The down and dirty on the hot and bothered ACX 3.0 cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX1070, GTX1060, GTX 1080, fail, evga, ACX 3.0

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Checklist time readers, do you have the following:

  • A GTX 1060/1070/1080
  • Which is from EVGA
  • With an ACX 3.0 cooler
  • With one of the model numbers above

If not, make like Bobby McFerrin.

If so, you have a reason to be concerned and EVGA offers their apologies and more importantly, a fix.  EVGA's tests, which emulate the ones performed at Tom's show that the thermal temperature of the PWM and memory was just marginally within spec.  That is a fancy way of saying that in certain circumstances the PWM was running just short of causing a critical thermal incident, also know as catching on fire and letting out the magic smoke.  They claim that this was because the testing focused on GPU temperature and the lowest acoustic levels possible and did not involve measuring the heat produced on memory or the VRM which is, as they say, a problem.

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You have several choices of remedy from EVGA, please remember that you should reach out directly to their support, not NVIDIA's.  You can try requesting a refund from the store you purchased it at but your best bet is EVGA.

The first option is a cross-ship RMA.  Contact EVGA as a guest or with your account to set up an RMA and they will ship you a replacement card with a new VBIOS which will not have this issue and you won't need to send yours back until the replacement arrives.

You can flash to the new VBIOS which will adjust the fan-speed curve to ensure that your fans are running higher than 30% and will provide sufficient cooling to additional portions of the GPU.  Your card will be louder but it will also be less likely to commit suicide in a dramatic fashion.

Lastly you can request a thermal pad kit, which EVGA suggests is unnecessary but certainly sounds like a good idea especially as it is free although requires you sign up for an EVGA account.  Hopefully in the spare seconds currently available to the team we can get our hands on an ACX 3.0 cooled Pascal card with the VBIOS update and thermal pads so we can verify this for you.

This issue should not have happened and does reflect badly on certain factors of EVGA's testing.  Their response has been very appropriate on the other hand, if you are affected then you can get a replacement card with no issues or you can fix the issue yourself.  Any cards shipped, though not necessarily purchased, after Nov. 1st will have the new VBIOS so be careful if you are sticking with a new EVGA Pascal card.

Source: EVGA

NVIDIA Releases 375.76 Hotfix Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

The release of NVIDIA's GeForce 375.57 graphics drivers wasn't the most smooth. It introduced a few bugs into the package, which was likely due to all of the games that were coming out at the time. One issue introduced artifacts in animated GIFs, which could introduce seconds worth of black blotches. This was supposed to be fixed in the next WHQL driver, but it slipped. Since the next WHQL driver is looking to be a couple of weeks out, NVIDIA released a hotfix.

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The driver also fixes “occasional flicker on high refresh rate monitors”. I'm not sure how old this bug is. I've heard some people complain about it with recent drivers, but Allyn and I have noticed weird snowy flickers for several months now. (Allyn actually took slow motion video of one occurrence back in May.) I guess we'll see if this is the same issue.

You can pick up 375.76 Hotfix from NVIDIA's CustHelp.

Source: NVIDIA

Skyrim Special Edition, or Skyrim "Special" Edition

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, gaming, elder scrolls

If you picked up all of the Skyrim DLC then the new Special Edition is available to you for free, otherwise it could cost you up to $50.  The question of whether to install it or not is on the minds of many gamers, including the gang over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.  The answer is simple if you have installed dozens of mods and have them playing nicely together; do not.  This new version will not support those mods nor will you be able to load saves from them, though there is a way for those with less common aspect ratios to be able to play.

For those uninterested in mods or who want to start all over again, there have been reports of sound issues and many of the old bugs are back; expect a lot of flying if your FPS can top 60 if your machine can play the new version that is.  As far as the new graphical features such as lighting do not measure up to the unmodded original with the high resolution texture pack as you can see in the image from RPS below.  It has no hope of matching the quality of some of the various existing mods that make the game almost photo realistic.  All is not lost, this could be a great platform upon which modders can redo existing mods or create new ones but for the most part this launch is disturbingly reminiscent of the original launch of the game.

