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  1. I was really excited when we released our Carbide 460X case as it has awesome potential for modding and making themed builds, I wanted to do a Overwatch build as that is the game I play the most right now, so I started to think about a design. Gigabyte was really nice and helped out with a GA-Z170X-Designare and a Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming GTX 1060. All the hardware I ended up with was this: Corsair Crystal 460X Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Designare Intel Core i5 6600K Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming GTX 1060 Corsair Vengeance RGB Corsair MP500 Corsair RM650X Corsair H100i v2 Corsair HD120 RGB Corsair Lighting Node PRO Our Vengeance RGB is a really good choice when doing theme builds as it is easy to fit it together with the color scheme you have. As the theme of the build is Overwatch I went for a white-orange color theme. Modguru was nice again to help out with sleeved cables for our RM650X. We have two other products that recently was released as well that I am using, our first M.2 SSD, MP500 and our Lighting Node Pro which makes it possible to control our RGB-fans through Corsair Link, it also comes with RGB LED-strips. It is really nice with M.2 SSDs as there is less cables to route in the case. This is how the cable management behind the motherboard ended up like. I mounted one of the RGB LED-strips around the IO-plate on the case, just to make it easier to see in the dark when you need to plug something in. The other RGB LED-strips was installed inside the case to sync up with rest of the theme. Next thing I wanted to do was to cover up the fans on the inside of the case, together with a friend I designed a fan-grill with Corsair and Overwatch logos. It was milled out in clear acrylic. This plate was painted, the small bit in the Overwatch logo was painted orange and the rest white. The PSU cover was also painted white and orange. This was how it ended up looking, I know the fan-grill probably stops some air from the fans, however, this case is extremely open so it did not do any big change in the temperatures. I wanted the front glass to have a Overwatch logo as well, I thought about vinyl at first, but then I decided on engraving it to the glass with a rotary tool. I used something called carbon paper to transfer the logo to the glass. Then I used my rotary tool with a engraving bit to do the engraving, I made a complete guide on how to do engraving that you can find here. When engraving glass though you need to be extra careful and not use any sharp engraving bits, I recommend using the “ball” ones. Remember to engrave on the backside and not the outside too! The top part of the Overwatch logo is orange, which I wanted it to be on the glass as well so I bought an acrylic pen and filled it out. With the three front fans set to white LED the fan-grill really shines up! The RGB LED-strips on the IO-plate looks like this, really useful when its dark. This is how the build ended up looking, for more and better photos, check out the Builders Gallery! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.
  2. We were at the UK LAN-event Insomnia 61 together with Overclockers UK. We had one of our influencers there, BoMenzzz, and we teamed up with Bit-Techs inhouse modder Dave "davido_labido" Alcock to build a custom watercooled PC for BoMenzzz that was revealed at the event. In this blog Dave himself will show how he built this custom PC. Hi folks, my name is Dave, but most people know me online as ‘davido_labido’. I have recently taken the role of an in-house computer modder at www.bit-tech.net. Which basically means I get to play with computer equipment and write about my experiences. Not a bad job huh? The first build I decided to do for bit-tech.net was for Corsair and particularly its up and coming twitch streamer BoMenzzz. BoMenzzz recently managed to gain sponsorship from Corsair so she is doing very well. When I spoke to the Corsair rep, he mentioned that BoMenzzz had a bit of an ugly computer which wasn’t fit for a Twitch streamer! We decided something needed to be done. Her old computer was a nest of cables and looked rather messy, it was quite loud and just needed some TLC. Working alongside Corsair and BoMenzzz we decided what hardware we needed and found that she wanted a white and pink colour scheme. The build would be liquid cooled to keep audio levels down. Alphacool kindly provided the liquid cooling. When all of the hardware arrived we knew it was going to be an interesting build! First thing was to strip the case down to ensure that we could make the Corsair 460X as white as possible. I wanted to try and get a build as white as possible so that the pink would contrast against it. I did this by drilling out all of the rivets, it took a while, Corsair really like to ensure their cases stay together! After the build was stripped down it looked a little like this; so many parts! Anything that was metal on the case, I popped along to the powder coaters just to save time. Everything else I sprayed myself. This included all of the liquid cooling parts and plastic parts of the Corsair 460X. Here you can see the Alphacool radiator getting a blast of paint on my spray rack. The spray rack is a garden grow rack and is very cheap indeed. It ensures that wind and rain does not affect the spraying however. To hide all of the holes in the motherboard tray that we didn’t want to see, I made a few acrylic plates. I had to then cut the holes that we wanted our cables to pass through. The holes that were cut started off very rough, like in the picture, but with a bit of filing and sanding they became smooth. Now that everything was sprayed I could do a test fit and figure out how I was going to do the loop. I knew that everything was going to be a tight fit when I requested the hardware, I didn’t realise just how tight it was going to be though. There was less than an 8mm gap between the end of the GPU and the radiator! Speaking of the graphics card, it really ruined the white and pink colour scheme, it just looked wrong. I do love the design of the MSI GPUs though, so I decided to spray it and do some other little mods. First of all we had to remove the red parts from the black surround. Once this was done, we sanded, primed, sprayed and lacquered them all so that they were a nice bright pink. This suited the build far more and tied in all of the colours. Next on the list of jobs was a set of custom sleeved cables. This meant measuring, cutting and sleeving all of the cables that would be seen. Some of these cables are ‘Y’ cables. This means that there is 1 cable at the motherboard end, but 2 cables at the PSU end. I got around this problem by creating some brand new ‘Y’ cables. Once all of the cables were done they looked great. They were the perfect length for the look that I wanted and they were now white and pink! As well as having a love for gaming, streaming and the colours white and pink, BoMenzzz really likes Pandas! I decided to try and sneak one into the build somewhere. The best place I could find was on the PSU cover that is included with the Corsair 460X. When I was spraying the cooler for the MSI GPU, I decided to add a little bit of BoMenzzz branding. Using a vinyl cutter I created a little logo on the side that lights up. I also created a really simple backplate out of some scrap acrylic and some vinyl. Once the build was done, I filled it up with some Mayhems Pastel Pink. I think this colour is awesome in the Alphacool frosted tubing. After it was all filled and everything was powered, it looked rather tasty! We decided to present BoMenzzz with the build at Insomnia 60, a UK gaming festival. Needless to say, I think she was happy with it! Her PC garnered the most attention out of all the other builds at the event which was pretty awesome considering there was some other great builds there. It was a pleasure to work with Corsair, Alphacool and also BoMenzzz! If you would like to check out BoMenzzz stream, click here: https://www.twitch.tv/bomenzzz To check out a more detailed build log, check out our three-part series on Bit-Tech here: https://www.bit-tech.net/modding/project-logs/2017/03/17/bomenzzz-build-part-1/1 https://www.bit-tech.net/modding/project-logs/2017/03/21/corsair-460x-build-for-bomenzzz-part-2/1 https://www.bit-tech.net/modding/2017/04/21/corsair-460x-build-for-bomenzzz-part-3/1
  3. This blog series is about how it can look when you build your own case from scratch. Part 1: The Beginning - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-The-Beginning Part 2: Hardware and case - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-curv3d-hardware-and-case Part 3: Finishing the structure - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-Finishing-the-structure Part 4: Custom parts and sleeving - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-Custom-parts-and-sleeving Part 5: Finalizing the last details - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/project-curv3d-finalizing-the-last-details In this last part of this blog-series I will show you how all the hardware above is installed in the case as well as the end result of the build. This is how we ended up in the last part, now all the hardware needs to be installed and the LCD has to be configured. In a small case like this you have to install the parts in a particular order to be able to fit everything. So first of all I started with the motherboard and installed the fans to one of the fan-ports. Then I installed the SSD-holder to the Corsair H75. Next thing to do was to install the radiator, I screwed it together with the front fan and installed all the cables needed. I used P-clips to tie everything down as well. Last thing, mount the CPU-block! This is how the inside turned out looking, I tried to get everything as tidy and clean as possible. Here is a nightshot for you. I set up the LCD so it cycles through three screens, the name of the build, the sponsors and finally a status screen with temperatures, usage etc. Now it is time to show some end result photos of this little scratchbuilt case. This little PC will be used as a HTPC for movies and some simpler games. This have been a long and time-consuming project but now it is done and I am very satisfied with the result. I hope this have been an interesting blog-series for you to read and that you learned something. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment!
  4. This blog series is about how it can look when you build your own case from scratch. Part 1: The Beginning - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-The-Beginning Part 2: Hardware and case - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-curv3d-hardware-and-case Part 3: Finishing the structure - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-Finishing-the-structure Part 4: Custom parts and sleeving - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-Custom-parts-and-sleeving In this part I will go through how to polish acrylic that has some scratches, how I installed different custom parts and how I assembled the case. So let’s start with the acrylic, this pieces of acrylic have been through a lot, so they have some scratches. So what to do? Well I use something called Novus Plastic Polish, this is the best polish I found for acrylic. So there is three different parts, one for heavy scratches, one for fine scratches and one to make it clean and shine. First of all, if you have heavy scratches use the number 3 together with a microfiber cloth and buff in the same direction as the scratches. After that I use the number 2 bottle with a clean cloth and buff in circle movements, I did this 2-3 times. To finish it off I used the last bottle, sprayed over the surface and with a new clean cloth buffed it out so it’s clean and shiny. Next thing I did was to shorten the pump-cable for the Corsair H75 as it does not have to be that long in this build. So I measured out how long it needed to be and cut it. Heated up my soldering station and soldered the cables together with some heatshrink. To make it look cleaner it also got some black sleeve. Installed and mounted, looks much better than before. What do you think? Let’s start mounting the different parts together! First of all, the 4x20 LCD, I glued it to the frontplate with some heavy-duty epoxy. The power-switch was also installed to the frontpanel. The fangrill with dustfilter was installed by pushing it under the front casefeet and then screwed into the fan-frame in the back. These casefeet is hand-milled in aluminium, they give builds a cleaner look and is very easy to install, just drill a hole and mount the casefeet with a bolt and nut, then just add the rubber-piece to stop some vibrations. The last thing to be mounted is the front and backpanels. As I don’t want to have any screws visible these are also glued with epoxy. They are glued in one at a time with the help of straps and clamps. This is how it looks when it is mounted together. In the next and last blog in this series I will show of how I install the hardware and how the case ends up looking. Leave a comment of what you think about the build and stay tuned for part six!
