Despite AMD’s FreeSync arriving later than nVidia’s G-Sync, FreeSync has seen fairly widespread adoption, especially among gaming monitors. The latest monitor – and the 101st – to officially support FreeSync is Lenovo’s Y27f. This also marks the announcement of Lenovo’s first FreeSync monitor.
We've got a new thermal paste applicator tool that'll help ensure consistent, equal spread of TIM across cooler surfaces for future tests. As we continue to iterate on "Hybrid" DIY builds, or even just re-use coolers for testing, we're also working to control for all reasonable variables in the test process. Our active ambient monitoring with thermocouple readers was the first step of that, and ensures that even minute (resolution 0.1C) fluctuations in ambient are accounted for in the results. Today, we're adding a new tool to the arsenal. This is a production tool used in Asetek's factory, and is deployed to apply that perfect circle of TIM that comes pre-applied to all the liquid cooler coldplates. By using the same application method on our end (rather than a tube of compound), we eliminate the chance of users changing application methods and eliminate the chance of applying too much or too little compound. These tools ensure exactly the same TIM spread each time, and mean that we can further eliminate variables in testing. That's especially important for regression testing.
This isn't something you use for home use, it is for production and test use. When cooling manufacturers often fight over half a degree of temperature advantage, it would be unfair to the products to not account for TIM application, which could easily create a 0.5C temperature swing. For consumers, that's irrelevant -- but we're showing a stack of products in direct head-to-head comparisons, and that needs to be an accurate stack.
No reference card has impressed us this generation, insofar as usage by the enthusiast market. Primary complaints have consisted of thermal limitations or excessive heat generation, despite reasonable use cases with SIs and mITX form factor deployments. For our core audience, though, it's made more sense to recommend AIB partner models for superior cooling, pre-overclocks, and (normally) lower prices.
But that's not always the case – sometimes, as with today's review unit, the price climbs. This new child of Corsair and MSI carries on the Hydro GFX and Seahawk branding, respectively, and is posted at ~$750. The card is the construct of a partnership between the two companies, with MSI providing access to the GP104-400 chip and a reference board (FE PCB), and Corsair providing an H55 CLC and SP120L radiator fan. The companies sell their cards separately, but are selling the same product; MSI calls this the “Seahawk GTX 1080 ($750),” and Corsair sells only on its webstore as the “Hydro GFX GTX 1080.” The combination is one we first looked at with the Seahawk 980 Ti vs. the EVGA 980 Ti Hybrid, and we'll be making the EVGA FTW Hybrid vs. Hydro GFX 1080 comparison in the next few days.
For now, we're reviewing the Corsair Hydro GFX GTX 1080 liquid-cooled GPU for thermal performance, endurance throttles, noise, power, FPS, and overclocking potential. We will primarily refer to the card as the Hydro GFX, as Corsair is the company responsible for providing the loaner review sample. Know that it is the same as the Seahawk.
This week's Ask GN episode answers viewer questions about FinFET vs. Planar, the impact of cooling on power consumption, CPU load for 120Hz / 144Hz displays, liquid cooler testing, and a few extras. We spend most the time talking liquid coolers and cooler testing – a fitting topic, having done multiple “Hybrid” video card builds lately.
The full list of questions with their timestamps can be found below the video. Thanks to our viewers for the questions and, as always, post more in the video comments on YouTube for inclusion in next week's episode.
German manufacturer Be Quiet! has released its latest line of ultra-quiet fans – the SilentWings 3, first found in the Dark Base 900 that we saw at Computex. Be Quiet! is a company whose name backs most product roll-outs, as representative Christoph Katzer explained to us. The company focuses heavily on build quality and silence, and the new SilentWings 3 fans have been redesigned with fluid-dynamic bearings, now using brass cores and seven blades that have a funnel-shaped design. The frame is rubberized to enable a reported near-inaudible sound level – according to Be Quiet!, the 120mm model produces 16.4 decibels and the 140mm model 15.5 decibels. To put that into perspective, someone whispering is about 30 decibels. The rubberized design also reduces vibration levels to further mitigate noise.