RPS example.PNG

"I switched repeatedly between it and an unmodded Skyrim original install with Bethesda’s official high-res texture pack added in, and it didn’t take long to reach that perfect pitch of meaningless insanity that is deciding between two different shades of white to paint your bathroom. Ultimately, I came damned closed to preferring the original."

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HTML 5.1 Promoted to W3C Recommendation

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: w3c

HTML is a format that translates text into a hierarchy of special objects, called elements, that can be arranged into Web content. The specification is controlled by the W3C, who just promoted HTML 5.1 to “W3C recommendation,” which is their final stage for a standard excluding errata or a wholly new version.

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Because standardization, intentionally, takes a very long time, this is not about new features or anything like that. In fact, one of the changes that I found interesting was the removal of appCache. This feature was originally designed for web applications to operate offline by ensuring everything it needs is stored locally. It wasn't really surprising, since Firefox actually warns users that it's deprecated since version 44, but notable none-the-less. (If anyone is wondering, Service Worker API replaced this API. Yes, I am aware of the Web standards joke “there are two standards for everything, but one is deprecated and the other is experimental”.)

If you're interested in just the changes, they are summarized here.

Source: W3C

Windows 7 and 8.1 did stop shipping to OEMs

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2016 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, OEM, windows, EoL

We've known for quite some time that Microsoft planned to stop providing OEMs with keys for Windows 7 or 8.1 this Halloween and they have made good on that promise.  If you already have a valid license you will contine to be able to use it on your machine and even reinstall from scratch but you won't be able to buy a machine without Windows 10 anymore.  On the corporate side this is being ignored, the new machine may ship with Win10 installed but that will not last long.  This is your last chance to grab one of the few remaining unused Windows 7 or 8.1 keys, The Register managed to spot at least one company still offering a Win7 downgrade so get moving if that is your plan.

windows-7.jpg

"If you can get Dell, HP Inc, Lenovo or any other PC-maker to sell you a PC running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1, please let us know how you did it because Microsoft no longer sells the operating system to OEMs."

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Source: The Register

Enter the AMD Massive Uprising Giveaway

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2016 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: gtribe, giveaway, gaming, amd

It would seem that yet another "first social media network for PC gamers" has arisen, but if you are so inclined to sign up there are giveaways including Battlefield 1 and a CyberPower gaming PC.  You have your chance to win either:

  • FOUR Grand Prize winners will each receive an ultimate gaming PC, meticulously handcrafted by CYBERPOWERPC and also receive a free download code for Battlefield 1, offered by Kinguin.  The combined value of the prizes is $9,200.
  • TEN First Prize winners will each receive a download code for Battlefield 1, courtesy of AMD Gaming.

It is a chance at a system with a Swiftech liquid-cooled XFX Radeon RX 480 Black Edition 8GB OC @ 1328 MHz GPU, and a plethora of Logitech G Prodigy gear plus BF1 ... or just BF1, for signing up on either Facebook or Twitter.  If you are interested then click away, if not then proceed directly to the comments to vent your spleen.

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Source: AMD

MSI Is Turning Thirty Years Old with Thirty Giveaways

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 1, 2016 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: msi, giveaway, giveaways, pc gaming

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, MSI is having a massive giveaway. Each day, from today (November 1st) to November 30th, you are able to answer a trivia question to be entered in that day's drawing. Being that it's MSI, they are also requiring that you capitalize every letter of your answer. I'm not joking; that really is in their How to Enter process. You also need to follow MSI and HyperX on Twitter to enter but, although the form is through Facebook, it looks like you do not need a Facebook account. I could be wrong about that last part, though.

