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HiFiMAN's high end, high priced Edition X Planar Magnetic Headphones

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2016 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: audio, hifiman, Edition X, planar

As opposed to the more common dynamic driver, the Edition X uses lighter and more responsive planar drivers.  These tend to provide much better sound but also come with a very hefty price tag, in this particular case an $1800 one.  That puts these headphones soundly into the audiophile and professional market as opposed to being intended for gamers.  In testing TechPowerUp found these to be not quite as clear as the HE-1000 model but they were more comfortable.  If you are looking for high end headphones or just like window shopping you can read the full review here.

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"HiFiMAN's newest high-end headphone, the Edition X, bears a striking resemblance to their flagship HE-1000. It uses the same driver design without the fancy nano materials found in the $1200 more expensive HE-1000, but is, at $1799, still the second most expensive headphone in HiFiMAN's line-up."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

AMD Details the RX 470 and RX 460 Graphics Cards, Coming in August

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 29, 2016 - 01:09 AM |
Tagged: rx 470, rx 460, radeon, polaris 11, polaris 10, Polaris, amd

We know pretty much all there is to know about AMD's new Polaris architecture thanks to our Radeon RX 480 review, but AMD is taking the covers off of the lower priced, lower performance products based on the same architecture tonight. We previously covered AMD's launch event in Australia where the company officially introduced the Polaris 10 RX 470 and Polaris 11 RX 460 and talked about the broader specifications. Now, we have a bit more information to share on specifics and release dates. Specifically, AMD's RX 470 will launch on Thursday, August 4th and the RX 460 will launch on the following Monday, August 8th.

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First up is the Radeon RX 470, based on the same Polaris 10 GPU as the RX 480, but with some CUs disabled to lower performance and increase yields. 

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This card is aimed at 1080p gaming at top quality settings with AA enabled at 60 FPS. Obviously that is a very vague statement, but it gives you an idea of what price point and target segment the RX 470 is going after.

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The only comparison we have from AMD pits the upcoming RX 470 against the R9 270, where Polaris offers a range from 1.5x to 2.4x improvement in a handful of titles, which include DX12 and Vulkan enabled games, of course.

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From a specifications stand point, the RX 470 will include 2048 stream processors running at a base clock of 926 MHz and a rated boost frequency of 1206 MHz. That gives us 4.9 TFLOPS of theoretical peak performance to pair with a 6.6 Gbps memory interface capable of 211 GB/s of peak bandwidth. With a 4GB frame buffer and a 120 watt TDP, the RX 470 should offer some compelling performance in the ~$150 price segment (this price is just a guess on my part... though yields should be better – they can salvage RX 480s – and partners being able to use memory chips that do not have to hit 8 Gbps should help to lower costs).

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Going down another step to the Radeon RX 460, AMD is targeting this card at 1080p resolutions at "high" image quality settings. The obvious game categories here are eSports titles like MOBAs, CS: Go, Overwatch, etc.

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Again, AMD provides a comparison to other AMD hardware: in this case the R7 260X. You'll find a 1.2x to 1.3x performance improvements in these types of titles. Clearly we want to know where the performance rests against the GeForce line but this comparison seems somewhat modest. 

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Based on the smaller Polaris 11 GPU, which is a new chip that we have not seen before, the RX 460 features up to 2.2 TFLOPS of computing capability with 896 stream processors (14 CUs enabled out of 16 total in full Polaris 11) running between 1090 MHz and 1200 MHz. The memory system is actually running faster on the RX 460 than the RX 470, though with half the memory bus width at 128-bits. The TDP of this card is sub-75 watts and thus we should find cards that don't require any kind of external power. The RX 460 GPU will be used in desktop cards as well as notebooks (though with lower TDPs and clocks).

The chart below outlines the comparison between the three known Polaris graphics processors.

  RX 480 RX 470 RX 460
Stream Processors 2304 2048 896
Compute Units 36 32 14
TMUs 144 128 56
ROPs 32 32 16
GPU Clock (Base) 1120 MHz 926 MHz 1090 MHz
GPU Clock (Boost) 1266 MHz 1206 MHz 1200 MHz
Memory 4 or 8 GB GDDR5 4 or 8 GB GDDR5 2 or 4 GB GDDR5
Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 256 GB/s 211 GB/s 112 GB/s
TDP 150W 120W <75W
GPU Polaris 10 Polaris 10 Polaris 11

There is still much to learn about these new products, most importantly, prices. AMD is still shying away from telling us that important data point. The RX 470 will be on sale and will have reviews on August 4th, with the RX 460 following that on August 8th, so we'll have details and costs in our hands very soon.

