The NZXT N7 Z370 Motherboard Review: A New Player in the Motherboard Market

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NZXT, a company much better known for products like cases, power supplies, and coolers, is dipping its toes in the motherboard waters with an Intel Z30 based motherboard named N7. The N7 is nearly completely covered with shrouds exposing only the pertinent parts, making for a unique looking motherboard. We’ll put it through its paces and see where it stands after our testing.

AMD Tech Day at CES: 2018 Roadmap Revealed, with Ryzen APUs, Zen+ on 12nm, Vega on 7nm

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To mark the start of the annual CES trade show, AMD invited the press in early to sample the latest technologies coming to its portfolio in 2018. What was quite surprising is how much AMD exposed about their plans for 2018, detailing several product lines and launch times well in advance, with some blanks to be filled in later. The highlights include Ryzen APUs, the second generation of Ryzen built on 12nm using the ‘Zen+’ microarchitecture, and proliferating Vega into as many segments as possible, including a new Vega Mobile GPU range, as well as Vega coming to GlobalFoundries’ 7nm process.

Intel with Radeon RX Vega Graphics: Core i7-8809G with 3.1 GHz Base, 100W Target TDP, Overclockable

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To begin the year, Intel’s Indian website has published a small number of details regarding Intel’s first ‘Intel with Radeon RX Vega Graphics’ processor. Within the table of overclockable processors, accompanying the Core i9, Core i7-X and 8th Generation K processors is listed the Intel Core i7-8809G, a quad core processor with two sets of graphics options listed.

The Core i7-8809G is not a part that Intel has formally announced in a press release, but on Intel’s overclocking webpage here it as listed as being a quad-core processor with hyperthreading, supporting a 3.1 GHz base frequency, having an 8 MB L3 cache, a 100W ‘Target’ TDP, and supporting two channels of DDR4-2400. Intel lists both sets of graphics: the integrated graphics (iGPU, or IGP) as ‘Intel HD Graphics 630′, and the package graphics (pGPU) as ‘Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics’.

There are a couple of things worth tweezing out of this information.

Core i7-8809G Comparsion
  Coffee Lake Kaby-G Kaby Lake
  i7-8700K i7-8700 i7-8809G i7-7700
Cores 6C / 12T 6C / 12T 4C / 8T 4C / 8T
Base Frequency 3.7 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.1 GHz 3.6 GHz
Turbo Boost 2.0 4.7 GHz 4.6 GHz ? 4.2 GHz
L3 Cache 12 MB 12 MB 8 MB 8 MB
DRAM Support DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666 DDR4-2400 DDR4-2000
Integrated Graphics UHD 630 UHD 630 HD 630 HD 630
Package Graphics
(pGPU)
Radeon RX
Vega M GH
PCIe Lanes (CPU) 16 Some to pGPU 16
PCH 300 series ? 200 Series
TDP 95 W 65 W ‘100W Target’ 65 W
MSRP (box) $370 $312 ? $312

The fact that it is listed as a Core i7-8000 series processor might make users think that this is a Coffee Lake processor, its most recently launched mainstream processor line that bears the 8000 series name. However, the Coffee Lake based Core i7 parts all have six cores, while this only has four, which would suggest it is more likely to be Kaby Lake processor. Another arrow pointing to Kaby Lake is the fact that the Intel Graphics is called ‘HD Graphics 630’, which was renamed as UHD Graphics with Coffee Lake. Third arrow is the memory support, which is up to DDR4-2400, matching Kaby Lake whereas Coffee Lake supports DDR4-2666 on its Core i7 parts. Then another nail in this story is that for a longest time, this part has been unofficially named ‘Kaby-G’.

The AMD graphics portion of the chip is listed as Radeon RX Vega, confirming that it is using AMD’s latest Vega architecture. It is called the ‘Vega M GH Graphics’, which is fairly undefined at this point. The website does not state exactly how many compute units are in the GPU, so it is unclear if ‘GH’ is going to indicate how powerful it is, or something else.

