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  1. As technology advances, the demand for more efficient devices also increases. We at CORSAIR have always prided ourselves with our highly efficient and reliable power supply units, from the most budget friendly CX models to our top of the line AX series. However, there will always be new specifications that emerge to further drive the industry toward a greener tomorrow. We continually strive to be on the leading edge, working closely with Intel to ensure we meet and exceed the power efficiency requirements in their Power Supply Design Guides. The newest iteration of this design guide introduces a host of changes that CORSAIR is planning on supporting. We understand that a lot of the detailed technical information might make some of your eyes glass over, so let’s talk about what’s most likely to affect you. But, for the sake of brevity, here’s a shortlist of what CORSAIR is focusing on. Support for Microsoft’s “Modern Standby Mode” Update for Low Load Efficiency requirements Some regions have added restrictions on efficiency both minimum and low load efficiency In CA, the CA Energy Commission (CEC) has introduced new restrictions on built systemsIn 2019 – at 10% load, efficiency of at least 60%In 2020 – at 10% load, efficiency of at least 70%Finished PCs from system integrators (e.g. CyberpowerPC) cannot be shipped to CA unless the PSU is at least 80 PLUS Gold certified with the aforementioned low load efficiency Modern Standby Mode Microsoft and Intel have introduced a new low power state, aptly named “Modern Standby.” Modern Standby is being introduced as a replacement for the current S3 sleep state, aiming to offer people a better user experience for their desktop or laptop PCs while maintaining power savings that benefit the environment. Systems using S3 sleep state are either asleep or in the working state. With Modern Standby, your PC is never always 100% asleep and is designed to mimic smartphone operation with your PC residing in a low power idle state that periodically, every 20 seconds or so, checks for emails or notifications until awakened. After waking it would nearly immediately shift to a full-power, working state with all your relevant data (e.g. emails, notifications, or Windows updates) at your fingertips. Ultimately, the goals are to maintain energy efficiency of computer systems, allow your computer to be connected during sleep, and decrease the amount of time a user waits before they may use their system to its fullest. Currently, it takes between 7 to 15 seconds to awaken a computer from the S3 sleep state, where Modern Standby aims to reduce that to <5 seconds, even faster in most cases. What is CORSAIR doing to meet these requirements? CORSAIR is always looking to improve the PC experience for our users, and that includes creating more efficient, reliable, and more responsive components. To achieve this, we updated component choices to enable faster timing communication from the PSU to the motherboard and CPU which will significantly decrease the amount of time a system boots from power button press to its active state. We extensively reviewed reliability and PSU designs to ensure that adding tens of thousands more power cycles would not any cause problems. We also worked closely with Intel and system integrator partners to hone the specification, further ensuring our compliance. When and where will Modern Standby be available? Modern Standby will be available with next generation Intel CPUs and chipsets for PCs running the newest version of Windows 10. Check back regularly for news on the newest up and coming tech from CORSAIR! Thanks for reading!
  2. Most modern cases include a power supply cover or shroud that cleans up the internal look of your PC by hiding things such as your PSU cables and drive cages. However, some cases don’t include this or you may want to upgrade your existing case with one, so I will show you how to make one on your own! For this guide, we’re going to use a build in the Carbide Series SPEC-04 Tempered Glass case. As you can see in the image above, it’s a great budget case with an open internal layout with the PSU and cables visible. A PSU shroud would be an easy mod to do to for this case and would help clean things up. First, I put together a quick mockup using cardboard. Cardboard is a great way to quickly prototype parts like a PSU cover which can be hard to visualize. Next, I measured how wide the cover needed to be. Then I measured the length, which can change based on your fan configuration in the front or any other parts that may get in the way. Finally, I measured the height, which we’ll add to the width to figure out how big a piece we’ll need to cut out, adding a few extra millimeters for the bend. I marked out the measurements on a sheet of 2mm thick aluminum. This was later cut out with a jigsaw and the edges filed down with regular hand files and sandpaper. Take the height from the measurements again and mark out on the sheet of aluminium, this will help when doing the bend. I used a sheet bender for this. This is how the part ended up looking after the bend, however I did not want it to be raw aluminum… …so I spray-painted it white. If you’re interested in the process I used, I covered spray-painting parts in a previous blog post. Mounting the cover is very straightforward, I did not want any screws to be seen so I used 3M double-sided tape and mounted the cover to the PSU itself. This is how it ended up looking mounted, much cleaner don’t you think? When the entire project was finished I ended up with a pretty great result, what do you think? Leave a comment and stay tuned for more how-to mod blogs.
  3. Cooling and lighting control for a modern system can be convoluted and messy. One program controls your lighting, another controls your fans, and maybe even a third monitors your temperatures. Our CORSAIR LINK software and the new Commander PRO combine these features into a single device and software combo. The Commander PRO is the key to controlling almost every aspect of your build’s cooling and lighting. You can monitor temperatures with the included thermistors, control PWM and DC fans, RGB LED strips, and even connect other CORSAIR LINK USB devices such as our intelligent power supplies and Hydro Series coolers with the integrated USB 2.0 HUB. Connectivity After unboxing the Commander PRO, you’ll notice that it’s surprisingly compact. Measuring in at 133mm x 69mm x 15.5mm with a single internal USB 2.0 cable and SATA power cable. Taking a quick look at the Commander PRO’s onboard connections, you’ll notice the following: 2x RGB LED channel ports 4x Thermal sensor headers 6x 4-pin fan headers 2x USB 2.0 headers Inside the Box The Commander PRO includes the following: 2x RGB LED hub cables 4x Thermal sensors 5x Fan extension cables 2x pieces of mounting tape Physical Installation Installing the Commander PRO is simple, find a flat surface inside your case and stick it in place with the included pieces of double-sided mounting tape. Make sure to plan ahead and pick a location that is reachable by all the fan and LED cables (the included fan extension cables provide added flexibility). Once you have everything connected, you’ll see something like this screenshot when you launch CORSAIR LINK. Lighting Just like the Lighting Node PRO, the Commander PRO unlocks a plethora of lighting effects that you can sync across your compatible LINK RGB devices, or you can control each device individually for wild effects. All the classic modes are there, and as of Corsair LINK 4.7 (which you can download here) you’ll have access to: - Sequential - Marquee - Strobing - Visor After you’ve given your build some personality, you’ll want to dive right into temperature sensors and fan control. This is where the Commander PRO really shines. Fans and Temps Several preset fan curves can be chosen from to auto adjust fan speeds. However, you can also choose fixed RPM, fixed percentage, and a custom curve mode so you can have your fans set exactly where you want them. For example, if you want a quiet system and your system temperature runs within acceptable limits, you can have the Commander PRO turn off all your system fans with a custom fan curve. You can assign this curve to multiple fans with the “Copy to” buttons so if you want all your intake fans to dynamically spin up based on your GPU temperature, you can group this configuration to a thermal sensor and using the drop-down menu to the right, copy this configuration to the appropriate fans. There’s no limit to the customization you can do. It’s your build, cool it how you want to. Extended Connectivity In addition to all the onboard devices you can plug directly into the Commander PRO, there’s also an integrated USB 2.0 HUB so you can plug in other USB devices that would otherwise take up a USB header on your motherboard. This is especially handy if you want to have one of our intelligent power supplies or Hydro Series liquid cooler plugged into a single USB header. Mapping out Your System Once you have all your devices connected and configured, you can create a map of your system by going to the “Configure” tab in CORSAIR LINK. You’ll be able to pick an empty view of your chassis (with a selection of CORSAIR cases available to choose from) or you can upload your own image of your case. You can then drag and drop items from the sidebar to the left to their appropriate position on your case image. You can see I went ahead and put my fans, temperature sensors, and lights all where they should be in my Vengeance C70. The Commander PRO combines powerful fan controls and advanced lighting modes into a single device powered by CORSAIR LINK. The Commander PRO is available now and if you have any questions, feel free to ask us in the CORSAIR Forums.
