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JEDEC made the GDDR5X memory standard official almost a year and a half ago where it launched at 10 Gbps and quickly hit 12 Gbps. Set to bridge the gap between GDDR5 and the upcoming GDDR6, the “G5X” standard is quickly catching up to and matching the speeds that GDDR6 will run at.
Specifically, Micron’s Graphics Design Team in Munich was able to achieve an impressive 16 Gbps in their high speed test environment. The team was able to hit 16 Gbps on a “meaningful sampling” of its mass production GDDR5X silicon which makes the feat much more impressive as it means these higher speeds are moving closer to reality than theory. Micron measured a PRBS11 (psuedorandom binary sequence) pattern read at 16 Gbps using an oscilloscope and also showed off a chart that compared the stable data rate timing margin versus data rate from 10 Gbps to 16 Gbps.
In addition to teasing the 16 Gbps memory speed (it will be awhile yet before we see products like graphics cards running memory at those speeds), Micron announced that it expects to being mass productions of GDDR6 chips in early 2018. GDDR6 will see a new (larger) FBGA1180 package, faster base sort speeds (GDDR6 will start at 12Gbps vs G5X's 10Gbps), and moving to a dual channel approach with channels that will have half as many I/O links (GDDR5X is x16/x32 while GDDR6 will be x8/16 per channel). It will be interesting to see how this move will stack up to G5X, but in theory Micron will be able to push clocks even higher (maybe even higher than 16 Gbps) by having more but simpler channels (and it may be easier for graphics card manufacturers to wire up their cards to the memory chips.
SK Hynix, who showed off its first GDDR6 chip at GTC, appears to be following the same I/O design as Micron with two channel memory at x8 or x16 per channel.
Are you ready for faster GDDR5X? Hopefully these new faster G5X chips come out soon to give AMD and NVIDIA a more appealing alternative to HBM and HBM2 for mid-range and high end consumer graphics cards since High Bandwidth Memory seems to still be suffering from limited supply and is holding the GPU guys back on being able to crank up the production lines!
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2017 - 08:48 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming
As of today, June 6th, Valve has closed their Greenlight program. New submissions will not be accepted and voting has been disabled. Next week, starting on June 13th, Valve will open Steam Direct, which allows anyone to put their game on the platform for a deposit of $100 per title, which will be refunded once the title makes $1,000 in sales. Valve performs a light amount of testing on each game it receives, so it makes sense to have something that prevents you from drowning upon the opening of the flood gates, and it’s nice that they refund it when sales are high enough that their typical fees cover their expenses, rather than double-dipping.
There is still some doubt floating around the net, though... especially regarding developers from impoverished nations. As a Canadian, it’s by no means unreasonable to spend around a hundred dollars, plus or minus the exchange rate of the year, to put a game, made up of years of work, onto a gigantic distribution platform. That doesn’t hold true everywhere. At the same time, Valve does have a measurable cost per submission, so, if they lower the barrier below that, it would be at their expense. It would also be the right thing to do in some cases. Either way, that’s just my unsolicited two cents.
Steam Direct opens on June 13th.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | June 6, 2017 - 06:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: hdr, sdr, nvidia, computex
Dmitry Novoselov of Hardware Canucks saw an NVIDIA SDR vs HDR demo, presumably at Computex based on timing and the intro bumper, and noticed that the SDR monitor looked flat. According to his post in the YouTube comments, he asked NVIDIA to gain access to the monitor settings, and they let him... and he found that the brightness, contrast, and gamma settings were way off. He then performed a factory reset, to test how the manufacturer defaults hold up in the comparison, and did his video based on those results.
I should note that video footage of HDR monitors will not correctly describe what you can see in person. Not only is the camera not HDR, and thus not capable of showing the full range of what the monitor is displaying, but also who knows what the camera’s (and later video processing) exposure and color grading will actually correspond to. That said, he was there and saw it in person, so his eyewitness testimony is definitely valid, but it may or may not focus on qualities that you care about.
Anywho, the test was Mass Effect: Andromeda, which has a native HDR profile. To his taste, he apparently prefers the SDR content in a lot of ways, particularly how the blown out areas behave. He claims that he’s concerned about game-to-game quality, because there will be inconsistency between how one color grading professional chooses to process a scene versus another, but I take issue with that. Even in standard color range, there will always be an art director that decides what looks good and what doesn’t.