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Also, winning a prize does not exclude you from winning future prizes. Don't bother trying to game the system, like waiting to enter until the “good prizes” but not the “great prizes” that will get too many entries, etc. Try every day if you can, even if you already won previously.

The prize for today is the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING 4G from MSI, but they vary wildly from day to day. Even though NVIDIA is a partner in this giveaway, along with HyperX and Intel, there are even some AMD cards scattered throughout the month. I mean, it makes sense: MSI sells AMD cards. Their contest page claims that the total prize pool is up to $14,000 USD.

Check out the contest page for more details, and enter at the button below the list of prizes.

Source: MSI

Cooler Master's MasterAir Pro 3 and 4 arrive on the scene

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 1, 2016 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, masterair 3, masterair 4

Cooler Master has been expanding their Master series to encompass cooling and enclosures, today with a pair of new lower cost heatsinks.  The MasterAir Pro 3 is a $40, 92mm mini-tower while the $45 Pro 4 is a 120mm design, both of which use the X mount style of the previous Hyper 212 Evo.  The Tech Report tested them on an i5-6600K and found both coolers to be somewhat more efficient at moving heat and significantly quieter than the stock Intel cooler.  You won't break records but if you are looking for an inexpensive cooling solution and don't mind the mounting mechanism you should check out the full review.

coolers.jpg

"Cooler Master's MasterAir Pro 3 and MasterAir Pro 4 CPU coolers represent the latest refinements in a long line of tower-style air heatsinks from the company. We strapped them onto Intel's unlocked Core i5-6600K CPU to see how they perform."

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CASES & COOLING

Adobe Releases Another Flash Player Update for Linux

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2016 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: Adobe, linux, mozilla

Apparently I missed this the first time around, but Adobe has decided to continue supporting the NPAPI version of Flash Player on Linux. They have just released their second update, Flash Player 24 Beta, on October 28th for both 32- and 64-bit platforms. Before September, Adobe was maintaining Flash Player 11.2 with security updates. Adobe has also extended NPAPI support beyond 2017, which was supposed to be the original cut-off for that plug-in architecture on Linux, and pledge to keep “major version numbers in sync”.

homestar-smoothmoves.png

This took me by surprise. Browser vendors, even Mozilla, have been deprecating NPAPI for a while. Plug-ins are unruly from a security and performance standpoint, and they would much rather promote the Web standards that they work so hard to implement, rather than being a window frame around someone else's proprietary platform.

So what are Adobe thinking? Well, they claim that this “is primarily a security initiative”. As such, it would make sense that, possibly, and again I'm an outsider musing here, the gap between now and 11.2 was large enough that it would be easier to just maintain two branches.

Still, this seems a little... late... for that to be the reason, unless Adobe, then, expected Flash to die off and, now, see it hanging around a little while longer. Meanwhile, on the tools side of things, Adobe has pivoted Flash Professional into Animate CC, with the ability to export to HTML and JavaScript, so they don't really need to keep Flash on life support. It's not at feature parity, but it's getting there. Granted, a lot of the game and animation hosting sites are set up to just accept a packaged Flash file, so maybe that market is holding them back?

Whatever the reason, Flash on Linux is continuing to be supported for all browsers. If you find yourself at the intersection of Linux, Firefox, and hobbyist-developed Tower Defense games, you can pick up the latest plug-in at Adobe Labs.

Source: Adobe Labs

The Dell Alienware 13 arrives, with a 1440p OLED screen and GTX 1060

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 1, 2016 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: oled, GTX1060, dell, Alienware 13, alienware

Dell has announced four base models of Alienware 13 gaming notebooks, a TN model, a 1080p IPS model and two 1440p OLED models; one with 8GB of DDR4 and one with double that amount.  The two non-OLED models are powered by an i5-6300HQ while the OLED models contain an i7-6700HQ and all four have a desktop class GTX 1060.  That should offer you enough to power an Oculus or Vive, especially if you opt to purchase the Alienware Graphics Amplifier which is an external GPU dock that uses a proprietary connection from Dell.  It is described as a proprietary PCIe connection which provides four lanes of PCIe 3.0, which sounds very similar to Thunderbolt 3.0 which also provides four lanes when done correctly.