  5. This blog series is about how you can build your own case from scratch. Part 1: The Beginning - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-The-Beginning Part 2: Hardware and case - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-curv3d-hardware-and-case Part 3: Finishing the structure - https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/Project-CURV3D-Finishing-the-structure One thing I really enjoy with scratchbuilds, is that you can build your case exactly like you want it, optimize it after the hardware and coming up with new solutions to mount hardware. This case is very small so everything that can save space is important. In this case for example, the SSD does not have anywhere to be mounted, so I had to make something to fix that problem. What I came up with was to somehow mount the SSD over the radiator without blocking to much airflow. So I started off with a aluminium sheet which I bent twice. I removed everything that was not needed. Next thing I did was to clean up the edges and corners. I painted the SSD-holder black to fit together with the SSD and radiator. The SSD is mounted to the SSD-holder which then is mounted to the radiator. To make the SSD stand out a little bit more I wanted to engrave our sails logo on it. What I used is something called carbon paper, then put the logo on top and filled in all the contours of it, the carbon paper transfers that over to the SSD as you see in the photos. Using a Dremel I then started engraving the logo, first all the outlines and then started filling all the empty spaces. It ended up like this! Another small detail I did was to remove the plastic ring around the pump on the H75 and paint it white instead of the original grey color. I want to keep everything tidy in this build, all the small details have to be as good as possible. So sleeving everything was for me a must. So first I started with the two 120mm fans in the bottom, as I only have two fan-ports on the motherboard these had to be soldered together. I really enjoy making the cables the exact length that they have to be. The LCD that will be installed in the front had a green PCB that really stood out from everything else, so I got some Plastidip and painted it black instead, I also sleeved the USB-cable black to fit in. The power-switch also got a custom-cable and black sleeving. This little piece is what will be powering the PC together with the power-brick, it is called Pico-PSU or Nano-PSU. All the cables for this will also get some sleeving, the power-cable got black sleeving. I made a custom-cable here that goes from PSU to SATA to 4-pin CPU, sleeved with white and light blue colors. I then used something called P-clips to tie down the cables so everything looks tidy and clean. The workspace can get a bit chaotic when in the middle of a build! This was everything for this blog, next time I will go through how to polish acrylic and how I install the different parts. See you!
  6. I wanted to make a build with a Mirror’s Edge theme and what case would fit better than our white and red Spec-Alpha case? It got the right colors and also has a bit aggressive look to it. But I also needed matching hardware. For the motherboard I chose Gigabyte’s Z170X Gaming 7 which have a white and red theme as well. I also got some white-red-grey sleeving from Modguru to use with our RM650i power-supply. The CPU I chose was Intel’s i5 6600K and to cool that I went for our H100i v2, to get the cooler to fit better with the build I painted it white and used our red side shields. I made a guide about how I painted it here if you want to take a look. https://www.corsair.com/us/en/blog/How-to-mod-paint-your-radiator The graphics card I got was a GeForce GTX 980 from Zotac, it did also not fit the overall theme because it was grey and orang, so something had to be done to it. I took the GPU-cooler apart and painted both the cooler shield, backplate and the fans white and red with the same technique as I painted the H100i v2. Now all the hardware worked better together. But all this does not really get you straight into thinking Mirror’s Edge right? So I wanted to do something special with the case. I contacted a friend of mine, DMFinearts, who is very talented with airbrushing. I came up with a design for the case and he made a really awesome job with the custom paint. It does look cool right? Next up was to start installing all the hardware into the case. I used our new ML120 Pro LED fans, I mixed up white and red LED ones which makes a cool effect, I also used our Commander Mini and the LED strips to light up the inside even more. I wanted to hide the cables to make the build look more clean so I made a small cover-plate in aluminium. The Corsair Neutron XTi fits good installed to the cover-plate right? Another cool piece of hardware I use in this build are our new Vengeance LED ram. This is how all the hardware looks together inside the case, I think it all fits together pretty well, what do you think? Let’s put some lights on! This is how the build ended up looking without the sidepanel on. I think all the hardware works really well together, both the colors and the lights. Here are also two photos of the build up and running in a dimmed down environment. And last two overview photos of the beautiful custom paintjob on the case, a big thanks to DMFinearts for the paintjob. I hope you liked this build, comment what you thought about it and I will see you next time!
  7. In the last blog I went through a few simple steps and basic mods that you can do to your PC to make it more personal, I used our Carbide Air 240 to do these mods on. Today I will quickly go through the assembly of everything and the end result. So first of all I started by installing the top and bottom fan, with the fan-rings painted silver. This is the hardware that is going into the case. This is how the painted fan-rings turned out when installed to the radiator. Sleeved cables can really make a big difference in a custom build. There is a lot of different alternatives out there, we sell our own sleeved cables for our modular power supplies and there is also a lot of different companies out there selling different kind of sleeved cables. These cables are custom made by Modguru as I wanted black and grey cables as well as cable combs to keep everything nice and tidy. Next thing to do is to install the motherboard, here you can see how it looks with the cablecombs on the 24-pin cable too. Now onto the cooler, for every component I install I also try to route the cables for it so its not a big mess in the end. Last component on this side of the case is the graphics card, install and hook up the sleeved cables. I wanted to have some lighting in the case too, so what I am using is our Commander Mini, which is a cool little product. It is a software-controlled fan-controller as well as RGB-lighting controller. I am using it to control fans, the RGB-lighting strips in the top of the case as well as monitoring the RM650i power supply. Cablemanagement is a hot topic in the modding world, you could put down hours and hours on the cablemanagement, making custom length cables etc. In this build I tried to balance it out, so it is not perfect but still good enough. What I always try to do though is to route the cables so it flows together. This is how it looks with the lighting, I prefer white LEDs just to light up so you see the nice hardware inside of your build. And that is it actually. This is basic mods for those who wants to start get into modding and I highly recommend to try out something like this because it will be a good experience and after you can start getting into more advanced modding. So here is the final result, this will be my main PC now and it looks really good on my little office desk. Stay tuned for more modding content and how-to’s!
  8. In the last blog we went through what case I would use for this guide as well as what we will do to it. Painting the grills in the front and top. Using sleeved cables, thoughts about cable-management and lighting. How to use simple custom parts. Engraving.So lets start out with painting the grills in the front and top-panels. We have to start by removing the front-panel which is held to the front by two plastic-clips on both sides. On the backside of the front-panel we see the grill as well as the dustfilter, remove the screws that holds the grill and snap it out of the plastic-clips. To remove the dustfilter, bend these small clips and just take it out. There is the exact same procedure for the toppanel, remove the panel, remove the screws that holds the grill, snap it off and remove the dustfilter. Now it is time to start prepping the grills for the paint. These grills are made of steel so it does not need as much prepping as for example aluminium does. I used something called Scotchbrite pads from 3M, the red one, to scruff up the surface so the paint will stick better. The paint I am using is a grey primer as well as a silver color, these exact spraypaints are available in Sweden where I live but you can use the regular spraypaints that you can find in hardware stores and such. When using regular spraycans I highly recommend to use a mask for it as it protects from the dangerous gases. Start with the primer, spray thin layers from a 20cm / 8” distance and let it dry, do this for 6-7 layers and then let it dry for 24 hours before you start with the color. Follow the same procedure for the final paint, if you want a result that will hold up even better, you could paint some clearcoat over it. This is how the grills and fan-rings look when they are finished. Next thing to do is just to put back the grills in the front and top-panels. This is what it looks like now, instead of being all black, there is now some contrasts which makes the case stand out more. Installing custom case-feet. The theme of this build is black/silver/grey, the grills are now silver-colored, so whats next? I have always enjoyed changing and adding small details to my mods, one of those are case-feets. There is a lot of different custom case-feets that can be bought in different shops online, they don’t have to be super expensive either, the ones I am using are custom-milled by a friend. Let us start by turning the case upside down and measure out where you would like the case-feets to be placed out. Next step is to drill the holes through the case so we could bolt the feets to the case. Then it is not much more to do then to put the bolt through and fasten the nut on the other side to hold it together. To stop some vibration from the case going down to your PC-table or floor, you could install some rubber pieces to the feets. So this is what it looks like after the case-feets are installed, it raises the case up a bit so more air can get through the bottom as well as adding more details that fit with the theme of the build. Installing a custom window-frame. The windowed side-panel of this case looks very clean, but what I have done in earlier mods and what I will do here as well will bring more eyes to the sidepanel. I will show how to install a window-frame that will fit good with the overall theme. I measured out the size of the window, added a few millimeters and had a friend of mine mill this out with his CNC-mill. This might sound expensive, but as CNC-mills/Laser machines and 3D-printers are getting more and more popular and also cheaper, there is a lot of people and companies that can do small parts like this pretty cheap. This part is also very simple to measure out and design. To fasten the window-frame to the sidepanel I am using a heavy-duty double-sided tape from 3M, this tape is extremely strong and works perfect for installing smaller parts, ssd and items like that. I cut out small pieces and put them all around the frame. Remove the protection tape and line up the window-frame to the window and press down all around the frame. This is how the result came out, it fits good together with the case-feet. How to engrave? I did not think engraving fit into this build, but I have made a complete guide on how to engrave your side or frontpanel before which can be found here. http://www.corsair.com/en-us/blog/2015/april/how-to-do-engraving This is how the before and after looks, it is not the most extreme mods, but it is some basic mods that still make a difference and is easy to do. It can make your own PC more personal and is a good stepping ground for starting doing more extreme modding. In the next blog I will show the assembling of the PC and how the final result will look.
