AMD’s upcoming CPU architecture, codenamed Zen, is going to offer a 40 percent IPC improvement compared to Excavator and could dawn in a new era of competitiveness. Hopefully, if AMD can produce something which rivals Intel, it could instigate a pricing war and make enthusiast processors more affordable. Clearly, many consumers are eagerly anticipating Zen’s release which makes the current range seems rather outdated. Despite this, there are some users who own AM3+ motherboards and don’t want to upgrade to an entirely new platform. On another note, consumers on a tight budget might feel they’re a great option to create an affordable HTPC.
Traditionally, bundled CPU coolers are fairly poor at thermal dissipation due to the low fin array and compact heatsink size. Also, they can be alarmingly loud under full load which makes for a shoddy desktop experience. As a result, I always encourage people to invest in a third-party cooler, such as the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. Interestingly, Intel decided to ditch the stock cooler altogether on Skylake K series chips because they knew people would be opting for a better option. Although, this didn’t reduce the retail price at all! During CES this year, AMD displayed their new Wraith stock cooler capable of lower thermals compared to the previous model and significantly reduced noise. The design evokes a premium feel and it looks rather nice.
Today, AMD announced that they will now bundle this new cooler with the FX 8350 and FX 6350. Previously, this was limited to the FX 8370 and A10-7890K. The FX 6350 will retail for $129.99 while the FX 8350’s price is set at $179.99. This is fantastic news for consumers wanting to order a new AMD processor right now. Of course, if you can wait, it would be advisable given the upcoming Zen release.
Gladiator Computers is the name given to Aria’s custom PC division and provides consumers with a wide range of options to suit various budgets. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Aria, they’re one of the leading PC hardware stores and have an excellent reputation among customers. Currently, the company’s TrustPilot rating is scored at nine out of ten which evokes a sense of confidence when investing in a pre-configured PC. Of course, you can customize each model and select between various cases, memory configurations, CPU coolers and lots more! As a result, it’s incredibly easy to make savings on various components if you’re not overly concerned about colour coordination. On the other hand, consumers who demand a visually appealing system can add LED lighting or other extravagant extras.
Today, we’re taking a detailed look at the BATTALION 800 featuring an Intel i5-6500 processor, 16GB DDR4 2133MHz memory, Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 motherboard, 120GB Samsung 850 Evo boot drive and the Zotac GTX 970 Gaming Edition graphics card. Furthermore, Gladiator Computers have employed a very reputable air cooler to find a great balance between thermal dissipation and noise output. There’s also a quality non-modular power supply with an efficiency rating of 80+ White. I’m interested to see how this will impact on cable management especially given the budget chassis in the basic bundle. Priced at £889.99, the system is targeted towards mainstream consumers utilizing a single 1920×1080 display. Let’s see how it performs compared to other machines sporting a similar specification.
Power Supply: Corsair VS550 550 Watt 80+ White Rated ATX
Optical Drive: 24x LiteOn Internal DVD-RW Drive
Warranty: 4 Year Standard Warranty (2 Month Collect/Returns, 1 Year Parts, 4 Year Labour)
Packing and Accessories
The system is dispatched in an extremely large outer box which offers superb protection against damage during delivery. On the top, fragile tape has been used to instruct the courier about the item’s delicate nature. This should reduce the possibility of the delivery driver throwing the package around. I do think there needs to be side handles because the box’s large surface area is difficult to lift from an angle.
Inside the package is a huge collection of packing peanuts to prevent the chassis box from moving around. While these inserts can be irritating if they manage to scatter all over the floor, this is a small price to pay for the superb level of protection.
The chassis box utilizes thick cardboard which feels pretty sturdy and provides an additional layer of cushioning.
Despite the case’s budget focus, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to the packaging including durable foam supports. The top cover also ensures that there’s very little chance of cosmetic damage occurring during the unboxing processing.
Gladiator Computers have positioned a sticker over the power supply’s AC connector to prevent you from booting up the system with the foam pack still installed.
The foam insert is absolutely essential because it prevents each component from becoming dislodged. Furthermore the cushioning should allow fan headers and other cables to remain in their optimal position. When it comes to packaging, foam packs are possibly the most important safety aspect and it’s great to see them used in this custom configuration.
In terms of accessories, the system is bundled with a thank you note, installation guide, driver/software disks, a funky door hanger and loads of documentation.
Other notable mentions include a power adapter, retail component packaging, CPU cover (required for warranty purposes), front bay cover where the optical drive is positioned, tasty Haribo sweets, various adapters and an assortment of fittings.
Even though manufacturers don’t recommend delidding your CPU, there are quite a few overclockers out there that are using this method in order to improve overall thermal performance. Users are still debating whether this practice is actually worth it or not, but it looks like a company named Rockit Cool has created a tool designed specifically for the job. Dubbed Rockit 88, this Intel CPU delid tool has its own Kickstarter campaign, which has raised $3,929 at the time of writing even though the original goal was for just $600.
Some say that delidding a CPU doesn’t offer much in the way of thermal improvement, but Rockit Cool has stated that you can actually achieve a 10°C improvement in load temperatures on an overclocked Devil’s Canyon CPU using its tool.
If you want to get your hands on one of these devices, all you have to do is pledge $35 and you will receive a complete Rockit 88 kit in May 2016. If you’re really committed to delidding your expensive Intel CPU, it’s definitely a better idea to purchase one of these tools instead of using a regular knife and risking permanent damage. What do you think about Rockit 88? Would you use it for your overclocking needs?
BIOSTAR might not be the most recognizable motherboard brand in western markets but their pedigree for creating reliable products is worthy of praise. When compared to MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS, the company struggles to entice consumers with unique aesthetic designs. Furthermore, the BIOS and software package has been sorely lacking and in dire need of change. Thankfully, BIOSTAR have acknowledged these criticisms and decided to forge a brand new range based upon a racing theme to please petrolheads with an avid interest in enthusiast hardware. Each RACING motherboard sports a chequered flag PCB and stylish LED illumination while introducing a new BIOS layout. Clearly, this is a major departure from BIOSTAR’s previous products which evoked a fairly mundane appearance.
