Much of the focus on process technology has been on GPUs and CPUs. However, there are many other products where semiconductors are needed, among them DRAM. Samsung has been and continues to be one of the leaders in DRAM production and have moved on the next process node with DDR4. According to Samsung, they have started production of DRR4 using the latest “10nm Class” process.
Samsung isn’t always the most forthcoming about their process technology so all 10nm class means is that it is below 20nm. In addition to the reduced size and increased density, the new DRAM modules also feature 8Gb capacity and run at DDR4-3200 speeds. They are also 10-20% more power efficient than current 20nm DDR4 modules. While ram power consumption isn’t a large sahre, every bit helps when you’re talking about servers and mobile devices.
Using a 300mm wafer, the new DRAM is 30% more effiecent which means DDR4 prices should fall once Samsung ramps up their 10nm class production. Samsung has also changed their DRAM design so higher speeds should be easier to come by in the future. DDR4 has just really gotten going and it looks like we’ll be seeing plenty of advancement in the years to come.
DDR4 memory has come a long way since its introduction, but notebook and compact-system users haven’t been able to find as many choices when it comes to SO-DIMMs as the more traditional DIMM form factor. G.Skill is changing that and they’ve released yet another impressive module in this series. The new Ripjaws DDR4 modules can achieve 3000MHz at CL16 timings and they do so at a lower power consumption than other modules.
While DDR4 modules consume less power than DDR3 did, running them at such high speeds as 3000MHz usually requires modules to require 1.35V to perform at these speeds. But not these new Ripjaws modules, these modules will perform these speeds at just 1.2V and support the latest XMP 2.0 standard designed for 6th Gen Intel Core processors.
The new modules will be available in four different kits with either 8GB or 16GB modules and in packs with either one or two modules. Having SO-DIMMs that run with CL 16-18-18-43 timings at 3000MHz is already nice, but having them do so at just 1.2V is even more impressive. Adding that extra power and up to 32GB memory to compact systems is suddenly looking a lot easier.
Should your interest have been woken now, then there is some good news. You don’t have to wait very long to get the new G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4-3000MHz SO-DIMM modules as they will be available this month, April 20166, at authorized distributing partners. G.Skill did not reveal any pricing at this point, but we can assume that we’ll need to pay a fair price for such impressive and tiny memory modules.
Do you have any systems that would benefit from SO-DIMMs in this capacity, and if, would you upgrade to get that extra memory performance or are you happy with the more default 2133 to 2400MHz DDR4 memory speeds? Let us know in the comments.
EK WB has expanded their full-cover water blocks a lot lately and that goes for both motherboards and graphics card. The newest cooler is for the last, a graphics card, or more specifically a full-cover water block solution for MSI’s Radeon R9 390X GAMING 8G graphics card and it’s called the EK-FC R9-390X TF5.
The new full-cover water block replaces the original TwinFrozr V cooler that comes with the graphics card out-of-the-box, and while it is an amazing GPU cooler, you can’t integrate it into your full custom loop. The new EK-FC R9-390X TF5 actively cools the GPU, RAM as well as VRM (voltage regulation module) as water flows directly over all these critical areas. In return, it will allow you to run the card at much lower temperatures and higher overclocks.
The base is made of nickel-plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of either quality POM Acetal or acrylic depending on the variant. As usual, both versions are available which allows you to match the design you prefer. The cooler also features EK WB’s pre-installed screw-in brass standoffs that allow for a safe installation procedure.
The EK-FC R9-390X TF5 water block also features EK’s unique central inlet split-flow cooling engine design for best possible cooling performance. The system also works flawlessly with the reversed water flow without adversely affecting the cooling performance and it will also work well in liquid cooling systems using weaker water pumps.
To complete the setup, EK also offers a retention backplate made of black anodized aluminum. The backplate offers additional cooling to the backside of the circuit board, especially around the VRM area, besides giving the card a sleeker look.
The new EK WB EK-FC R9-390X TF5 is available now for an MSRP of €122.95 and the backplate will set you back an additional €29.95
Ian “8Pack” Parry is one of the most respected overclockers in the world and renowned for setting various world records! Not only that, he employs his many years of experience and specialized expertise to help retailer, Overclockers UK produce extreme grade bundles as well as pre-configured dream systems. After focusing on the elite tier market, 8Pack has decided to cater towards the mainstream customer while only recommending hardware he would feel comfortable using.
The 8Pack Approved Gaming bundle includes an Intel Core i5-6400, 8GB (2x4GB) HyperX Fury 2666MHz DDR4 memory (upgradable to 16GB), ASUS Z170-E motherboard, Alpenföhn Brocken 2 CPU Cooler and 1g Thermal Grizzly which allows for multiple applications. This basic package retails for £329.95 and includes free next day shipping via DPD. By default, the CPU is capable of reaching 4.4GHz despite having a locked multiplier. This is because you can attain substantial speed increases using BCLK adjustments. If this seems like a daunting experience, then there’s nothing to worry about as 8Pack has outlined the recommended settings to easily reach the 4.4GHz figure. Furthermore, if you encounter any problems, he’s usually on hand to help out!