  4. Recently, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we announced an update to our BULLDOG Barebones PC Kit for 2017! Curious to know what's different in BULLDOG 2.0? Here’s a quick overview! What’s different on the outside? Not much, the external chassis has been left largely the same compared to last year’s model. The one exception being the bottom of the chassis, in which we added a magnetic dust cover and filter. It’s what’s inside that counts! BULLDOG 2.0 has 3 major changes over the 2016 model. We've updated BULLDOG with a new custom MSI Z270I BULLDOG mini-ITX motherboard with full support for Intel 7th Gen Core Series processors. The CPU cooler in the BULLDOG has been changed to a more traditional design and mounting method. The new H6SF is a low noise 92mm miniature version of one of our Hydro Series coolers built just for BULLDOG. With this new design, users are no longer restricted to using low profile memory modules and can opt for higher performance DRAM such as our Dominator Platinum series if desired. The cooler is mounted right next to the motherboard and acts as an exhaust in its default configuration. We also updated the chassis fans from 3-pin DC voltage-controlled to 4-pin PWM fans. These fans use the same magnetic levitation bearings as our ML Pro series and are intended to be directly connected to the BULLDOG's motherboard. BULLDOG 2.0 utilizes the same SF600 SFX power supply and features custom length cables to make cable routing easier! Graphics card support remains the same as the previous BULLDOG, with support for our liquid cooled HYDRO GFX 1080 as well as most air-cooled cards (we recommend using a card with a blower-style cooler if you plan to use an air-cooled solution). Model BULLDOG (2016) BULLDOG 2.0 (2017) Motherboard GA-Z170N WIFI MSI Z170I BULLDOG WIFI CPU Cooler H5SF H6SF Power Supply SF600 SFX SF600 SFX Fans 92mm DC (3-pin) 92mm Mag Lev PWM (4-pin) Fan Control 3-Pin DC Fan Hub 4-Pin direct to motherboard MSRP $399 $399 BULLDOG 2.0 is available now and can be order through our webstore.
  5. 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.
  6. This month, Corsair introduced the new RMx power supply series. The RMx ostensibly replaces the RM in Corsair's power supply line up. The RMx features the same 135mm rifle bearing fan as the RM, with a "Zero RPM" mode that keeps the fan from spinning, therefore completely silent, at loads under 40%. The RMx is 80 Plus Gold and is fully modular, but other than this the RMx has quite a few upgrades over the RM. The RMx features all Japanese capacitors, rated at 105°C. This upgrade allows the PSU to run at full load, continuously, in environments as high as 50°C. For this reason, we've increased the warranty for the RMx from five years to seven years. The RMx product line has also been expanded to not only include 650, 750, 850 and 1000W varieties; but also a new lower wattage 550W unit. Due to the limited functionality of the Link software with the original RM Series and the neccessity of a bulky dongle, the Link functionality has been removed from the RMx. If the user wants the ability to monitor their PSU as well as control the fan and how many +12V rails their PSU has, these features are available in the RMi power supply series. The cable set for the RMx is much like the RMi's. They utilize the new “Type 4” cables. The 6-pin cables (for SATA and peripheral power) are identical to the Type 3 cables used previously (HXi, RM, etc.). But the 8-pin cables (for ATX12V/EPS12V and PCIe) have added capacitors to help reduce the ripple noise on these leads. Furthermore, the Type 4 24-pin has an additional four pins, as well as the added capacitors. These extra leads are sense wires that allow the RMx to sense the voltage at the load and adjust accordingly to improve voltage regulation. Today’s high-performance CPUs and graphics cards all require power to be supplied over the +12V rail, which means that any PSU worth considering needs to be able to deliver the majority of its power on the +12V rail. The RMx Series PSUs can deliver all of its available power via the +12V rail, which make them ideal for high-end gaming PCs with single and multiple GPUs. The following table shows the DC output capabilities of each model: RM550x RM650x RM750x RM850x RM1000x +3.3V 25A 130W 25A 130W 25A 150W 25A 150W 25A 150W +5V 25A 25A 25A 25A 25A +12V 45.8A 549.6W 54A 648W 62.5A 750W 70.8A 850W 83.3A 1000W -12V 0.8A 9.6W 0.8A 9.6W 0.8A 9.6W 0.8A 9.6W 0.8A 9.6W +5VSB 3A 15W 3A 15W 3A 15W 3A 15W 3A 15W Total - 550W - 650W - 750W - 850W - 1000W All of the power supplies in the Corsair RMx Series have the necessary protection functions to ensure trouble-free operation, even in extreme conditions. Below is a list of the included protections: Over Current Protection (OCP): Shuts off power if any rail is overloaded beyond a safe level. Over Voltage Protection (OVP): Shuts off power if voltages exceed specification. Under Voltage Protection (UVP): Shuts off power if voltages drop below specification. Short Circuit Protection (SCP): Shuts off power if a short circuit is detected. Over Temperature Protection (OTP): Shuts off power if temperatures exceed a specified value. Over Power Protection (OPP): Shuts off power if the total output power exceeds a safe level. The RMx series power supplies are currently available in the U.S. exclusively at Newegg.com. Outside of the U.S., the RMx is available at your favorite computer component retailers.
  7. Intel’s 6th Generation Core processors and platform, known to most of the enthusiast community as “Skylake,” are en route. These new processors bring about a new microarchitecture and are manufactured on Intel’s cutting edge 14nm process, but they also need new chipsets and new memory. We’re ready over here at Corsair, but are you? The 6th Generation Core Memory Controller These new processors support both DDR4 and DDR3L natively, but there are caveats. While you’re likely to see motherboards come out that support both standards, DDR3L development has been deprecated. Most vendors are focusing on DDR4, which lets the new processors stretch their legs. Our existing 4-up DDR4 kits should run on the new platform without issue; they may actually even run a little better for the overclockers in the house, since these processors run on a dual-channel memory controller instead of the quad-channel one found in the Core i7-5960X and related chips. That said, the XMP 2.0 profiles for those kits were designed for Haswell-E and may necessitate having timings entered into BIOS manually. Existing 4-up Vengeance LPX kits should have no trouble running on the new platform. Users who want to bring their existing performance DDR3 to Skylake are going to have a much tougher time, though. Because the new memory controller only supports DDR3L at 1.35V and 1.5V (XMS) speeds, the 1.65V required to get DDR3 to hit high speeds rules them out. Some vendors are working on making their DDR3L-based Intel 100 Series boards compatible with existing 1.5V DDR3 kits, but expect these to be in the minority. Finally, only the new K-suffix chips will support DDR4 speeds beyond 2133 MHz. In order to run memory at higher than 2133 MHz on DDR4 or 1600 MHz on DDR3L, you’ll need to have a K-suffix chip and a motherboard with a Z170 chipset. What does all of this mean for you? Ultimately, if you want to jump to the new platform, it’s going to necessitate a new processor, new motherboard, and new memory. LGA 1151: Keeping Cooler Compatibility Intel’s new chips may necessitate a new socket, but they’ve done right by the enthusiast community by sticking with the same mounting system as their previous mainstream platforms. That means that any cooler that was compatible with LGA 1150, LGA 1155, or LGA 1156 will be compatible with the new LGA 1151. The shiny new Hydro Series H110i GTX mounts to the new processors using exactly the same hardware it needed on the old ones. Users with existing Hydro Series coolers have nothing to worry about; all of our coolers retain their compatibility with the new socket. So if you’re planning on upgrading, you can keep your cooler. Haswell-Ready Power Supplies and Sleep States Way back when the Intel Core i7-4770K and its kin first launched, there was some concern over power supply compatibility. Specifically, these processors added additional low power sleep states that could cause trouble with some power supplies. The new processors inherit these sleep states and the complications therein. Our new RMi series power supplies are just the ticket for delivering clean, stable power to the new chips while supporting all of their features. The overwhelming majority of our power supplies support these sleep states without issue. However, users with our entry-level CX (600W and below) and VS series power supplies will need to disable them in BIOS. Conclusion Intel’s new platform brings some big changes to the market. A faster architecture is always appreciated, but with the 6th Generation Core processors and 100 Series chipsets, they’re bringing a new memory standard into the mainstream in DDR4. We’ve already been playing with the new platform internally and we’re very optimistic about it: it’s fast, stable, and powerful, and the new memory controller brings healthy overclocking headroom. Performance users will be pleased, and we’ll be sharing more information soon, so stay tuned.