They are now given another knob, and it’s an adjustment that the industry is still learning how to deal with, but that’s not a downside to HDR.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 6, 2017 - 12:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: scythe, Mugen 5, air cooler
Scythe's Mugen 5 has a bit of a list to one side, which is designed to give your RAM a little more breathing room and will fit on motherboards with very little clearance between the socket and the DIMMs. At 890g and 130x110x154.5mm it is not the largest cooler on the market but is big enough to warrant attention when picking out a case to install your system in. [H]ard|OCP's tests show this cooler to be more focused the audibility of the cooler than topping the cooling charts, heavy overclockers will be better served by a different cooler but those building a quiet system should check out the full review.
"The Mugen 5 is one of the larger CPU air coolers you will find on the market, and with that is has an "asymmetric design for maximum memory compatibility," so it does not extend deep into DIMM territory. The polished copper baseplate, as well as the rest of the HSF is nickel plated. Also we have a newly engineered mounting mechanism."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD Ryzen 7 1700 5-Way Cooler Comparison @ Kitguru
- EKWB Fluid Gaming 240G Kit @ techPowerUp
- Be quiet! Silent Loop 280mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Bitfenix Shogun Case Windowed Tower @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2017 - 02:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: skype, microsoft
Microsoft has just announced that they will be retiring several Skype apps in about a month’s time (July 1st). The affected platforms are Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1, Messaging for Windows 10 Mobile, Windows RT, and Skype apps for TV. It’s important to note that Skype for Windows Phone still works, although it requires the Windows 10 Mobile Anniversary Update or later. This was originally announced last year, but no date was given at the time (just "in the coming months").
Some sites are noting a workaround for affected users: Skype for Web. Unfortunately, this is probably not a viable option in most circumstances. Specifically, Skype for Web does not officially support mobile browsers, which means that Windows RT users might be in luck, but every other affected device is without options come July 1st.
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2017 - 02:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10
The Verge is reporting on an allegedly leaked slide from Microsoft that announces a new edition of Windows 10 Pro. It is given the placeholder name “Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs” and it has four advertised features: Workstations mode, ReFS, SMBDirect, the ability to use up to four CPUs, and the ability to use up to 6TB of RAM.
Image Credit: GrandMofongo (Twitter)
If this rumor is true, I don’t believe that it will behave like Windows 10 Enterprise. Because it unlocks the ability to address more RAM and CPU sockets, I doubt that users would be able to switch between Windows 10 Pro and “Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs” with just a no-reboot login to an Azure Active Directory. This is just speculation, of course, and speculation on a rumor at that.
The Workstation mode is kind-of interesting, though. The Windows 10 Creators Update introduced Game Mode, which allowed games to be prioritized over other software for higher performance (although it hasn’t been a hit so far). Last month, they also announced power management features to throttle background apps, but only when running on battery power. It makes sense that Microsoft would apply the same concepts wherever it would be beneficial, whether that’s optimizing for performance or efficiency for any given workload.
It does seem like an odd headlining feature for a new edition, which I’d assume requires an up-sell over the typical Windows 10 Pro SKU, when they haven’t demonstrated a clear win for Game Mode yet? What do you all think?
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2017 - 05:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tr4, Threadripper, computex, asrock, amd
In case you need just a bit more Computex news, ASRock is jumping into the high-end AMD desktop platform with two new X399 motherboards using the massive TR4 socket for AMD Threadripper. The new premium motherboards are part of the company’s Professional Gaming and Taichi series and are packed with workstation friendly features.
HardwareCanucks spotted the new boards on the show floor.
Both motherboards arare clad in black and silver colors with the professional gaming having some red accents and the Taichi having a stylized gear shaped chipset heatsink. The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming and X399 Taichi both feature eight DDR4 DIMM slots supporting quad channel memory, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, one PCI-E x1 slot, three Ultra M.2 (x4 PCI-E or SATA drives), one U.2 port, and eight SATA 6Gbps ports. The boards are powered by a 24-pin ATX, 8-pin and 4-pin EPS12V and a 6-pin PCI-E power connector to provide stable slot power to PCI-E devices like graphics cards. The Professional Gaming reportedly has a 10+2 power phase feeing the CPU and memory, and while there is no confirmation that the Taichi also has this it should be close if not the same power phase design.
In addition to aesthetic design choices, the boards differ in networking and audio with the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming sporting Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 and the X399 Taichi have Purity Sound 4. The Threadripper motherboards both support Wi-Fi and two Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports. The X399 Professional Gaming adds a 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface that is not present on the Taichi, however.
Rear I/O on the TR4 X399 motherboards include eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (including one Type-C), dual (Intel) Gigabit Ethernet, six audio connections (5 analog, one digital), two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and a single PS/2 port. The X399 Professional Gaming also has 10GbE port.