While the bundled air cooler is perfectly acceptable, some users might prefer a more visually pleasing alternative. For an extra £40.94, you can acquire the OcUK TechLabs 120mm All-In-One Watercooler which comes with a Silverstone FQ121 fan in black. This is one of the best water cooling fans on the market and maintains quiet operation. Overall, this is a fantastic bundle for users on a budget and incorporates possibly the best technical support available to consumers.
It’s also great to see a number of options in terms of memory capacity and cooler preference. Since the revelations about Skylake’s CPU strap, there’s no real reason to opt for an unlocked multiplier unless you want to simplify the overclocking process. However, in this case, the hard work has already been done by 8Pack with the hardware testing and recommended profiles.
Network attached storage devices have evolved a lot in the last 10 years from somewhat underpowered systems with the single purpose of serving your files across your network to what they are today. We first saw the introduction of the HDMI port for direct media playback, I think it was Thecus who was first with this, but the other companies were quick to follow and now they all have these entertainment combo units. Qnap’s are easily identifiable by the QvPC feature that allows you to use your NAS as an HTPC replacement too.
It does however not stop here and the world of technology keeps evolving. We recently saw QNAP announced the Hybrid QTS-Android NAS lineup and now they’ve introduced yet another great combination, the new TS-x53A series that are the world’s first QTS-Linux dual system NAS. The new QNAP TS-x53A series will be available in four different models: A 2-bay, 4-bay, 6-bay, and an 8-bay version. The features and functions of the four new QTS-Linux NAS stay pretty much the same besides the amount of drive bays available.
The new TS-x53A series is powered by a 14nm Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor with 1.6GHz (2.08GHz Boost) and hardware encryption engine. It also features the 8th generation HD Graphics from Intel that allows the TS-x53A series to provide 4K UHD HDMI output with 3K H.264 hardware-accelerated transcoding and playback. The systems are available with either 4GB or 8GB DDR3L-1600 RAM and upgradeable to a maximum of 8GB. The small 2-bay model only features two Gigabit Ethernet ports while the other models all have four Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports, and all of them come with plenty of USB 3.0 ports too.
“The next-generation TS-x53A QTS-Linux Combo NAS series is specially designed as a Linux-based gateway for the IoT era” said Jason Hsu, Product Manager of QNAP, adding “Alongside its high-speed data transmission and advanced snapshot features, it supports versatile HDMI applications and 4K video playback & transcoding. The TS-x53A series greatly extends possibilities for work and multimedia use, providing users with a complete storage solution with higher value to cost.”
Technically you could already run QTS next to Linux with QvPC and the container technologies that QTS provides, but these new servers also provide the Linux Station that can act as a great base for Internet of Things (IoT) applications and development. You can naturally also run all other OSes such as Windows, Android, and MacOS through the container and virtualization station. The TS-x53A series can also provide a secure private cloud environment for file backup and sharing.
The NAS series features all the great things that we know from other QNAP NAS, but there is one more thing that sets this series a little apart. The TS-x53A series supports OceanKTV, QNAP’s NAS-based karaoke systems with two 6.3mm microphone jacks and one 3.5mm line-out audio jack. With all this storage available, you can build yourself an impressive karaoke box while you still enjoy all the other benefits.
Crucial is ready with the next step in their server memory and announced the availability of the Crucial DDR4 2400MT/s 8Gb-based RDIMM, LRDIMM and ECC UDIMM server modules which enable increased performance, bandwidth, and energy efficiency.
The higher density 8Gb-based modules allow for both a greater channel bandwidth and channel density, but the most important factor is probably the lowered power consumption. Memory can be quite power hungry and will make up quite a bit of the overall consumed power in a server environment due to the constant rewrites happening. The new 8Gb-based modules offer up to 20 percent higher energy efficiency than the 4Gb-based modules and that is something that will make a noticeable difference.
Ultimately, these benefits provide more value per gigabit than current 4Gb-based offerings, making it easy to scale
up server deployments in the future and the modules are designed to be compatible with Intel’s next generation processor product families.
Crucial’s 8Gb-based server memory is extensively tested to mission-critical standards and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. The new 8Gb-based modules are available for immediate purchase through global partners and directly through Crucial.
“We are excited to continue Intel’s collaboration with Crucial with the release of the new 8Gb-based DDR4 server modules,” said Geof Findle, director of memory enabling, Intel. “By working together, we are able to support next-generation server platforms while providing the technology and services needed to support our mutual channel customers.”
“Data-intensive server applications continue to require higher densities of memory as they struggle to meet ever-increasing and more demanding workloads,” said Michael Moreland, worldwide product marketing manager, Crucial. “The new Crucial 8Gb-based server memory modules will help with future scalability and deliver a lower total cost of ownership for users.”