  8. The Corsair RMi Series is our newest line of PC power supplies and the reviewers can't say enough good things about it! One of the biggest compliments we received about the RMi is how low the ripple is under load. Tony Day of JonnyGURU.com measured only 11mV of ripple on the +12V rail of an RM750i at full load. And Aris Mpitziopoulos of TechPowerUp! measured only 17.5mV of ripple on the +12V rail of an RM1000i. [attachment=41346:name] Screenshot from the oscilloscope used during the JonnyGURU.com review of the RM750i This improved ripple suppression is a direct result of the Type 4 cables included with the RMi Series power supplies. The Type 4 cables have the same pin-out as Type 3 cables, but include small, solid capacitors on the +12V, +5V and +3.3V leads on the 24-pin, PCIe and EPS12V cables. Without these capacitors, ripple is still very acceptable; being as high as 25mV with a full load on the +12V rail of an RM1000i. This is exhibited on the HX1000i, which uses the same technologies as the RMi, but does not come with the Type 4 cables. The 24-pin of the Type 4 cable set also has a unique feature not implemented in the standard Type 3 cables. There are a total of 28-pins where the cable plugs into the PSU's modular interface, instead of the usual 24-pins. The extra four pins are "sense wires". While a +3.3V sense is part of the ATX standard and is found on most PSUs, it is not often implemented. The RMi not only utilizes the +3.3V sense on the ATX connector, but also utilizes an additional +12V sense and +5V sense. These sense wires read the voltages at the load (the end of the cable) and can increase voltage automatically if voltages drop. The combination of these two improvements made to the RMi's cable set contributes to the exceptional voltage regulation and ripple suppression all of our customers and the reviewers have been talking about.
  9. The Graphite Series 380T was designed to be the ultimate LAN enclosure, with a sturdy handle on the top, easy internal access, integrated fan control, and a striking ID. For better or worse, we expanded its dimensions to allow you to install a 240mm liquid cooler for the CPU. Amusingly enough, though, what I always fixated on with it was the way the white one, with red LED fans, could wind up looking like this guy’s head: Source: Mass Effect 2 wiki. The white version of the 380T has white LED fans and white LEDs for all of the lighting, but that’s fixable. What I also wanted to do was put the most comically powerful system I could inside the case. Initially I was gunning for efficiency and planning to use Intel’s Core i7-5775C CPU, but Broadwell’s limited overclockability wound up being unappealing in the face of being able to go completely insane with the ASRock X99E-ITX/ac: Source: ASRock. While the board uses an enterprise-class socket with narrower mounting points than the traditional LGA 2011-3 socket, Asetek produces a mounting kit for this narrow socket that allowed me to install an H100i GTX, giving me all the cooling performance I could need for the Intel Core i7-5960X I was planning to use. It can be tough to scale to high DDR4 speeds on Haswell-E when you’re populating all four memory channels, but when you’re running in dual channel it takes some of the load off the controller. The result is that I have two 8GB DDR4-2800 DIMMs installed, making up some of the memory bandwidth deficit stemming from the X99E-ITX/ac’s two memory channels. The other half of the performance equation is getting a powerful graphics card, and right now the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a tough card to beat. I’ve already covered how well this card overclocks when under an HG10 and it is an absolute bear. For this build, I used a reference Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti, our prototype HG10-N980 bracket, and a Hydro Series H75 cooler with two red SP120 LED fans. The H75 is mounted to the front of the case, and the fans are controlled and powered by the 380T’s integrated fan controller. Handling storage duties are a 240GB Neutron GTX SSD as the system drive and a 960GB Neutron XT SSD as the gaming/scratch drive. If I’m going to overclock this system – and I absolutely am – I’m going to need a pretty solid power supply, and for that I turned to our recently released RM750i. This PSU necessitated ordering the PSU extension bracket, which also buys a little more breathing room internally. The extension doesn’t stick too far out of the back, either, so it’s not unsightly. Finally, to get the look I wanted I needed to replace the front fans with 120mm red LED fans as well as replace the white-lit I/O board with the red I/O board from the black version of the 380T. All in all, I don’t think it came out too bad. For reference, here’s the list of components used in this build: CPU: Intel Core i7-5960X Motherboard: ASRock X99E-ITX/ac DRAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum 2x8GB DDR4-2800MHz CAS15 Graphics Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti Storage: Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD and Corsair Neutron XT 960GB SSD CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100i GTX with aftermarket Asetek bracket GPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series HG10-N980 with Corsair Hydro Series H75 Power Supply: Corsair RM750i 750W 80 Plus Gold Chassis: Corsair Graphite Series 380T White Accessories: 3x Corsair SP120 LED Red Fans, PSU Extension Bracket for 380T, 380T Red I/O PanelIn an upcoming blog, I’ll detail overclocking and just how much performance I was able to extract out of this system, especially in comparison to the extremely powerful (and much larger) “Yamamura” 750D build.
  10. This month, the RMi was introduced in 650W, 750W, 850W and 1000W varieties. This new product line falls between the existing RM and HXi product lines. At Corsair, we get a lot of feedback about how the large quantity of PSU product lines can be somewhat confusing. We understand, but with the many levels of efficiency and feature sets such as cable modularity and Link compatibility, and then of course the necessity to hit certain price points, creates the need for a number of different product series. This blog is to help clear up how the RMi is different, as well as what ways it is the same as either RM or HXi. RM vs. RMi Similarities Both the RM and RMi are/have: •80 Plus Gold •Fully Modular •Zero RPM up to 40% Load •Corsair Designed Static Pressure 135mm Fan •Silent Component Selection to Minimize “Coil Whine” Issues •LLC Resonant Mode Topology with DC to DC for Non-Primary Rails RM vs. RMi Differences These are the differences between the RM and RMi: RM Series: RMi Series: •5 Year Warranty •7 Year Warranty •Only Japanese Primary Cap •ALL Japanese Capacitors •Rated for Full Output at 40°C •Rated for Full Output at 50°C •Rifle Bearing Fan •Fluid Dynamic Bearing Fan •Analog Output for Link •Digital Output for Link •Only Monitors +12V Load and Fan Speed •Monitor Power In, Out, Efficiency, Voltages, Fan Speed and Temperature •Single +12V Rail, Non-Configurable •Multiple +12V Rail by Default. Switchable to Single +12V Rail using Link software RMi vs. HXi Similarities/Differences The RMi and HXi are very similar, with the only difference between the two series being that the RMi is 80 Plus Gold certified and the HXi is 80 Plus Platinum certified. Corsair recognizes that different users have different requirements when shopping for a power supply. For some, Platinum efficiency is more desirable than Gold efficiency. And some people appreciate the added control and monitoring capabilities of the Corsair Link software, while others just want a reliable, fully modular, 80 Plus Gold product without a lot of frills. We hope this short article has cleared up any questions anyone may have about the new RMi power supply series.