Unfortunately, no word on pricing or availability.
We will have to wait for reviews to know for sure, but it appears that while ASRock did not go quite as crazy with the power input as Asus and it’s ROG Zenith Extreme, the company has some nice-looking motherboards. Hopefully they perform as well as they look and enable enthusiasts to push the envelope in terms of hardware and clockspeeds when overclocking. If you are interested in these motherboards, Computerbase.de has several more photos of them on their site.
If you are looking for something a "bit" smaller, ASRock also unveiled the Mini ITX X370 Gaming-ITX/ac that uses the X370 chipset on the AM4 (Ryzen) platform.
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2017 - 04:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, valve, steamvr, webvr, apple, macos
At WWDC, Valve and HTC announced that their SteamVR platform would be arriving for macOS. This means that the HTC Vive can now be targeted by games that ship for that operating system, which probably means that game engines, like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity, will add support soon. One of the first out of the gate, however, is Mozilla with WebVR for Firefox Nightly on macOS. Combine the two announcements, and you can use the HTC Vive to create and browse WebVR content on Apple desktops and laptops that have high-enough performance, without rebooting into a different OS.
Speaking of which, Apple also announced a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with an AMD Radeon RX 580 and a USB-C hub. Alternatively, some of the new iMacs have Radeon graphics in them, with the new 27-inch having up to an RX 580. You can check out all of these announcements in Jim’s post.
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2017 - 04:13 PM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: wwdc, imac pro, imac, apple, all-in-one
In a product-packed WWDC keynote Monday afternoon, Apple announced significant hardware updates to its all-in-one iMac desktop line. After letting the product line go without updates since late 2015, Apple is finally bringing Kaby Lake to its standard iMac models and, as rumored, will be launching a new high-end "iMac Pro" model in December.
The now "normal" line of iMacs received a range of expected feature updates, including USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 support, and new discrete GPU options from AMD.
The 21.5-inch 4K iMacs will be configurable with Radeon Pro 555 and 560 GPUs with up to 4GB of VRAM, while those opting for the 27-inch 5K iMac will be able to choose from the Radeon Pro 570, 575, or 580 with up to 8GB of VRAM.
The Radeon Pro 580, coupled with software and API improvements coming as part of the next version of macOS, "High Sierra" (no, seriously), was specifically called out as being ready to power a new era of VR experiences and content creation on the Mac, thanks to Apple partnerships with Valve (Steam VR), Unity, and Epic (Unreal Engine 4).
Other new features available on the iMac include higher official RAM limits (32GB for the 21.5-inch model and 64GB for the 27-inch), faster NVMe flash storage (up to 2TB capacities), two Thunderbolt 3 ports (which will support Apple's new external GPU initiative), and improved displays (higher maximum brightness, 10-bit dithering, and greater color reproduction).
The starting price for the new iMacs ranges from $1,099 to $1,799 and they're available for order today at Apple's website.
By far the more interesting Mac-related announcement from today's keynote is the new iMac Pro. Although it shares the same basic design as its "non-Pro" counterparts, it features an improved dual fan cooling system that Apple claims is able to accommodate much higher end hardware than has previously been available in an iMac.
This includes Xeon CPUs ranging from 8 to 18 cores, up to 128GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory, up to 4TB of flash storage that Apple rates at a speed of 3GB/s, graphics options powered by AMD's upcoming Vega platform, and, to power it all, a 500 watt power supply.
The new iMac Pro will also include four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports (compared to just two on the non-Pro models), as well as 10Gb Ethernet (NBase-T), making it not only the most powerful iMac, but also the most powerful Mac yet, as Apple continues to let its Mac Pro line languish in the midst of future promised updates.
The iMac Pro's hardware is already quite pricey before you factor in Apple's 5K display, design, and "Apple Tax," so those familiar with the company won't be shocked to learn that this new flagship Mac will start at $5,000 when it launches this December.
Subject: Systems | June 5, 2017 - 04:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: FiercePC, Imperial Hive, amd, ryzen
The branding you see at the top of eTeknix's review of this system may not match your preferences, unless you really loved Blood Dragon, however the components probably will. The front and side panels of the case are tempered glass so you can see the RGBs present on almost all of the components. The system is powered by a Ryzen 1700 on an Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400 with graphics powered by a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Your OS and favourite games will sit on a 250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 NVME with a 2TB Seagate FireCuda Hybrid drive for extra storage. Drop by to see more pictures as well as the system in action.