There’s a common misnomer that PC gaming costs an extortionate amount of money which can deter console players from making the switch. During the last decade, developers haven’t pushed the boundaries of high-end graphical hardware due to a fixation on the console market. Additionally, the current crop of consoles are incredibly weak and struggle to maintain 30 frames-per-second at 1080P. As a result, budget PCs can easily cope with the latest games and graphics cards have a surprisingly long lifespan. On another note, CD Key resellers provide huge discounts on pre-orders which results in average savings between £20-30 compared to the £45-55 console versions. This makes PC gaming affordable and some argue it can be cheaper in the long-term.
One major hurdle newcomers face is the confusing selection of components and lack of building experience. Thankfully, companies like Vibox source the parts to create a balanced system and utilize their engineering team’s skills. Recently, they decided to dispatch the Vibox Element X Green for review purposes which features an AMD FX-6300 processor, 8GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM, MSI R9 380 graphics card and 120GB boot SSD. Other notable mentions include an Aerocool Integrator 600W power supply, 1TB data drive, MSI 990FXA-GD65 motherboard, and Thermatake Water 3.0 closed-loop-cooler. This is a fantastic specification considering the affordable price bracket, and I expect it to perform exceedingly well in 1920×1080 gaming benchmarks.
Name: Vibox Element X Green Gaming PC
Case: Vibox Predator Green Gaming Case
Motherboard: MSI 990FXA-GD65 Motherboard
Processor: AMD FX-6300 6-Core CPU Overclocked to 4.4GHz
Warranty: 2 Year Parts Cover, Lifetime Labour & Tech Support
Packing and Accessories
The system arrived in a durable box with precautionary labels to reduce the chance of damage occurring during transit. I was pleased to see two hand tabs which makes the packaging easier to carry for both the courier and customer.
Once opened, the chassis box is protected on the top and bottom by cardboard covers. These help to reinforce the packaging and prevent the case from moving around in an abrupt manner.
Here we can see the chassis’ box which showcases the unusual design and Vibox branding. The cardboard is quite thick and does a stellar job of keeping the case free from cosmetic defects.
In terms of accessories, the PC is bundled with a DVI-VGA adapter, driver disks, documentation, USB PCI bracket, and UK power plug. The Vibox instructions are fantastic and contain clear diagrams in colour to assist with the initial setup process. The guide also includes information about contacting the customer hotline in case any technical problems arise.
In today’s market, memory, RAM, Random Access Memory, whichever you like to call it, plays a major factor in the way we determine our computers cost effectiveness. A general PC store will tout just the good numbers which is normally just the quantity of RAM rather than the specification or even branding; while a reputable enthusiast store or self-builder will focus on areas such as timings and speed rather than the quantity or capacity.
In the latest iteration of the highly popular DDR format is DDR4. It’s by no means new, but with the recent release of Intel Skylake and the Z170 chipset, DDR4 memory has been pushed into the limelight of mainstream computer builders. This brings with it two benefits, more demand means more production and thus lower purchase costs and higher speeds for the end users compared to DDR3(L).
The kit we have in today is the Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB DDR4 2666MHz. This is currently the highest clocked memory modules that Crucial produce, which is lower than what the likes of Kingston offer, but let’s see if this Elite 2666MHz kit has what it takes to compete with the big hitters.
Packaging and Accessories
We won’t dwell on the packaging too much as it is very plain and simple: four modules neatly packed into a small rectangular clamshell box. This kit is a quad-channel variety so each module is 8GB in size.
A Closer Look
The Crucial Elite range is all very similar, but the transition from DDR3 to DDR4 has seen the fins removed from the top of the heatsink; A lower profile makes room for a bigger CPU heatsink and better airflow around the case.
We have all had mixed opinions on the R9 300 series upon release, the rebranded nature of the 200 series was seen as the fall of AMD and short-changing consumers. However, while they are in fact rebranded, they are great cards and provided an excellent performance boost over the previous generation and are a great foundation for the Fiji range to be based on.
Today in the test bench is the PowerColor R9 390 PCS+. This is the only version of the R9 390 that PowerColor offer which is good as it’s not confusing to consumers to have to choose between different models. As with all other R9 390’s, it features 8GB VRAM, a 6000MHz memory clock and over 1000MHz core clock.
This R9 390 PCS+ edition in particular, features a 3 fan monster metal cooling shroud which hugs a large heatsink; ideal for 0db operation at low load levels. The design of this card is extremely deceiving, the shroud is wide at the top and comes in. This makes the card look a lot larger than it actually is, being 10mm shorter than the Gigabyte G1 gaming and 7mm short than the Sapphire Tri-X cooler.
Packaging and accessories
The outer skin of the box is plain, but also extremely attractive to the eye. The trio of colours and simple design show that this is a no fuss card and the specifications along the bottom show that it means business.
The back of the box has some key features with some images to be more appealing.
The accessories aren’t bursting from the seams with this card, PowerColor just offering the driver disc, installation manual and PCI-e power adapter.