The BIOSTAR RACING H170GT3 is based on the mATX form factor and supports up to 64GB DDR4 with a maximum speed of 2133MHz. Intel’s H170 chipset blocks multiplier overclocking which means you have to resort to your processor’s default turbo frequency. Of course, there’s been some controversy surrounding BCLK overclocking on H170 and B150 motherboards to unofficially achieve boosts fairly close to traditional multiplier overclocking. Sadly, Intel has voiced their displeasure regarding this phenomenon and pressurized manufacturers to disable BCLK overclocking via a BIOS update. As a result, we have to rely on stock figures to determine the motherboard’s performance. Previously, I’ve seen some astounding results when it comes to storage with BIOSTAR products, and I’m interested to see if this trend continues.
Packing and Accessories
Here we can see the absolutely stunning packaging which contains a carbon fibre inspired cover and vibrant text. This coincides with the RACING focus and feels quite reminiscent of a luxury sports car’s interior.
On the opposite side, there’s a detailed diagram showing the motherboard’s layout and explanation of its unique selling features. Once again, this is presented a superb manner and makes you inquisitive about the product’s specification.
In terms of accessories, the motherboard includes a user’s manual, Vivid LED DJ instructions guide, SATA cables, driver disk, and I/O shield.
UPDATE: We have now been informed from a kind reader that this was an April Fools joke, so please disregard the benchmark images below
AMD has been lingering behind in the enthusiast CPU market and really struggled to compete with Intel’s flagship products. This isn’t a shocking revelation when you consider AMD is still using the FM2+ socket to house its current processor line-up. Thankfully, Zen is upon us and the first major socket change in a considerable amount of time. We’re all hoping that AMD can become competitive again and Zen really helps bring innovation forward in the stagnant CPU market. AMD’s President and CEO, Lisa Su provided a small insight into Zen’s performance numbers and suggested they will bring a 40 percent IPC boost over the current line-up. Up to this point, all performance benchmarks have been kept under wraps and any numbers revolved around pure speculation.
However, images provided by Bits&Chips clearly illustrate the performance differences between a Octacore AMD Zen CPU and competing products. The CPU’s FP32 Ray-Trace score outperforms the i7-4930K but it’s not as impressive as the CPU hash results. This means the architecture might implement a weaker FMA.
On a more positive note, DDR4 bandwidth performance is impressive and competes with the i7-6700K. The CPU Hash is significantly better than the i7-5820K and even surpasses a 20-core Xeon. Only time will tell if AMD’s latest processors can offer similar performance to Intel products and instigate a pricing war. Currently, the i7-6700K is extremely expensive for a 4-core CPU and there needs to be some competition to drive innovation. I cannot wait to get my hands on AMD’s AM4 motherboards and finally see if they’ve come up with the goods. The basic data we have so far and information from AMD is promising but it’s always unclear until the testing has been completed from independent sources.
Do you think AMD will be able to have a much stronger foothold in the CPU market once Zen releases?
AMD’s upcoming Zen architecture is arguably the most anticipated hardware release this year. After years in the wilderness, AMD will finally come back with a new CPU design that will challenge Intel again on IPC, process node and power efficiency. According to the latest leak, it appears that Zen is progressing well enough that engineering samples have already been distributed to various partners for testing. This also means AM4 motherboards are already sampling as well.
These stepping A0 samples are that of the previously rumoured 95W, 8 core Zen CPU. That AMD has managed to get an 8 core CPU in a 95W thermal envelope is stunning and combined with the early engineering sample release, points to a strong 14nm LPP process. What’s more, the frequency isn’t a slouch, at 3Ghz base though boost isn’t enabled yet. This is pretty much the same as the base clocks for Intel’s own prosumer i7 5960X which sports 8 cores as well at 3Ghz base and 3.5Ghz boost. We can expect the Es to set the baseline so release Zen will almost certainly clock higher.
At 3GHz, the engineering sample is already faster than the first Bulldozer ones suggesting that 14nm LPP won’t be holding back frequency too much. After all, Intel’s own 14nm process has performed better than their 22nm. Samsung and Global Foundries have also had plenty of time to refine their 14nm process to ensure it will offer the best performance at launch. Hopefully, AMD will be able to be competitive in both IPC and overclocking.
SilverStone is back on eTeknix again today, with their new AR07 and AR08 CPU coolers. Both coolers are designed to be affordable, quiet, stylish and pack great value for money performance. We’re going to be putting both of them on our test bench today, and while we’re expecting the bigger AR07 to offer up better performance, we’re still eager to see what the smaller and more affordable AR08 is capable of.
“The Argon series coolers are designed to provide the best cooling solution for your CPU. To improve performance even further, unique and exclusive heatsink fin designs such as interweaving diamond edge and arrow guides are included. For users looking for a no-nonsense top performing cooler without the premium price, the Argon AR07 is the perfect choice.” – SilverStone
Both coolers come equipped with a triple heat pipe design and a high-quality fan tuned for silence. The AR07 has three 8mm thick pipes, a 140mm PWM fan and the AR08 uses 6mm pipes with a 92mm PWM fan.
Argon Series AR07
Great balance of silence and performance
Unique interweaving diamond edged fins for improved performance
Exclusive arrow guides distribute airflow evenly among heat pipes
Three Ø8mm heat-pipes and aluminum fins for excellent heat conducting efficiency
Heat-pipe direct contact (HDC) technology
Includes compact 140mm PWM fan for excellent cooling and low noise
Anti-vibration rubber pads included for additional noise dampening
Argon Series AR08
Great balance of silence and performance
Unique interweaving diamond edged fins for improved performance
Exclusive arrow guides distribute airflow evenly among heat pipes
Three Ø6mm heat-pipes and aluminum fins for excellent heat conducting efficiency
Heat-pipe direct contact (HDC) technology
Includes compact 92mm PWM fan for excellent cooling and low noise
Anti-vibration rubber pads included for additional noise dampening
Intel Socket LGA775/115X/1366/2011 and AMD Socket AM2/AM3/FM1/FM2 compatible
Both coolers come nicely packaged with all the main specifications detailed around the box, as well as lots of images showing the fan, fin stack, block, heat pipes design and more.