  9. Case mods are something we love to see here at Corsair. One case modder we have seen progress a lot the last few years is Justin “MetallicAcid” Ohlsen. We recently got the privilege to talk to him about one of the mods he finished last year: Redefined. Tell me a little bit about yourself? Sure! My name is Justin, known as MetallicAcid on forums and social media. I am father to two great kids and a husband to the most supportive (and patient) woman in the world. I am from Australia, but I live in Sweden with my wife's side of the family. When did you start modding and what got you into it? I started PC modding around 3 years ago when I started checking out all of the awesome rigs people created. I was a lurker at overclock.net cable management forum, and some people posted their sleeved cables and cable management in their beautiful custom rigs. I started to look a little closer at some of the details and noticed that modifications had been done. I started subscribing to mod build logs, and was soon thereafter to make my own custom masterpiece! What tools do you use when modding? My go to tools are the rotary tool, jigsaw and metal files. I recently invested in a circular saw with guide rail in an attempt to save time on getting straight cuts when compared to the jigsaw. So far so good! Most instrumental is the ruler, and a pen + paper for creating “To-Do” lists and sketching design ideas. Where did you find your inspiration for Redefined and where did you get the idea to use leather? A friend of mine was showing me his dream car, which was a McLaren Spider. We was browsing the image search when I spotted a white McLaren with tan leather trim inside, and I had the idea of dressing the inside of the chassis with custom faux leather panels. I personally had not seen it in any projects I had come across, and thought that I would like to give the idea a try. What has been the biggest challenge with this project? The biggest challenge was correcting a mistake that I had made... I had went ahead and ordered a discrete GPU for this project, but only upon installing the GPU inside the chassis on the motherboard, I noticed that I would no longer put on the side panel as the heat pipes from the GPU stuck up too much. I thought of taking the easy way out and just cut a hole into the acrylic side panel, but I thought I would go with the flow and take this as an opportunity to get innovative, and create a series of panels so that I could mount the GPU vertically, and have it shown off in all of it's glory. What is your favorite Corsair product? My current favorite Corsair product is the Carbide 600C chassis. This chassis reminds me of my very first chassis that I had ever purchased (The SilverStone Temjin TJ08-E) as it has almost the exact same layout but in ATX format. The front and top panels are really nice with the sleek design and monolithic vibe they give off. This is the chassis that I have chosen for my current work in progress modding project. Besides modding PC’s, what do you do on your free time? Modding, designing and planning and posting my projects takes up almost all of my free time. This is because I love to do what I do so much. Sometimes though, and can just think “meh” and literally do nothing, disconnect and indulge in a good book. Game of Thrones is currently my favorite series. We want to give Justin a big thank you for taking the time to talk to us and for sharing these amazing photos!
  10. I have always been very passionate about PC-modding as you might understand from the different blogs I post here. When we post a really cool custom build on our Facebook, I have seen many comments that people would like to do something similar but does not have the tools or experience for it, that they don’t know where to start. But it is actually not always that hard nor do you need very expensive hardware either. Many times very small details can make a big difference. In this blog-series I will go through different simple steps and techniques that will help you make your PC more personal and help you start modding, it will be very basic guide but it will be a good base for beginners, in this first article I will show you what case that will be the victim for this mod, what hardware that will be used and the different steps to mod it. Case: Corsair Carbide Air 240 Motherboard: Asus Maximus VIII Gene Z170 mATX Processor: Intel Core i7 6700K Graphics card: EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB SC+ ACX 2.0 Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 4x8GB DDR4 3000MHz Storage: Corsair Force LE 480GB PSU: Corsair RM650i Cooler: Corsair H100i GTX Fans: Corsair AF & SP Misc: Corsair Commander Mini I chose the Carbide Air 240 as I like a bit smaller cases and it has a lot of potential for modding. My first advice for modding is to decide on a color theme for your build because then you can get the hardware that fits best together. For this build I decided to go with a black/silver/grey theme. I installed the hardware into the case quickly too see how everything fits and while this looks okay there is much we can do to make it look better. In the upcoming blogs in this series I will go show how to make it look better with four simple steps. Painting the grills in the front and top. Using sleeved cables, good cable management and lighting. How to use simple custom parts. Engraving. See you next time!
  11. This build log is going to be a bit on the personal side. The fact is, at its core, Corsair is a cadre of geeks with shared interests trying to make cool stuff. A lot of companies want to project being “cool” or “rock stars,” but the reality here is that our products are conceived and designed by a bunch of people who are just trying to produce something they’d use. Why am I laboring over the notion that Corsair is ultimately a fairly human organization? Because, well, human things happen to us. At the end of August, I had a very good friend die in a motorcycle accident. He was in his early thirties, driving home from work as a district supervisor for DHS out of Oakland, California. Hit a bad patch of asphalt, lost control of his motorcycle, went under a semi, and that’s all she wrote. Odds are you don’t know him, but given the number of people I saw at his memorial service, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of you did. His name was Benjamin Moreno. Ben was a fairly serious gamer. We got into Mass Effect 3 multiplayer together, then graduated to MechWarrior Online with some of our friends. He and his wife were into Star Wars: The Old Republic and Elder Scrolls Online, and near the end had spent considerable time playing Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm. He got me to give Dragon Age II another chance (and was right on the money). He was also a big part of my choice to join Corsair. Outside of that, he was – regardless of your politics – an exceptional cop. Tough-minded, fair, and directly responsible for saving many lives. Before that, he was in the Air Force. Through his life, he had friends who he’d set on the right path when they’d strayed, and was generous with his time and attention. There are an awful lot of people who would be far worse off today if it hadn’t been for him. Unfortunately, Ben left behind a widow, Risa, and a very young daughter, too young to really comprehend that her father’s not coming home. His family lives on the outskirts of the bay area, which unfortunately played a role in his passing due to the long commute. Gaming was and is a very large part of how they stayed in contact with friends. He and I often talked about someday building him a ritzy custom loop system when circumstances and finances permitted. Since Risa is an avid gamer and plays a healthy amount of Dota 2, it seemed like building her a proper, custom loop gaming machine was the right thing to do. It didn’t have to be as fancy as his would have been, but should have plenty of horsepower for gaming, photo editing, and coding. You’re going to find the custom loop is excessive for this build, but I haven’t built a custom loop for performance reasons for a long time. The fact is that it looks cool – not just to fellow geeks, but to just about everyone. With that said, here’s the component breakdown for the “Blight” Memorial Build, after his handle: Corsair Carbide Air 240 His old gaming PC was built in an Air 540, so it seemed appropriate to go with its more compact cousin for the new one. This would also be an opportunity to show a custom loop operating inside this substantially smaller chassis. Intel Core i7-5775C We had a couple of spare Broadwell chips from internal testing. These are both remarkably powerful and remarkably efficient, and while it’s not the latest and greatest available, the i7-5775C is mighty close. Four cores, eight threads, that massive L4 cache, second in IPC only to Skylake, and a 65W TDP. The odds of being CPU limited with this chip are very low. ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac Mini-ITX We did our internal testing on Broadwell using this platform and found it rock solid with good overclocking potential. Given the cramped quarters of the Air 240, it seemed necessary to go with a smaller motherboard. Corsair Dominator Platinum 2x8GB DDR3-2400 C10 with Lightbars In my testing, I’ve found 2400MHz to be the perfect speed for DDR3 on Haswell and to a lesser extent Broadwell. 16GB of DRAM provides plenty of memory to work with for almost any task. EVGA GeForce GTX 970 It didn’t make sense to put some monster graphics card in the build, but we definitely needed one that would be plenty powerful for gaming for the foreseeable future. NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 970 was that card, and we went with an EVGA model because of EVGA’s tendency to adhere to NVIDIA’s reference design (improving waterblock compatibility). Corsair Force LS 960GB SSD The Force LS was our budget line up until our TLC-based Force LE drives, but make no mistake – these drives, and the 960GB one in particular – are plenty fast. We’re at the point now where nearly a terabyte of solid state storage is no longer outrageous, and the 960GB Force LS is a highly capable drive. Corsair HX750i 80 Plus Platinum Power Supply The HXi series isn’t quite as popular these days with the more affordable RMi and RMx series floating around at 80 Plus Gold efficiency, but the HX750i was chosen for its compatibility with our Type 3 sleeved cables, its higher efficiency, and its ability to run fanless at the loads this system was likely to produce. Corsair Link Commander Mini A powerful system need not be loud. The Commander Mini lets me spin the violet SP120 LEDs in the system at minimum speed as well as control the RGB lighting strips placed on the inside of the side panel, surrounding the window. XSPC 240mm Radiator For this build we’re looking at a rated maximum combined TDP for the CPU and graphics card of just 210 watts. Since even an H100i GTX can cool a 350W overclocked i7-5960X without too much difficulty, I felt a single 240mm radiator in the front would be fine for these highly power-efficient components. EKWB FC970 GTX Waterblock The PCB of the GTX 970 is so small, and the EKWB block really shows that off. The clear acrylic surface lets the end user see the coolant running through the graphics card, which is very cool. Because the block is so much shorter than the stock cooler, it affords us room in the case to optimally place the pump/reservoir combo. XSPC Raystorm CPU Block w/ Violet LEDs Since this build was intended to be more showy as opposed to a crushing performer, I opted for XSPC’s Raystorm water block and violet LEDs to give the CPU the right glow. EKWB D5 Vario XRES 100 Pump and Reservoir I’ve had great experiences with the D5 Vario pump in my own liquid cooled build, and this combo seemed to be the perfect choice for an attractive, efficient system. In addition to the parts used in this build, we also included a Corsair Vengeance K70 RGB keyboard, Sabre RGB Optical mouse, and our new Void RGB headset in black. With all of the components installed, the “Blight” build looks like a fun size version of a more beastly Air 540 liquid cooled build, and that achieves exactly the intended purpose. Because of the highly efficient components, the fans never have to spin up, and everything still stays running cool and fast. The violet (which I confess can look pink in some light) coloring was chosen for its significance to both Risa and Ben, as it’s their favorite color. It undoubtedly seems at least a little unusual to build a computer as a memorial for the passing of a dear friend, but gaming is fast becoming an integral part of our culture. I can think of no better tribute to a community gamer than to keep his wife connected with their friends and loved ones.