With the release of Intel’s new Skylake platform, more and more people are in the need for DDR4 memory instead of the older generation of DDR3 modules. Sure, there are a few boards that support DDR3, but why go for something lesser when you don’t have to. Kingston’s enthusiast department HyperX has released their newest DDR4 modules that are designed to work with Skylake on the Z170 and 100 series chipsets as well as the a little older X99 chipset.
The new modules from Kingston’s HyperX division are called Savage and come with speeds of up to 3000MHz. The built-in XMP profiles are optimized for both Intel’s Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs and allow for the easy setup that we’ve come to rely on. The new Savage modules are available as single modules up to 8GB and kits up to 64GB, which is the downside here. More and more people are looking to go beyond the natural limitation you deal with when limited to a maximum of 8GB per module, but I’m sure that bigger version already are in the works.
“We are excited to present this new high speed, yet power efficient memory for those gamers and enthusiasts looking to maximize system performance,” said Lawrence Yang, business manager, HyperX. “HyperX Savage DDR4 offers consumers standout performance, and with its asymmetrical die-cast aluminum, low-profile heat spreader and matching black PCB a standout look to upgrade any system.”
As mentioned the modules go up to 8GB capacity each, but there is also a 4GB version available. The frequencies available range from 2133MHz to 3000MHz, allowing you to choose what you need and prevent you from spending a lot of money on something you might not even need. The CAS Latency is rated between 12 and 15 and the modules are backed by Kingston’s known lifetime warranty.
HyperX Savage DDR4 Features and Specifications:
Capacities: 4GB-8GB (single), 8GB-64GB (kits)
Frequency: 2133MHz, 2400MHz, 2666MHz, 2800MHz and 3000MHz
Patriot originally announced their Viper 4 DDR4 series of memory modules back in January and now they’re expanding that line-up with new and faster versions designed to work optimally with Intel’s latest Skylake CPUs and Z170 platform.
The new modules consists of dual-channel kits with a speed of up to 3400MHz, the previous kits had a maximum speed up to 3000MHz. The new Z170 and Skylake optimized kits will initially be available as 8GB kits with 2x 4GB and 16GB kits with 2x 8GB modules. A perfect amount for normal users and gamers, the target audience, and Patriot can now offer these DDR4 modules in speeds from 2400MHz and all the way up to 3400MHz
The modules feature a high-performance custom heat shield that is said to be structured to withstand the most taxing PC environments and provide continuous stable performance. The Patriot Viper 4 3400MHz dual kit (2x4GB) clocks in with 16-18-18-36 timings and pulls 1.35V of power. The Viper 4 3200MHz dual kit comes with timings of 16-16-16-36 packed into 8GB (2x4GB) and 16GB (4x4GB) Viper red kits.
To ensure stability under these high speeds, each IC will be pre-screened by Patriot to ensure stability and reliability throughout their lifetime. The Patriot Viper 4 dual kits with speeds from 2400MHz to 3400MHz will be available on September 4, 2015 in stores and online. The MSRP is set between $64.99 and $169.99 depending on what version you pick.
Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different and we are excited to bring you the CrossfireX review of the Sapphire Tri-X R9 390X graphics cards.
Based on the slightly aging Hawaii architecture, performance was expected to be fairly low, however, as we found in our standalone review that really wasn’t the case. Alone, this card has the power to directly take on the GTX 980 and is poised to be at the low-end of the brand new AMD R9 Fury range. At a price of £350, it is perfectly priced to fill in the gap between the R9 390 and R9 Fury.
When we test in CrossfireX, we aim to use two identical graphics card to ensure that everything is as similar as possible. When using the same cards, you can almost guarantee the same cooling capabilities, power draw, core clock, boost clock and so on. This then gives us the best possible outcome for maximum performance as the computer does not need to compensate for any differences.
The launch of the R9 300 series has been a very bumpy road. Not only was it released as a rebranded R9 200 series, it was then nailed by AMD itself by releasing the R9 Fury range. In themselves, they are a great progression from the original R9 200 releases, adding anywhere from 10-30% performance increase and the cost was more favourable than the NVIDIA counterparts. The market for the R9 300 series is small, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers designing some great additions to the range.
On the test bench today is the PowerColor DEVIL R9 390X, although it isn’t a DEVIL as we know it. From previous releases, the DEVIL graphics cards have been extremely big and completely bonkers. Just look back to the DEVIL 13 (290x x2), that was not only one of the biggest graphics cards ever made, but it came with its own tool kit, case support bar and even a RAZER mouse. If we all remember back to Computex 2015, PowerColor had sneakily left a prototype on display; initial reports flooded in that it was the first ever R9 Fury X pictured which was believable thanks to the AIO cooling solution. That rumour bubble was quickly popped though and it was confirmed that the card was, in fact, an R9 390X model. We already know how the R9 390X performs, so let’s see if PowerColor are able to unleash hell with this new graphics card.