"Are you ready to take your gaming to the next level? I’m sure many of you are! Today, we’ll be ticking off a few “firsts” here at eTeknix, as we review our first system from Fierce PC, as well as our first system review featuring the Ryzen 1700X, and first with a GTX 1080 Ti. What’s interesting is that we’ve already reviewed many of the individual components used in this system, so we know they’re pretty rocking, but never before together in this configuration."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
Subject: Mobile | June 5, 2017 - 03:58 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: wwdc, radeon pro 560, radeon pro 550, radeon pro, macbook pro, MacBook Air, macbook, kaby lake, iris plus6540, iris plus 650, i7-7700hq, i5-7360U, i5-7267u, apple
Alongside other updates, Apple at its World Wide Developers Conference this morning announced some modest updates to the MacBook line of notebooks.
Starting with the MacBook Pro, we see an across the board upgrade to Kaby Lake processors. As we saw on the desktop side with Kaby Lake, there aren't radical differences with these new processor, however we do see a 200MHz bump across the line on clock speeds. Essentially these are the same relative chips in Intel's Kaby Lake processor lineup as Apple used in the Skylake generation.
|MacBook Pro 13" with Function Keys||MacBook Pro 13" with Touch Bar||MacBook Pro 15" with Touch Bar|
|Screen||13.3" 2560x1600 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits||13.3" 2560x1600 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits||15.4" 2880x1800 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits|
|CPU||Core i5-7360U (2.3GHz up to 3.6GHz)||Core i5-7267U (3.1GHz up to 3.5GHz)||Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz up to 3.8GHz)|
|GPU||Intel Iris Plus 640||Intel Iris Plus 650||
AMD Radeon Pro 555 (2GB)
AMD Radeon Pro 560 (4GB)
|RAM||8 or 16 GB DDR3-1866 (non-upgradeable)||8 or 16 GB DDR3-2133 (non-upgradeable)||16 GB DDR3-2133 (non-upgradeable)|
|Storage||128, 256, 512, or 1TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable)||256, 512, or 1TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable)||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable)|
|Connectivity||2 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack||4 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack||4 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack|
Disappointingly, we do not see the rumored expandability to 32GB of RAM that many power users have been asking for.
Additionally, graphics are generationally upgraded to Intel's Iris Plus 640 and 650 on the 13" models with and without the touch bar respectively.
The 15" MacBook Pro models see refreshed Polaris GPUs in the form of the Radeon Pro 555 and 560. It's worth nothing that the old entry level 15" MacBook Pro previously had the Radeon Pro 450 GPU, so the base configuration is now a more capable GPU even after you take away the expected improvements to the improved Polaris architecture seen in the RX 580.
In addition, the MacBook saw an upgrade to Kaby Lake processors. Apple also claimed that the onboard SSDs in this machine have seen a speed bump, but provided no real data on such claims.
Finally, the stalwart MacBook Air sees a processor speed bump. We aren't sure exactly what processor is in the new Air, but it seems to only have a 100MHz speed increase. Interestingly enough it still retains HD graphics 6000branding, which would lead us to believe this is still a Broadwell -based mobile processor.
These updated models are now available from Apple.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2017 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, ryzen, ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero, asus, x370
[H]ard|OCP have posted a review of ASUS new Ryzen board, the X370 ROG Crosshair VI Hero. The board offers AMD users a lot of choices, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots and three PCIe 2.0 1x slots for daughter cards, eight SATA 6Gbps port as well as an M.2 slot for those who have embraced the new storage form factor. On the back are an impressive dozen USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, one Type-A and one Type-C. For testing they ran the DDR4 at 2133MHz during regular testing and at 2800MHz for overclocked testing, unfortunately it seems that we are returning to the days when you need to research RAM compatibility before you buy. That is nothing we haven't seen before, it simply means you should do a little research before you set up your system.
"It’s been years since we’ve reviewed an ASUS ROG offering that was designed for AMD CPUs. That’s not to say that those haven’t existed, those just weren’t worth a look as the AMD side of things has not been compelling for the better part of the last decade. Thanks to AMD Ryzen, we have a reason to take the ASUS Crosshair VI Hero for a test drive and tell you how it fared in the tumultuous sea of AM4 motherboards."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock X370 Taichi @ Hardware Secrets
- MSI B350M Mortar @ Kitguru
- ECS Durathon 2 Z270H4-I @ Modders-Inc
- BIOSTAR Z270GTN mITX @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2017 - 12:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: IBM, global foundries, Samsung, 5nm, 3nm. eulv, GAAFET
Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography has been the hope for reducing process size below the current size but it had not been used to create a successful 5nm chip, until now. IBM, Samsung and GLOBALFOUNDRIES have succeeded in producing a chip using IBM's gate-all-around transistors, which will be known as GAAFETs and will likely replace the current tri-gate FinFETs used today. A GAAFET resembles a FinFET rotated 90 degrees so that the channels run horizontally, stacked three layers high with gates filling in the gaps, hence the name chosen.