  12. It is time for another modder interview, this time with the Swedish modder Tim ”timpelay” Petterson. His projects on Sweclockers.com have been very popular the last few years. I got the privilege to interview Tim about modding... 1. Tell me a little bit about yourself? I’m 26 years old and live with my girlfriend in our new house in Vasteras, Sweden. The entire summer holiday was spent on home renovation and moving in, but we are now finally settled in. My characteristic is that I always have some projects underway. As a true car enthusiast, I now own a couple of unique Saabs. And at the time I’m currently building a street/drag racing car out of a 1971 AMC Javelin SST. Its Supercharged V8 will be exciting next spring. In addition to computer building, I work as a structural engineer at an office. 2. First of all, what got you into modding? I did three years in technical high school and during my last year, 2008, I got my eyes opened to modding during completion of a degree project. The idea was to modify a chassis entirely made of acrylic for the installation of two 4" coaxial speakers, one 8" subwoofer and an amplifier. There was a lot of tweaking before it all worked out. The amplifier was squeezed into a 5.25" drive and the PSU was modified to power not only the PC, but also the audio system. The result was, in hindsight, surprisingly successful. The case was playing really well without any particular vibrations or noise. The cooling was also worth mentioning, as the air vent also served as bass reflex port. 3. Where did you get your modding skills from? Above all, I learned by doing. But my technical backrground is probably from working with Legos. Once I was introduced to the Lego Technic I had found my path. Together, my brother and I built everything. At the end of the era there were pneumatics and computer-controlled robots. We had even built a printer. These plastic parts inspired my innovations. My technical expertise and interest in tinkering with things applied to bicycles, mopeds, lawn mowers, RC cars, and has today resulted in particularly in my interest in automotive and computer building. When others were gaming I were building something. 4. What was your first custom build? After completing the "HiFi-case" that I built together with my companion, I began planning my own scratch-build. It was to turn out to be something very different. Back then I had a great interest in acrylic. How could I use the flexible Makrolon to create a unique chassis? The result was an aluminum plate where the PSU, m-ATX motherboard, a 3.5 "HDD and a single slot graphics card were attached. Makrolon is bent from side to side of the aluminium sheet enclosing the hardware. Even the top and bottom consists of Makrolon. The finished chassis was never used as I directly started on a new scratch-build. But it remains in a cardboard box at home and I learned a lot building it. 5. Which of your own projects is your favorite? IP66-M, in my eyes, is the project that is closest to perfect with its current combination of size, performance and detail work. If I could, I would like to replace the hard drive with two 1TB Solid state drives. But quality costs. 6. What is your favorite custom build by someone else? Right now it’s Mr3Ds Project Tatami. I am incredibly fond of machined metal, it's like watching a movie. Very impressed! 7. How long have you been modding? It took off back in 2008, and a lot has happened in these seven years. Both in personal development and in hardware. Each project offers something new and realization of new ideas. And when I ask myself afterwards; why did I not do it like that? Well then, I have learned something. 8. What tools do you use when building your projects? My favorite is probably my little Festool cordless drill. It's a more reliable machine, but it's not easy to find. Since I've worked a lot with stainless steel, I know quality gear is required. Aluminum is no problem to process with generic tools, but if you wand to drill or grind stainless steel without the proper equipment, you will quickly understand. Otherwise, instead of using most other modders favorite tool, the Dremel, I am privileged to have access to a hydraulic handheld punch for making holes in metal, makrolon, etc. Invaluable in all my projects! 9. Where do you find your inspiration? I have a habit of imagining computers in items I see. I also think that it is interesting to try to adapt a modding project to the environment in which it finally will be used. For example, in the future I will need a computer in my garage, so why not build one in a jerry-can? Otherwise, I find much inspiration from electrical power equipment and industry. More recently, my interest has also arisen for more retro oriented design. 10.10. A lot of you projects are so called “found object mods”, where you use a existing object to build your PC in, where did you get these ideas? Earlier, I had a summer job building control equipment for substations and switchgears. There I got my eyes opened. As you can see, I now love bare industrial metal without paint and plastic. Since then I've asked myself: why can't computers look like this too? And that question is applicable on everything I see that is clean, solid and always kind of unique. There's more to come soon. 11.11. What is your favorite Corsair product? Simple, Corsair Dominator Platinum. I was hooked at first glance and it has not changed today. Sometimes I wonder if they are designed to suit the industrial theme that has become a bit of my signature. There is a plan of IP66 V.2 with top of the line hardware. How would it be with Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 3400MHz Limited Edition Orange? I hope we get to see it. I’m getting excited by just the thought. 12.12. What happens to your mods after you finished them? Some are built for my own use, such as HTPC and workstation. I have received inquiries and comments where people asking me to sell my chassis, but for some reason I get too attached to things that I built myself. It would be fun building a couple of chassis intended for sale. I do not think it would yield any significant amount of money, but to spread my own design is enticing. 13.13. What do you do when you are not modding? When I was 15 years old I bought my first car, a Saab 900 Turbo. Since then, my interest has grown stronger. Today I am passionate with Saab and has managed to acquire four of the most desirable models. Hours and hours in the garage have resulted in a collection of cars with out of the ordinary condition and performance. Other than that, I love training and I hit the iron almost every day after work. Then when the snow comes down, I’m busy with alpine skiing. There is the sense of nature, freedom and speed that I love. Thank you so much Tim for sharing your thoughts and all your nice builds with us, we are happy to be able to support you with your projects and we are looking forward to seeing your next custom PC!
  13. NVIDIA’s second generation Maxwell architecture has turned out to be beyond formidable. Their engineers have a habit of leaving gas in the tank for partners, enthusiasts, and overclockers; the card is fast out of the box, and if you’re willing to play with it a bit, it can be even faster. Speaking of partners, we partnered with MSI and licensed our HG10 technology to them to bring to you the Hydro GFX, one of the fastest and most overclockable GeForce GTX 980 Ti cards on the planet. The Hydro GFX comes out of the gate with boundary-pushing factory overclocks, and impressively, there’s still substantially more performance to be had for users willing to push the limits of their card. Reference GTX 980 Ti Hydro GFX Difference GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - CUDA Cores 2816 2816 - Default Clock 1000 MHz 1190 MHz +19% Boost Clock 1075 MHz 1291 MHz +20% Memory 6GB GDDR5 6GB GDDR5 - Memory Clock 7000 MHz 7096 MHz +2% Memory Bus 384-bit 384-bit - Rated TDP 250W 260W +4% Maximum TDP 275W (10%) 280W (7%) +2% As you can see, the Hydro GFX carries a massive core clock speed increase above the stock GTX 980 Ti that catapults it well past even Titan X performance. The increased TDP headroom helps to cover the higher clocks, but liquid cooling does even more. While a reference 980 Ti will hit 83C and then thermally throttle, reducing boost clocks to keep thermals in check, a Hydro GFX never hits that throttle point. It’s solely power limited. Yet because the Hydro GFX uses a closed loop liquid cooler to cool the GPU, the blower fan and baseplate – licensed from us – only have to cool the power circuitry and video memory. Bottom line: Everything runs cooler. Everything runs more efficiently. Power limits are hit less frequently as a result. We ran the 980 Ti and the Hydro GFX through three benchmark runs in Unigine Valley at 4K resolution. You can see the reference 980 Ti plateaus at about 83C and then clocks drop a couple of bins and never hit the same peaks. Meanwhile, Hydro GFX’s core temp doesn’t really plateau until about 50C, but clocks stay within the same tight band for most of the run. The Hydro GFX still has some headroom beyond that, though. The sample we used for testing was able to do offsets +100 on the GPU and +500 on the GDDR5 with TDP set at 107%. Resulting peak clock was a very healthy 1467 MHz on the GPU and 8.1 GHz on the GDDR5. For our testing, we used the following system: • CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.6 GHz • CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H110i GT • DRAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 4x4GB DDR4-3600MHz C18 • Motherboard: ASUS Z170-DELUXE • Storage: Corsair Force GT 480GB • Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i • Enclosure: Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 • Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit So how does the Hydro GFX work out in practice? A stock Hydro GFX can get you as much as 15% more performance over a reference 980 Ti depending on the title – well ahead of a Titan X – but our overclocked settings bumped that up to more than 20%. We ran our tests at three resolutions: 1920x1080 (1080p), 2560x1440 (1440p), and 3840x2160 (4K). Our least graphically intensive game, we tested GRiD: Autosport as kind of a baseline with 4xMSAA and all settings maxed out. Each card produced fluid framerates even at 4K, so the Hydro GFX’s victory is mostly academic here. At lower resolutions, overclocking doesn’t earn us a whole lot and we’re really fairly platform limited, but once you hit 4K and the workload hits the GPU, the cards start to spread out. We tested Grand Theft Auto V with almost all settings maxed, except for FXAA only (no MSAA) and grass was set as Very High instead of Ultra. Because of how variable GTA’s framerate is, every additional average frame can really matter. A stock 980 Ti sits at 41.7 fps at 4K – not terrible and certainly playable, but a little choppy. Meanwhile, the stock Hydro GFX can bring that up to 44.8 fps, and overclocking will get you an even bigger gain: 48.4 fps. Finally, Shadow of Mordor was tested with all of its settings maxed, and it showed some of the biggest gains from going to the Hydro GFX. This is a heavily GPU-limited game, and at 4K, the Hydro GFX can run it as much as 22% faster with our overclock. We’ll be clear: the Hydro GFX is among the fastest graphics cards you can buy, and overclocking makes it faster still. That, and even with a heavy overclock and TDP jump, the integrated Hydro Series cooler can keep the GPU running well below 60C. If you simply must have the highest performance you can get in a single-GPU package, Hydro GFX is certainly a way to go. To learn more or pick up one of your own, you can visit our product page here.