We looked at Be Quiet!'s Dark Base 900 PC case at Computex and were impressed. The SilentWings 3 fans debuted in the DB900, about 3 months prior to launch individually, so owners of the DB900 are already equipped with the new fans.
MSI has announced it will be releasing five new GTX 1060 3GB cards. The new Pascal video cards are set for an August release, and they will take on AMD’s 4GB RX 480 in the $200 - $250 market. The MSRP for the GTX 1060 3GB cards will be $200, but some cards may be priced higher to account for pre-overclocks and AIB partner value adds, like improved cooling.
The GTX 1060 3GB cards have 1152 CUDA cores, operating at a base clock of 1506MHz and a boost clock of 1708MHz – the same as the 6GB model, but with 128 fewer cores. MSI, like other AIB partners, will offer factory overclocked cards coupled with brand heatsinks.
For our average multiple interviews per year with Chris Roberts and team, this year has been a quiet one. The team's been keeping their heads down while working on finalizing Squadron 42, the single-player release of Star Citizen, for a major release this year. Version 2.5 and 2.6 of the Star Citizen client will soon be released – a matter of days for 2.5, in theory – but that hasn't stopped CIG CEO Chris Roberts from detailing plans for 3.0 while at Gamescom 2016.
The Gamescom event primarily covered procedural planet technology. This is a topic we discussed with Roberts back in 2014, who stated the following when asked for CIG's definition of procedural generation:
The Titan X (Pascal) DIY “Hybrid” project has come to a close, and with that, we've reached our results phase. This project has yielded the most visible swings in clock performance that we've yet seen from a liquid cooling mod, and has revealed significant thermal throttling in the reference nVidia Titan XP design. What's more, this card will not feature the market saturation created by AIB partners with lower end cards, and so more advanced coolers do not seem to be available without going open loop or DIY.
Our liquid-cooled Titan X Pascal Hybrid has increased the card's non-overclocked frequency by an average of nearly 200MHz – again, pre-overclock – because we've removed the thermal throttle point. The card has also improved its clock-rate stability versus temperature and time, provable during our two-hour endurance run.
There were rumors of a GTX 1060 3GB card, but the launch of the GTX 1060 featured a single 6GB model. Almost exactly one month later, nVidia has announced its 3GB GTX 1060 with 1152 CUDA Cores, down from 1280, and a halved framebuffer. The card will also run fewer TMUs as a result of disabling 1 SM, for a total of 9 simultaneous multiprocessors versus the 10 SMs on the GTX 1060 6GB. This brings down TMU count from 80 to 72 (with 8x texture map units per SM), making for marginally reduced power coupled with a greatly reduced framebuffer.
(Update: The card is already available on etailers, see here.)
In theory, this will most heavily impact 0.1% low and 1% low frame performance, as we showed in the AMD RX 480 8GB vs. 4GB comparison. Games which rely less upon Post FX and more heavily upon large resolution textures and maps (as in shadow, normal, specular – not as in levels) will most immediately show the difference. Assassin's Creed, Black Ops III (in some use cases), and Mirror's Edge Catalyst are poised to show the greatest differences between the two. NVidia has advertised an approximate 5% performance difference when looking at the GTX 1060 3GB vs. GTX 1060 6GB, but that number will almost certainly be blown out when looking at VRAM stressing titles.
While Intel's Developer Forum is underway in San Francisco, not far from AMD in Sunnyvale, the x64 creators held a press conference to demonstrate Zen CPU performance. Based strictly on the presentation, AMD shows a 40% IPC (Instructions Per Clock) over Vishera. The demonstration used a 16T processor, the “Summit Ridge” chip that's been discussed a few times, which runs 8 cores with simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) for 16 total threads. For the non-gaming market, CPU codename “Naples” was also present, a 32C/64T Zen server processor in a dual-CPU Windows server.
AMD detailed more of the Zen architecture in an official capacity, commenting on new caching routines and branch prediction, accompanied by the SMT changes that shift AMD away from its modular Bulldozer architecture. AMD made mention of “fanless 2-in-1s” in addition to high-performance CPUs and embedded systems.