Density will go up, this process will fit 30 billion transistors in a 50mm2 chip, 50% more than the previous best commercial process and performance can be increased by 40% at the same power as our current chips or offer the same performance while consuming 75% less power. Ars Technica delves into the technology required to make GAAFETs and more of the potential in their article.
"IBM, working with Samsung and GlobalFoundries, has unveiled the world's first 5nm silicon chip. Beyond the usual power, performance, and density improvement from moving to smaller transistors, the 5nm IBM chip is notable for being one of the first to use horizontal gate-all-around (GAA) transistors, and the first real use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft might be planning a Workstation edition of Windows 10 Pro @ The Inquirer
- Whoops! Microsoft accidentally lets out a mobile-'bricking' OS update @ The Register
- Futuremark PCMark 10 @ techPowerUp
- Google to give 6 months' warning for 2018 Chrome adblockalypse – report @ The Register
- Computex 2017: Gigabyte's latest and greatest gear @ The Tech Report
- The AMD Computex 2017 Press Conference Revealed! @ TechARP
- The Computex Taipei 2017 Live Coverage (Day 4) @ TechARP
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 4, 2017 - 11:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, SFX-L, SFF, phanteks, mini ITX, htpc, evolv shift x, evolv shift
Phanteks Project 217 prototype case is finally official and will be known as the Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X. Both are small form factor cases that feature a unique tower design that has the approximate footprint of a large graphics card, but manages to fit quite a bit of hardware inside by building up rather than out. The skyscraper style cases measure 6.7” wide and 10.63” deep. The Evplv Shift is the shorter of the two at 18.9” tall while the Evolv Shift X is 25.9”. The Mini ITX cases are constructed from a powder coated steel frame, aluminum cover panels, and tempered glass side panels.
HardwareCanucks shot video of the new SFF cases!
The Evolv Shift and Shift X both have black aluminum insides and a silver aluminum front panel. There are fam vents around the edges of the front panel and two USB 3.0 ports tucked away on the side. The top of the case covers the motherboard I/O and has a cutout in the back for routing the I/O cables out of the case - on the Shift X this piece is also aluminum but on the Shift it is plastic to cut costs. The two tempered glass side panels and front and back panels are held on by thumbscrews to allow for easy removal to work on the build. Being able to take all four sides off should make to easier to build in the small space.
Other case features include removable case feet that enables you to lay the case horizontally on one of its two sides (so you can show off the CPU side or GPU side), dust filters up front, and separation of the two front fans and compartments so that one can be an intake and the other exhaust if you wish. For such a small case there is quite a njt of cable management going o with rubber grommets and horizontal cable tracks (with a magnetic door for easy access) to hid away your cables and pass them from the PSU compartment to the motherboard compartment). Interestingly the GPU is mounted vertically and the bracket can be rotated and adjusted left and right so that you can choose to see the back of the graphics card or (finally!!) the front of the card with the artwork -- that’s right a case that lets you see and show off the stickers and cooler of your graphics card! (hehe, it has always irked me they put the artwork on the part of thr GPU you usually never see once it's in the case.)
Internally, the case is divided into two main areas with the power supply on bottom along with room for water cooling pumps and reservoirs and the motherboard, processor, and graphics cards stacked on top of the PSU area. The Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X both support small form factor power supplies (SFX and SFX-L), Mini ITX motherboards, and even large graphics card thanks to the riser cable and vertical mounting. The larger Shift X can also hold ATX PSUs with the caveat that you have to give up the PSU shroud.
Cooling support includes air and water coolers with up to three 120mm or 140mm fans up front and one 120mm or 140mm fan in the bottom. The case will come with two 140mm fans out of the box.
As far as storage is concerned the case had room for two 2.5” drives and either one 3.5” drive on the Shift or two 3.5” drives on the Shift X.
Oh, and there is also an included RGB controller if you want to add a bit of bling to your dual windowed skyscraper PC.
The Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X are coming later this year for $110 and $160 respectively.