  14. We here at Corsair love to see all kinds of casemods and scratchbuilds. Over the last few years we have been quite amazed by the work of Alexander “ace_finland” Hede. He is a very talented modder who builds his projects from scratch with awesome designs. I got the chance to talk to Alexander and ask him a few questions. Tell me a little bit about yourself?My name is Alexander Hede and I'm 33 years old. I live together with my girlfriend and cat in a small town in Finland. During the days I work as a development engineer for an abrasive manufacturer where I develop electrical and pneumatic sanders. In the modding scene I am known as Ace_finland. First of all, what got you into modding?What first got me into modding was watercooling. When my Q6600 CPU was a few years old and didn't really cope anymore I started experimenting with overclocking. It didn't take long before I had a custom loop. Since then there has been many builds which all have been watercooled more or less. Where did you get your modding skills from?Since a long time ago I have loved fixing/making things. It started with bicycles and ended with cars. Along the way I learned how to use a wide range of tools. All these skills have been very useful for modding. Everything from cutting steel or aluminum to painting and polishing. 4. What was your first custom build? I have built my own computers for over 20 years, my first real case mod was about 3 years ago. It was a white Corsair 600T which I inverted the motherboard tray in and added a custom loop. It wasn't a huge mod but it got me hooked. My first real scratch build was a few months later which started from a Cooler Master test bench V1.0, which got me third place in the Cooler Master mod competition. Which of your builds is your favorite?My favorite build is also my smallest build. It's called The Microprocessor and is based on an Intel NUC. The design was inspired by Intel's first microprocessor. Even if there is not a lot of parts it was probably the most challenging build I have done. As I wanted to use it as an HTPC I wanted it as small as possible. What is your favorite custom build created by someone other than yourself?It varies from time to time, but right now it would have to be Thor's hammer by Suchao Prowphong. How long have you been modding?I've been modding for a bit over three years. Since then there have been a lot of builds. What tools do you use when building your projects?It varies from build to build, but for the last few build I have been using a home made CNC mill to do the rough cuts. About a year ago I decided to make my own cnc mill in order to make the parts faster. And in every build I also use the regular tools as, drills and taps, sanding machines, files, saws and so on. Where do you find your inspiration?Generally I have a theme I want to go with. When I start a build I spend a lot of time thinking of different designs. When I have something I think will look good I start designing it in a cad program. What is the most common mistake you see beginning modders and builders make, and what would be your advice to a person starting his/hers first custom build?Start small. I see many designs in cad nowadays where your possibilities are endless, transferring those ideas into a mod are not always easy. Be patient, take all the time you need to make it exactly how you want it. Expensive components doesn't make the build look nicer. What do you think is the most important element of modding? Details, hardware, sleeving, craftsmanship etc.?For me it's craftsmanship and quality of the build. You can have the best idea but with a bad execution it will ruin the build. What is your favorite Corsair product?This is an easy one, it's the Dominator Platinum ram. I have used it in several builds now and it's still my favorite ram out on the market What happens to your mods after you finished them?Some of the hardware have been given away to family. One of the mods are at my parents house, one I am using for myself and two of the latest builds are out traveling with Asus. The cases itself I keep and store. They have too much personal value for me to sell. What do you do when you are not modding?I bought a house a year ago and are currently rebuilding it. I will be busy for the next year with it. After it's all done i will probably start another modding project. If i want to relax i usually go fishing. We want to say thank you to Alexander for sharing these pictures of his awesome projects and also for taking the time to talk to us.
  15. We make a lot of different cases here at Corsair. Today I will show you how, with a few tools, you can make your case more personal. I am talking about engraving maybe your sidepanel or, as in this guide, the frontplate of the case. In this guide I will go through everything you need for engraving your case, how to do it and at last I will install a system in the case I will be engraving. I chose an Obsidian Series 250D for this guide. The Obsidian series is perfect for engraving because of the aluminium frontplate. So for starters, let’s have a look at what you will need for engraving: The part you are engraving (sidepanel, window, frontplate etc) Rotarytool/multitool/”Dremel” Engraving bits Carbon paper Pen Motif/sketch A lot of patience Safety glasses I will go through all the things you need, lets start with what I will be engraving on, the black aluminium frontplate of the Obsidian 250D. The tool I am using is a Dremel 3000. But there are a lot other brands of rotarytools that you can use. I also have a flex shaft for my Dremel which makes it a lot easier to engrave as you are holding a smaller tool. There are a lot of different bits available for rotarytools, Im using some of Dremels original engraving bits and also a diamond engraving bit kit. Next thing is the carbonpaper, this is used to transfer your motif/sketch to the thing you will be engraving. Put one sheet of carbonpaper on the surface you’re working on, and then put your sketch on top of that and fill in the contours with a pen. So lets start working. I chose the Corsair logo to engrave on the front of my Obsidian 250D. Since there is already a small Corsair logo on the frontplate of the 250D, it would look weird to have both logos right next to each other. So I used some acetone to remove the old one. I cut out the logo, placed a sheet of carbonpaper under it and taped it to the frontplate so it does not move while I’m filling in the contours. When you are done filling in the contours, you can remove the paper and you will see something like this. Next thing to do is to start up your rotarytool and start engraving the outlines. Most rotarytools have the option to use different speeds. You could try to find some spareparts that you can practice engraving on at first so you can get the feel for what speed is best to use. Remember to use safety glasses. Take it slow and carefully to get the best result. I am using this diamond engraving bit for engraving the outlines. After a few minutes the sails part of the logo is beginning to be recognizable. Remember to take some breaks as your hands will start to get tired from the vibration of the tool. It’s a good idea to have your scetch/motif handy when doing the outlines because that helps if you missed anything when filling the contours with the carbonpaper. As you see from this picture, I have finished the outlines. I installed the frontplate to the case to see if I wanted it like this or if it looks better filled in. I chose the latter. To fill in all the areas I am using this original engraving bit from Dremel as it is perfect for filling in areas. When filling in, I do most of the work with the bigger engraving bit from Dremel, but I leave the last bit of the outline for a smaller, more exact bit. Here it is important to do the filling in one direction as it wont look good otherwise. Now we are finished with filling all the areas. What I did here is go back to the smaller engraving bit and started to clean up all the edges so everything looks good. This is how the engraving turned out. Looks pretty good installed back on the 250D again. Now lets fill this case with some nice hardware. This build will be an easier gaming PC so this is the hardware I chose: CPU: Intel Core i5 4670 Motherboard: Asrock H81M-ITX Graphics card: MSI GeForce GTX 960 2GB RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x4GB 1600MHz SSD: Corsair Force LS 240GB Cooling: Corsair H100i PSU: Corsair RM650 Case: Corsair Obsidian 250D I’ll start by installing the RM650. I chose this less-expensive motherboard because this PC will not be overclocked. Just used for simple gaming. Im going for a black and white theme for this build so this GeForce GTX 960 from MSI fits perfectly together with our pre-sleeved cables in white. For cooling I went with our H100i with some SP120 fans with white LEDs. I also installed our AF140 Quiet Edition in the front and removed the 5.25” bracket so there would be more space for cable management and for air to blow through the case. The white LED fans looks really good in this build! Thats it! I’ll finish this guide with some pictures of the end result. If you have any questions, write a comment at the end of this article.
  16. NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture is a wonderfully impressive piece of engineering for efficiency geeks, and it reaches near-apotheosis with the GM200-powered GeForce GTX TITAN X. This is an architecture that has very clearly been tailored and tuned to maximize gaming performance per watt, and while it loses some steam on the compute side to AMD’s more flexible but also more power hungry GCN architecture, it’s very hard to not be at least a little impressed by the monstrous TITAN X. Better still, across the board, NVIDIA’s Maxwell cards have left plenty of gas in the tank on release that a hypothetical HG10 would certainly help take advantage of. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to produce something like that. But since this mythical sea creature doesn’t exist, we have to look at how a GTX 980 and TITAN X overclock when under a reference card or under some kind of heretofore unannounced watercooling apparatus. I’ve had a decent amount of experience playing around with overclocking the GTX 980 (under reference and under water) and the TITAN X (again, under reference and under water), and there are some modest differences – especially with the TITAN X – compared to the Kepler generation cards. Last generation’s Kepler cards could have their overclocks tested fairly reliably with just 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme; if your VRAM clock was unstable, the sparks in Graphics Test 2 would flicker, and if your VRAM and/or GPU clock were unstable, the NVIDIA driver would crash. That’s not happening with the 980s or TITAN X. For sure, just completing a run of 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme or Ultra typically means you’re about 75% certain of a stable overclock still. But the TITAN X especially can seem deceptively stable and be having problems, and that’s why you expand your stability testing a little more – and pay attention to the testing. Likewise, my GTX 980s under water will rocket through 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and then artifact or crash in something else. If you’re overclocking either card, it’s smart to first see what your top GPU overclock is, and then your top VRAM overclock, and then combine the two. You may have to notch one down; given how efficient NVIDIA’s memory compression is on Maxwell, the VRAM overclock is the safer one to reduce. As a stability testing procedure, I recommend these steps: First, 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme will catch really unstable overclocks; assuming it doesn’t crash, artifacting will be most prominent in Graphics Test 2. Next, BioShock Infinite has an automated benchmark that’s been very handy. Run the benchmark at the highest settings you can; pay attention to the sunshafts in the very beginning coming through the glass. If your overclock is unstable, these will artifact. Tomb Raider also has an automated benchmark. Run the benchmark at the highest settings you can, and make sure TressFX is enabled. The shadows cast by Lara’s hair will flicker in an SLI system; that’s normal. But if your overclock is unstable, black triangle artifacts will materialize out of Lara’s hair. Finally, Far Cry 4. Seriously, just play the game for a minute or so. If your overclock is unstable, it’ll crash in a heartbeat. By using these testing methods, I’ve been able to pretty reliably run these cards at high speeds without issue. So what can you typically expect as far as overclocks go? What kind of performance increases are we looking at? First things first: either water cooling or just running your cooler at its highest speed will allow your card to maintain higher clocks for longer periods of time. Cooling the power circuitry efficiently results in the card drawing less power in general because the VRMs don’t heat up as much and thus don’t have to work as hard; for you, this means you’re less likely to hit the TDP wall, and a high overclock is easier to sustain. On a stock-clocked GeForce GTX 980, you can probably get your Core up to +200 before instability sets in, which results in peak clocks just north of 1450MHz. Because the 980 has a narrower memory bus and less VRAM overall than the TITAN X, you can also get some additional mileage out of the VRAM. Ballpark +300 on the Memory (for 7.6GHz GDDR5), but most of the 980s I’ve played with have been able to go up to +500 (for an even 8GHz GDDR5). The higher you push your core clock, the more benefit you’ll get out of pushing the memory clock; combined, I’ve been able to get 15%-20% higher performance out of the 980. The TITAN X is about 50% more card in general than the 980 and so it has a bit less headroom, but headroom it still has. +200 Core still seems to be the way to go, resulting in a peak clock of ~1420MHz. But I wouldn’t touch the memory. If you remember Kepler, 7GHz of GDDR5 on a 384-bit memory bus was next to impossible to saturate. Factor in Maxwell’s vastly improved memory compression, and performance gains from overclocking the memory become very minimal. If you want that last frame or two per second of performance, you can try it, but it’s imperceptible. Overclocking the Titan X can get you between 7% and 15% more performance. NVIDIA’s Maxwell-based cards are performance monsters, and once again NVIDIA has left plenty of gas in the tank for us to play with. We lose a lot of Maxwell’s trademark efficiency, but not all of it, and in exchange we can gain a very respectable amount of performance. Of course, if you put it under water, suddenly your temperatures look like this over the course of two runs of Unigine Valley: But why would anyone enable something like that?