The outer box skin is very plain, no specs or details to what’s inside apart from the logo’s. The actual “Devil” logo could be interpreted as the flames of hell being quenched by water, or an AMD CPU being cooled by water if you want to be more literal.
The back of the box is where a great deal of the visual information is. I feel it’s slightly too cluttered; maybe the card specifications should have been printed on the side panel along with power and system requirements to leave more room for the diagrams.
If you were expecting a tool-kit, GPU holder and mouse with this; you are going to be disappointed. The accessories include a premium hard covered gaming surface, PCIe power adapter, installation instructions and driver disk.
NVIDIA announced the successors to the Quadro K5200 and K4200 graphics cards and the two new cards have been dubbed the Quadro M5000 and the Quadro M4000. These two new cards are based on the Maxwell 2 architecture just as the Quadro M6000 announced back in April was, and these aren’t just some wash up rebrands of previous cards but offer a performance that should be double that of the predecessors.
NVIDIA isn’t always quick to share all the details on these new cards, but we can predict the missing information based on the information we got and the general knowledge of the systems and chips. The first thing we don’t fully know is the actual GPU, but based on the CUDA cores it is safe to assume that it is a fully enabled GM204 with 2048 CUDA cores and the full 256-bit memory bus. The M4000 is using the same GPU, but it only has 1664 active CUDA cores. Both cards are almost equal when it comes to memory as they both feature 8GB GDDR5 memory. The M5000’s memory is clocked slightly higher and it also features a software based ECC support.
A thing that didn’t change much over the predecessor Quadro cards K4200 and K5200 is the power consumption. They all draw power from a single 6-pin PCIe power connector and the M5000 comes with a TDP of 150W, same as the K5200. The Quadro M4000 got a slight bump up to a 120W TDP over the previous 105″.
The new generation Maxwell GPU has a lot of benefits over the older Kepler and one of them is being able to native support up to four 4k monitors and both of these cards can do that with four DisplayPort connectors. The Quadro M4000 is a single slot card that doesn’t have room for more connectors, but the Quadro M5000 being a dual-slot card also comes with a DVI connector.
NVIDIA never discloses the prices of these cards, they leave that up to the card partners, but it’s safe to assume that it will be around the same as the predecessor cards, $2000 and $1000 for the Quadro M5000 and Quadro M4000 respectively
The next generation of Intel processors and new chipsets are almost here and I’m sure there are quite a few people anxious to upgrade to the 6th generation Intel Core processors. A CPU and a motherboard are only part of what you need, you’ll also need some new memory to go along with that as we’re switching from DDR3 to DDR4, at least for the large part. Kingston’s HyperX division is ready for that and just released two new dual-channel HyperX FURY kits for just this, one with 8GB and one with 16GB capacity.
The new HyperX FURY kits are available in low-latency 2133MHz, 2400MHz, and 2666MHz frequencies and are optimised for the new Intel Skylake platform. HyperX FURY DDR4 is also the first product line to offer automatic overclocking via plug-and-play functionality for the 6th generation Core processors.
HyperX FURY DDR4 memory is a cost-efficient way for a high-performance upgrade for Intel’s 2- and 4-core processors and helps to provide faster video editing, 3D rendering, gaming and AI processing. The new modules are more efficient than the older generation of DDR3 memory and only require 1.2V to achieve these high speeds. The design is a beautiful as it always is from HyperX and the FURY features and asymmetrical design with both a black low-profile heat spreader and a black PCB.
HyperX FURY DDR4 Features and Specifications:
Easy to install1: plug-and-play functionality
Automatic overclocking: reach faster speeds just by installing the memory, no adjustments in BIOS needed
Cost-efficient: the perfect combination of price and DDR4 performance
Chillblast gave us a friendly poke to see if we were interested in taking a look at one of their mini-itx gaming range. As I am mainly used to dealing with hulking gaming monsters which are show-pieces never to be moved, I was quite interested to see what offerings are available in terms of portable PCs of tiny small form factor, and finding out if they’re actually worth it or not.
Having a brief look over the spec sheet revealed on paper at least, that this seemed a fairly decent gaming rig, even touting an AIO liquid cooled CPU cooler. We’ve seen plenty of GTX 970s, 980s and even Titan Xs, but we’ve yet to try out the GTX960. Needless to say, we gratefully took Chillblast up on their offer and sure enough a fairly large yet light parcel turned up at eTeknix HQ.
Name: Chillblast Fusion Barbarian Gaming PC
Case: Raijintek Metis Windowed Mini ITX Case – Red – modified
Motherboard: Asus Z97I PLUS
Processor: Intel Core i5 4690K Devils Canyon overclocked to 4.3GHz
Graphics card: GTX 960 2GB based on the Maxwell Architecture
Power Supply: Corsair CX 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified PSU Modular Version
Optical Drive: None
Wireless: Asus A/C
Monitor: Not included
Peripherals: Not included
OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Warranty: 5 Year Warranty with 2 Years Collect and Return (UK only)
Price: £869.99as configured Delivered.