Back when Intel announced this product was coming to market (without any details of specific numbers), we were told that the graphics would have access to high bandwidth memory, HBM2, and it would be connected to the AMD graphics using Intel’s EMIB technology. At this time we still do not have confirmation of how much HBM2 memory is in place with this product, although most media expect it to be 2GB or 4GB.

The ‘100W Target Package TDP’ is also listed differently to the other processors in the table, because with a combined discrete-class GPU on package, the power window will have to be managed appropriately. I suspect that when Intel does actually launch this family of processors, there will be discussions on how the power management of the processor will work and how it will be distributed. This table doesn’t give any turbo frequencies, so that might still be being determined at this time to coincide with the power budget.

Intel at the original launch did state that they were using Core-H grade CPUs for the Intel with Radeon Graphics products, which would mean that the CPU portion is around 45W. This would lead to ~55W left for graphics, which would be in the RX 550 level: 8 CUs, 512 SPs, running at 1100 MHz. It is worth nothing that AMD already puts up to 10 Vega CUs in its 15W processors, so with the Intel i7-8809G product Intel has likely has gone wider and slower: judging by the size of the silicon in the mockup, this could be more of a 20-24 CU design built within that 55W-75W window, depending on how the power budget is moved around between CPU and GPU. We await more information, of course.

I would add that the Core i7-8809G is listed in a table with other desktop processors. There are no mobile processors in this table, which one might extrapolate that this processor is aiming for a desktop/socketed motherboard. It would be very easy for Intel to enable this in current Coffee Lake-capable motherboard solutions, as long as the size of the combined package was suitable (and the power management of the Coffee Lake motherboards could cope with the Vega graphics as well as the CPU). Judging by the renders provided by Intel, it doesn’t look the case, so it could possibly be that we’re looking at a new motherboard/socket combination, or perhaps this will only be sold as an onboard CPU, similar to Intel’s Atom processors. Assuming it is made available for home builds at all, that is.

Back when we found out that Intel was planning to rename it’s lower end Xeon lines to Xeon E, we postulated that within the same leak, a bunch of processors with ‘G’ in the name were perhaps related to special models with extra graphics, most likely

A Budget Home Theater & PC Setup: 4K, HDR, UHD Blu-ray, and More

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The days of bulky home-theater PCs (HTPCs) with built-in tuners, optical disc drives, and integrated media storage capabilities are long gone. In 2017, advancements in the media / home theater space (including the rise in popularity of OTT streaming and rapid adoption of 4K) stabilized. It is now possible to create a relatively budget-friendly home theater setup without the fear of it becoming outdated within a short timespan. Given the market status, we set out to select the components for a modern home theater environment and evaluate some HTPC options. This article goes into the reasoning behind our choice of components and also provides a detailed account of our experiments with a few compact HTPCs.

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-Inch) Review: Second Time’s The Charm

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We finally have the successor. After a troubled launch in late 2015 of the original Surface Book, Microsoft seemed to drag their feet when it came to updating what was one of the most interesting notebooks released in the last couple of years. The original Surface Book launched with some serious power management concerns, which were eventually sorted out, but then the company just left the model relatively untouched, except for a mid-generation update with a stronger GPU.

The wait is over though. Microsoft has released the Surface Book 2 as a worthy successor to the original, with many improvements. With the launch of the Surface Laptop earlier this year, which targets the $1000 price point, Microsoft was free to ratchet the Surface Book 2 up in performance, and price, and they’ve doubled the number of models, with both a 13.5-inch version, being the upgrade from the original, and a new 15-inch model which clearly targets the performance-starved users. For this review, Microsoft sent us the larger 15-inch model.

The NVIDIA Titan V Preview – Titanomachy: War of the Titans

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Today we’re taking a preview look at NVIDIA’s new compute accelerator and video card, the $3000 NVIDIA Titan V. In Greek mythology Titanomachy was the war of the Titans, and for our first look at the Titan V we’re staging our own version of Titanomachy. We’ve rounded up all four of the major Titans, from the OG GTX Titan to the new Titan V, and have tested them on a cross-section of compute, gaming, and professional visualization tasks in order to see what makes the Titan V tick and how the first graphics-enabled Volta card fares.