  17. Any overclockable PC component, be it a CPU, a graphics card, or system memory, essentially exists in a few grades. There’s the entry-level – the “good enough for government work” grade – that typically works fine for everyone. For a lot of users, that’s really an i3 or non-K i5 at most, or a reference graphics card. Then there’s the performance grade, where you start getting the special sauce, and that bleeds into an enthusiast grade, where you start pushing performance limits while still gunning for 24/7 use.And then, I would argue, there’s competitive overclocker grade. The cream of the crop hardware. Price-performance simply isn’t a consideration; even practical performance may not be a consideration. It’s stuff that’s the best…period. Like, for example, our Dominator Platinum Limited Edition Orange DDR4 kit, four 4GB DIMMs running at a staggering 3400MHz with latencies of 16-18-18-36 at 1.35V. Top of the line ICs assembled in a kit that pushes the limits of what the host platform itself can handle. This is memory that runs at such a high clock that your CPU may not even be able to crack it. It also more or less requires a very specific motherboard: the GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion. This kit was developed in concert with Gigabyte’s motherboard, which goes down to four DIMM slots and offers a unique topology designed to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of your CPU and memory. The X99-SOC Champion also enables “Socket 2083” mode, adding pins to the socket that allows for more precise voltage control with your processor – a necessity when dealing with bleeding edge performance. Even still, because of the variable quality of host CPUs and their memory controllers, XMP may not always work with this kit. For that reason, should you decide to walk this path, you may need to adjust your memory settings manually. Some chips will be able to handle the preferred 1.66x gear ratio to hit the kit’s rated 3400MHz speed, while others will require the lower 1.25x gear ratio. We’re providing settings here for either. SETTING Using 1.25x Gear Ratio Using 1.66x Gear Ratio Advanced Frequency Settings Host/PCIe Clock Frequency 102.10MHz 102.00MHz CPU Clock Ratio 24 or 25 19 or 20 System Memory Multiplier 26.66 20.00 Advanced CPU Core Settings CPU Clock Ratio 24 or 25 19 or 20 Uncore Ratio 24 Matches CPU Clock Ratio Intel® Turbo Boost Technology Auto Auto Advanced Memory Settings System Memory Multiplier 26.66 20.00 Memory Timing Mode Manual Manual Channel A Memory Sub Timings CAS Latency 16 16 tRCD 18 18 tRP 18 18 tRAS 36 36 CPU Core Voltage Control CPU System Agent Voltage +0.300V to +0.450V +0.300V to +0.450V DRAM Voltage Control DRAM Voltage (CH A/B) 1.350V 1.350V DRAM Voltage (CH C/D) 1.350V 1.350V This memory, developed in conjunction with Gigabyte’s X99-SOC Champion motherboard and competitive overclocker Hi Cookie, has already been used to set records that will no doubt last for some time to come. Or at least until we break them again.
  18. When we first took a look at the Intel Core i7-5960X octal-core processor based on Intel’s Haswell-E architecture, we found a processor that seemed to be almost entirely limited by voltage and cooling. The i7-5960X has a staggering large 356mm² die, nearly twice the size of the die inside Intel’s Devil’s Canyon i7-4790K. It’s also soldered to the heatspreader instead of using TIM. What all of this comes down to is lower heat density and better heat transfer. Haswell-E was made for liquid cooling. We tested the i7-5960X here first under a Hydro Series H100i with fans set to push-pull and were consistently capped at 4.4GHz. Three chips hit 4.4GHz with 1.35V; the fourth needed only 1.3V but was still unable to do 4.5GHz. Load temperatures under OCCT were in the mid-80s, and the H100i was running at full bore. But recently we upgraded the Yamamura 750D build to feature the i7-5960X. The consensus has historically been that a custom liquid cooling loop will always outperform an all-in-one liquid cooler. The EK Supremacy EVO waterblock we used costs almost as much as a Hydro Series H80i on its own, let alone the D5 Vario pump and all copper radiators. Yamamura has a ridiculous amount of heat capacity. Does going under custom cooling afford us any more headroom? Can we hit that 4.5GHz point? Actually, no. The i7-5960X is already pushing 300W on its own at 4.4GHz, requiring a massive boost in voltage just to hit that point. Despite a massively powerful pump, a cumulative 120mm x 840mm of radiator surface area, and an expensive, high-performance waterblock, the voltage required to hit 4.5GHz pushes the i7-5960X essentially past its breaking point. We’ve seen this on other processors, but basically there’s a point where the processor simply generates more heat than can be transferred to the waterblock. When you’re dealing with something like a GPU that has no lid, lower heat density, and nearly direct contact with the waterblock, you can get a tremendous performance boost by putting it under water. There’s very little impeding heat transfer from the die to the cooler. But CPUs are different. Heat density is higher, and direct contact isn’t possible (unless you de-lid a Haswell/Devil’s Canyon). It’s respectable that the i7-5960X can be dissipating ~300W before it runs into a wall, but it does hit that wall. The result is thermal performance under a custom loop that parallels the thermal performance you might see under a closed Hydro Series H110i GT. Custom loops like Yamamura are beautiful, but with high performance closed loop coolers and brackets like HG10 on the market, they’re increasingly difficult to justify. Does putting an i7-5960X under water make sense? Absolutely. But under a custom loop? That’s a much harder sell.
  19. Recently, the actual computer part of the Obsidian Series 750D “Yamamura” custom water-cooled system began having issues with random shutdowns and reboots, as detailed in this earlier blog. Ordinarily those types of problems are a frustration, but when your system looks like this… …the increased difficulty of swapping any parts out, potentially requiring you to actually drain the loop entirely, may even make you question why you built your system up like this in the first place. However, as any die-hard builder knows, part failure always has a silver lining: an excuse to upgrade. And that’s what I did, giving me a chance to rectify a few pain points in the original build, things I felt like I could’ve done or specced better. The system was already close to unimpeachable, but we can certainly do more. Swapping the CPU, Motherboard, and DRAM Before After CPU Intel Core i7-4790K (4 GHz) 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 84W TDP Intel Core i7-5960X (3 GHz) 8 Cores, 16 Threads, 140W TDP Motherboard ASUS Z97-WS ASUS X99-DELUXE DRAM 4x8GB Dominator Platinum DDR3-2400 10-12-12-32 1.65V 8x8GB Dominator Platinum DDR4-2400 14-16-16-31 1.2V The only way to “upgrade” past Intel’s monstrous Core i7-4790K (overclocked to 4.7GHz in our build) is to change your platform entirely, so that’s what I did. While the i7-4790K tops out at between 120W and 130W when overclocked, the i7-5960X starts there and pulls considerably more when overclocking is applied. But that’s fine: Yamamura enjoys a custom liquid cooling system with massive heat capacity. Changing the platform means swapping to the even more capable ASUS X99-DELUXE motherboard as well as jumping from DDR3 to DDR4. Latency does increase, but so does capacity and overall bandwidth. It’s a net gain, and our DDR4-2400 kit even includes an extra XMP profile that pushes the voltage to 1.35V and speed to 2666MHz. Incidentally, due to the spacing of the video cards, we actually lose a little bit of bandwidth to the pair of GeForce GTX 980s. The slot arrangement results in the bottom GTX 980 only getting PCIe 3.0 x8 instead of the full sixteen lanes, but thankfully this produces virtually no measurable decrease in performance. Upgrading the Storage A lot of people didn’t care for the way the LG blu-ray burner broke up the front of Yamamura, and I can see why. At the same time, I also found myself needing a little bit more storage for a documentary I’m editing in my off hours. Thankfully, there’s a way to serve both masters, and it comes from SilverStone. SilverStone produces a 5.25” drive bay adapter that can fit a slimline, slot-loading optical drive and four 2.5” drives. By purchasing a slimline, slot-loading blu-ray burner and installing a spare 512GB Force LX SSD we had in house, I was able to clean up the front of the case and increase storage. Fingerprints notwithstanding, it's a lot cleaner than it was before. Improving the Cooling and the Bling While the original build called for a Dominator Airflow Platinum memory fan, we weren’t able to find clearance for one owing to the ASUS Z97-WS’s layout. Happily, the ASUS X99-DELUXE doesn’t have this problem, and that meant we could add two Dominator Airflow Platinums. Because they’re PWM controlled, they’re a perfect match for our old Corsair Link Cooling Node, and because they use the same RGB LED connector as our other lighting kits, a single Corsair Link Lighting Node is able to control them. The end result isn’t just increased bling: even at minimum speeds, the airflow from the fans helps keep the DDR4 cool (with individual DIMMs peaking at just 38C), while also shaving at least 10C off of the power circuitry surrounding the memory slots. Getting fresh airflow into the motherboard’s VRMs never hurts. Yamamura 1.5 I was immeasurably thankful that I didn’t have to drain the loop to make these upgrades, thus reaffirming my belief in flexible tubing. Hard acrylic is frequently argued as the way to go in modern builds, and people say it looks nicer, but it’s not functional. I use this computer on the daily, and I am possessed by a relentless appetite for tweaking the hardware. Given just how bloody fast the Yamamura is now (and stable, mercifully), I don’t foresee making any major changes to the system until Skylake and Big Maxwell at the earliest, at which point there may be a newer, more exciting chassis to move into…