It is not clear how many or what kinds of cards we can expect to see on the August 4th and August 8th release days though it would stand to reason that they will be mostly based upon reference designs especially for the RX 460 (though Gamer's Nexus did spot a dual fan Sapphire card).. With that said, we may see custom cooled RX 470 graphics cards because while AMD does technically have a reference design with blower style cooler the company expects most if not all of its partners to go their own direction with this board including their own single and dual fan coolers.

For gamers looking to buy into the truly budget card segment, stay tuned just a little longer!

Crucial Expands MX300 SATA SSD Lineup, Adds 1TB, 525GB, 275GB M.2 2280

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2016 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: MX300, micron, M.2, crucial, 525GB, 275GB, 1TB

We reviewed the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD a few months back. It was a good drive that tested well, and thanks to its IMFT 3D NAND, it came in at a very competitive price point. Today Crucial has rearranged that lineup a bit:

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The following capacities are being added to the MX300 lineup:

  • 1TB      $260 ($0.26/GB)
  • 525GB $130 ($0.25/GB)
  • 275GB  $70  ($0.25/GB)
  • 275GB * M.2 2280

The new capacities will be what is sold moving forward (starting 'late August'), with the 750GB model shifting to 'Limited Edition' status. That $0.25/GB carrying all the way down to the lowest capacity is significant, as typically we see higher cost/GB due to controller/PCB/packaging have more impact. Without that coming into play, we get a nearly 300GB SSD coming in at $70!

Specs and expected performance remain the same across all capacities, save a dip in random read performance on the 275GB models, mainly due to the reduced die count / parallelism. We'll take a look at these new capacities just as soon as samples arrive.

Full press blast appears after the break.

Source: Crucial

SIGGRAPH 2016: NVIDIA Takes Over mental ray for Maya

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2016 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, mental ray, maya, 3D rendering

NVIDIA purchased Mental Images, the German software developer that makes the mental ray renderer, all the way back in 2007. It has been bundled with every copy of Maya for a very long time now. In fact, my license of Maya 8, which I purchased back in like, 2006, came with mental ray in both plug-in format, and stand-alone.

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Interestingly, even though nearly a decade has passed since NVIDIA's acquisition, Autodesk has been the middle-person that end-users dealt with. This will end soon, as NVIDIA announced, at SIGGRAPH, that they will “be serving end users directly” with their mental ray for Maya plug-in. The new plug-in will show results directly in the viewport, starting at low quality and increasing until the view changes. They are obviously not the first company to do this, with Cycles in Blender being a good example, but I would expect that it is a welcome feature for users.

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Benchmark results are by NVIDIA

At the same time, they are also announcing GI-Next. This will speed up global illumination in mental ray, and it will also reduce the number of options required to tune the results to just a single quality slider, making it easier for artists to pick up. One of their benchmarks shows a 26-fold increase in performance, although most of that can be attributed to GPU acceleration from a pair of GM200 Quadro cards. CPU-only tests of the same scene show a 4x increase, though, which is still pretty good.

The new version of mental ray for Maya is expected to ship in September, although it has been in an open beta (for existing Maya users) since February. They do say that “pricing and policies will be announced closer to availability” though, so we'll need to see, then, how different the licensing structure will be. Currently, Maya ships with a few licenses of mental ray out of the box, and has for quite some time.

Source: NVIDIA

Xiaomi Launches Sleek Mi Notebook Air Ultrabooks

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: xiaomi, ultraportable, ultrabook, thin and light, Intel, core m3, core i5

According to the guys over at The Tech Report, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is jumping into the notebook game with two new Mi Notebook Air ultrabooks. The all aluminum notebooks are sleek looking and priced very competitively for their specifications. They are set to release on August 2nd in China.

The new Mi Notebook Air notebooks come in 13.3" and 12.5" versions. Both models use all aluminum bodies with edge to edge glass displays (1080p though unknown what type of panel), backlit keyboards, and dual AKG speakers. Users can choose from gold or silver colors for the body and keyboard (Xiaomi uses a logo-less design which is nice).

Xiaomi Mi-Notebook-Air in Gold and SIlver.jpg

Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air via Ars Technica.

Both models sport a single USB Type C port (which is also used for charging), two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one HDMI video output, and a headphone jack. The Xiaomi website shows an USB Type C adapter that adds extra ports as well. Internally, they have a M.2 slot for storage expansion but the notebooks do not appear to be user serviceable (though iFixit may rectify that...). Also shared is support for the company's Mi Sync software and Mi fitness band which can be used to unlock the computer when the user is in proximity.