Today’s preview is just that, a preview – we have even more benchmarks cooking in the background, including some cool deep learning stuff that didn’t make the cut for today’s article. But for now we have enough data pulled together to see how NVIDIA’s newest Titan compares to its siblings, and why the Volta architecture just may be every bit as big of a deal as NVIDIA has been making of it.

The Crucial MX500 1TB SSD Review: Breaking The SATA Mold

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The Crucial MX500 is the next generation SATA SSD from Micron’s consumer division. As the latest MX series drive, the MX500 is positioned to be a mainstream product with solid performance but without much of a premium over entry-level SSDs. Since Micron has not yet released a consumer NVMe SSD, the Crucial MX500 will also serve as their flagship consumer drive and the showcase for their new 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory.

Micron is one of several NAND flash manufacturers to introduce 64L 3D NAND this year. They’re a bit late to the party considering that their NAND manufacturing partner Intel introduced started shipping their 64L 3D TLC in a retail drive six months ago, but Micron hasn’t missed their chance. All of the major NAND flash manufacturers except SK Hynix are still in the early phases of rolling out their 64L 3D NAND. In a major change from the state of the industry for the past several years, there’s no clear leader: Intel and Micron, Toshiba and Western Digital/SanDisk, and Samsung are all putting out products with competitive performance and pricing. The market is up for grabs, and the SATA segment that still makes up the bulk of consumer SSD sales is where the competition is fiercest.

To prepare for this next round of competition, the Crucial MX500 brings major hardware changes to what has been a slowly evolving product line stretching back to the first 6Gbps SATA SSD.

The DeepCool Captain 240 EX RGB AIO Cooler Review: Pump it Up, Without the Noise

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Today we are taking a look at the latest AIO liquid cooler from DEEPCOOL, the Captain EX 240 RGB. As its name hints, one of the major features of the cooler is RGB lighting. Its design and stock fans suggest a product designed for low-noise operation, trying to combine the fanciness of RGB lighting with good everyday performance.  

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition: Overlay, App & More for 2017

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Today, AMD’s Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition is finally upon us. Succeeding Crimson and Crimson ReLive, Adrenalin continues AMD’s yearly cadence of driver software features, again pushing the user experience (UX) angle. For the headliners, Adrenalin introduces the new Radeon Overlay and the AMD Link mobile app. Beyond that, this update is quite reminiscent of Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.7.2, bringing a number of widespread improvements and expanded support for current features. Among the other highlights is Enhanced Sync ‘E-Sync’ for all GCN GPUs, a generic Radeon Chill profile, WattMan profile saving/loading, a number of new ReLive streamer features, and streamer-oriented social media integration.

The ASUS ROG Strix X299-XE Gaming Motherboard Review: Strix Refined

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Today we have a chance to dig down on the ASUS ROG Strix X299-XE Gaming. The XE Gaming differs from the non-XE by adding a larger VRM heatsink and includes a 40mm fan and mounting hardware to further assist VRM cooling. A number of companies are releasing ‘XE’ models with larger heatsinks, although the fan will be an interesting addition.

NVIDIA Announces “NVIDIA Titan V” Video Card: GV100 for $3000, On Sale Now

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Out of nowhere, NVIDIA has revealed the NVIDIA Titan V today at NIPS 2017, with CEO Jen-Hsun Huang flashing out the card on stage. A mere 7 months after Volta was announced with the Tesla V100 accelerator and the GV100 GPU inside it, NVIDIA continues its breakneck pace by releasing the GV100-powered Titan V, available for sale today. Or in other words, the 815 mm2 behemoth die that is GV100 is now available to the broader public.