  11. 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…
  12. 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…
  13. The recent launch of the 80 Plus Platinum rated HXi series power supplies coupled with the impending launch of the 1200W HX1200i power supply may leave some end users wondering whether they should go with an HXi series unit or step up to the incumbent AXi series. If your power target is 1000W, then the decision is clear – you go for the HX1000i – but at the other points, things may be a little foggier.So what’s the difference between HXi and AXi? What merits the AXi series’ higher price tags? Both lines use all Japanese electrolytic capacitors, feature modular cabling, are Corsair Link-enabled, and have Zero RPM modes for fanless operation at low loads. They’re both rated for 80 Plus Platinum efficiency at 50°C. Still, there are a few important differences. The first and most basic one is dimension. HXi Depth AXi Depth HX750i 180mm 160mm AX760i HX850i 180mm 160mm AX860i HX1000i 180mm N/A - HX1200i 200mm 200mm AX1200i A difference in depth can seem minor, but for our recent Yamamura build, the 180mm depth of the HX1000i would have prevented us from installing a radiator in the bottom of the 750D. Switching to an AX860i gave us the clearance we needed. The second major difference is architectural: the AXi series feature fully digital power regulation. While the HXi series is no slouch, the AXi’s power regulation is slightly cleaner. More than that, because the AXi’s power regulation is handled by a DSP (digital signal processor), an AXi power supply will be vastly more user-configurable in Corsair Link. The AXi allows for extremely detailed monitoring of voltage, amperage, and efficiency, with amperage in particular monitored on a per-cable, per-rail basis. An AXi PSU allows the end user to configure Over-Current Protection trip points manually for the +12V rails and configure the power supply for virtual single or multiple +12V rail operation. By default, the AXi ships set to multiple +12V rail, so if a single +12V rail is desired, it is necessary to go into Link and uncheck all of the boxes to disable OCP on the +12V rails. While the AXi series enjoys digital power regulation, the HXi remains a more traditional, time-tested analog solution. Regulation is still extremely tight but can’t quite reach the precision afforded by the DSPs in the AXi units. The DSP is replaced instead by a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) to enable Corsair Link functionality. Corsair Link monitoring and control is also more limited on the HXi. We retain monitoring of power supply efficiency, temperature, and fan speed. We can also monitor voltage and amperage on the 12V, 5.5V, and 3V rails. The monitoring is more basic, though; while the AXi can monitor specific draws (24-pin motherboard cable, peripherals, individual PCIe rails), the HXi only gives a broad monitoring of 12V draw. While we can’t configure OCP points on a per +12V rail basis like we can in the AXi, we can still toggle single and multiple +12V rail operation on the HXi. Like with the AXi series of power supplies, the HXi ships as a multiple +12V rail power supply by default. What the HXi has in spades over the AXi is price. If you can live without the extra bells and whistles the AXi series bring to the table, you can save a decent chunk of change moving to the HXi. It’s still backed by our 7-year warranty and you’re still getting one of the best, most efficient, quietest analog power supplies on the market. The HXi and AXi both feature Corsair engineering in and out, engineering you can only get from us.
  14. This is the fifth and final part of our build log for the Obsidian Series 750D “Yamamura.” The previous four chapters: Part Selection Assembly Overclocking Optimization There are essentially four reasons to build a custom liquid cooled system: The pleasure of constructing something with your hands. The unique aesthetic of a liquid cooled system. The potential for improved performance as a result of the larger heat capacity. The ability to quiet or silence an extremely high performance system.On this front, how did the Obsidian Series 750D “Yamamura” build do? The pleasure of constructing something with your hands. Yamamura proved to be a more difficult build than I expected. While the 750D is uniquely well suited to high performance liquid cooled builds, cramming a third radiator into the bottom of the case resulted in clearance problems for deeper power supplies as well as forcing the pump/reservoir to be mounted to the motherboard tray instead of the bottom. The 750D has very healthy dimensions, but we're still trying to cram a lot into it. Thankfully, the AX860i power supply turned out to be an all-star. The reduced depth coupled with high capacity and best-in-class performance allows a power supply with only 160mm of depth to handle the demanding job of powering multiple high performance overclocked components. That, and we get to keep the third radiator. As a result of having to cut two fans and the Dominator Airflow Platinum, though, I wound up ultimately being able to go down to just one Corsair Link Commander Mini unit. This is fortunate, as the NZXT USB 2.0 header splitter simply didn’t play well with the USB controller on the ASUS Z97-WS (note that the USB controller itself on my board seems to have issues with resolving hubs in general). The unique aesthetic of a liquid cooled system. This is hands down the most beautiful liquid cooled rig I have ever built. The 750D’s large side window allows you to really see and appreciate the glowing XSPC waterblocks, Dominator Platinum memory kit with lightbars, blue sleeved cabling, SP120 LED fans, and the XSPC Photon 170 reservoir. My girlfriend had worked with me on my last build and was skeptical that this one would look better, but Yamamura is a gorgeous beast and excellent showpiece. The Corsair Link lighting kit set to white allows all of the blue components to really pop. I have found over and over again that even people who aren’t die-hard DIY enthusiasts can still be impressed by a beautiful, well-built system with a custom loop. The potential for improved performance as a result of the larger heat capacity. While I wasn’t able to reach the mythical 4.8GHz on my Intel Core i7-4790K, nor was I able to get higher overclocks on my GeForce GTX 980s even with modded BIOSes, the waterblocks on the 980s do their job with aplomb. They may hit the same overclocks that they did on air, but those overclocks are much more stable now. XSPC's Razor GTX 980 waterblock does a stellar job of keeping every heat generating component incredibly cool. I feel better being limited by the silicon more than by the heat, and I now have two GeForce GTX 980s that spend their lives pushing 8GHz on the memory and 1.5GHz on the GPU. I’m looking forward to putting them through their paces at 4K. The ability to quiet or silence an extremely high performance system. Until we produce the greatest silent case the world has ever seen, one that effectively marries best-in-class airflow with smart acoustic design, the best way to make a quiet system is by controlling airflow. Having twelve fans and a pump decoupled from the chassis allows me to run the Yamamura extremely quietly. No high end build is complete without the Corsair Link Commander Mini. By employing a Corsair Link Commander Mini, I can run all of the fans at minimum speed until absolutely necessary, and this much heat capacity takes a very long time to reach a “steady state.” The result is that Yamamura is barely audible when running and certainly in no way obtrusive. Conclusion I actually have one regret as far as the Yamamura goes, and it’s a semi-silly one: I wish I had gone with Haswell-E instead of Devil’s Canyon. It arguably would’ve pushed the AX860i to its limits, but even a 4.7GHz i7-4790K feels oddly underpowered and modest in a build like this. An i7-5960X or even an i7-5930K, when overclocked, can start to really tap into the extra cooling potential of more elaborate cooling systems, while the i7-4790K can reasonably be handled by something as modest as a Hydro Series H75. Somehow I'll get by. With all that said, though, the system is still bracingly fast and handles just about anything I throw at it. I can’t complain too much. Except about my power bill.
  15. It’s been a little while since we’ve hit you with a review roundup. We’re in the calm before the storm: in just a couple short weeks, CES 2015 will be upon us, and the industry will spin up to full tilt again. But for now, we still have a doozy of a review roundup for you. The Corsair Gaming umbrella continues to gain traction with the series of high quality peripherals being released under it, while reviews still trickle in for our HXi power supplies. Corsair Gaming H1500 and H2100 We’ll start with reviews of our USB-based gaming headset, the Corsair Gaming H1500. Guru3D, eTeknix, and Benchmark Reviews all gave it a listen, and every last one came away impressed. Guru3D’s Hilbert Hagedoorn said “The Corsair Gaming H1500 shines in a nice deep and dynamic sounding bass, clear voices, and the treble that we increased a notch totally fits my personal sound flavor. These factors combined satisfy my personal audio flavor real fast.” He gave it a Recommended award. While we’re at Guru3D, Hilbert also tried out our higher end wireless Corsair Gaming H2100 headset and gave it a Top Pick award, saying “For straight up gaming, the H2100 is tough to beat, the overall clarity and nice bass make it a killer headset.” The reviewer at eTeknix shared a similar sentiment before giving it the Editor’s Choice award: “The Corsair Gaming H1500 is one of the best mid-budget gaming headsets available. It’s lightweight and comfortable to use for long gaming sessions, it has powerful and clear audio and it also has one of the best microphones I’ve tested. A solid all-round performance from Corsair.” Finally, our friends at Benchmark Reviews called it “a lot of headset for the price” and “just what the doctor ordered for the budget gamer.” The H1500 walked away with their Golden Tachometer. Corsair Gaming Mice and Keyboards While I can’t technically say our keyboards are the best in the business, they have a habit of getting some pretty high accolades, and they’re being joined by our new RGB mice. We’ll start with Slashgear, which took a pretty comprehensive look at our RGB keyboards along with our M65 RGB mouse and came away smiling, saying: “We came for the colorful madness of the RGB hook, we stayed for the highest-end precision delivered in-game. Both the keyboard collection and the mouse usher in Corsair Gaming with a bang.” Next, Erik Fredriksen at TechnoBuffalo had this to say about our K70 RGB: “The customization options presented by the software put the K70 and its bigger and smaller siblings in a class of their own. If you want to do anything beyond simply typing, not much else can compare. The possibilities Corsair’s software presents are virtually endless in the hands of a creative user.” Over at Vortez, Tony Le Bourne got his game on with the M65 RGB and found it worthy of a Gold award: “After spending some time with the Corsair Gaming M65 RGB, the performance has proved to be strong and satisfying, making a trusted weapon for all FPS enthusiasts.” Finally, the optical version of our brand new Sabre RGB gaming mouse (a hit in its own right in the office) was reviewed at both Tweak.dk and Hardware Heaven and in both cases left with an award, with Tweak.dk giving it their “Great Product” award and Hardware Heaven giving it their Recommended award. With the rash of quality Corsair Gaming hardware out of the way, we turn our attention to reviews of our HX1000i power supplies. Corsair HX1000i Power Supply The 1,000-watt, 80 Plus Platinum, Corsair Link-enabled beast that is the HX1000i was reviewed by both eTeknix and Hardwareluxx, and in both reviews, walked away an award-winner. eTeknix’s Ryan Martin specifically concluded, “With silent operation, impressive performance and a selection of digital controls and monitoring the HX1000i offers a great cheaper alternative to Corsair’s premium AXi series.” Corsair Cases We also had three of our cases – including the recently launched Carbide Series 330R Titanium Edition – go out for review. The new 330R Titanium adds an attractive new gunmetal-colored brushed aluminum finish to the door of the 330R along with built-in fan control, and Technic3D was happy enough with it to give it their Silver award. The Tech Report revisited the Air 240 and discovered something you and I already knew: “With all of its stock fan mounts populated, the Carbide Series Air 240 delivers superb cooling performance.” That superb cooling performance, coupled with the killer feature set, earned our Air 240 a “Recommended” award. Rounding out our case reviews, TechPowerUp goes hands on with our Obsidian Series 250D. They called it a “small chassis with a huge punch” and gave it a 9.5 score and an Editor’s Choice award. Finally, the best of the rest: ConseilConfig.com reviewed our popular Hydro Series H75 liquid cooler (a perfect match for the HG10 bracket if ever there were one) and gave it a score of 4.1 out of five stars. …and last but not least, the crew over at Madshrimps put the screws to our Vengeance LPX DDR4 and made it sing. They said “Tweaking potential is more than present and this kit can compete with other high end kits, which might be higher priced.” For that potential, it earned a Performance award.