In the box, you’ll find fan clips, a universal backplate for Intel and an AMD bracket, mounting arms, 3M pads, as well as all the required screws and some thermal paste. Both coolers come with a very similar mounting kit, the only exception being that the AR07 comes with larger fan retention clips.
The move to developing chips with an ever-increasing number of cores allows them to cater to the needs of cloud and mobile service providers, whose servers make full use of multiple cores and processing threads to allow more video and applications to be streamed from a single server simultaneously. The chips also provide benefits in workstation usage. When combined with a powerful graphics processor, it will be able to assist in the development of cutting-edge, high-quality experiences such as virtual reality applications and 4K video editing.
The Xeon E5-2600 v4 lineup includes 27 different chips, all based on the new Broadwell microarchitecture. Broadwell offers a number of improvements which allows these new chips to offer as much as a 5% increase in speed over previous generation Haswell architecture chips. According to tests run by Dell using SAP benchmarks on a Linux OS, the new chips were observed to be as much as 28% faster than their predecessors. The main issue with chips packing so many cores is cooling as a result, the frequency of the top-line 22-core Xeon E5-2699 v4 has had to be set to 2.2 GHz, where it still draws 145 watts of power.
Of course, these chips aren’t for the average consumer, with the prices for these new chips peaking at $4,115 for the 22 core model. For their largest customers, Intel is even willing to deliver customized versions of these new Xeons, which we can be sure will hold an even heftier price tag.
Consumers typically purchase gaming laptops over their desktop counterparts due to portability and requiring hefty processing power on the move. Saying that, it’s exceedingly difficult to offer adequate thermal dissipation in a slim form factor which limits the convenience factor of many flagship gaming laptops. These tend to be rather bulky and difficult to carry around on public transportation where space is quite restricted. Thankfully, efficiency improvements on mobile graphics chipsets and CPUs have enabled manufacturers to create a better balance between performance and size. Granted, the top-tier options with dual GPUs still feel heavy but less extreme alternatives can be surprising portable. For example, the Gigabyte P34W v3 provides a superb gaming experience and weighs a mere 1.81Kg. Back when I reviewed this, the performance to size ratio astounded me. Although, the system’s load temperatures were higher than I hoped and felt like a concession too far.
The latest gaming laptop to prioritize a thin design from Gigabyte is the P35W v5 sporting an Intel i7-6700HQ, ultra fast 128GB NVMe boot drive, and GTX 970M. Unlike the P34W v3, Gigabyte has opted for a 6GB variant of this graphics chip but I can’t see the increased video memory making a substantial difference. On the other hand, some games with high memory utilization might fare better with an improved minimum frame-rate. Another key benefit is the inclusion of DDR4 memory, and a greatly improved battery. As always, you can customize the specification to suit your needs and the standard package utilizes a 1920×1080 display. If this seems a little underwhelming, you can select a 4K panel for an additional fee but this has some drawbacks when it comes to performance. Given the P35W v5’s marvellously thin design, I’m interested to see the thermals under stress and determine if the cooling hardware is up to scratch.
Name: Gigabyte P35W v5
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz base frequency, 3.5GHz turbo)
System Memory: 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 2133MHz
Main Boot Drive: Samsung NVMe MZVPV128 M.2 128GB SSD
Additional Storage Drive(s): HGST 1TB 7200RPM HDD
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 6GB
Display: 15.6-inch 3840×2160 IPS LCD
Optical Drive: MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ8G2
Wireless: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 8260
Battery: Li-Polymer 11.1V, 75.81Wh
Weight: 2.3Kg with Battery
Dimensions: 385(W) x 270(D) x 20.9(H) mm
OS: Windows 10 Home
Warranty: 2 Year
Packing and Accessories
Gigabyte has adopted a fairly understated theme to the packaging which showcases the beautiful display and professional aesthetic design. Furthermore, there’s a brief description about the laptop’s unique selling features but I have to say the translation is confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps, this is because the press sample originates from the factory and I’m sure Gigabyte will update the message for western markets.
The opposite side is almost identical barring another stunning snapshot of the product’s thin profile. This level of uniformity works well and evokes a premium feel. The packaging’s durable cardboard shell and soft inserts protect the item during transit meaning you shouldn’t encounter any cosmetic imperfections.
Included with the laptop is a power adapter, user’s guide, warranty card, driver disk, PowerDVD 12 software, swappable storage bay and light stickers. The swappable storage bay is an ingenious extra which allows you to remove the optical drive and fit an internal 9.5mm SSD instead. This is a great idea because many people use flash storage devices instead of optical media and the ability to easily house a traditional SATA SSD greatly enhances the laptop’s flexibility.
The 4K model contains a removable orange sticker near the lid which can be replaced with either a green or turquoise colour. Gigabyte even provides a complimentary pair of tweezers to obtain a neat finish and customize the theme to your own personal taste. Small touches like this creates the perception every customer’s needs have been attended to.
Gelid are one of the most legendary cooling companies in the world and while you may not think of them first when you’re looking at a new CPU cooler, they’re the top choice for many system builders, enthusiast overclockers, and all of us here at eTeknix for our test benches, when it comes to Thermalpaste. Gelid GC-Extreme has been a popular choice for many years, and it’s with that in mind that we know that Gelid has a fair bit of knowledge when it comes to thermal performance in the PC market.
“The Antarctica comes with a 3D optimized heatsink that offers best-in-class thermal performance. The engineers of GELID Solutions especially designed a set of 5 power heat pipes, aluminum fins with improved profiling and an additional smaller heatsink with a copper core. These elements provide exceptional heat transfer from the CPU to the heatsink. Both heatsinks were created using precise software simulation and calculation during the development stage to ensure efficient air flow distribution at the lowest fan speed possible. The result, the Antarctica fully supports heat transfer of TDP 220W being paired with even very low-speed, virtually noiseless fans.” – Gelid
Their latest CPU cooler, the Gelid Antarctica, comes equipped with support for a wide range of CPUs, features a slim cooling tower to ensure it doesn’t conflict with motherboard VRM cooling or large RAM heatsinks, while being tall enough to provide great cooling performance. This is backed up by a high-quality 140mm PWM fan, which is designed to operate at low RPM, providing great airflow while maintaining whisper quiet performance. To make things even more appealing, it’s also backed up by a reassuring 5-year warranty.