  20. Building an expansive, gorgeous custom liquid cooling loop in your PC has its perks. For one, it looks awesome. It also gives you the opportunity to maximize and perfect the cooling capacity of your enclosure. That, in turn, gives you the opportunity to maximize and perfect the performance of your system. And honestly, again, it looks awesome. You can show it to people who don’t even know anything about computers and get their eyes to bug out. Of course, this is all predicated on the idea that the system works. That the motherboard, graphics cards, memory – that everything is functioning properly. And for a little while, my monstrous Obsidian Series 750D build, “Yamamura,” was working perfectly. For a little while. Then the random shutdowns and reboots came. And the POST loops. Killing the overclock on the i7-4790K seemed to largely solve the problem, but it’s hard to feel proud of your monster of a computer when the CPU is running at stock under a custom loop. And this is where the custom loop becomes a problem. When troubleshooting this… …there’s only so much you can test before things get…inconvenient. The DDR3 was known good and wasn’t being pushed beyond XMP, so it was ruled out early. My boss handles power supplies, so I opted to blame that last. The graphics cards are part of the loop and can’t be removed without draining the whole thing, so that necessitated basically hoping the cards weren’t the problem. So the first thing I did was test swapping out the CPU for a known good one: an i7-4770K that had barely been overclocked. Swapping out the CPU was frankly very easy; you just remove the CPU block from the CPU socket. Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the problem. Since I’m used to seeing POST loops being a motherboard problem, and since the board I was using had been having initialization issues with USB pretty much since the get go, it seemed like that was the culprit. Uh oh. As it turns out, swapping out the motherboard was easier than I’d expected, and I took the opportunity to switch from Haswell to Haswell-E and give the loop a chance to really stretch its legs. Due to the long, flexible tubing and arrangement of the loop, I was able to “fold” the CPU block and graphics cards over the pump and reservoir and free up the motherboard. An alternative (and arguably smarter) route would’ve been to install spill-proof quick-release connectors around the video cards, as I had in my previous system. This would’ve isolated the graphics cards in the loop, allowing me to remove them entirely, and even replace them without draining the loop. But folding works in a pinch. Some cabling behind the motherboard tray had to be snipped and rerouted, and the 8-pin CPU line needed some extra give, but I was able to swap in the new board, CPU, and DDR4 memory. It’s not perfect. Because of the spacing of the graphics cards, one is running at PCIe x8 instead of x16, but thankfully that’s a pretty negligible difference. And imagine my delight when the system booted up! It was working perfectly fine, everything was going great, and then…it shut down again. Now if you look at that photo above, you’ll see the PSU cables are crammed very tightly between the AX860i and the bottom radiator. Unfortunately, that AX860i was the only component left that we could replace without draining the loop. …and so it was replaced. And sure enough, swapping in another AX860i actually did correct the random shutdowns and reboots. It’s hard to say what went wrong, but even the best power supplies can have bad days, especially when they were randomly picked up from the tech marketing lab and likely exposed to all kinds of hilarious and awful circumstances. Of course, with all of these changes to the system come new opportunities to upgrade, test, and improve performance…
  21. It’s not at all uncommon (in fact, exceedingly normal) for Corsair employees to want to tinker with our latest and greatest products just to see what we can actually do. While I was doing a single HG10-A1 build in the Carbide Series Air 240 that I was pretty proud of, one of our product engineers, Dennis Lee, was pushing things…well, a lot further. His Air 240 build borders on insane, and I’m happy to share it with you. COMPONENTS CPU Intel Core i7-3820 @ 3.9GHz Memory Corsair Dominator Platinum 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3-1866 9-10-9-27 1.5V Motherboard ASUS Rampage IV Gene (X79) Graphics 2x AMD Radeon R9 290X CPU Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H75 GPU Cooling 2x Corsair Hydro Series H75 and HG10-A1 PSU Corsair AX860i Storage Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB Enclosure Corsair Carbide Air 240 Dennis’s build is…pretty wild. He used white SP120 LED fans and a red sleeved cable kit, then doubled down and swapped in LED lit pump caps from H105s onto all of the H75 coolers. The result is easily one of the craziest systems we’ve ever seen and a testament to just how much power can be crammed into a Carbide Series Air 240. In all of its glory: two liquid-cooled AMD Radeon R9 290X cards on an X79 Micro-ATX board with just about everything under water. Bird's eye view. In order to fit two H75s in the main chamber, one had to be arranged in a push-pull configuration. The H75s operate as intakes, keeping the blowers on the HG10s fed while the two top fans work as exhausts. The pair of HG10s look cramped, but were designed to allow for exactly this kind of close proximity when used with the right Hydro Series cooler. The third H75 (cooling one of the R9 290X cards) had to be mounted to the 120mm fan mount in the back chamber. Screw the H75 radiator to the side panel, close it up, and game on.
  22. It’s been a half a year since we took an Obsidian Series 250D enclosure and installed a custom liquid cooling loop into it just to prove we could. Today we’re going to do something a little more straightforward with one of the most flexible cases in our lineup: the mainstream juggernaut Obsidian Series 750D. The 750D has been an extremely popular and solid seller for us, and it’s not hard to see why. This chassis design (and to an extent its flashier derivative, the Graphite Series 760T) is a history of Corsair cases placed in a crucible, the excess burned away and only the essentials remaining. It’s large, but feature rich, maximizing its space and giving the end user tremendous flexibility. This will be a series of articles on a build I’ve dubbed “Yamamura” after the villainess of the Japanese “Ring” films, whose father is inferred to be a water demon. Today we’re going to start with the parts list. Note that this is tentative; at some point parts may be swapped in or out depending on circumstances. Chassis: Obsidian Series 750D This build’s reason for being, the 750D boasts tremendous capacity for water cooling, rivaled only by the larger Graphite 780T and Obsidian 900D cases. Combining a clean design with solid airflow, room for multiple radiators, mounting points for a pump/reservoir combo, and general ease of assembly, the 750D is really the ideal mainstream case for liquid cooling enthusiasts who don’t want to go all out with a juggernaut like the 900D. Processor: Intel Core i7-4790K It’s reasonable to suggest an Intel Core i7-5960X might be a more exciting option, but the i7-4790K is a vastly more efficient processor, even when substantially overclocked. Part of the reason we’re going with so much radiator capacity (listed later) is to be able to run the fans at low speeds; a chip like the i7-5960X that dumps an extra ~150W of heat into the loop when overclocked takes a substantial bite out of that thermal efficiency. Intel’s i7-4790K is a stellar processor in its own right, and our samples hit 4.7GHz on Intel’s highest performing CPU architecture. Motherboard: ASUS Z97-WS I’ve been using this board in my Haswell and Devil’s Canyon testbed and it’s been an absolute pleasure. The Z97-WS is feature complete for this generation, sporting SATA Express, M.2, a PLX switch for dual PCIe x16 SLI and CrossFire, multiple USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 headers, and even FireWire capability. There are also extra power leads for the CPU socket and the PCI Express slots. Short of an ROG board, the Z97-WS is basically as good as Z97 gets. Memory: 32GB (4x8GB) Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3 2400MHz CAS 10 It’s tempting to go for higher speed memory, but we’ve found internally that 32GB of DDR3-2400 is really the sweetest spot for Haswell and Devil’s Canyon. This is fast memory and a lot of it, and it ensures that you’ll never be bottlenecked by your memory subsystem. This kit is hands down my favorite for Haswell and Devil’s Canyon: high speed, high capacity, low latency, peak performance. Memory Cooling: Corsair Dominator Airflow Platinum While the benefits of having active cooling over high speed memory can certainly be debated, the Dominator Airflow Platinum cooler serves double duty both as cooling and as a classy bit of bling that can be added to the build. Rather than be limited to the two light bar kit colors, the Dominator Airflow Platinum has two RGB LED fans in it that can be controlled and configured via Corsair Link. Graphics Cards: Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB GDDR5 Essentially the fastest single-GPU card on the planet, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 also holds the distinction of being one of the most overclockable as well. We’ve seen the GTX 980 exceed a boost clock of 1.5GHz on stock air cooling with only a minor poke to voltage; with two of these under water and modified vBIOSes to remove the TDP cap, we may be able to push these cards to new heights of performance. Storage: 4x Corsair Neutron Series GTX 480GB SSD in RAID 0 Previous testing has indicated that four Neutron GTX SSDs are enough to saturate Z97’s SATA bus, offering peak throughput of a staggering 1.6GB/sec. While striped RAID has its own drawbacks (if one drive fails all of the data is lost), judicious backups and good computing habits can leave you free to enjoy a tremendous amount of solid state capacity and performance. Power Supply: Corsair HXi Series HX1000i 1000W 80 Plus Platinum This selection could’ve gone either way, between the HX1000i and the AX1200i, but in the end I opted for the slightly shorter, slightly less featured, but still exceptional new HX1000i. The HX1000i gives us an extra 20mm to avoid clearance difficulties with the bottom-mounted radiator while still offering Corsair Link monitoring and control. Better yet, the blue logo ID matches the blue theme of the rest of the build (as you’ll see later.) Corsair Link: Commander Mini Unit The Corsair Link Commander Mini is borderline purpose built for liquid cooling. The multitude of fans we’re planning on using for this build may necessitate a second unit, but the Commander Mini itself is useful for controlling a substantial number of fans on its own through the use of Y-cables, and we can use it to control the LED fans on the Dominator Airflow Platinum. Finally, the HX1000i can be connected directly to the Commander Mini instead of burning a USB port on the motherboard on its own. Fans: One Air Series SP140 LED Blue Static Pressure Fan, 14x Air Series SP120 LED Blue Static Pressure Fans The goal is to achieve push-pull with all three radiators; research suggests it should be possible, but overall radiator clearances may prevent it. Nonetheless, our blue SP LED fans are among our most efficient fans available, and incorporating push-pull on the radiators substantially reduces the speed we have to run them at. CPU Waterblock: EK Supremacy EVO Blue Edition Sticking with our blue theme, we’ve selected arguably the most efficient CPU waterblock currently available. Internal testing has proven heat transfer isn’t the same issue on Devil’s Canyon that it was on conventional Haswell, opening up the possibility of using a high performance waterblock to extract the maximum amount of performance the silicon offers. GPU Waterblock: XSPC Razor GTX 980 Chosen for its illumination support, XSPC’s full cover waterblock for the GeForce GTX 980 has a clean aesthetic that meshes beautifully with the Obsidian 750D. It’s thin, attractive, and cools all of the surface components of the GTX 980, ensuring long life and quiet operation. Note that we opted not to purchase the backplate that XSPC offers; the GTX 980 stock cooler already includes an excellent backplate of its own, mitigating the need for an aftermarket one. Pump and Reservoir: XSPC D5 Photon 170 Like so many of XSPC’s kits, the Photon 170 reservoir includes lighting, keeping it in theme with the rest of the build. However, the integration of a mounting backplate and D5 Vario pump makes it easy to get exactly the placement and performance we want and need to drive our loop. Radiators: Swiftech Quiet Power 360mm and 2x Quiet Power 240mm Radiator selection is a matter of preference; I’ve traditionally been pretty happy with Swiftech’s radiators. Note that these are standard-thickness (25-30mm) radiators. Given the choice between an extra-thick 280mm front radiator or two standard 240mm radiators, I opted for the increased airflow that spreading out the surface area provides. This is a matter of preference, though, but a cumulative 840mm x 25mm of radiator capacity should be more than adequate for getting the job done. Stay tuned for part two, when we begin assembly of the Yamamura…