  16. (This is the second part in a series of blogs. The first part details part selection, and is here.) Building a custom liquid cooling loop, even in a case as well-designed as the Obsidian Series 750D, seems to be inevitably more involved than you originally plan. At least if you’re a hobbyist like I am; this is only my fourth loop, and each time I’ve learned new and exciting lessons. For example, plans are adorable. Every time I’ve sat down to do one of these, I haven’t been exactly certain what order to go in. So for the Yamamura, I started out by just installing the waterblocks to the graphics cards. I’m using the XSPC Razor GTX 980, almost entirely for its lighting, but also because I’ve been continually bothered by the general lack of user-friendliness of EKWB products. Installing an EKWB block on a Radeon R9 290X was a fussy, frustrating experience. The XSPC Razor was better, but not by much. Carefully removing plastic from both sides of little pieces of thermal padding is a chore unto itself. The Razor GTX 980 can also be ordered with XSPC’s backplate, or you can re-use the one that comes with the stock 980. I opted to just re-use NVIDIA’s. XSPC’s block sure is a looker, though, and definitely more appealing than the Swiftech Komodo blocks I used on my GTX 780s. The EKWB transparent block I used on the R9 290X for my 250D build was well-suited to the task, but for the Yamamura, the Razor 980’s glowing trim is going to be killer and a real eye-catcher. The Obsidian 750D needs to almost be gutted to fit the amount of cooling capacity we’re cramming into it. The 3.5” drive cages have to go along with the stock intake and exhaust fans. I also had to temporarily remove the 2.5” drive sleds, but thankfully the smart layout of the 750D allows me to use up to four SSDs even with three radiators installed. Despite my reservations about how fiddly EKWB’s blocks can be, the Supremacy EVO is regarded on several forums as being simply the best CPU block you can buy. Interestingly, EKWB doesn’t necessarily employ a one-size-fits-all approach with their blocks; components within the block can be swapped out to optimize for individual platforms. The default configuration is for an LGA2011(-3) CPU, but replacing the jet plate makes it better suited for our Intel Core i7-4790K. You also want to make sure the copper microfins inside the block run parallel with the CPU die beneath the heatspreader to maximize heat transfer. And here’s where plans begin to crumble into dust. Two design choices already have to be cut and altered. Due to limited clearance and overachieving ambition, the bottom radiator can’t be configured as push-pull, so I went with push. The radiator’s fixtures also encroach on the HX1000i. While the HX1000i and radiator fit together, the HX1000i’s cables make it impossible. At this point I had to decide whether I wanted the HX1000i or the bottom radiator; the bottom radiator won out, and the HX1000i was replaced by the higher-performing but lower-capacity AX860i, which has an impressive 160mm depth. With radiator and component fitment sorted out, it’s time for some fresh problems. Everything installs okay enough, but the 360mm radiator in the top needs to be rotated 180 degrees; the inlet and outlet overlap the primary AUX12V socket on the motherboard. The secondary one gets covered by fans, and the third is next to the first PCIe x16 slot. Thankfully we only really need the first. The GTX 980s also wind up being a touch too long to use the stock mounting holes in the motherboard tray for the XSPC Photon 170 D5 Vario reservoir/pump combo. Note, too, that the speed control on the bottom of the pump is basically buried; I tested it before installation to find the right balance of performance and noise and went with the Level 3 (of 5) setting. In order to mount the pump and reservoir, I needed to drill holes into the motherboard tray. Per my girlfriend’s directions (she’s much handier than I am), I covered the tray with painter’s tape to keep metal shrapnel from flying into the electronics (a smarter decision would’ve been to take them out ahead of time). I also photocopied the mounting side of the Photon 170 and used it essentially as a guide for drilling the mounting holes, and this worked fairly well. Once I was clear that the pump and reservoir assembly was going to install safely, it was time to actually cut the tubing and connect the loop. Per a suggestion from a more experienced modder, we switched from using Swiftech compression fittings to Bitspower, and it was a very positive switch. Swiftech’s fittings certainly work, but the Bitspowers are much, much easier to install. Incidentally, the loop layout wound up being essentially identical to the plan: CPU Block 360mm Radiator GTX 980 #1 GTX 980 #2 Bottom 240mm Radiator Front 240mm Radiator Pump Back to CPU BlockOwing to the relative spaciousness of the 750D, actually attaching the fittings wound up being fairly trivial provided we warmed up the ends of the tubing before slipping it over the barbs. Of course, it’s easy for me to say it was trivial; there was still a decent amount of elbow grease involved, and my much stronger girlfriend was responsible for securing all of the compression fittings. With paper towels down, we primed the loop and left it leak testing overnight. The next morning, the paper towels were dry. Since the loop itself was in place, I finished the build by installing the SSDs, Commander Minis, rear 140mm exhaust, and finishing up the cabling. I did wind up having to use a helpful little accessory from a competitor of ours: NZXT has an accessory that lets you split a single internal USB 2.0 header into three (plus two USB 2.0 ports). Since there are two Corsair Link Commander Minis installed plus the two USB 2.0 ports from the case and only two USB 2.0 headers on the ASUS Z97-WS motherboard, the accessory came in handy. And the Yamamura is complete. I had trouble deciding whether or not to include the BD-RE drive, but we felt like the break in the drive bays was worth the utility, and the silver line on the drive is a nice accent that helps keep the front of the case from being too monochrome. The system as a whole is amazingly silent while having tremendous cooling capacity. In the next part of this build log, I’m going to talk about optimization: with all of this cooling performance, it’s time to try unlocking the GTX 980s.