These look to be very unique cases that will look good on a desk or even in the living room as a home theater PC. I am looking forward to the reviews on these as I am curious how well the case can keep high end components cool and how easy they are to build a system in.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 11:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex, bitfenix, mid tower, E-ATX Case, RGB LED, gaming, tempered glass
BitFenix had several new PC cases on display at its Computex booth, but the one that caught my eye was the sub-$100 Enso mid-tower that has some premium features including a large tempered glass side panel, RGB LED and fan controllers, removable filters, and various cable management features. The BitFenix Enso has a clean design that out of the box limits the RGB to a nice looking front panel while allowing enthusiasts to go crazy with aftermarket LED strips and LED fans if they wish.
The BitFenix Enso mid-tower (Image credit: KitGuru)
The new Enso chassis measures 8.2" x 19.2" x 14.4" (209 x 487 x 442mm).and is clad in all black with clean lines and edges that strikes a balance between boxy and gaudy (heh). The front is a smooth panel that slightly angles out (no external drive support here) with RGB LEDs in all four corners. The front I/O is up top with two USB 3.0, two audio, and power and reset buttons. The left side is almost entirely comprised of a tempered glass side panel that is held on by black thumbscrews.
The top has a mesh grill with support for two 120mm fans along with a removable magnetic fan filter. There is also room for a 120mm fan in the back and two 120mm fans up front (where there is also a removable filter that pulls out from the left side of the front panel). There is not enough room up top for a water cooling radiator up top, but there is plenty of room for up to a 240mm radiator in the front.
The bottom of the case has a compartment for the bottom mounted up to 220mm power supply (which also has a removable dust filter) and two 3.5” drives along with space to hide excess cables. This area is covered by a simple black shroud that should make cable management easier.
Dropping support for external drive bays and extra 3.5” bays, BitFenix is able to support E-ATX motherboards, long graphics cards (up to 320mm, their demo used an Asus Strix GTX 1080), and water cooling radiators in a compact mid-tower case. BitFenix states it is possible to mount a 360mm radiator in the front, but it the specifications suggest if you would be limited to two fans with matching vents.
Lots of tie downs and space to hide cables! (Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)
The right side panel is blank, and removing it reveals the back of the motherboard tray. There is room for three 2.5” SSDs with one behind the motherboard and two behind the front fans. The motherboard tray has a large CPU cutout, lots of spots to tie up cables, and rubber grommets for passing cables through to the motherboard and graphics card. Having move of the components sitting behind the motherboard tray means that making a clean looking build will be a bit easier (no drive power cables to hide).
The front panel RGB LEDs are “addressable” which is to say that they can be controlled via the controller at the back or via software where BitFenix is working with Asus to allow its RGB LEDs to be controlled with its Aurora software. There is also a fan controller that looks to accept PWM and control 3-pin fans from that signal. The case is also compatible with LED fans and LEDs strips (the BitFenix demo used strips from Asus that could be controlled with the Asus software). As far as the front panel, you can choose a color or activate a gentle pulsing color change mode that cycles through the colors of the rainbow.
(Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)
Out of the box, the BitFenix Enso will have the front panel LEDs and controllers, but users will need to purchase fans and/or LED strips separately. This is not necessarily bad news though because it allows enthusiasts to pick the fans and LEDs they want (or don’t want), and it also allows the case to hit the budget sub-$100 market with lots of nice DIY-friendly features.
According to a BitFenix representative, the BitFenix Enso will arrive around the end of Q3 2017 or towards the beginning of Q4 with an MSRP of $79.
It looks like an impressive budget case, and if they can hit that $79 target it should be a great value that will let you show off your DIY build without breaking the bank! From the videos at Computex, I am really liking the design as well. What are your thoughts?
Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2017 - 08:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: X399, tr4, Threadripper, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, amd
Asus is showing off its flagship motherboard for the AMD X399 Threadripper platform at Computex this week, and it is quite the RGB laden beast. The Asus Republic of Gamers Zenith Extreme measures 12” x 10.9” and is powered by a 24-pin ATX, two 8-pin EPS12V, and a molex connector for extra PCI-E power. The power is conditioned by an 8+2 power phase for the CPU and both banks of DDR4 memory. Overclocking should not be an issue, and even appears to be encouraged with the inclusion of usual array of various ROG overclocking features (LN2 and overclocking buttons, an OLED readout, on board start and reset buttons, ect)
The top half of the board is dominated by the massive TR4 socket and the eight DIMM slots that surround it (128GB maximum). Above the CPU sits the power phases under a small aluminum heat spreader that has a heat pipe to connect it to the heasink above the rear IO connectors. The bottom half of the board holds four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x8/x16/x8), one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot, one M.2 slot under the X399 chipset heatsink, one U.2 connector, and six SATA 6Gbps ports. There is also a riser board by the rightmost DIMM slot that reportedly holds two M.2 22110 connectors.
