As we get into the holiday spirit here at GN, it’s time for our year-end round-ups and best of series—probably some of our favorite content. These guides provide a snapshot of what the year had to offer in certain spaces, like SSDs, for instance. You can check our most recent guides for the Best Cases of 2018 and Best CPUs of 2018.

These guides will also help users navigate the overwhelming amount of Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing ahead of us all. SSD prices have been especially good lately, and the holidays should certainly net opportunities for even better deals.

That said, buying something just because it’s cheap isn’t ever a good idea, really; better to know what’s best first, then buy cheap—or cheaper than usual, anyway. This guide will take the legwork out of distinguishing what the year’s best SSDs are based on use case and price. Today, we're looking at the best SSDs for gaming PCs, workstations, budget PC builds, and for cheap, high-capacity storage. 1TB SSDs are more affordable than ever now, and we'll explore some of those listings.

Intel’s latest memory technology has big aspirations. It has the ability to one day unify the DRAM and non-volatile memory structure, but we’re not there yet. Today, we get the Data Center Optane SSD (the DC P4800X) as a responsive, high-endurance drive specifically targeted at big data users. This is not a consumer product, but the architecture will not change in any significant ways as Optane & 3D Xpoint move to consumer devices. This information is applicable across the user space.

Upon initial release, the DC P4800X drive will be a 375GB PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe HHHL device costing $1520 without Intel’s software, and $1951 with the Intel Memory Drive Technology software package. Later in the lifecycle, we should see 750GB and 1.5TB versions. The Optane SSD is one of three Optane technologies that Intel is marketing: Optane DIMM (fits into a DDR4 slot), Optane SSD (fits into a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot or U.2 connector), and Optane Memory (fits into an M.2 slot).

We recently prolonged the life of GN Andrew’s Lenovo laptop, a task accomplished by tearing the thing down and cleaning out the dust, then re-applying thermal compound. This brought temperatures down well below 80C on the silicon components, where the unit was previously reaching 100C (or TjMax values and thereby throttling). The laptop has lived to work many more long render sessions since that time, and has been in good shape since.

That’s gotten us a bit of a reputation, it seems, as we just recently spent a few hours fixing a Dell Studio XPS 1640 and its noise issues.

The 1640 had a few problems at its core: The first, loud noise during idle (desktop); the second, slowing boot times with age; and the third, less-than-snappy responsiveness upon launching applications.

Ramping up the video production for 2016 led to some obvious problems – namely, burning through tons of storage. We’ve fully consumed 4TB of video storage this year with what we’re producing, and although that might be a small amount to large video enterprises, it is not insignificant for our operation. We needed a way to handle that data without potentially losing anything that could be important later, and ultimately decided to write a custom Powershell script for automated Handbrake CLI compression routines that execute monthly.

Well, will execute monthly. For now, it’s still catching up and is crunching away on 4000+ video files for 2016.

Posting a day before we begin our on-site PAX West coverage, Ask GN episode 27 starts off with an introduction to our newly deployed 20TB Synology DS1515+ NAS, then moves on to Sandy Bridge longevity, VRM temperatures, and cooler orientation.

As for the NAS, it's an interesting topic to us. We're new to working with high-quality, network-attached storage solutions, but the move has become necessary. Eating ~100GB/week with video content, it is no longer feasible for GN to store its media production assets, test data, and OS images on a single, shared internal RAID. The Synology unit accommodates five 3.5” disks (and also has upgradeable RAM – something we'll soon benchmark), affording us a RAID5 configuration with ~14.5TB usable space and one redundant disk. The NAS is accessible through a web interface, something we've already used while on the road for the recent London nVidia event and will use for PAX. This helps us manage security without inhibiting access.

Recapping some of the most recent hardware news for the past two days, we visit topics centering on liquid cooling for video cards and a side topic discussing Micron's newest 32GB mobile 3D NAND.

For GPUs, ZOTAC has just announced its “ArcticStorm” GTX 1080 card with waterblock, providing full coverage over the VRAM, FETs, and GPU itself. Standard G1/4 threaded fittings include barbs to support 10mm inner diameter tubing, and microfins are spaced at 0.3mm apart. For a more visual understanding of microfins and spacing, check our liquid cooler tear-down. A metal backplate is included with the card.

We don't have a price on Zotac's ArcticStorm just yet, but have reached-out to ask.

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