  17. It’s very easy to be dismissive of AMD’s mainstream FX processors based on the Piledriver core. Intel has been beating AMD on every front but price for a couple of generations now, owing at least some of their success to being consistently one generation ahead in manufacturing process technology. Meanwhile, the Bulldozer microarchitecture and its descendants have had an unpleasant uphill climb. Power consumption, performance per clock, it all takes its toll. Arguably AMD doesn’t make things better for themselves by releasing the FX-9590 and FX-9370, chips with virtually no overclocking headroom and staggering 220W TDPs. And finally, FX chips still rely on the antiquated 900 series chipsets, which lack support for PCIe 3.0. Suffice to say, there’s a laundry list. However, we took AMD’s most popular CPU, the FX-8350, for a test drive and found that things aren’t anywhere near as bad as the press and benchmarks might lead you to believe. Quite the opposite, actually. As we’ve done recently with Intel’s Haswell-E and Devil’s Canyon parts, today we’re doing a power-to-performance test to see just how much power an AMD FX-8350 consumes when faced with gaming and multimedia tasks. Our testbed consists of: CPU: AMD FX-8350 (4 GHz, turbo to 4.2 GHz, 125W TDP) CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H100i Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 AM3+ RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 CAS11 @ DDR3-2133 CAS11 GPU: Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 290X 4GB GDDR5 SSD: Corsair Force LX 512GB SSD PSU: Corsair AX760i 760WThe FX-8350 unfortunately doesn’t allow for memory speeds higher than 2133MHz without tweaking the BClk, so we stuck with 2133MHz to prevent any memory bottlenecks. The motherboard choice might seem odd, but the GA-990FXA-UD3 has a staggering number of reviews on NewEgg and seems to be the weapon of choice for AMD enthusiasts on a budget. As it turns out, it’s a pretty nice board. One of the benefits of going with an FX series CPU is that the motherboard ecosystem is very mature. While Intel’s X99 ecosystem still has a host of issues (many of them stemming from DDR4 compatibility), the 990FX is a fully known quantity. This board just works. Our FX-8350 topped out at 4.7GHz and 1.475V on the core, and thermals were never an issue with the H100i. The FX-8350 boasts excellent heat transfer and while the heat threshold is substantially lower than on Intel’s chips, the FX-8350 just doesn’t run very hot. The Adobe suite in PCMark 8 is a godsend for people involved in multimedia work, and the FX-8350 acquits itself well here. The FX-8350 gets a solid boost just bumping its core clock up to its turbo clock, and power consumption doesn’t increase appreciably. In fact, overclocking all the way to 4.7GHz offers a healthy performance boost without a serious increase in power demands. Handbrake winds up being the worst case scenario for the FX-8350 because it flat out redlines the CPU. Peak power and average power are practically the same, and consumption increases by almost 100W. I’m keen to point out that an aggressive overclock on Devil’s Canyon can raise power consumption by as much as 70W or more, to say nothing of the nearly 200W overclocking Haswell-E can gain. Render times have an extremely steady decline as clock speeds increase, though. You can pretty much just pick a point on the curve you want to hit. If the FX processors are bad gaming chips, that’s not presenting itself here. An increase of 700MHz nets maybe 1fps in BioShock Infinite, and Tomb Raider just plain doesn’t care. Power consumption does increase, but again, it’s modest. When we take a look at how much average power consumption increases, we can see where the inflection point on this particular FX-8350 is: 4.4GHz. After that, it starts requiring substantial increases in Vcore to hit higher clocks. Up to that point, power consumption increases are pretty modest, though even after that, only Handbrake really gets in the thick of it. If you can stay under 1.4V on the core, you’re probably doing okay. While chips like the FX-9590 and FX-9370 and their massive 220W TDPs don’t paint a rosy picture for AMD, mainstream workhorses like the FX-8350 catch kind of an unfair rap. The FX-8350 is a fine performer and overclocker, and power consumption isn’t horrifically higher than Intel hardware. Within the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at what is arguably the mainstream star of AMD’s lineup, the FX-6300.
  18. We recently examined the relationship between power consumption and performance with Intel’s Core i7-5960X Haswell-E processors and found them to be wonderfully efficient at stock speeds but potentially very punishing once you overclock. Now we’re taking the same look at Intel’s mainstream Haswell (and Devil’s Canyon) architecture by putting a Core i7-4790K through its paces. Mainstream Haswell features just over a third the on-die PCI Express connectivity, less than half the L3 cache, and half the cores of Intel’s top end Haswell-E chip. That means power consumption overall should be far more reasonable even when we start really pushing the processor. Our testbed consists of: CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K Motherboard: ASUS Z97-WS GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB GDDR5 RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3-2400 CAS 10 (4x8GB) Storage: 256GB Force LS SSD CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H110 Power Supply: Corsair HX750i 750W 80 Plus Platinum Enclosure: Corsair Obsidian Series 450DFor all tests, the DDR3 was set to 2400MHz, 10-12-12-32, at 1.65V. This prevents any memory bandwidth bottlenecking. Only Vcore was changed when overclocking, and the lowest Vcore necessary for stability for our chip was used for each clock step. Uncore was fixed to 4GHz when overclocking. Vcore Stock 4.4GHz 4.5GHz 4.6GHz 4.7GHz 1.125V 1.1V 1.175V 1.2V 1.3V Interestingly, right out of the gate, the i7-4790K already had a little room for tuning. I could bring the core clock up to a solid 4.4GHz and reduce the voltage, largely improving power consumption and performance at the same time. While 4.7GHz was doable on a relatively modest 1.3V, 4.8GHz remained out of reach. PCMark 8’s Creative test was run with OpenCL acceleration enabled (just as how you would engage in any of these tasks); because of this, peak and average power are quite high, owing to the GTX 780 Ti being utilized. Performance takes a slight oddball dip at 4.5GHz, and this is actually consistent across tests: the “odd” speeds (4.5GHz, 4.7GHz) were less consistent with their performance bumps than the “even” ones (4.4GHz, 4.6GHz). Nonetheless, end users looking for peak efficiency are going to see it at 4.4GHz, though 4.6GHz also gives a very healthy boost for not much more power. The PCMark 8 Adobe application tests also reveal 4.6GHz to be the sweet spot, at least for this chip. This is a lot more performance than stock for not much more power. This is going to be the trend, too: even overclocked, the i7-4790K just doesn’t draw a lot of power. Handbrake hammers the CPU exclusively and results in some of our highest power consumption. 4.4GHz continues to be better than stock in every meaningful way, and average power drawn is just 157W for the entire system during the test. Going up to 4.6GHz costs about an extra ~20W over 4.4GHz, which is still pretty reasonable; 4.7GHz nets even more performance, but at that point there’s a much more questionable 30W-40W premium over the previous speed bin. Overclocking doesn’t net us any extra performance in these GPU-limited games, but power consumption does increase modestly. That’s something to keep in mind; our tuned 4.4GHz saves us some juice while giving a healthy boost to performance in all applications but games, while any overclock beyond that can cost us extra power in games without really giving anything back. If we take a look at the raw difference in power consumption at each overclock, it really doesn’t look that bad. Handbrake is pretty nasty, but other than that, overclocking the i7-4790K is pretty much all upside. 4.6GHz is looking really good on this chart. The bottom line with overclocking Haswell or Devil’s Canyon seems to be a question of limits. Our i7-4790K hits its inflection point at 4.6GHz; after that, it requires tremendous voltage to hit any higher speed bins. At an uncomfortably high 1.4V, heat became a serious problem, and 4.8GHz still wasn’t stable. But power consumption, even at 4.7GHz and 1.3V, just isn’t a major mitigating factor with this architecture. At worst you increase power consumption by about 50W, which isn’t bad at all for a high performance CPU when Haswell-E and AMD’s Vishera pretty much just chug power. As long as you keep Devil’s Canyon’s voltage in the safe zone for 24/7 operation, thermals shouldn’t be a serious problem, and power consumption will remain modest.