“A silent 140mm fan with the intelligent GELID PWM (Pulse Width Module) control compliments the heatsink. The fan blades are optimized to deliver high air flow at low speed, and the newly designed PWM IC eliminates any clicking noise. The intelligent GELID PWM curve operates the fan in an extended speed range of 450 RPM to 1500 RPM, it constantly keeps the fan silent but accelerates speed whenever additional cooling is needed. With 2 sets of fan mounts, a second fan can be installed to improve the cooler’s outstanding performance even further. Additionally, the multi-award winning high performance GC-Extreme thermal compound is already included in the package.” – Gelid
The packaging is pretty straight forward, nothing too fancy overall, but a nice image of the cooler as well as detailing support for Skylake CPUs.
Around the back, we can see that the cooler supports a huge range of CPUs, right back to 775 and old AMD sockets. There’s also 2011 support, but you’ll need to purchase a separate bracket for it.
In the box, you’ll find all the usual documentation, as well as a bag of fitting components.
There’s a backplate for both Intel and AMD motherboards, two mounting arms, four fan retention clips, high-quality screws, a sticker and a very welcome tube of Gelid’s award-winning GC-Extreme thermal paste; the same paste we use for all our cooling reviews!
Later this year, perhaps in October, AMD will be launching with their highly anticipated Zen CPU architecture. Before that though, AMD will be releasing their new processor socket, AM4, with the Bristol Ridge lineup of APUs. As the socket that finally combines the CPU and APU lineups, it will replace the aging AM3+ and the relatively newer FM2+. According to a leak, AM4 will use μOPGA and support up to 140W chips and have 1,331 pins.
AMD has stuck with variants of PGA for the longest time and it looks like AM4 will continue the legacy. At 1,331 pins, that is a 33% increase over the about 950 pins previous AM and FM sockets have used. If AMD simply enlarges the current design, this would lead to a much larger package. This can lead to more fragile, costlier (especially for lower end chips) CPUs and require a new series of CPU heatsinks.
In order to combat this, AMD has used μOPGA compared to the normal OPGA they use. This will reduce pin diameter, allowing for more pins to crammed together at the cost of weaker pins. Reducing pin pitch or the distances between pins and staggering pins to fit more in the same space are also two likely strategies. For Intel, a 17% pin count cost 30% in space but moving from 115x to 2011 cost only about 66% size increase. If AMD does it well, AM4 may be compatible with AM3+ and FM2+ heatsinks and not have an overly large package.
Finally, AM4 is expected to support up to a whopping 140W TDP CPUs. This is similar to the top end Intel LGA 2011 chips will also feature a 140W TDP and not much more than current mainstream AM3+ chips which top out at 125W. By increasing the pin count slightly, AMD will sport a number close to Intel’s old enthusiasts platform of LGA 1366. By unifying the socket for their budget, mainstream and enthusiasts chips, AMD will make it easier for builders to upgrade, leaving it up to the motherboard vendors to differentiate their offerings.
QNAP’s newest server, the TDS-16489U, is an amazing one that sets itself apart from the rest in so many ways. I want one so badly even though I have absolutely no need for this kind of power. This must be how a normal person feels when they see a Bugatti Veyron. But let us get back to the new QNAP dual server.
The TDS-16489U is a powerful dual server that’s both an application server and storage server baked into on chassis for simplicity and effectiveness. It is powered by two Intel Xeon E5 processors with 4, 6, or 8 cores each while supporting up to 1TB DDR4 2133 MHz memory with its 16 DIMM slots. These are already some impressive specs, but this is just where the fun begins.
The dual server has 16 front-accessible drive bays for 3.5-inch storage drives as well four rear-facing 2.5-inch drive bays for SSD cache. Should this not be enough, then you can expand that further by use of NVMe based PCI-Express SSDs too. The system has three SAS 12 Gb/s controllers built-in to couple it all together.
There are just as many connection options as there are storage options in the TDS-16489U. It comes with two normal Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as four SFP+ 10Gbps ports powered by an Intel XL710. Should that not be enough, then you can use the PCI-Express slots to expand with further NICs of your choice. The system supports the use of 40 Gbps cards too. It also comes with a dedicated IPMI connection besides the normal networking. The PCI-Express x16 Gen.3 slots can also be used with AMD R7 or R9 graphics cards for GPU passthrough to virtualization applications. A true one-device solution for applications, storage, and virtualization.
The TDS-16489U combines outstanding virtualization and storage technologies as an all-around dual server. With Virtualization Station and Container Station, computation and data from the guest OS and apps can be directly stored on the TDS-16489U through the internal 12Gb/s SAS interface. Coupled with Double-Take Availability to provide comprehensive high availability and disaster recovery, backup virtual machines can support failover for the primary systems on the TDS-16489U whenever needed to enable data protection and continuous services. QNAP Virtualization Station is a virtualization platform based on KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) infrastructure. By sharing the Linux kernel, GPU passthrough, virtual switches, VM import/export, snapshot, backup & restoration, SSD cache acceleration and tiered storage.
“Software frameworks for Big Data management and analysis like Apache Hadoop or Apache Spark can be easily operated on the TDS-16489U using virtual machines or containerized apps, and with Qtier Technology for Auto Tiering the TDS-16489U empowers Big Data computing and provides efficient storage in one box to help businesses gain further insights, opportunities and values,” said David Tsao, Product Manager of QNAP.
With all the above, we shouldn’t forget that it still also runs QNAP’s QTS 4.2 operating system that provides everything you know and love from that. Included is the comprehensive virtualization applications that we’ve also seen on our consumer models, but this is where you truly can take advantage of what QNAP created and run multiple Windows, Linux, Unix, and Android-based virtual machines on your NAS. All the backup solutions and failover, from local to other NAS or the cloud. You can do it all. Share files to basically any device anywhere is made as easy as possible.
Should you still not have enough storage in this impressive unit, then you can expand with up to 8 of the QNAP enclosures and reach a seriously impressive 1152 TB raw storage capacity controlled by this single 3U server unit. The CPU power, dual system capabilities, virtualization options and impressive storage option will let you deploy an impressive system with a very tiny size and total cost of ownership compared to traditional setups.
