post.
MSI today announced its refreshed motherboard lineup for Broadwell-E, featuring a carbon fiber paint-job (not actually carbon fiber, of course) and RGB LED lighting across the board. The motherboard is part of MSI's “Carbon” lineup, identifiable by the Mystic Lights and carbon aesthetic, and is slated for use with Broadwell-E. As with all BW-E motherboards, the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon will host an X99 Extreme Series chipset from Intel.
A show floor crawling with tens of thousands of people is an interesting environment for a PC tear-down – certainly more chaotic than in our labs. Still, whenever we've got an opportunity to take something apart during an unveil, we take it. MSI's recently unveiled Aegis (video below) fancies itself a barebones machine that borders on a display unit, mounted atop a power-supply enshrining pedestal that resembles Hermes' winged shoes.
While at PAX East, we weaponized our camera toolkit to disassemble MSI's Aegis barebones gaming PC, which includes a custom case, motherboard, and unique CPU cooler. Side panels came off, the video card was removed, and we more closely examined the custom cooler that MSI's packed into its compact enclosure.
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