  19. 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…
  20. The release of NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 980 and 970 graphics cards with their Maxwell architecture is an impressive feat that cannot be understated. While we have no doubt that AMD will rebound and answer these cards at some point, as historically the graphics industry has always been a tug of war like this, right now, NVIDIA’s flagship cards have produced the rare hat trick: they’re faster, they’re cooler, and they’re more efficient. More than Kepler, and more than AMD’s GCN-based cards. These new cards are already becoming well known for their staggering overclocking headroom, and the generous 125% power limit NVIDIA offers for overclockers is still almost comically easy to hit. The GTX 980 is rated for an exceptionally frugal 165W, but NVIDIA does tighten the reins a bit to hit that target. Since manufacturer TDPs can often be a bit more cherry than real world usage would indicate, we’ve decided to see just how efficient NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture is. We’ve taken a GeForce GTX 980 and pushed it about as hard as we can without modifying the BIOS. We’ve analyzed whether you’ll want to prioritize overclocking the GPU (as with GK110) or the video memory (as with GK104), as well as the performance and power impacts of going with either or both. Our charts list our overclocks as “Low,” “Moderate,” and “High,” and the table below details which settings correspond to which label. Remember that since Kepler, NVIDIA uses offsets to overclock instead of specific clock speeds. Also, stock enjoys an automatically controlled fan and 100% power limit, while all overclocks have had the fan set manually to 75% and the power limit to 125%. GPU Only VRAM Only Both Low +100 GPU, 0 VRAM 0 GPU, +100 VRAM +100 GPU, +100 VRAM Moderate +150 GPU, 0 VRAM 0 GPU, +200 VRAM +150 GPU, +200 VRAM High +200 GPU, 0 VRAM 0 GPU, +300 VRAM +200 GPU, +300 VRAM These overclocks correspond essentially to a peak boost clock of 1278MHz on the core at stock speeds all the way up to 1478MHz at maximum. The video memory is running at 7GHz stock, all the way up to 7.6GHz at maximum. Our testbed and benchmarks: CPU: Intel Core i7-5960X @ 4GHz, 1.1Vcore Motherboard: ASUS X99-Deluxe Memory: 4x8GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-2666 Storage: 128GB and 256GB Corsair Force LX SSDs CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H100i Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i 1200W 80 Plus Platinum Benchmarks: BioShock Infinite, 3840x2160 Ultra Preset + DDOF Metro: Last Light Redux, 3840x2160 Very High Preset, no AA or PhysX Tomb Raider, 3840x2160 Ultimate Preset 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra We also used Corsair Link to monitor power consumption through the AX1200i power supply, which is how we can report both average and peak power for each benchmark. Right away you can see just how efficient the Maxwell architecture is even with the substantially increased 125% power limit. Average power consumption increases less than 30W from stock to maximum overclock (peak power increases by just 30W), but you get another ~6 fps at these extremely intense settings. When you consider that’s from starting at 44fps, brushing up against 50fps is not insignificant. Overclocking the VRAM and GPU jointly seems to be the way to go with BioShock Infinite, but the GPU is preferred. Metro: Last Light Redux is absolutely punishing on graphics hardware, and pulls easily the most power of all of our benchmarks. Power consumption seems to scale pretty linearly with performance (more on this later), and once again the GPU yields far greater benefits than the VRAM. Average power consumption hits roughly the same limit as with BioShock Infinite; an increase of about 30W. Peak power skyrockets, though, going up almost 50W. Switching gears to Tomb Raider, we find the most frugal of the actual games we’ve tested. Overclocking memory is only of any value when the GPU itself is being overclocked and must be fed. Power consumption increase is extremely modest, though; average power only goes up by about 20W. While I really like using 3DMark as a sanity check and a stability test (in conjunction with the Tomb Raider benchmark it’s pretty flawless), you can see that it behaves differently from the games. Power consumption is fairly flat after the power cap has been lifted to 125%, and it’s another situation where you only see a benefit from overclocking the VRAM if you’ve already overclocked the GPU. Let’s put everything in perspective. In terms of raw performance, gains from memory overclocking are modest at best, peaking at about 5% with a fairly healthy overclock to 7.6GHz on the GDDR5. That’s practically where GPU performance increases start. Of course, the smart money is on overclocking them both together. You can get about a 15% increase in performance in exchange for about 25% more power, suggesting that NVIDIA’s default tuning was probably the sweet spot for GM204. If we map things out in terms of performance per watt, what we see is pretty modest. Stock settings seem to deliver the best bang for your buck, but if you want more you can get more. Only 3DMark seems to really show any variance. The fact is, NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture lives up to the hype. It is as efficient as advertised, even after you start pulling out the stops. Stock cards have a boatload of headroom, but the reality is that overclockers are going to slam their heads into NVIDIA’s power limit well before they hit the limits of what the GM204 in the GTX 980 can really do. We’re going to have to put these under water with an unlocked BIOS to see just how far the silicon can be pushed.
  21. 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.
  22. Just a couple of days ago, I talked about the drawbacks of having a beastly dual-GPU system featuring a custom liquid cooling loop as well as my solution to the problem in the form of my new Carbide Series Air 240 build that I dubbed “Blues.” I believe largely in balance, not overkill, though there is something to be said for the joy of assembling by hand a massively powerful machine. Knowing that my performance target wasn’t 4K but 1080p (and occasionally 3x1080p) suggested that my existing system wasn’t worth the 600W of power it consumed under gaming load, not to mention the corresponding 600W of heat it has to dissipate into a room that enjoys Californian Indian summers. Using some of our newest hardware, I opted to build a machine that would run as quiet (if not quieter) than my existing system while retaining the required amount of performance – but with superior performance per watt. These are the specifications of the two systems, compared. My old system was named “Ted” and it’s been with me for a while in an almost comical number of permutations. TED BLUES CPU Intel Core i7-4790K @ 4.7 GHz, 1.31V Intel Core i7-4790K @ 4 GHz, 0.975V Memory Corsair Dominator Platinum 32GB DDR3-2400 10-12-12-32 1.65V Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB DDR3-2400 10-12-12-32 1.65V Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Formula (Z87) ASUS Z97I-PLUS (Z97) Graphics 2x EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB (980 MHz Core, 6 GHz GDDR5) AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB (1 GHz Core, 5 GHz GDDR5) CPU Cooling Custom Loop Corsair Hydro Series H75 w/ SP120 LED Fan GPU Cooling Custom Loop Corsair Hydro Series HG10-A1 Corsair Hydro Series H105 w/ 2x SP120 LED Fan PSU Corsair AX860i Corsair HX750i Storage 4x Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB in RAID 0 3x Corsair Force LX 512GB in RAID 0 Enclosure Corsair Carbide Air 540 Corsair Carbide Air 240 You can see I didn’t make a lot of brutally unkind cuts. I maintain that 2400MHz is the sweet spot for memory on Haswell and Devil’s Canyon, so that was worth the modest increase in power consumption. The AMD Radeon R9 290X is by no means frugal with power, but it is an incredibly fast card; had the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 been available when this build was assembled, that would’ve been the more sensible choice. While Blues is obviously inferior in performance to Ted, nobody would really be “slumming it” by making the transition. So what do we save in power, and what do we sacrifice in performance? Note that these games were all tested at or near their highest settings; Metro: Last Light Redux was maxed out with SSAA but with Advanced PhysX disabled, while Tomb Raider was only run with 2xSSAA and TressFX enabled. What we see is that in our synthetic video encoding benchmark, for our ~15% reduction in CPU clock speed we lose ~13% of the performance. That’s not too bad. Games run the gamut; BioShock Infinite’s minimum frame rate doesn’t change drastically, and the average stays well above 60 fps. Tomb Raider’s minimum does drop below 60 fps, but the average is above, and the single R9 290X doesn’t suffer from the rendering artifacts with TressFX that the SLI’ed 780s do. Metro: Last Light Redux is the most unpleasant hit, but still stays well above 30 fps. Finally, F1 2013 doesn’t seem to have SLI functioning correctly, but it’s irrelevant: either system maintains over 60 fps. We can use the Corsair Link connectivity of our AX860i and HX750i power supplies to see how much power each of these systems is drawing, and that’s where the difference really lies. While Blues peaks at about 365W under its most taxing load, Ted is gunning all the way up to nearly 600W. Particularly alarming is the near doubling of power consumption under the x264 benchmark for an extremely modest increase in performance. This is the truth of overclocking: at a certain point, substantial amounts of power become necessary to hit higher and higher speed bins. Almost entirely across the board, though, Ted is drawing substantially more power than Blues does, and arguably a lot of that is wasted performance. Mapping performance per watt puts it all into a different perspective. Since all of our benchmarks are measured in frames per second, we can divide those results by the peak power drawn during the benchmark to come up with a rough idea of how efficiently each system is running. This isn’t the grand slam that the absolute power consumption is; performance per watt stays mostly level in every game but the odd duck F1 2013. CPU efficiency is vastly improved, though. The measure for success here is overall power consumption while maintaining acceptable performance levels, and on that front, Blues, is a victory. I’ll be mothballing Ted for a while and spending more time with Blues to see if the reduced performance is really worth writing about, but for now, this has been a fun exercise in seeing how we can make our systems more efficient. We have overclocking competitions and records, but I’d love to see users trying to hit performance targets while reducing power consumption as much as possible.