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It is also nice to see that all use SSDs for storage, the TN model a SATA drive and the other four base models a PCIe SSD.  One must assume that the pink can be turned off in the BIOS, though there are those guaranteed to like the glow.  You can check out all of the additional features and options on Dell's page and perhaps even pick one up as they are available as of today.  Hopefully we will have a chance to test Dell's external GPU connection against the more common Thunderbolt solutions in the near future.

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Source: Dell

DX12 Multi-GPU scaling up and running on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 1, 2016 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: video, rx 480, readon, nvidia, multi-gpu, gtx 1060, geforce, dx12, deus ex: mankind divided, amd

Last week a new update was pushed out to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided that made DX12 a part of the main line build and also integrated early support for multi-GPU support under DX12. I wanted to quickly see what kind of scaling it provided as we still have very few proof points on the benefit of running more than one graphics card with games utilizing the DX12 API.

As it turns out, the current build and driver combination only shows scaling on the AMD side of things. NVIDIA still doesn't have DX12 multi-GPU support enabled at this point for this title.

  • Test System
  • Core i7-5960X
  • X99 MB + 16GB DDR4
  • AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB
    • Driver: 16.10.2
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
    • Driver: 375.63

mankind1080-avg.png

Not only do we see great scaling in terms of average frame rates, but using PresentMon for frame time measurment we also see that the frame pacing is consistent and provides the user with a smooth gaming experience.

mankind1080-plot.png

Feral Interactive Plans Vulkan Ports in 1st Half of 2017

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2016 - 07:12 PM |
Tagged: feral interactive, pc gaming, vulkan, linux

Beginning in the first half of next year, Feral Interactive plans to release software running on the Vulkan API. Feral is one of the three well known Linux port developers, the other two being Aspyr Media and an independent contractor, Ryan C. Gordon, who convert Windows games under some deal with the original creators.

feral-2016-logo.png

They didn't claim which game would be first. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be initially released on OpenGL, but people are speculating that, since its rendering back-end is set up to efficiently queue DirectX 12 tasks, which is the same basic structure that Vulkan uses, Feral might release a patch to it later. Alternatively, they could have another title in the works, although I cannot think of anything short of DOOM that would fit the bill, and there has been nothing from Bethesda, id, or Feral to suggest that is leaving Windows. Maybe Tomb Raider?

Whatever it is, we're beginning to see more than just engine developers port software to the new graphics APIs, and on multiple platforms, too.

PowerColor's Devil Box, a laptop dock with space for a GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 31, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: powercolor, devil box, external gpu

Thunderbolt 3, when properly implemented, provides enough bandwidth to make external GPUs possible.  The rather large Devil Box dock offers all the connectivity generally found in a docking station but can also handle even the most recently released GPUs.  Overclockers Club tested out the effectiveness of the Devil Box with an RX 480, comparing the performance of the card when installed internally and externally.  As you would reasonably expect the performance is slower over Thunderbolt, by a fair margin in most cases but not as much in the DX12 Ashes of the Singularity.  Drop by to see the full review and ponder if adding an external desktop GPU to your laptop is interesting enough for to you invest in.

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"If you are using a laptop, you get single connection to everything you need via Thunderbolt 3. External storage, connecting USB peripherals, Gigabit LAN connectivity, display output, and charging all through one cable. Pricing will come in at $375 US for just the Devil Box enclosure and included Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps cable. Add in the cost of a good, solid $200 GPU and you fast approach $600."