The outer box, sealed and in perfect condition, a good start!
Inside the outer box amongst a large amount of paper padding on all sides we have a smaller box and a case box.
The much smaller Raijintek case box
In the side box, we have the external magnetic Asus Wi-Fi antennae, extra modular power cables, kettle power lead, PCIE blanking plates, motherboard sound speaker and various manuals and drivers discs.
Removing the rig from its case showed that extra care had been given to the components inside the case, nice.
Something that AMD have been falling behind on lately is the WHQL drivers, well drivers in general. Beta drivers are released every few months, but a certified WHQL driver has taken over 200 days to reach us. Let’s not dwell on the past, we have one here, we’ve tested it and it works perfectly fine. However, it seems AMD has returned to form and opened up cross generation Crossfire again. Over at VideoCardz.com, Crossfire has been tested between the new R9 390X and an R9 290X.
The cards used weren’t matching, so the R9 390X 8GB was the only available variation, but it was tested with an R9 290X 4GB. This then limits the R9 390X to use just 4GB as Crossfire utilises the lowest VRAM quantity. Scores are around where we previously tested 2x R9 290X 8GB cards, so there is little a performance penalty for using the previous generation.
We will be confirming this new feature for ourselves by testing the R9 390 with an R9 290 and an R9 380 with an R9 285. If it works across most of the new generation, it could prove a nice upgrade to those who already own the 200 series equivalent.
With the Crossfire options opened up, would you be willing to purchase one of the newer cards to Crossfire or even buying an older card to bridge the gap until a 300 series card becomes cheaper? Let us know in the comments.
When I found out I’d be reviewing this laptop from PC Specialist I decided to check out their site and do some homework to see what I was getting. Having no hands on experiences with Intel’s new Broadwell chips previous to this meant I finally get a chance to see what all of the Broadwell fuss was out, or perhaps to discover it was just marketing hype. After a while of making the cheapest and most expensive builds possible to curb my curiosity my very own review unit had arrived. Reading the spec list I was given ahead of the arrival, features like “5th Gen i5 Broadwell CPU”, “1080p 13.3″ screen”, “250GB SSD” were all ticking the right boxes to me, but when I seen how remarkably thin the chassis was on the website photos it was then my interest peaked.
The question is though, is it as good as it looks or is it all style and no substance? Let’s get this unboxed and find out!
Name: PC Specialist Lafité
Case: PC Specialist Lafité Silver Aluminium Chassis
Today is the day we get a taste of the new AMD R9 300 series graphics cards. The R9 300 range is the starting platform for what AMD will be supporting the Fury range due sometime in the near future. There have been some rumours surrounding the R9 300 range up to the 390X, that it will be a rebadged range; this is true. However, this has allowed AMD to fine tune the GPU and Sapphire to hand pick the best quality components to reap as much performance as possible.
Today we have the Sapphire Tri-x R9 390X 8GB. It comes from the factory as 100% DirectX12 compliant which is great for those looking at building a new computer in the new few weeks ready for Windows 10. Along with DX12, the R9 390X comes with Virtual Super Resolution, which renders up to 4K and downscales to your resolution; giving you the best visual quality without the need for an expensive monitor. We then see all of the usual features that Sapphire has bundled in with the graphics cards such as Free sync, Eyefinity and the amazing Tri-X cooler.
The R9 390X card is very similar when comparing the PCB to its older counterpart, however, small changes have been made and a new cooling shroud design has been used. Are these tweaks enough to set this graphics card apart from the R9 290X? Let’s find out.
The box is a similar design to the previous R9 290x Tri-X box, just slightly moved around and more orange detailing. Contents include an HDMI cable, sticker and the relevant manuals.
Overall the card is much sleeker than the previous design, something that I like personally. I think more people would prefer to have this in their computer than the previous design.
The PCB rear looks almost identical to that of the R9 290x. The cooling shroud just hangs over the end of the card showing the bare heat sink from below. Sadly Sapphire didn’t include a backplate with this card.
A close up on the power connectors shows the card draws power from twin 8-pin PCI power cables.
At the end of the card, we see a slightly revamped offering. Down to a single DVI port, a single HDMI and triple DisplayPorts. This allows Eyefinity through a DisplayPort MST hub.
The AMD Rx 300 range has been the source of many arguments and rumours in recent months, based on the rebadging that AMD are set to re-introduce and high bandwidth memory which is poised to revolutionise the future of graphics cards. From what we already know, AMD are planning on re-introducing slightly modified versions of the current range of cards with a new higher range of ‘Fury’ branded cards based on the new Fiji GPU and includes HBM.