16-bay, 3U rackmount unit
2 x Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Family processor (with 4-core, 6-core and 8-core configurations)
64GB~1TB DDR4 2133MHz RDIMM/LRDIMM RAM (16 DIMM)
4 x SFP+ 10GbE ports
hot-swappable 16 x 3.5″ SAS (12Gbps/6Gbps)/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) HDD or 2.5″ SAS/SATA SSD, and 4 x
2.5″ SAS (12Gbps) SSD or SAS/SATA (6Gbps/3Gbps) SSD;
One of the first applications that came to mind with HBM was pairing it up with an AMD APU. Proven to work as VRAM with the Fiji GPUs last year, HBM also has possible applications to act as a high-speed cache for other applications where density is important. While we’ve known that AMD has been planning APUs with HBM, the latest report points to Raven Ridge, the 2017 series of APUs that follow Bristol Ridge, to have HBM.
According to the source, Raven Ridge will utilize AMD’s upcoming Zen CPU cores likely paired with Polaris GCN iGPU. With 14nmLPP and Polaris, AMD can stuff a much larger iGPU with their APUs without worrying too much about extra costs or ballooning die size. However, even with the current generation of APUs, the iGPU is bottlenecked at the high-end, something even DDR4 won’t fully solve.
In order to keep growing APU GPU performance, AMD also needs to increase the memory bandwidth. One way, of course, is to use eDRAM as Intel has done with notable success. That, however, is expensive, leading to the top SKUs costing near $400. In comes HBM to the rescue at a relatively lower cost, allowing a large yet budget friendly cache pool to help reduce bandwidth constraints. To produce this, AMD has tapped Amkor, the same firm that worked on Fiji interposers to package Raven Ridge.
With at least, 1GB HBM buffer, the APU will be very well fed, allowing for the iGPU to grow to at least R7 370 performance levels before running out of steam. AMD is also probably working on HMC to supplant HBM in the future as well. If AMD manages to pull this off, Raven Ridge will be the most potent APUs yet, securing the crown against Intel.
After Samsung and Nvidia had their recent legal spat, more light has been shed on the world of GPU patents and licensing. While Intel holds their own wealth of patents, no doubt some concerning GPUs, Nvidia and AMD, being GPU firms, also hold more important patents as well. With Intel’s cross-licensing deal with Nvidia set to expire in Q1 2017, the chip giant is reportedly in negotiations with AMD to strike up a patent deal.
Being one of the big two GPU designers, AMD probably has many important and critical GPU patents. Add in their experience with APUs and iGPUs, there is probably quite a lot there that Intel needs. With the Nvidia deal expiring, Intel probably sees a chance to get a better deal while getting some new patents as well. Approaching AMD also makes sense as being the smaller of the two GPU makers, AMD may be willing to share their patents for less. It’s also a way to inject some cash into AMD and keep it afloat to stave off anti-trust lawsuits.
AMD also has a lot to offer with the upcoming generation. The GPU designer’s GCN architecture is ahead of Nvidia’s when it comes to DX12 and Asynchronous Compute and that could be one area Intel is looking towards. Intel may also be forced into cross-licencing due to the fact with some many patents out there, there have to be some they are violating. The biggest question will be if AMD will consider allowing their more important and revolutionary patents to be licensed.
With the Nvidia deal being worth $66 million a quarter or $264 million a year, AMD has the chance to squeeze out a good amount of cash from Intel. Even though $264 million wouldn’t have been enough to put AMD in the black for 2015, it wouldn’t have hurt to have the extra cash.
Picking the right cooler for your system can be a daunting task as there are virtually endless amounts of solutions out there. Every size, shape, colour, fan configuration and beyond that you can think of. It becomes more demanding when it comes to smaller system builds, where space is at a premium and budget is tight, especially if you’re running your system under load and the stock CPU cooler just isn’t up to the job; if your chip even came with one to begin with.
3 direct contact heat pipes with a base that is engineered to minimize CPU contact gaps – providing excellent heat conduction.
Option for adding 2nd fan with quick-snap fan brackets to increase cooling performance.
A mere 17 dBA (minimum speed) is accomplished by utilizing a silent 92mm PWM fan with a wide RPM range.
“The Hyper TX series has evolved along with the requirements of mainstream CPUs. The launch of Hyper TX3i marks another milestone with Cooler Master’s Improved Direct Contact technology, further improving cooling performance.” – Cooler Master
Taking inspiration from previous TX3 models, the TX3i is expected to be one of Cooler Masters most affordable and capable (relative to price) coolers to date. With a triple heatpipe design, low-noise 92mm fan, and support for all major Intel sockets, as well as a super compact form factor that should mean zero conflicts with memory modules, expansion cards or the vast majority of chassis designs.
The three heat pipes measure in at 6mm and make direct contact with the CPU, it’s a cheap way of doing things, but so long as it work, that’s not a problem. The fan if a 4-pin WPM model and can spin between 800RPM and 2200RPM, so it should be pretty quiet at idle, but may be a little noisy when pushed, but we’ll find out soon enough.
The packaging is pretty straight forward, with a clear image of the cooler and fan design, as well as a quick rundown of the main specifications.
Around the back and side, the full specifications, as well as dimensions of the cooler.
In the box, you’ll find the cooler (obviously), the usual documentation, a tube of thermal paste, screws, 3M pads, and extra fan clips to mount a second fan (not included).
With each passing week, it seems like more rumors are coming concerning AMD’s upcoming Zen processors. From previous reports, we had expected AMD to release Zen near the tail end of 2016 but revenue from the new CPUs was not expected till early 2017. According to the latest rumour though, AMD may have Zen out a bit earlier than expected, with an 8-core chip coming out as early as October, meaning there could be significant revenue from Black Friday and the holiday season.
An October launch pretty much falls smack dab in the middle of AMD’s late 2016/Q4 confirmed launch window. With an 8-core chip with potential SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading) for 16 threads, AMD is striking with a strong with a very competitive chip. Currently, Intel only has one consumer 8-core in the 5960X which is pretty pricey with a large TDP. An 8-core variant would also entice AMD users to consider an upgrade earlier as it doubles the thread count of current Piledriver CPUs on top of the 40%+ IPCincrease.