The smaller 12.5" Mi Notebook Air is 0.51" thick and weighs just over 2.3 pounds. It is powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and Xiaomi claims that this model can hit 11.5 hours ouf battery life. Other specifications include 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA SSD, and 802.11ac wireless.

If you need a bit more computing power, the 13.3" notebook is slightly bulkier at 0.58" thick and 2.8 pounds with the tradeoff in size giving users a larger display, keyboard, and dedicated graphics card. Specifically, the 13.3" ultrabook features an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia Geforce 940MX GPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCI-E SSD, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This laptop is a bit heavier but I think the extra horsepower is worth it for those that need or want it.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about what many will see as an Apple MacBook Air clone is the pricing. The 12.5" laptop will MSRP for RMB 3499 while that 13.3" notebook will cost RMB 4999. That translates to approximately $525 and $750 USD respectively which is a great value for the specifications and size and seemingly will give Apple a run for its money in China. That's the bad news: Xiaomi does not appear to be bringing these slick looking notebooks to the US anytime soon which is unfortunate.

Also read:

The Huawei MateBook Review: A Denial-of-Surface Attack

Source: Xiaomi

ASRock Releases H110M-STX Mini-STX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2016 - 10:04 AM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, mini-stx, mini-pc, H110M-STX, asrock

The motherboard within ASRock's DeskMini mini-PC kit has been released as a standalone product, and this H110M-STX motherboard offers Intel processor support up to 65W in its 5" x 5" Mini-STX form-factor.

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Image credit: ASRock

Specifications from ASRock:

  • Supports LGA 1151 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors up to 65W TDP
  • Supports Dual-Channel DDR4 SO-DIMM 2133
  • Graphics output: D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • ALC283 Audio Codec
  • 2x SATA3, 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 3x USB 3.0 (Type-A & Type-C from front I/O; 1 from rear I/O)
  • 3x USB 2.0 (2 from onboard header; 1 from rear I/O)
  • Intel Gigabit LAN
  • 1x M.2 (Key E for WiFi + BT module)

Like thin-Mini-ITX motherboards the H110M-STX requires an external 19v power adapter. ASRock recommends a 120W adapter for 65W CPUs, while 35W Intel CPU builds can manage with a 90W adapter.

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Image credit: ASRock

As to availability/price, this has yet to appear in the usual e-tail channels in the U.S., with no results currently on Amazon or Newegg. ASRock's larger H110-ITX board sells for $69.99, so this may give us an indication of where pricing might be - though the smaller STX form-factor could increase cost.

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Image credit: ASRock

A sub-mITX form-factor might seem a bit unnecessary, but the smaller board does provide builders with a way to create their own mini-PC boxes with upgradable processors. Naturally, one would need an enclosure for this tiny motherboard, and the only one I have seen thus far came from SilverStone's booth at CES - though ready availability for all products in this newest form-factor is still an issue.

Source: ASRock
Manufacturer: XSPC

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of XSPC

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Courtesy of XSPC

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Courtesy of XSPC

XSPC is a well established name in the enthusiast cooling market, offering a wide range of custom cooling components and kits. Their newest CPU waterblock, the Raystorm Pro, offers a new look and optimized design in comparison to their last generation Raystorm CPU waterblock. The block features an all copper design with a dual metal / acrylic hold down plate for illumination around the outside edge of the block. The Raystorm Pro is compatible with all current CPU sockets with the currect mounting kit.

Continue reading our review of the XSPC Raystorm Pro CPU waterblock!

Podcast #410 - Data Recovery, New Titan X Launch, AMD builds a GPU with SSDs and more!!

Subject: Editorial | July 28, 2016 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: XSPC, wings, windows 10, VR, video, titan x, tegra, Silverstone, sapphire, rx 480, Raystorm, RapidSpar, radeon pro ssg, quadro, px1, podcast, p6000, p5000, nvidia, nintendo nx, MX300, gp102, evga, dg-87, crucial, angelbird

PC Perspective Podcast #410 - 07/28/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the new Pascal based Titan X, an AMD graphics card with 1TB of SSD storage on-board, data recovery with RapidSpar and more!!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Sebastian Peak, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:46:33
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. 1:29:15 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Wii emulation is absolutely usable now (Dolphin 5)
  4. Closing/outro

Checking out the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming Z

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 25, 2016 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: msi, gtx 1070, Gaming Z, Twin Frozr VI, factory overclocked

The Tech Report had a chance to see what the MSI Twin Frozr VI cooler can do to a GTX 1070, they have just wrapped up a review of the Gaming Z edition of that NVIDIA card.  It comes with a respectable frequency bump when you enable OC mode, 1657 MHz base and 1860 MHz boost.  When they tested it under load the GPU stayed below 70C so there should be room to push the card further.  Check out the full benchmark suite in their full review.