The card we have in today is the Sapphire Nitro R9 390 8GB. The Nitro range is a new addition to the line-up, bringing amazing cooling technologies to a wider range of graphics cards. It features a modified cooling design from the previous generation Tri-X cut down to just two fans. It features twin 100mm fans which are actively controlled to give the best cooling and audible experience, even setting them into a passive mode when under light load. The Nitro range is set to take the enthusiast world by storm, by “…cramming in everything you need (and left out everything you don’t)…” With the 300 range, we see a new era of gaming with the mainstream introduction of DX12 support, liquid VR (headset required) and AMD free sync technology which rivals NVIDIA G-SYNC.
Let’s find out if Sapphire has pushed this card to its limits to outshine its predecessor in today’s review.
The Nitro series is a new range to Sapphire. The boxes are more robust than previous boxes, offering more protection and a sneak peak at the card itself through a small window.
The cooling shroud is a new design for the Rx 300 series, based on the Tri-X cooling solution, it is more box-like than the previous Tri-X coolers.
The back of the card looks unfinished, Sapphire really need to consider adding a backplate to more of the graphics cards to really finish off the look.
Here you can see how much longer the shroud and heatsink is compared to the PCB. The subtle Sapphire logo gives this card a high-end look without being untasteful. The card is powered by twin 8-pin PCI power cables.
A slightly different arrangement of ports, 1x DVi, 1x HDMI and 3x DisplayPort.
GALAX is well-known for their graphics cards and recently they also ventured into the space of storage with their new Gamer SSDs. This time GALAX is reaching into the memory department and release a new set of DDR3 memory modules in the Hall Of Fame (HOF) series.
The new memory modules feature a huge heatsink with aluminium fins (1.5mm thickness unilateral and 3mm bilateral). They modules are hardened against corrosion, anodised, sandblasted, and look great.
The new memory modules are released as 2400MHz kits in either single 4GB or 8GB dual-channel kits, coming with timings of 11-13-13-30.
This memory chips are made by SKhynix and are well-known and liked by enthusiasts for their reliability and performance and easily clock up to 2600-2933MHz.
A high-end computer part needs LEDs these days, for some reason. So GALAX also added LED strips on the top of the heat spreaders to light it up.
It doesn’t look bad tho with the lighting and I could see this look good in many systems and mods.
Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different, as we have a pair of Sapphire’s amazing R9 290x 8GB Tri-x edition graphics cards to combine together for some CrossFireX action. The dedicated review for this graphics card can be found here. When striving for the best results, it is favourable to test 2 of the same models to allow for no variation in any clock speeds or variations in any integrated components, so today we should see some excellent results.
In the dedicated review, this graphics card has more than enough power to play most games at 4K resolution at 60FPS, faltering slightly in the more demanding Metro Last Light.
We inserted both graphics cards onto our Core i7 5820K and X99-based test system, ensuring adequate spacing for optimum cooling and that both have access to sufficient PCI-e bandwidth for CrossFire operation.
The typical ‘hot spot’ when arranging a CrossFire or SLI configuration is the closest graphics card to the processor, due to both of these cards being equipped with the Tri-x cooler, positioning isn’t an issue.
As these graphics cards have been subject to Sapphires treatment, they have slightly higher clock speeds than a reference model, but as these are both the same cards, there should be little to no variation in clock speeds; this will result in maximum gains during testing.
AMD’s latest GPU, AMD Fiji, has been announced a while back that it will come with High Bandwidth Memory. Shortly after CES in Las Vegas, Oculus was said to be toying around with the latest AMD hardware and we even saw it in action in the “Showdown running on the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay, being powered by an unannounced Radeon R9 flagship ultra-enthusiast product”. Even Valve and HTC are rumoured to have a Fiji-powered demo, but have yet to confirm or give any sort of detail about it.
However, a few suspicions were raised once AMD has released the news about LiquidVR SDK, where it was clearly stated it needs two GPUs. The slide below also confirms that it needs Affinity multi-GPU rendering in order to reduce latency and increase content quality.
“Affinity Multi-GPU for scalable rendering, a technology that allows multiple GPUs to work together to improve frame rates in VR applications by allowing them to assign work to run on specific GPUs. Each GPU renders the viewpoint from one eye, and then composites the outputs into a single stereo 3D image. With this technology, multi-GPU configurations become ideal for high performance VR rendering, delivering high frame rates for a smoother experience.”
This makes more sense now and it clarifies how AMD got to 8GB of RAM. Nobody thought it would be 4GB times two, meaning two separate GPUs, each with their 4GB of HBM1 memory. Also, AMD confirmed that it is already working on a next generation High Bandwidth Memory HBM card that is smaller than 20nm, but it is no clear just yet what type of note or memory it will use. It could be HBM1 or HBM2.
Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information
We know Samsung has its thing with curved displays, one of the examples being the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. However, now the company appears to take its curved display technology to the PC market as well, having planned to launch a new all-in-one PC, the Ativ One 7, featuring the technology on the 8th of March.
The company first showcased its design at CES, featuring a 27″ curved display with a curvature of 4000R. In terms of specs, the Ativ One 7 comes equipped with an Intel i5 CPU, 8GB Ram and 1TB of storage, classifying it as a ‘good family PC’.