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Lenovo now allows Linux on Signature Edition Yoga laptops but still protest their innocence

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2016 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, yoga, linux, Yoga 900S

As we discovered back in September, the new Lenovo Yoga Signature Editions on the market would not allow you to boot your machine from a Linux installation.  This was caused by the Intel software RAID used in these machines which has had a long history of trouble with Linux.  Today Lenovo made a BIOS update available which will allow your Yoga to see a disk with Linux installed and to boot from it, likely by allowing you to switch your SATA drive from RAID to AHCI mode.  Lenovo has made it clear that any support for RAID mode will have to come from Linux developers which makes perfect sense as they are the driving force behind such support.  What confuses many, including The Register, is why Lenovo removed the ability to switch SATA modes in the BIOS in the first place.

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"Following last month's criticisms, Lenovo has released a BIOS update for its Yoga 900 range of laptops, finally allowing them to support GNU/Linux installations."

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Source: The Register

EVGA Overheating VRM Issue with GeForce ACX Coolers

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 30, 2016 - 03:09 AM |
Tagged: fail, evga

About a week ago, EVGA acknowledged an issue with their brand of custom-cooled GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 FTW cards. This came after the German branch of Tom's Hardware measured, back on October 6th, very high temperatures on the voltage regulator modules (VRMs), which was caused by these components not being able to adequately remove heat. To remedy the situation, EVGA offers cooling pads for all affected customers, which these customers could install under backplate and under the heatsink fins.

evga-2016-VRMtemps.jpg

Image Credit: EVGA

Over the last day or so, users have been reporting that their cards are breaking, and even allegedly catching fire. According to GamersNexus and their source, Buildzoid of Actually Hardcore Overclocking, VRMs, if they fail, will just burn out without warning. The user in question claims that they were just playing Shadow Warrior 2 when their computer just shut down, with a sparkle and magic smoke. Taking the card out, they noticed a scorch mark on the PCB, right in the middle of the VRMs.

Regardless of how gloriously pyrotechnic this issue became, the consensus is that the thermal pads will still fix the issue. If you're not comfortable adding them yourself, then you should contact EVGA support.

Source: GamersNexus

Mozilla Unveils Quantum Project

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2016 - 01:09 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, servo, gecko, firefox

One of the big announcements at Mozilla Summit 2013, despite Firefox OS being the focus of the event, was their research (with Samsung) into a new rendering engine, Servo. Rendering HTML5 is horrifically complex, so creating a new rendering engine from scratch is a big “nope!” for basically all organizations. Mozilla saw this as a big potential, because current engines are very difficult to scale to multiple cores, so they went in to this as a no-assumptions experiment.

mozilla-architecture.jpg

At the time, they didn't know whether Servo would be built up into a full rendering engine, or whether it would be picked apart and pulled back into their current engine, Gecko. Mozilla has now unveiled Quantum, and the first sentence of its MozillaWiki entry is “Quantum is not a new web browser.” They go on to say that they will be “building on the Gecko engine as a solid foundation”. So it seems pretty clear that, like they've recently done with their media file parser in Firefox 48.

While this will likely not have the major impact that “boom, new engine” would, in terms of performance, this piece-wise method should be quicker than bulking up Servo. Mozilla expects that big changes will begin to land next year.

Source: Mozilla

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.10.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 30, 2016 - 12:08 AM |
Tagged: titanfall 2, graphics drivers, amd

If you are experiencing crashes in Titanfall 2, and you are using an AMD graphics card, then you will probably be interested in AMD's Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.10.3. According to its release notes, that is the only issue this hotfix driver addresses.

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Also, being a hotfix driver, you might have issues with clean installs of Windows 10 Anniversary Update, because I'm not sure if it's signed by Microsoft. It might be, but that's obviously a fairly narrow subset of hardware and software that I cannot test on a single machine. If that's the case, though, then you can temporarily disable Secure Boot... or just wait until AMD releases a signed driver.