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"Nvidia's second Pascal graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1070, aims to set a new bar for graphics performance in the $379-and-up price range. We put MSI's GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming Z card through the wringer to see how a more affordable Pascal card performs."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Phanteks Launches Full Cover Water Block For Reference GTX 1080 Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 29, 2016 - 02:51 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, RGB LED, phanteks, GPU Water Block

Phanteks, a company that produces cases, CPU coolers, and fans has unveiled its first GPU cooler in the form of a full cover water block for Nvidia's GTX 1080 Founder's Edition (and any partner PCBs that use the reference design) graphics card. The PH-GB1080-X is a full cover nickel plated copper block with acrylic top and black (aluminum?) accents on the edges of the block. There are two ports for inlet/outlet on both top and bottom (so users could SLI multiple cards and water cool in series or parallel). Phanteks allegedly uses Dupont Viton for the gaskets which is a "high-performance seal elastomer" for the aerospace industry (and overkill for the temps that will be seen in a PC water loop heh).

Phanteks PH-GB1080-X Water Cooling Block.jpg

In addition to the acrylic top, users can plug in three (1mm) RGB LEDs into the bottom edge of the card to add a glow effect. Oddly, Phanteks shows the LEDs using three individual cables that then go off to a reported proprietary power adapter that can plug into RGB motherboards or Phanteks' cases. Having the LEDs running off of a single cable (or bundled together) coming of the back edge of the card closest to the motherboard would have been helpful to cable management!

Phanteks' new water block is available for pre-order now for $129.99.

Using a water block on the GTX 1080 should allow users to easily achieve above 2000 MHz GPU clocks and have the card clockspeeds be much more stable than on air. Gamer's Nexus tested their GTX 1080 with an EVGA all in one cooler and managed to crank the GPU clockspeeds up to 2164 MHz and the memory clockspeeds up to 5602 MHz. That 2164 MHz clockspeed is quite the overclock and while it was only a bit above what they achieved on air, the clocks were much more stable and actually able to be maintained during long gaming sessions unlike on air. A custom water loop and a water block like the one Phanteks is selling should do just as well as Gamer's Nexus' results if not ever so slightly better.

If you already have a water loop in your system and have been waiting for a block to go with your GTX 1080 you now have another option!

Also read: The GeForce GTX 1080 8GB Founders Edition Review - GP104 Brings Pascal to Gamers

Source: Phanteks

SIGGRAPH 2016 -- NVIDIA Announces Pascal Quadro GPUs: Quadro P5000 and Quadro P6000

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 25, 2016 - 04:48 PM |
Tagged: siggraph 2016, Siggraph, quadro, nvidia

SIGGRAPH is the big, professional graphics event of the year, bringing together tens of thousands of attendees. They include engineers from Adobe, AMD, Blender, Disney (including ILM, Pixar, etc.), NVIDIA, The Khronos Group, and many, many others. Not only are new products announced, but many technologies are explained in detail, down to the specific algorithms that are used, so colleagues can advance their own research and share in kind.

But new products will indeed be announced.

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The NVIDIA Quadro P6000

NVIDIA, having just launched a few Pascal GPUs to other markets, decided to announce updates to their Quadro line at the event. Two cards have been added, the Quadro P5000 and the Quadro P6000, both at the top end of the product stack. Interestingly, both use GDDR5X memory, meaning that neither will be based on the GP100 design, which is built around HBM2 memory.

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The NVIDIA Quadro P5000

The lower end one, the Quadro P5000, should look somewhat familiar to our reader. Exact clocks are not specified, but the chip has 2560 CUDA cores. This is identical to the GTX 1080, but with twice the memory: 16GB of GDDR5X.

Above it sits the Quadro P6000. This chip has 3840 CUDA cores, paired with 24GB of GDDR5X. We have not seen a GPU with exactly these specifications before. It has the same number of FP32 shaders as a fully unlocked GP100 die, but it doesn't have HBM2 memory. On the other hand, the new Titan X uses GP102, combining 3584 CUDA cores with GDDR5X memory, although only 12GB of it. This means that the Quadro P6000 has 256 more (single-precision) shader units than the Titan X, but otherwise very similar specifications.