Launching under the Summit Ridge series, the 8-core also boasts a positively regular TDP at 95W. This considers favorably with what Intel has to offer, especially considering AMD is offering double the core count. This is probably due to toned down clock speeds, improved efficiency and the new 14nmLPP process, providing AMD with a jump of 3 process nodes. Intel, for instance, cut power by about 30%+ when they moved from 32nm to 14nm, at the while increasing performance.
Key to Zen, of course, will be how well it will perform. Based on AMD’s figures and what we have been able to glean from multiple leaks, Zen should hover around Haswell levels of IPC. The bigger question is how AMD prices Zen, though many will undoubtedly jump at the chance to buy a once again, IPC competitive AMD CPU. Hopefully, AMD’s expectations for Zen hold true. I for one, am finally hoping we will see 8C/16T CPUs enter the realm of mainstream hardware.
Picking the right cooler for your system can be tricky, but when it comes to sticking a high-performance CPU in a compact gaming system, your choices are often quite limited to a range of low-profile air coolers. Corsair is looking to solve this issue with the new Corsair H5 SF Hydro Series Low Profile Liquid CPU Cooler, an AIO unit that’s small enough to mount over the top of a mini-ITX motherboard! Unlike most AIO that must be mounted on a 120/140mm fan fitting, this cooler is a similar shape and size to a 5.25″ drive and comes with a special bracket that mounts it above the CPU like you would expect an air/tower cooler to install.
“The Hydro Series H5 SF is a low profile liquid CPU cooler that provides efficient cooling for small form factor Mini-ITX systems. Building a small form factor system shouldn’t have to mean compromising on processor speed, and with the H5 SF you can provide reliable cooling for your system’s high-performance CPU.” – Corsair
While I’m not expecting huge performance from the new cooler overall, when it comes down to cooling a compact gaming rig, it’s very likely that it’ll still be better than most low-profile air coolers that would fit the same system. Corsair has some impressive figures of their own, but how do they hold up in the real world? That’s what we hope to find out.
“It has a pump assembly with a copper coldplate and flexible, low permeability tubing, just like our larger Hydro Series models. They’re matched with a one-piece blower which cools the circulated liquid by drawing cool air from the inside of your PC and exhausting it outside the case. So, in addition to keeping your CPU cool, the H5 SF provides additional cooling for the motherboard and other components by constantly pulling cool air across them.” – Corsair
Equipped with copper and aluminium construction, high-quality tubing and support for all major sockets, the H5 SF is certainly promising. So let’s move on and take a closer look.
The packaging is typical Corsair, with the usual black and yellow theme at work, as well as a nice big image of the product, showing us the design of the pump and radiator.
Around the back, a nice technical breakdown of the specifications, design and a little image of how the radiator looks when mounted on a mini-ITX motherboard.
The packaging is nicely done on the interior too, with lots of protective cardboard around all major components, as well as protective plastic bags and stickers to prevent any minor marks or scratches.
In the box, you’ll find everything you need to get the cooler installed on major Intel and AMD mini-ITX platforms. All the screws are really good quality with a nice dark nickel finish and there’ sa durable L-shaped support bar for mounting it above the motherboard.
First off, Zen will introduce a new L0 cache, meaning that there will actually be 4 levels of cache. The L0 cache is a uOp cache, something Intel added back with Sandy Bridge. Paired with the uOp buffer, this will help reduce power consumption when running loops or if something needs to be re-executed quickly. Intel’s cache is 1.5KB so we can probably expect AMD to follow similarly as speed is more important than size.
Next up are changes to the L1 Instruction and Data caches. The L1 I$ will be 32KB, a drop compared to Steamroller/Excavator and K10 but back to the same size as Piledriver. The L1 D$ is also expected to be 32KB, a doubling over Steamroller and the same that of Excavator though still lower than K10. The reduced L1 I$ may be offset by the new uOp cache. The L2 may remain the same since the days of K10, with 512KB. This may be a problem if the rumoured inclusive cache design is used as 2304of the rumoured 8MB of L3 will be used in duplicating data. Having everything duplicated in L3 may make for better core-sharing and multi-threaded performance but limits everything to near L3 speeds for cache writes.
Overall, the cache changes suggest a move to ensure faster, rather than large caches. The increases to the caches also point to the focus on keeping the cores fed as well as high-speed cores with a long pipeline. This all helps with the 40%+ IPC improvement AMD is hoping for with Zen. Overall, Zen is looking to be a very wide and balanced design, borrowing from Intel and K10 but without any of the baggage of the past.
AMD has been getting ever more cyclical with their releases after their latest organizational shuffle. Last month, we saw the launch of the A10 7860K & Athlon X4 845 APU and CPU and this month we’re 2 more chips. Today, we are getting the A10 7890K and Athlon X4 880K, both of which sit on the top of the FM2 product stack for APU and CPU respectively.
Like their predecessors, the new chips feature a decent clock speed boost, 5% each of their slower siblings, or 200mhz increase. While it doesn’t look like much, that’s still more than the differentiation Intel gives their chips which is often only 100mhz. Despite only being 95W class chips, the 7890K will feature the 125W Wraith cooler while the 880K gets an all-new 125W Thermal solution. The 7890K runs at 4.1-4.3 Ghz with the iGPU at 866Mhz while the 880K is 4.0-4.2Ghz.
According to AMD, the 125W thermal solution is simply the Wraith cooler without the illuminated shroud, will all of the improve efficiency and performance. The A10 7870K will also feature with the new 125W cooler despite being 95W chips. This should allow for decent overclocking given the extra overhead or even lower noise levels for stock usage. This should help AMD with their image that some consumers have of their chips being loud and hot.
Arctic are well-known for their air cooling products, but today we’ll be taking a look at one of their first entries to the high-end AIO water cooling market; the Arctic Liquid Freezer 240. Designed for high-performance cooling for gaming systems, overclocking, workstations and more, you’ll find a fairly thick 240mm radiator, backed up by four high-quality 120mm fans, there’s little doubt that it’ll be able to shift some serious heat from your system. With a max TDP of 300 Watts, as well as support for all major Intel and AMD sockets, the Freezer 240 can easily handle some of today’s fastest CPUs.