Networking support includes Intel I211-AT Gigabit Ethernet, ROG 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11AD Wi-Fi. Further, the Zenith Extreme features SupremeFX audio (S1220 codec and ESS901BQ2C DAQ). Fans of RGB will be happy to see Asus is using RGB LEDs on the I/O and chipset heatsinks as well as a configurable OLED display on the I/O heatsink.
Rear I/O includes two USB 2.0, 12 USB 3.1 Gen 1, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps, one Type-A and one Type-C), and six audio ports. There are also external antenna connectors for the built-in Wi-Fi.
This is one monster of a motherboard, and it should allow users to take full advantage of AMD’s Threadripper processor. Unfortunately, there is no word on exact pricing or availability beyond that it is expected sometime in August following the estimated launch date of Threadripper.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 06:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, Lian-Li, LCS, copper radiator, copper, computex, cinsys, AIO
Guru3D made an interesting find at Lian-Li's Computex booth this year where they managed to take photos of a new all in one (AIO) liquid cooler that sports an all copper loop. Specifically, the company was showing off a new Lian-Li branded liquid cooler from Cinsys with a 240mm radiator. The "X-R240 Expandable water cooling heat radiating system" features a raw copper radiator surrounded by a metal shroud (reportedly aluminum) that houses 120mm fan mounts and a pump, large removable tubing, and a thin nickel plated copper CPU water block.
Lian-Li X-R240 expandable water cooler. (Image credit: Guru3D)
Looking at the photos from Guru3D, the Lian-Li X-R240 AIO certainly looks classy and should perform fairly well with the copper block and copper radiator (which is nice to see in an AIO where aluminum is common). The large tubing appears to be fairly long enabling the radiator to be placed up to or in the front of a mid-tower case, though I am curious how flexible it will be in a smaller case in tight quarters (if I am remembering my watercooling correctly, the larger diameter should mean it will be less likely to kink though). Further, it looks like the tubing is removable and users will be able to expand the loop to add additional blocks and/or radiators which is nice though you should be careful to avoid adding non-copper (aluminum/silver/ect) components to the Lian-Li loop. Angled and/or swivel barbs on the CPU blocks would have been nice as well since the straight barbs on the thin CPU block could make installation more difficult.
The raw copper is a nice aesthetic touch, though once it is installed in your case and sitting behind fans it is going to be hard to see and Guru3D does note that over time the copper will oxidize and discolor. Still, it might be useful for modders to get that steam punk look and feel. Thankfully it looks like there is plastic (and maybe foam) separating the copper radiator from the aluminum shell/shroud though it's less of an issue since the outside of the radiator isn't going to be submerged in water (hopefully!).
The company will reportedly be releasing other models beyond the 240mm shown at Computex presumably by the same OEM (Cinsys). A 360mm radiator and some GPU blocks would be nice to see! Hopefully Morry or Sebastian can get one in for testing soon!
What are your thoughts on Lian-Li using raw copper? Do you prefer plated copper?
Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2017 - 02:50 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini ITX, computex, asrock, amd, AM4
ASRock officially announced the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITXmotherboard at Computex. With the AMD AM4 socket and X370 chipset, the motherboard is ready for a Ryzen processor or Bristol Ridge APU (though at this point, it might be prudent to wait for Raven Ridge).
The new motherboard is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connector that drives a digital eight phase VRM setup. The AM4 CPU socket is surrounded by two DDR4 DIMM slots, a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, and four SATA 6Gbps ports. There is also one Ultra M.2 (PCI-E 3.0 x4) slot for solid state drives. ASRock includes 7.1 channel (Realtek ALC 1220) audio along with Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet. There is also support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.3 with two external antenna connectors on the back panel.
Speaking of rear I/O, the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x HDMI
- 3 x USB 3.0 Type-A
- 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
- 5 x Analog audio
- 1 x S/PDIF
- 2 x Wi-Fi antennas
Small form factor enthusiasts have been waiting for this board for awhile since it was first teased. Fortunately, they will not have long to wait with several websites reporting from Computex that the new Mini ITX motherboard will be available within the month for around $160 MSRP. (There is reportedly also going to be a B350-based variant which may come in a bit cheaper.)
I am looking forward to the reviews on this one! Are you planning a SFF Ryzen build?
- BIOSTAR Launches First Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboards
- BIOSTAR Shows Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboard for AMD Ryzen
- Computex 2017: ASRock Shows Mini-ITX Intel X299 with the X299E-ITX Motherboard
Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2017 - 06:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: x370, Strix X370-F Gaming, Strix B350-F Gaming, ryzen, b350, asus, amd
ASUS just announced two new members of their Strix motherboard series for AMD's Ryzen, the Strix X370-F Gaming and Strix B350-F Gaming.