The price will be a bit steep though. Even if the specs do not look so amazing, the curved display technology will still add extra to the price. Samsung is said to be selling the PC for $1299 in the US, with pricing for the UK and Europe still unconfirmed.
Thank you KitGuru for providing us with this information
The AMD R9 200 range has been with us now for around 18 months, much longer than a normal graphics card range. AMD produced some very high-quality products here that allowed them to initially beat NVIDIA offerings and lately just fall short with the release of the GeForce GTX 900 range. To counteract this, AMD have recently cut the prices of most of its graphics card range and no pose an amazing performance vs price argument. In recent months, 4K gaming has boomed and most consumers are noticing a lacking performance at this resolution due to a shortage of VRAM. In most cases, most general games use below this amount, but some niche games, such as ‘modded’ Skyrim and GTA IV use around 6GB. To counteract this, AMD has allowed its sub-vendors to add an additional 4GB of VRAM to its R9 290x range, revealing the highest single core VRAM card to date.
Today we have the Sapphire Tri-x R9 290x 8GB, boasting high overclocks and some amazing features; this card should impress. We’ve recently had another of Sapphires 8GB offerings, the Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290x 8GB. This graphics card had given us a taste of how useful 8GB of VRAM is and it disappointed us with all of our benchmarking games only using 3.5GB VRAM maximum. This particular model gives us more hope, with newer games being released that hope to break into the 4GB+ realm, such as Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and The Evil Within both supposedly requiring 5-7GB. The Tri-x model differs from the Vapor-X model with its different cooling solution, colour scheme and the bundled Tri-x utility software
This particular model is priced $479.99 (VX), a very competitive price for an absolutely amazing cooling solution and a tasty factory overclock.
Sapphire follow their standard boxing methods, small bubbles along the bottom outlining key information and a colour scheme to match the graphics card on the inside. The keywords on the box are “Never Stop Evolving” which could be applied to the Vapor-X and Tri-x models in which they are both different variations of one graphics card. The box contains a Sapphire based mouse pad, 1.8m HDMI cable, driver CD, quick install guide contact information and a product registration guide.
The cooling shroud follows a similar design to that of the Vapor-X model, triple 90mm fans designed to get the best airflow into the heat sink while keep it silent during low load operation.
At the far end of the card, we see a honeycomb effect at the end of the shroud, ending it off nicely. We also see 3 of the massive copper heat pipes protruding the end of the heat sink.
Along the top of the card, business as usual with Sapphire style. Clean crisp edges with a raised brushed metal effect “Sapphire” logo. You can see that this power-hungry card demands 2x 8 pin PCI-e connectors.
Around the back of the card, things get a little disappointing, with such a premium cooling shroud, it would have made sense to use a backplate, even if it was basic, just something to cover the PCB.
Typical Sapphire style, clean and simple outputs, 2x DVi, 1x DisplayPort and 1x HDMi.
SMART Modular Technologies announced the launch of its DDR4 Mini-DIMM, one of the first Mini-DIMM form factor utilising the next generation DDR4 technology. SMART’s initial lineup of DDR4-2133 Mini-DIMMs include 8GB and 16GB VLP Mini-UDIMM modules along with standard height Mini-RDIMM modules.
The new modules comply with JEDEC 288-pin form factor and pin-out standards and SMART worked with Molex to create a robust DDR4 Mini-DIMM vertical mount socket with secure latches. It is also designed with additional power and ground signals compared to SO-DIMMs.
For now, this has very little impact on all of us as consumers. But when we look at the broader picture, it’s something that will help to spread the usage of DDR4. That in return will benefit us users by increased production and thereby lower prices. And the price is what is holding people back right now, without a doubt.
Thanks to SMART for providing us with this information
Crucial announced the availability of their new Ballistix Elite DDR4 memory modules. The new modules come as 4GB and 8GB versions and as single, dual or four packs.
The new modules deliver introductory speeds starting at 2666 MT/s, and allow users to radically increase bandwidth to 21 GB/s while decreasing the power consumption by up to 40 percent when compared to DDR3 memory. Ballistix Elite DDR4 memory is optimized for the latest Intel X99 platforms with support XMP 2.0 profiles and features a custom-designed black PCB and anodized aluminum heat spreaders for that extra touch.
“Ballistix Elite DDR4 introduces a striking new look for us while reducing the memory bottleneck further by delivering faster speeds and bandwidths, improved responsiveness, and enabling increased frame rates,” said Jeremy Mortenson, product marketing manager, Crucial.
A really cool feature is the exclusive Ballistix Memory Overview Display (M.O.D.) utility which provides the ability to read information from the module. This includes real-time temperature from the integrated thermal sensor, voltages and more, and all to aid those overclocking efforts.
The new modules are available for purchase from Crucial’s website and global partners where the prices start at $94.99 for a 4GB module. Like all Crucial memory, these modules are also backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
Thanks to Crucial for providing us with this information