Water cooling is becoming increasingly popular, especially with many consumers now running overclockable processors. Being able to push your systems limits to get the most value for money out of your hardware is no bad thing. When you’re gaming, editing video, rendering and more, the CPU get’s pretty toasty, which in turn causes fans to spin faster and can result in more noise. Having a more powerful cooler should help ensure that not only do your temps stay nice and low, but you’ll also be keeping the acoustics in check too; let’s hope the new cooler from Arctic can tick both of those boxes.
The packaging is pretty straight forward, with a good image of the cooler on the front and a bit of branding.
Around the back, things get a lot more technical, with some relative performance figures and specifications. Of course, we’ll be doing our own independent testing, so I won’t focus on their figures too much.
The packaging is pretty crammed, with components and hoses next to each other and minimal padding around anything in here. I would hope then when shipped, the item comes in another box with bubble wrap around this one, as it doesn’t seem sufficient.
In the box, you’ll find all the usual nuts and bolts, a universal backplate, AMD and Intel brackets, as well as a small sachet of Arctic MX-4 thermal paste.
There are four high-quality fans included with this cooler. Each measure 120mm and are Arctic’s own design, promising high airflow and low noise. Each fan comes with a built-in fan header splitter, making it super easy to daisy chain them on a single fan header. Each fan has extra long cables, with black sleeving and a PWM header.
Arctic is one of the most respected manufacturers of CPU coolers in the industry and provides astonishing products at a ridiculously low price point. Many consumers ditch their processor’s stock cooler for a higher end alternative due to the improved thermal dissipation and lower noise levels. Even at the CPU’s stock frequency, its beneficial to purchase a slightly better cooling solution. Clearly, you don’t want to go overboard though because modern CPUs such as Intel’s latest Skylake architecture are efficient at stock values. Arctic’s Freezer 7 Pro and Freezer 13 offer an astonishing price to performance ratio and rival products at a significantly higher cost. At around £15-25, both units are a great choice for the average consumer wanting to upgrade their system’s hardware.
Today, Arctic unveiled the Freezer i11 CO CPU cooler designed for 24/7 operation and provides up to 150 watts of cooling capacity. Not only that, the product is equipped with a premium Japanese dual ball bearing fan which reduces rotational friction and is significantly less sensitive to dust and high temperatures. When compared to standard models, the bundled fan lasts five times longer!
On another note, the 92mm PWM fan is more efficient due to fluidic analysis. In basic terms, this means the fan offers greater cooling performance at reduced noise levels. As you can see, the product has three direct copper heatpipes to ensure heat can easily dissipate fast to the fins. The cooler also features a very easy to setup and versatile mounting apparatus which enhances the user-experience. The mounting system is transport-proof which prevents any damage from occurring once your system is being moved. This is pretty important due to the advent of flexing on Skylake processors. The bundle comes with a tube of MX-4 thermal paste to apply a few re-applications.
Available now, the i11 CO CPU Cooler is priced at GBP £25.99 (incl. VAT).
AMD, as part of its We’re in The Game campaign, is offering a free game to customers that own certain CPUs and GPUs from its range, including its Radeon graphics cards and FX, A10, and A8 processors. All eligible users have to do is visit the AMD website, run the verification tool, and then pick your free game.
Depending on their hardware, users can choose one from the following range games:
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
Saints Row IV
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Napoleon – Total War
Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
The tastiest picks – like Napoleon Total War, Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth, Far Cry 3, and Saints Row IV – are only available to owners of AMD Radeon graphics cards, ranging from the R9 280 to the R9 Fury X and Nano. A smaller selection is available to owners of AMD FX, A10, and A8 CPUs, plus Radeon R7 and R5 GPUs.
While the selection hardly boasts any new releases, there’s a few gems on offer, especially for no cost.
The full list of eligible AMD CPUs and GPUs, and the respective free games, is available here [PDF].
All in one liquid coolers have become incredibly popular among hardware enthusiasts and made a large number switch from traditional air cooling. When it comes to performance, air coolers tend to offer similar heat dissipation at quieter noise levels. Although, this is usually the case with closed-looped-coolers from Asetek which use an aluminium radiator. While air coolers still exhibit great performance numbers, many people don’t care for the lack of space around the CPU socket. Furthermore, the large size can impact on memory compatibility and even stop you from inserting a graphics card into the first PCI-E x16 slot.
On the other hand, custom loops leverage extra performance and look absolutely stunning. However, they are an expensive proposition and quite daunting to anyone without water cooling expertise. Originally, closed loop coolers from Asetek and CoolIT adopted a very mundane, and uninspired design. Thankfully, this has changed in recent years and products like the Rajintek Triton include various dyes and clear tubing to create a striking finish. The latest liquid cooler to enter the market adopts a similar look to the Triton and includes a fill port. The Exllusion 240 by LEPA has a transparent block to monitor your cooler’s water levels. Here is a detailed run-down about the unit’s capabilities:
400W+ TDP Cooling Capacity
Performance-capable, refillable and customizable AIO CPU water cooler for most stable CPU operation even under extreme overclocking.
Rapid Heat Dissipation
Nickel-plated copper base with patented Dual Central Diffusing Passage (CDP). The two channels within the micro-fin structure accelerate heat dissipation and eliminate CPU hot spots more efficiently.
Voluminous Transparent LED Water Block
The water block has a higher coolant capacity to increases the coolant circulation. The transparent chassis and tubes allow for an easy monitoring of the coolant flow & volume status. Stylish LED lightning.
Colour Your Cooling!
LEPA provides three RGB dyes (red, green, blue), so that you can colour the coolant individually. Mix your favourite colour!
Durable & Silent Pump
The ceramic bearing prevents from corrosion and ensures a durable and silent operation.
Dual Convex Blade Fans
The advanced aerodynamic design of the fan blades generates a high static pressure and increases the air flow rate. The Dual Convex Blades fans achieve a higher cooling performance at lower speed.
Refillable Water Block
Add or modify the coolant composition. Additional 500ml LEPA coolant included for future refill processes.
Higher heat exchange rate for maximum cooling performance.