The boards offer similar features, they support up to 64GB of DDR4-3200 in their four DIMM slots and offer ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A with two headphone jacks. You will find four USB 3.1 ports on the back panels along with HDMI 1.4b and DP 1.2 out and an Intel I211-AT powered gigabit NIC. Storage options do vary, both have an M.2 slot however the X370 has twice as many SATA ports, eight to the B350's four.
The Strix X370-F Gaming
Depending on which model you choose you could have up to three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, one capped at 8x along with support for Crossfire and SLI. The slots are branded as SafeSlots which are made using an injection molding process that integrates metal framing to support todays monstrous GPUs.
Those who want their system to stand out can take advantage of the AURA Sync RGB lighting and 3D printer friendly heat shields to make their build unique. You can compare the boards directly at ASUS and check out the PR just below.
The Strix B350-F Gaming
Fremont, CA (June 2, 2017) -- — Since its release back in April, AMD’s Ryzen platform has quickly established itself as a viable option, delivering exemplary performance for daily computing and gaming. ASUS was ready for the early unveil, releasing an array of motherboards for value-packed PCs to models geared for high-end rigs. However, pressing demand for Ryzen-based systems shows a need for more options in the middle of the ASUS product stack. So today, we’re bolstering our portfolio with two new AM4 motherboards aimed squarely at gamers who wish to utilize Ryzen performance in their next PC build.
Based on the latest AMD X370 and B350 chipsets, the ATX-sized Strix X370-F and Strix B350-F include all the core ROG enhancements that make system setup a breeze, while offering performance that stands out from the crowd. To read more about these motherboards, please visit ASUS ROG. ROG B350-F Motherboard
ASUS ROG Strix X370-F Gaming and Strix B350-F Gaming Motherboards will be available in early June at leading resellers in North America.
Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2017 - 04:55 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, shield, SHIELD TV, plex, plex pass
Yesterday I posted a news blurb about the update to Plex that brought Live TV viewing and an enhanced DVR capability to the widely used and very popular media software package. In that story I mentioned that the NVIDIA SHIELD (and all Android TV systems) were among the first of the roll out, capable of both serving Live TV but also streaming and viewing it. Yes, the NVIDIA SHIELD continues to be one of the most interesting parts of the cord cutting economy, with a balance of hardware performance, software improvements, and cost.
Along with the Plex software update, NVIDIA has its own update pushing out starting yesterday, Experience Upgrade 5.2, starting with the SHIELD Preview Program members. This update brings a couple of important changes that make the Plex Live TV rollout much more interesting. First, the SHIELD now has support for a wider array of TV tuners, including direct attached USB TV tuners. Here is the updated list of supported hardware:
- HDHomeRun Network Tuners:
- Connect – Dual tuner, Base model
- Extend – Dual tuner, Converts MPEG2 to H.264 for lower bandwidth and size requirements
- Prime – Requires cable subscription and a CableCARD
- Hauppauge Dual USB Tuners:
- WinTV-dual HD 1595 (NTSC) – US/Canada
- WinTV-dual HD 1590 (DVB-T/T2) – UK/EU
- Single USB Tuners – Not recommended due to single tuner capability
- AVerMedia AVerTV Volar Hybrid Q (H837) for US/Canada
NVIDIA claims there are more tuners on the way soon, so we’ll keep an eye out on the updates.
The second update allows SHIELD to write to network attached storage devices (NAS). Previously, the Android TV box could only mount them as read-only partitions, even in Plex, making them useless for recording live TV via the Plex DVR. With the 5.2 release you can now direct write to NAS hardware, allowing the SHIELD to store copies of recorded TV shows and movies in a location that makes sense. If you have a non-hard drive SHIELD unit, this is a great feature, and even if you have the 500GB model, this easily expands usable storage with hardware you may already own.
Also as a part of the update are more general tweaks and improvements including “network storage directory and connectivity enhancements, Wi-Fi performance improvements, and experience enhancements for SHIELD remote and SHIELD controller.”
NVIDIA is celebrating the release of this Plex update by offering a 6-month Plex Pass subscription as a part of the deal if you buy a new SHIELD TV. That’s a $30 value, but a Plex Pass is a requirement to take advantage of Live TV. For users that already own the SHIELD, you’ll have to shell out the $5/mo for the premium Plex offering (worth it for sure in my view) to try out the live TV feature.