  23. While we’ve recently examined the incredible power consumption that Intel’s new Haswell-E Core i7s are capable of when overclocked, those numbers were generated in a vacuum of sorts; at maximum load, how much power can the Core i7-5960X draw? Today we’re going to look at it from a more practical perspective: under a series of tests, how much power does the Core i7-5960X draw? And what do you get for it? Our testing was done on the following system: CPU: Intel Core i7-5960X Motherboard: ASUS X99-DELUXE with 0904 BIOS DRAM: 4x8GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-2666 Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H100i with push-pull SP120 fans Storage: 128GB and 256GB Force LX SSDsAs a refresher, these were the voltages required to hit each speed bin: You can see that once we start getting past 4GHz, the voltage needed to push the i7-5960X becomes more and more onerous. 4.3GHz is about the highest we can go before needing a serious voltage bump; 4.5GHz just isn’t possible on this sample. While all chips aren’t created equal, the four samples we’ve tested internally have all been fairly similar in this regard. During testing, we used Corsair Link to record power consumption from the wall. That means that for each benchmark, we have a score, average power consumption during the test, and peak power consumption. CPU utilization was also recorded during testing, but interestingly, we found no significant changes across clock speeds. For a practical test result, we ran PCMark 8’s Adobe application suite. This gives us a score that we can track along with watching how power consumption increases. Average power mostly hangs out around the 160W region until it starts taking off after 3.9GHz. Put into another perspective and measured as raw performance per watt, we can see that 3.9GHz, the observed sweet spot in our previous article, continues to be the best balance outside of stock speed. The Adobe applications in this suite appreciate any increase in clock speed, but if you’re concerned about increased power draw and heat, you may find yourself wanting to clock your chip more conservatively. For testing in Handbrake, we transcoded a 21 minute H.264 1080p60 video using Handbrake’s H.264 High Profile settings. Handbrake absolutely buries the CPU and is hands down the worst case scenario for power consumption in our practical testing; average power is never more than a few watts shy of peak power. Once again, there’s a slow and steady climb in power up to 3.9GHz, and then right after, it starts to go through the roof. In Handbrake we’re measuring performance per watt based on how many seconds each additional watt saves you when you overclock. Just fixing the wattage of the CPU and setting it to 3.5GHz across all eight cores actually helps tremendously with efficiency, and every step after that goes down. 3.9GHz is the way to go; after that, you start seeing seriously diminishing returns. SPECapc Lightwave 9.6 is used in 64-bit mode to see how the i7-5960X scales in 3D rendering tasks. Rendering time is a nice, gradual slope from stock speed to 4.4GHz, while average power is a more modest slope. As before, 3.9GHz seems to be about the sweet spot before power consumption starts climbing tremendously. Again we’re measuring performance per watt based on how many seconds each additional watt saves you in rendering time, and the main efficiency points seem to actually be 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz. This is an application that clearly benefits from some fine tuning. Our gaming tests were both run at 1440p and frankly, they’re a lot less exciting where overclocking the CPU is concerned. The reality is that after a certain point, GPU performance is everything. The i7-5960X doesn’t have any problems at all feeding the single 780 Ti. There just isn’t anything to be gained in efficiency by overclocking your CPU in these games. Intel’s clock speed control is smart enough to be able to only give them what they need, though, and that minimizes the increases in power consumption. BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider both only go up 50W in average power when you push the i7-5960X from stock to 4.4GHz; contrast that against Handbrake, which increases by a staggering 120W. If you stick to our 3.9GHz sweet spot, you’ll only see a 20-30W increase. What can we conclude from all of this data? In most tasks, overclocking doesn’t tremendously impact Haswell-E’s efficiency. Most tasks. If you’re only planning on playing games, this CPU is beyond overkill and shouldn’t even be a consideration; it’s gross overkill even at stock speed. If you’re doing video or multimedia work, though, and power consumption and heat are considerations, I’d probably overclock up to about 3.9GHz. I hate that it’s not a round 4GHz, but 3.9GHz really seems to be the sweet spot on all of the processors we tested.
  24. Amusingly, out of Intel’s big overclocking CPU push, things get more interesting the further down the lineup you get. The Core i7-4790K exists more as a corrective than as a legitimate improvement to the Core i7-4770K, while the i5-4690K offers at least a little more benefit over the outgoing i5-4670K. Arguably the most compelling chip in the lineup is Intel’s Pentium G3258, or Pentium Anniversary Edition. Released as a celebration of twenty years of Pentium processors and an implicit acknowledgement of their history as overclockers, the Pentium Anniversary Edition is a $75 shot across AMD’s bow and theoretical frontrunner for best budget CPU on the market. That is, of course, contingent upon overclocking the chip to extract that extra performance, but with just two cores (no hyper-threading), a 55W TDP, and a 3.2GHz nominal clock speed (no turbo), you should be looking at a fairly lean and aggressive overclocker. /corsairmedia/sys_master/productcontent/blog_Overclocking_the_Pentium_AE-Content-1.jpg With two Core i7-4790Ks, two Core i5-4690Ks, and now two Pentium G3258s under my belt, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what Haswell is capable of when thermals are taken off the table as a consideration. i7-4790K #1 i7-4790K #2 i5-4690K #1 i5-4690K #2 G3258 #1 G3258 #2 Clock Speed 4.7GHz 4.7GHz 4.7GHz 4.8GHz 4.9GHz 4.7GHz VCore 1.275V 1.31V 1.375V 1.375V 1.4V 1.375V Haswell’s safe limit seems to hover around 4.6GHz and 4.7GHz; I’m hesitant to ever take any of these chips past 1.3V on the core for longevity’s sake, but if your cooling is efficient, they won’t suffer the same heat trapping issues conventional Haswell chips did. The Pentium in particular was running extremely frosty even at 1.375V. The takeaway with Haswell is that heat is no longer the limiting factor, the silicon is, and that’s really the way it should be. Most users should be getting ~4.6GHz at 1.3V, but I’ll be testing retail chips and reporting back. /corsairmedia/sys_master/productcontent/blog_Overclocking_the_Pentium_AE-Content-2.jpg As for the G3258, it’s a curiosity unto itself. At stock clocks it’s barely worth discussing, but lucky users can get a ridiculous 50% overclock off of it. Because it’s such a lean chip, though, it seems to hit a memory performance wall much faster; it just doesn’t need to be kept fed. Haswell chips can reach a point where high memory speeds actually reduce performance (something that will be investigated later), and the G3258’s memory bandwidth with DDR3-2933 CAS12 is notably lower than with DDR3-2133 CAS10. /corsairmedia/sys_master/productcontent/blog_Overclocking_the_Pentium_AE-Content-3.jpg Where I think things get dicey is the G3258’s lack of ability to handle more than two threads; Tom’s Hardware’s review basically nails it. Pay attention to how the chip, even overclocked, can’t compete with a stock i5-4690K, and trades blows with the i3-4330. Pay special attention to frame times. This is what makes the G3258 almost feel like a trap; games are becoming more and more multi-threaded. DirectX is becoming more and more multi-threaded. Graphics card drivers, again, more and more multi-threaded. This chip can give you two very fast cores, but they’re not fast enough to make up that pure core deficit, and even hyper-threading is desperately missed. This is a fun chip to play with and probably at least a decent stand-in until you can socket a Broadwell into your desktop, but while people rocking Sandy Bridge i5s are still pretty happy and likely will be for the foreseeable future, I don’t think the Pentium Anniversary Edition will have anywhere near the longevity. Speed is nice, but there’s just no substitute for superior hardware. People who need the i7-4790K’s hyper-threading already know who they are; for everyone else, I continue to recommend the i5-4690K as the best bang for the buck.
  25. Not too long ago we took a look at Intel’s new Core i7-4790K, code-named Devil’s Canyon, and tried to determine if it lived up to Intel’s hype. The results were disappointing; while the new i7-4790K definitely overclocked better than the i7-4770K and did a far better job of dissipating heat, the rough peak of 4.7GHz we experienced on both of our samples still doesn’t come close to Intel’s claims of 5GHz on air. Arguably, the more interesting Devil’s Canyon part is the Core i5-4690K. Intel’s i5s are tailor made for enthusiasts who don’t need the Hyper-Threading that the i7s offer and certainly aren’t willing to pay the extra $100 for it. Yet while the i7-4790K enjoys a healthy boost to its stock clocks, the i5-4690K is very incremental, with a nominal clock of 3.5GHz and turbo clock of 3.9GHz on a single core. Early press reports about this chip weren’t especially favorable either. /corsairmedia/sys_master/productcontent/blog_Overclocking_the_Core_i5-Content-1.jpg I’m happy to report our two samples have turned out to be healthy overclockers, though; one sample peaked at 4.7GHz at 1.375V, while the second went up to 4.8GHz at the same voltage and was doing 4.7GHz at about 1.275V. That lower nominal clock means you get images like the one above, with AIDA64 reporting a very impressive 37% overclock. We’re still not in 5GHz territory, but the i5-4690K isn’t as bitter a pill to swallow as the i7-4790K might have been. /corsairmedia/sys_master/productcontent/blog_Overclocking_the_Core_i5-Content-2.jpg Where things get interesting with the i5 is in its thermal performance. Without Hyper-Threading increasing heat generation (with corresponding performance improvements), the i5’s overclocking performance seems to be limited almost entirely by voltage and silicon. Under our Hydro Series H110, the i5 is able to go above 1.4V with core temps only spiking in the mid-80s and spending most of their load time in the low 70s. Given adequate cooling, the i5-4690K’s headroom will almost be limited by just how comfortable you are with the amount of voltage you’re running through it. Increased testing with Devil’s Canyon and internal discussion also leads us to believe that the new Devil’s Canyon chips, despite not really being “new,” are actually worse for overclocking memory. It’s tough to explain when these new chips share the exact same silicon as the old ones, but we’ve had a harder time hitting DDR3-3000 or in some cases even DDR3-2933 with the Devil’s Canyon chips. As is always the case with overclocking, your mileage may vary, but we’ll continue to look into this and report back.
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