The Exllusion 240 of LEPA is now available from participating retailers and has a suggested price of 109.99 Euro (+VAT). The LEPA CXcoolant kit will also be available from March with a suggested price of 14,90 Euro.
Freebies are something that we all like and AMD has now bundled the new Hitman game with some of their graphics cards and processors as well as systems prebuilt with these components. AMD has partnered with IO Interactive again to bring this deal and they also joined the AMD Gaming Evolved program in order to get the best out of the hardware with top-flight effects and performance optimizations for PC gamers.
The bundle deal runs from the February the 16th and it is valid with the purchase of selected products from participating retailers – as it always is. In this round, AMD bundles Hitman with their Radeon R9 390 and 390X graphics cards as well as their FX 6 and 8 core processors (PIB). The bundle will last until 30th of April 2016 or whilst supplies last. Vouchers can be redeemed until 30th of June 2016.
The new Hitman game is offered in a seasonal fashion with a base game and periodic add-ons that will continue the story, but it is handled in the best possible way. The full experience with the full season off new missions won’t cost more than other games costs in themselves without DLCs and this AMD bundle also includes the full game rather than just the initial release. You will also get access to the BETA for Hitman that will run from the 19th to the 22nd February.
Those that have upgraded to Windows 10 will have the best experience with this new game as it has been built to take advantage of DX12, a feature that will make a very noticeable difference for AMD CPU users.
“Hitman will leverage unique DX12 hardware found in only AMD Radeon GPUs, called asynchronous compute engines, to handle heavier workloads and better image quality without compromising performance. PC gamers may have heard of asynchronous compute already, and Hitman demonstrates the best implementation of this exciting technology yet.”
You can find all the fine print and redeem your game code on the official Hitman mini-site. The beta phase is almost here, so it might be time to make that upgrade that you’ve holding back with. The full hardware specifications and recommendations have also been published a few days ago, in case you missed them.
With the arrival of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and other VR headsets later this year, the talk has turned to the hardware necessary to drive these displays. Unlike regular gaming, VR gaming will require much higher framerates, meaning higher performing hardware. While Oculus has released their own system hardware checker, it is missing many other potentially workable hardware, something AMD is remediating with their own CPU list.
As expected, the list contains the 2 top end 220W models, the FX 9590 and 9370, AMD’s top CPUs. Further down are the usual suspects for gaming systems, the FX 8370 and 8350 and the more budget FX 6350. Surprisingly, the 2M/4T Steamroller based A10 7890K and 7870K as well as the Athlon X4 880K and 870K. It looks like the list is mostly made up of faster-clocked CPUs either above 3.9Ghz with 3M/6T or based on the new Steamroller architecture. This is expected as VR requires a good amount of single-thread performance and higher frame rates than usual. It’s surprising that we don’t see the FX 4320 and 4350 given that those carry a hefty base clock as well.
Even with this list though, AMD has only tested the FX chips against VR, while the Steamroller chips are theoretically good enough. Intel still holds a strong lead in single-threaded performance so it really depends on how the VR titles if AMD will run well on them. AMD won’t have to worry soon though if Zen delivers later this year.
Arctic are well-known for their air cooling products, having made many great products over the years, but now they’re moving into new territory with the release of their first water cooler. The Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is an AIO water cooler, which means its going to be super easy to install and will need virtually no maintenance, making it an accessible option for those who don’t want to tackle custom loop cooling. It may only be a 120mm radiator, but Arctic are promising big performance, which will no doubt come from the thick radiator design, the two high-quality fans and their high-end pump and block design.
“We fully designed the F12 fan with CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software and optimized it for high airflow. From all fans tested in our air tunnel and anechoic chamber the F12 offers the highest airflow at a given noise level – by margin” said Arctic. “Dual low noise 120 mm fans mounted on opposite sides of the radiator provide a great airflow. First fan pushes air through the radiator, second fan pulls the air through it. Controllable with PST function to adjust the fan speed based on CPU temperature.” they added. “The Fluid Dynamic Bearing comes with an oil capsule that avoids lubricant leakage. Thus this bearing is as quiet as a sleeve bearing but comes with a significantly higher service life.”
120mm radiators are extremely compatible with a huge range of chassis products, but keep in mind that at 49mm thick, as well as two 15mm thick fans, you’re going to need good clearance to einsure a comfortable fit, although we suspect this will only be an issue for some SFF chassis types.
The cooler offers up support for all the latest socket types, and with an impressive max TDP of 300 watts, it’s going to be able to handy virtually anything you throw at it.
Intel Socket: 2011(-3), 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156
AMD Socket: AM2(+), AM3(+), FM1, FM2(+)
Max. Cooling Performance: 300 Watts
Recommended for TDP up to: 250 Watts
The packaging is nicely designed, with a nice clear image of the cooler on the front, as well as a good amount of technical data on the sides.
There are some performance figures here, but as is often the case, I’ll trust my own numbers in our benchmarks, which we’ll take a look at shortly.
In the box, you’ll find a backplate, Intel and AMD mounting brackets, the installation guide, and all the usual nuts and bolts for mounting the fans, radiator, and pump.
Both F12 series fans are Arctics own design, with FDB and PWM speed control. What’s interesting is that both fans have super long cables and each has a Y-splitter so that you don’t lose the use of a fan header.
Even though everyone has pretty much already seen the writing on the wall by now, Intel has remained staunch publicly. At long last, the chip giant is admitting that scaling will have to rely on improvements other than clock speeds. In fact, Intel is going as far to say that the future of semiconductors will rely on technologies that reduce power consumption rather than performance.
According to William Holt, the head of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group, the semiconductor industry will see “major transitions” and the new technology will be “fundamentally different.” In order to continue moving forward, most of the new technologies mostly present a reduction in power consumption but at the cost of clock speeds due to lower switching speeds. This means all performance gains will have to come from improved IPC, new instruction sets and more cores.
With industry leader Intel already having delayed both 14nm and 10nm, it looks like silicon is nearing the end of the road. Even with the use of problematic EUV, the move to alternatives like lead telluride, carbon, Indium antimonide and indium gallium arsenide will likely happen within the decade. Even without major performance gains though, there is going to be a lot of excitement as laptops and mobile devices get better and better battery life.