  23. Corsair recently held its annual sales conference, bringing together Corsair representatives from all across the globe in sunny California. One of those representatives is Ronaldo Buassali, a virtual overclocking legend in Brazil. He took the time to sit down and interview our own Jon Gerow, aka JonnyGuru, about power supplies for a video to be published on his YouTube and across Brazilian publications, and we have that interview for you here.
  24. Now that Haswell-E’s been with us for about a month, we’ve had a chance to study it a bit more thoroughly and collect some data. One of the standout aspects of the architecture, particularly in its premium octal-core configuration, is its power consumption. At stock speeds, Haswell-E is an incredibly efficient architecture. However, while mainstream Haswell and Devil’s Canyon are able to see substantial overclocks without massive corresponding increases in power draw, Haswell-E can quickly lose that efficiency edge when overclocked. We used a sample of four Intel Core i7-5960X CPUs and tested overclocking on each one to get a fairly holistic idea of what we can get. Unfortunately the results weren’t as diverse as I’d hoped, likely owing at least partially to these samples all being from the same batch. Power consumption was measured through Corsair Link using the AX1200i power supply. Our test platform: CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H100i (four fans in push-pull) Motherboard: ASUS X99-Deluxe Memory: 4x4GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-3200 CAS 16 Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Storage: 128GB and 256GB Force LX SSDs Enclosure: Corsair Graphite Series 760T Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i PSUFor peak load numbers, the CPU was kept under a sustained stress test for ten minutes. To start, we’ll look at the voltages required to get each of our samples up to the individual overclocks. We tested them at their stock configuration, then at 3.5GHz all the way up to 4.4GHz. Note that none of these chips was able to do 4.5GHz at under 1.4V, which in this writer’s opinion is just too high for this architecture and manufacturing process. You can see there wasn’t a lot of variance between these four chips, with the exception of the last one. The fourth chip was able to hit the overclocked speeds at slightly lower voltages than its kin, but still had the same trouble getting to 4.5GHz. Voltage has a pretty linear relationship to power consumption on these chips, too. You can see load consumption hangs out at around to slightly above 200W at stock speeds, and considering that’s driving eight cores that’s really not too bad. Manually setting the clock speed to 3.5GHz across all eight cores and the voltage at a steady 0.975V shaves off a little consumption for most of the chips. Go to the other end of the scale, though, and suddenly you’re looking at more than 350W of load power. When overclocking CPUs, there’s always an “inflection point.” Up to that point, getting an extra speed bin requires a modest increase of voltage if any. On all of these chips, the inflection point has been between 4.2GHz and 4.3GHz. There’s the steady, gradual increase of consumption up until about 4.1GHz, and then suddenly we’re cresting 300W under load at 4.2GHz. 4.4GHz, while totally doable, can add as much as 60W of additional power consumption over 4.3GHz for just a single bin. This graph should give a clearer idea. Since all four of our samples behaved fairly similar, I’ve isolated one of them and tracked the voltage and wattage scaling against each other. The relationship is fairly linear, with both of them spiking at 4.4GHz. Interestingly, though, voltage and wattage climbing doesn’t start to get really onerous until about 3.9GHz, and this is true across all four chips. While I desperately wanted 4GHz to be the sweet spot, it seems like 3.9GHz is really where it’s at. When we take a look at the idle to load delta, we get a better idea of just how nasty power consumption becomes at high load. At 3.5GHz, the chip idles at ~104W and under load goes up to ~206W, netting about 102W of power consumption. That’s not so bad. On the far flung, nastiest edge (4.4GHz), though, you’ve got ~138W of idle power – still not unreasonable – but a staggering ~358W of load. Suddenly the chip is adding 220W to your power consumption under load. Also, like before, note that power consumption starts to really climb after 3.9GHz; up to that point, you’re getting a healthy amount of performance at fairly reasonable power. You can see from the data here that the i7-5960X is at least reasonable with power consumption at stock speeds, but starts to really beat on your power supply once you overclock past a certain point. For our samples, that point was about 3.9GHz, which is a little disappointing since it’s shy of the magic 4GHz mark. Is a nice, round 4GHz worth about 20W? We’ll take a look at how much performance overclocking gets you as well as performance-per-watt metrics in a future article, so stay tuned.
  25. Vengeance LPX and Dominator Platinum DDR4 We have a strong batch of reviews of our high speed DDR4 for Intel’s new X99 platform and Haswell-E processors. TweakTown reviewed our new Vengeance LPX 16GB (4x4GB) 2800MHz kit and had this to say: “…the Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800 kit is a great option for Intel X99 users wanting something that offers great performance, but won’t break the bank.” It earned 90% and a “Must Have Best Features” award. Not long after, we were able to get our Dominator Platinum 16GB (4x4GB) 3200MHz kit into their hands and said: “The Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-3200 16GB Quad-Channel memory kit is no doubt part of what will make the ultimate system. If you have the need for speed, this is what you should be looking at buying.” This monster kit earned a 97% and a “Must Have Best Performance” award. Overclockers.com took the Vengeance LPX 2800MHz kit for a spin and came to a similar conclusion that TweakTown did: “Corsair will most definitely meet the demands of the enthusiast user with the Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800 kit. It looks great, overclocks nicely, and performs terrific.” It earned the Overclockers Approved! award. HX1000i 1000W 80 Plus Platinum Power Supply JonnyGURU.com had a look at the HX1000i this week. After running it on their load tester in both room and high temperature tests, they concluded that it has excellent ripple suppression, excellent voltage regulation, easily met Platinum efficiency and excellent build quality. It earned 9.6 out of 10 and a "Recommended" award. TechPowerUp also reviewed the HX1000i. "The HX1000i performed pretty well overall, achieving very high efficiency levels with, especially, normal loads. Ripple suppression was also very good and output noise was minimal, not only for a PSU of this capacity, but also in comparison to smaller units." It earned 9.3 out of 10 and a "Highly Recommended" award. AX1500i 1500W 80 Plus Titanium Power Supply Anandtech reviewed the AX1500i power supply. “[Corsair] succeed on breaking almost every performance record we can come up with for a consumer-grade PSU.” Flash Voyager GTX Over in Germany, Tom's Hardware gave Corsair's Voyager GTX a look over. The GTX employs SSD technology in a USB sized device. Against three other USB drives, including a Corsair drive and another drive that also uses SSD technology, the Voyager GTX came out on top. Graphite Series 380T Mini-ITX Enclosure Benchmark Reviews had a look at the Graphite 380T chassis. "The Graphite series from Corsair continues on with its performance legacy by introducing the 380T, a mini-ITX case that can certainly handle a great amount of hardware while still maintaining portability as an option."... "If you want to build a super portable, high end system that resembles nothing you have ever seen before look no further than the Corsair Graphite 380T." It scored a 9 out of 10. [H]ard|OCP also checked out the 380T. "The clever design, generous amount of room and removable side panels of the Corsair Graphite Series 380T make working in and around this chassis a pleasure. The support for AIO liquid cooled systems, full size graphics cards and 150mm air coolers gives gamers and mini-ITX enthusiast a foundation to build an awesome LAN rig or Steam Machine." The Graphite 380T walked away with a "Silver Award." Carbide Series SPEC-02 Enclosure Overclocking Made in France reviewed the Corsair Carbide SPEC-02 where it scored 4 out of 5. Force LX Series Solid State Drives PC Persepctive reviewed the Force LX 256GB and 512GB SSD drives. "The Corsair Force LX is a solid performer thanks to its Micron 20nm synchronous flash and Silicon Motion controller. We were happy to see this performance available in costs/GB lower than competing units. While more limited on write speeds, the smaller 256GB capacity showed some advantages over the larger models in pure random read workloads at specific queue depths. The Corsair Force LX is a worthy addition to the list of SSDs folks look for, especially those shopping based on good performers at a relatively low cost per gigabyte." The drive earned PC Perspective's "Silver Award.”
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