Both graphics cards have four DisplayPort 1.4 connectors, as well as a single DVI output. These five connectors can be used to drive up to four, 4K, 120Hz monitors, or four, 5K, 60Hz ones. It would be nice if all five connections could be used at once, but what can you do.

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Pascal has other benefits for professional users, too. For instance, Simultaneous Multi-Projection (SMP) is used in VR applications to essentially double the GPU's geometry processing ability. NVIDIA will be pushing professional VR at SIGGRAPH this year, also launching Iray VR. This uses light fields, rendered on devices like the DGX-1, with its eight GP100 chips connected by NVLink, to provide accurately lit environments. This is particularly useful for architectural visualization.

No price is given for either of these cards, but they will launch in October of this year.

Source: NVIDIA

Seasonic Flagship PRIME 750W, when they upgrade they mean business

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 25, 2016 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, Seasonic PRIME, 750w

It has been about a year since Seasonic released a brand new PSU as they do not tend to flood the market with incremental upgrades to their PSU families.  While this may hurt their business a little as newer users do not see reviews or advertisements frequently, long term enthusiasts take note when a new PSU arrives.  This fully modular PSU offers a single 12V rail capable of delivering 744W @ 62A and offers six 6+2 PCIe power cables, it even still has a floppy connector for those desperate times when you need to pull one out.  [H]ard|OCP strapped the PSU to their torture bench and this Seasonic unit came out with a Gold medal.  Check out the full review here.

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"Seasonic has never been big on marketing-speak. Outside of its impressive specifications, and a list of features, this is all it has to say. "The creation of the PRIME Series is a renewed testimony of Seasonic's determination to push the limits of power supply design in every aspect." Let's see if that is true, or the shortest sales pitch ever."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gigabyte Rolls Out New GTX 1060 Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 26, 2016 - 12:36 AM |
Tagged: windforce, pascal, gigabyte, GeForce GTX 1060

In a recent press release, Gigabyte announced that it will soon be adding four new GTX 1060 graphics cards to its lineup. The new cards feature Windforce series coolers and custom PCBs. At the high end is the GTX 1060 G1 Gaming followed by the GTX 1060 Windforce OC, small form factor friendly GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC, and the budget minded GTX 1060 D5. While the company has yet to divulge pricing or availability, the cards should be out within the next month or two.

All of the upcoming cards use a custom design that uses a custom PCB and power phase setup paired with Gigabyte's dual – or in the case of the Mini ITX card – single fan Windforce air cooler. Unfortunately, exact specifications for all of the cards except the high end model are unknown including core and memory clocks. The coolers use a dual composite heatpipe that directly touches the GPU to pull heat away and is dissipated by an aluminum fin stack. The fans are 90mm on all of the cards with the dual fan models using a design that has each fan spinning alternate directions of the other. The cards feature 6GB of GDDR5 memory as well as DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort video outputs. For example, the Mini ITX OC graphics card (which is only 17cm long) and features two DVI, one HDMI, and one DP output.

Gigabyte GTX 1060 G1 Gaming.jpg

More information is available on the GTX 1060 G1 Gaming. This card is a dual slot dual fan design with a 6+1 power phase (reference is 3+1) powered by a single 8-pin power connector. The fans are shrouded and there is a metal backplate to aid in stability and cooling. Gigabyte claims that its "GPU Gauntlet" technology ensures users get heavily overclockable chips thanks to sorting and using the most promising chips.

The 16nm Pascal GPU is factory overclocked to 1847 MHz boost and 1620 MHz base clockspeeds in OC mode and 1809 MHz boost and 1594 MHz base in gaming mode. Users will be able to use the company's Xtreme Engine software to dial up the overclocks further as well as mess with the RGB LEDs. For comparison, the reference clockspeeds are 1708 MHz boost and 1506 MHz base. Gigabyte has left the 6GB of GDDR5 memory untouched at 8008 MHz.

Gigabyte GTX 1060 Mini ITX OC.jpg

The other cards should have similarly decent factory overclocks, but it is hard to say exactly what they will be out of the box. While I am not a big fan of the aesthetics, the Windforce coolers should let users push Pascal fairly far (for air cooling).

I would guess that the Gigabyte GTX 1060 G1 Gaming will MSRP for just above $300 while the lower end cards will be around $260 (the Mini ITX OC may be at a slight premium above that).

What do you think about Gigabyte's new cards?

Source: Guru3D