NVIDIA GPU Specification Comparison
  Titan V Tesla V100
(PCIe)
Tesla P100
(PCIe)
Titan XP
CUDA Cores 5120 5120 3584 3840
Tensor Cores 640 640 N/A N/A
Core Clock 1200MHz ? ? 1485MHz
Boost Clock(s) 1455MHz 1370MHz 1300MHz 1582MHz
Memory Clock 1.7Gbps HBM2 1.75Gbps HBM2 1.4Gbps HBM2 11.4Gbps GDDR5X
Memory Bus Width 3072-bit 4096-bit 4096-bit 384-bit
Memory Bandwidth 653GB/sec 900GB/sec 720GB/sec 547GB/sec
VRAM 12GB 16GB 16GB 12GB
L2 Cache 4.5MB 6MB 4MB 3MB
Half Precision 30 TFLOPS? 28 TFLOPS 18.7 TFLOPS 0.19 TFLOPS
(1/64 rate)
Single Precision 15 TFLOPS 14 TFLOPS 9.3 TFLOPS 12.1 TFLOPS
Double Precision 7.5 TFLOPS?
(1/2 rate)
7 TFLOPS
(1/2 rate)
4.7 TFLOPS
(1/2 rate)
0.38 TFLOPS
(1/32 rate)
Tensor Performance
(Deep Learning)
110 TFLOPS 112 TFLOPS N/A N/A
GPU GV100
(815mm2)
GV100
(815mm2)
GP100
(610mm2)
GP102
(471mm2)
Transistor Count 21.1B 21.1B 15.3B 12B
TDP 250W 250W 250W 250W
Form Factor PCIe PCIe PCIe PCIe
Cooling Active Passive Passive Active
Manufacturing Process TSMC 12nm FFN TSMC 12nm FFN TSMC 16nm FinFET TSMC 16nm FinFET
Architecture Volta Volta Pascal Pascal
Launch Date 12/07/2017 Q3’17 Q4’16 04/07/2017
Price $2999 ~$10000 ~$6000 $1299

If the golden shroud didn’t already suggest so, the Titan V is also carving out a new eye-watering price point, dropping in at $3000 and on sale now at the NVIDIA store. As NVIDIA’s new flagship video card, this succeeds the $1200 Pascal Titan X announced around 16 months ago. This release also marks NVIDIA’s first HBM2-equipped consumer graphics card, matching the 12GB capacity of the Pascal Titan X.

Given that this was a surprise announcement without advance notice, watch this space for more details as the evening progresses.

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform: Tocks Next-Gen CPU Cores, GPU, AI, & More

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Today as part of its media event, Qualcomm finally announced the much expected Snapdragon 845, successor to last year’s very successful Snapdragon 835. The Snapdragon 845 is a large step in terms of SoC architectures as it’s the first to employ ARM’s DynamiQ CPU cluster organization. Quickly explained, DynamIQ enables the various different CPU cores within an SoC to be hosted within the same cluster and cache hierarchy, as opposed to having separate discrete clusters with no shared cache between them (with coherency instead happening over an interconnect such as ARM’s CCI). This major transition is probably the largest to date that we’ve seen in modern mobile smartphone ARM consumer SoCs. 

The ASUS TUF X299 Mark I Motherboard Review: TUF Refined

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Today we have a chance to look at our first ASUS motherboard, the TUF X299 Mark 1. The Mark 1 is listed as a durable and reliable motherboard for enthusiasts and gamers. The TUF Mark 1 sits in the middle of the ASUS product stack and carries over the armor found on previous generation TUF boards and adds an updated theme and features to the latest iteration. 

Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit: Day One Live Blog (6:30pm UTC)

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This week, in Hawaii, Qualcomm is holding its annual Snapdragon Tech event. This year we’re expecting to hear news on the latest Snapdragon 800-series SoC, movements in Qualcomm’s 5G and IoT activities, how Qualcomm is pushing into the server space with its Centriq 2400 line of processors, and also the latest news on how Qualcomm and Microsoft are bringing Windows to a new class of Snapdragon-powered, always connected devices set to attack the mid-range laptop, notebook and perhaps tablet markets, with most major OEMs on-board. 

Live Blog will start at 6:30 pm UTC (1:30 pm ET).

The $80 Power Supply for Almost Everyone: The Corsair TX550M 80Plus Gold PSU Review

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Today we are having a look at the Corsair TX550M, a product designed to compete in the mainstream market by combining good overall performance, high quality, and reasonable cost. It comes with an 80Plus Gold efficiency certification and with a power output perfect for the vast majority of single GPU gaming systems. We are having a closer look at its quality and overall performance in this review.

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