I should note that, while we're posting this a couple of days late, like our news about NVIDIA's driver, AMD was able to release this the day before Titanfall 2 launched. Our readers, at least I hope, found out about the update before now, rather than suffering through some crashes when a fix was already available. Sorry that I didn't get a post up sooner, though; AMD did their part.

Source: AMD

Some GTX 1070s Could Use a VBIOS Update

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 29, 2016 - 11:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 1070, vbios

So apparently I completely missed this news for over a week. It's probably something that our readers would like to know, though, because it affects the stability of GTX 1070 cards. Video RAM chips are purchased from a variety of vendors, and they should ideally be interchangeable. It turns out that, while NVIDIA seems to ship their cards with Samsung memory, some partners have switched to Micron GDDR5 modules.

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According to DigitalTrends, the original VBIOS installed in graphics cards cannot provide enough voltage for Micron quick enough, so it would improperly store data. This reminds me when I had a 7900 GT, which apparently had issues with the voltage regulators feeding the VRAM, leading to interesting failures when the card got hot, like random red, green, and blue dots scattered across the screen, even during POST.

Anywho, AIB vendors have been releasing updated VBIOSes through their websites. DigitalTrends listed EVGA, Gainward, and Palit, but progress has been made since then. I've found updates at ASUS that were released a couple of days ago, which claim to fix Micron memory stability, but it looks like Gigabyte and MSI are still MIA. The best idea is to run GPU-Z and, if Micron produces your GDDR5 memory, check your vendor's website for a new VBIOS.

It's a pain, but this sort of issue goes beyond driver updates.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 375.70 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 29, 2016 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Yesterday, which was a Friday, NVIDIA released updated graphics drivers for Titanfall 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, Skyrim Special Edition, Obduction, and Dishonored 2. While it kind-of missed Skyrim Special Edition by a day-and-a-bit, the GeForce 375.70 drivers seem stable enough in my testing, although a couple of issues that were introduced in 375.57 are still ongoing. I've been using them with a GeForce GTX 1080 (and a secondary GTX 670) for a little over a day, and I haven't yet seen an issue.

nvidia-geforce.png

As for the known bugs, while neither of which affect me, they could be a bother to some. First, Folding@Home is allegedly reporting incorrect results, which NVIDIA is currently investigating. Second, and probably more severe, is that certain animated GIFs have quite severe artifacting. It's almost like, for the first handful of seconds, instead of seeing the frame difference over the first frame, you see it over a black frame. This can be worked around by disabling hardware acceleration (or using a different browser -- Firefox seems okay) until NVIDIA can release another driver. The good news is that it's already been fixed internally, they just couldn't ship it with 375.70.

Feel free to download 375.70 at NVIDIA's website (or GeForce Experience)... or wait for a later release if GIFV support in certain applications (like Google Chrome) or donating resources to Folding@Home are important to you. One of the “Game Ready” titles for this driver (Dishonored 2) won't be released until mid-November, though, so it might be a little while.

Source: NVIDIA

ADATA' Ultimate SU800 SSD, a new controller and NAND

Subject: Storage | October 28, 2016 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: adata, Ultimate SU800, 3d nand, micron, silicon motion, SM2258G

ADATA's new entry level SSD is the second to the market which utilizes Micron's 3D NAND and also incorporates the new SM2258G controller from Silicon Motion.  ATTO shows the performance you would expect from a drive in this class, 560MB/s read 512MB/s write for sequential data at 128KB and higher, assuming you do not completely fill the SLC cache.  The SSD Review did not see write performance drop off until they had written 60GB in one shot, the drop is quite dramatic but for most users 60GB writes happen infrequently.  Check out the full review if you are in the market for a value priced SSD.

ADATA-SU800-512GB-Exterior.jpg

"The Ultimate SU800, on the other hand, utilizes a newer Silicon Motion controller and is the second SSD in the market utilizing Micron's 3D TLC NAND. This combination of components has us charting into new waters when it comes to evaluating the performance."

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