So what if it is small, this Breadbox can play Crysis

Subject: Systems | January 7, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: SFF, gigabyte, GA-Z170N-Gaming 5, i5-6600K, G.Skill Trident Z, GTX 970

The Tech Report has a bit of a soft spot for what they refer to as Breadbox builds, aka SFF systems and recently one of their members built a brand new system.  Hidden in the tiny EVGA Hadron Hydro case is a watercooled i5-6600K, a tiny Gigabyte GTX 970 GV-N970IXOC-4GD, 16GB of DDR4 and two OCZ Vector 180 SSDs all installed on a Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 mini-ITX board.  The installation went well though the EVGA Hadron Hydro has a bit of a personality to it which you can read about in the full article right here.

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"Our Editor-in-Chief has always had a soft spot for Mini-ITX systems with big performance, and Gigabyte, OCZ, EVGA, G.Skill, and Logitech were happy to help him build a Breadbox system with some high-octane parts. Here's how he put it all together."

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Running Intel HD 530 graphics under Linux

Subject: Processors | November 12, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: linux, Skylake, Intel, i5-6600K, hd 530, Ubuntu 15.10

A great way to shave money off of a minimalist system is to skip buying a GPU and using the one present on modern processors, as well as installing Linux instead of buying a Windows license.  The problem with doing so is that playing demanding games is going to be beyond your computers ability, at least without turning off most of the features that make the game look good.  To help you figure out what your machine would be capable of is this article from Phoronix.  Their tests show that Windows 10 currently has a very large performance lead compared to the same hardware running on Ubuntu as the Windows OpenGL driver is superior to the open-source Linux driver.  This may change sooner rather than later but you should be aware that for now you will not get the most out of your Skylakes GPU on Linux at this time.

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"As it's been a while since my last Windows vs. Linux graphics comparison and haven't yet done such a comparison for Intel's latest-generation Skylake HD Graphics, the past few days I was running Windows 10 Pro x64 versus Ubuntu 15.10 graphics benchmarks with a Core i5 6600K sporting HD Graphics 530."

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Source: Phoronix
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

New Components, New Approach

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After 20 or so enclosure reviews over the past year and a half and some pretty inconsistent test hardware along the way, I decided to adopt a standardized test bench for all reviews going forward. Makes sense, right? Turns out choosing the best components for a cases and cooling test system was a lot more difficult than I expected going in, as special consideration had to be made for everything from form-factor to noise and heat levels.

Along with the new components I will also be changing the approach to future reviews by expanding the scope of CPU cooler testing. After some debate as to the type of CPU cooler to employ I decided that a better test of an enclosure would be to use both closed-loop liquid and air cooling for every review, and provide thermal and noise results for each. For CPU cooler reviews themselves I'll be adding a "real-world" load result to the charts to offer a more realistic scenario, running a standard desktop application (in this case a video encoder) in addition to the torture-test result using Prime95.

But what about this new build? It isn't completely done but here's a quick look at the components I ended up with so far along with the rationale for each selection.

CPU – Intel Core i5-6600K ($249, Amazon.com)

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The introduction of Intel’s 6th generation Skylake processors provided the excuse opportunity for an upgrade after using an AMD FX-6300 system for the last couple of enclosure reviews, and after toying with the idea of the new i7-6700K, and immediately realizing this was likely overkill and (more importantly) completely unavailable for purchase at the time, I went with the more "reasonable" option with the i5. There has long been a debate as to the need for hyper-threading for gaming (though this may be changing with the introduction of DX12) but in any case this is still a very powerful processor and when stressed should produce a challenging enough thermal load to adequately test both CPU coolers and enclosures going forward.

GPU – XFX Double Dissipation Radeon R9 290X ($347, Amazon.com)

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This was by far the most difficult selection. I don’t think of my own use when choosing a card for a test system like this, as it must meet a set of criteria to be a good fit for enclosure benchmarks. If I choose a card that runs very cool and with minimal noise, GPU benchmarks will be far less significant as the card won’t adequately challenge the design and thermal characteristics of the enclosure. There are certainly options that run at greater temperatures and higher noise (a reference R9 290X for example), but I didn’t want a blower-style cooler with the GPU. Why? More and more GPUs are released with some sort of large multi-fan design rather than a blower, and for enclosure testing I want to know how the case handles the extra warm air.

Noise was an important consideration, as levels from an enclosure of course vary based on the installed components. With noise measurements a GPU cooler that has very low output at idle (or zero, as some recent cooler designs permit) will allow system idle levels to fall more on case fans and airflow than a GPU that might drown them out. (This would also allow a better benchmark of CPU cooler noise - particularly with self-contained liquid coolers and audible pump noise.) And while I wanted very quiet performance at idle, at load there must be sufficient noise to measure the performance of the enclosure in this regard, though of course nothing will truly tax a design quite like a loud blower. I hope I've found a good balance here.

Continue reading our look at the cases and cooling test system build!

Better late than never, Skylake in August

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2015 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, lga1151, Intel, i7-6700K, i5-6600K, H110, 14nm

DigiTimes has some dates for Skylake, with the desktop chips you are most interesting being revealed at Gamescon in Germany at the end of August.  There will be a pair of i7 models, one unlocked K model and a power optimized T model and six i5 models, three with lower TDPs and at least one unlocked i5, the 6600K.  A month after the new chips are shown off will come the arrival of the new LGA 1151 socketed H110 chipset, which will likely be compatible with a certain AiO watercooler.  Mobile versions will not be for sale until the new year but the long wait will likely mean the inclusion of the new USB 3.1 Type-C ports on those laptops.

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"Intel will then unveil its Skylake-based Core i7-6700/6700T, Core i5-6600, 6500, 6400, 6600T, 6500T and 6400T, and H170 and B150 chipsets between August 30-September 5."

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Source: DigiTimes