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  1. Looking to make your system run faster and have your games load quicker? System storage is often overlooked but can provide a significant upgrade to your system’s overall responsiveness, especially if you’re still using a traditional mechanical hard drive! What Makes SSDs So Great?SpeedIt’s all in the name, a solid-state drive uses cells of flash memory (which are by nature, solid-state) to store data and can be accessed much quicker than a mechanical hard drives’ spinning platter. This translates to speeds that can be over 50 times greater than you’re used to with your old hard drive depending on the type of transfer. NoiseSince solid-state drives have no moving parts, they run silently (unless being actively cooled by a fan of course). This removes the sounds of your disks spinning up and the low hum of them running entirely! DurabilityAnother benefit of having no moving parts is that there are fewer things that are likely to break should your system encounter some unexpected shock such as when you move your system. LongevityFinally, the tech behind SSDs has matured greatly over the past decade, rivaling and surpassing the expected lifespan of traditional hard drives, ensuring that an SSD will hold your data well beyond the lifespan of a typical system. How Games Use Your StorageIn-engine screenshot of CD PROJEKT RED’s Cyberpunk 2077How does that extra speed translate to games? Sequential read and write speeds help out when reading and writing large files like pre-rendered cutscenes and massive textures which you’ll often come across during a loading screen in a game. Load time comparison between a traditional hard drive and a M.2 NVMe SSD (lower is better).To help illustrate the speed difference, I’ve timed how long it takes to load into Cyberpunk 2077 on a hard drive compared to one of our M.2 SSDs. While load times can vary between systems for a variety of reasons, on my system at home I was able to see a significant reduction in load times by using a M.2 NVMe SSD, which cut the wait time roughly in half from 20 seconds on the hard drive down to just 10 seconds on the NVMe SSD. Example of a Cyberpunk 2077 loading screen.While shaving 10 seconds off of game load times doesn’t sound like much at first, this kind of speed boost can really add up, resulting in more time overall being spent enjoying the game rather than staring at a pretty load screen. Another perk of running your games off of an SSD is that it can also help to reduce what many call “pop-in” where textures and models will seemingly pop into existence due to a lag from loading the asset from slower storage! What Do I Need To Upgrade?SSDs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, if you want to swap out a SATA hard drive you can grab a SATA SSD and use the same cables to connect it to your motherboard and power supply as a direct replacement. CORSAIR MP400 M.2 NVMe SSD installed in a notebook.However, the more popular option is to go for an SSD that connects directly to your motherboard through either a PCIe or M.2 slot! If you decide to pick up a M.2 SSD, we’ve put together this quick video to show you the installation process: The CORSAIR SSD LineupCORSAIR offers a wide range of M.2 NVMe SSDs that put some pep into the step of your current system (or that new build you’re planning). CORSAIR MP400The MP400 is our latest M.2 NVMe drive, focusing on high capacity and endurance. You can get up to 8TB of storage on a single drive the size of a stick of gum! CORSAIR MP510The MP510 is an all around high performer, with speeds of up to 3,480MB/sec sequential read and 3,000MB/sec sequential writes powered by high-density 3D TLC NAND for an ideal mix of performance, endurance, and value. CORSAIR MP600The MP600 is our current king of the mountain, supporting PCIE 4.0 (but backwards compatible with PCIE 3.0 motherboards) allowing blazing fast speeds of up to 4,950MB/sec sequential read and 4,250MB/sec write, again powered by 3D TLC NAND for its balance of performance, endurance, and value. If you have or are planning to upgrade to PCIE 4.0, this is the M.2 drive to get. ConclusionCORSAIR MP400 installed on a desktop motherboard.SSDs are a great upgrade for pre-built systems and a must for new builds. For more information about our M.2 SSD lineup, check out our page here or join our community over on Reddit, Discord, and our User Forum!
  2. NVMe storage is ridiculously fast, but runs pretty hot. While the more common M.2 form factor makes it incredibly easy to install fast storage in cramped spaces, this also leads to higher temperatures which may lead to throttling. Our new NEUTRON NX500 puts super-fast NVMe storage in an add-in-card (AIC) form-factor that stays cool under pressure thanks to its custom-designed heatsink. Looking at the NX500, you’ll quickly notice the massive black aluminum heatsink and backplate as well as its stealthy black shroud. This cooling solution keeps the NX500’s controller nice and cool, peaking at close to 50C when compared to an M.2 drive which can reach temperatures of up to 90C or higher under load. Under the hood, the NX500 is built with multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory which is more reliable and faster than more common triple-level cell (TLC) flash. Installing the NX500 is incredibly easy, simply find an open PCIe slot on your system’s motherboard with at least 4x PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes available, slot the card in, and secure it in place with your cases thumbscrews. On the OS side, you can optimize the NX500’s performance by ensuring that its write-caching policy is set to “enable write caching” on the device as well as having it set to turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing. Additionally, when you first setup the NX500 as a secondary drive, you can setup a MBR partition table with a 1024B alignment and a 4KB allocation unit size. Now, just how fast is the NX500? It’s ludicrously fast. Topping out at around 2800MB/s and 1300MB/s on sequential reads and writes respectively, the NX500 is an awesome solution for reading and writing large files as fast as possible, though it's important to note that this performance can vary depending on your system configuration. Here’s a quick screenshot from my test bench after running a few quick synthetic benchmarks.. How does this translate to real-world performance? First of all, the NX500 rarely throttles thanks to how cool it stays when under load. Here’s a quick snapshot of NX500 in a test system alongside an identical system that’s using an M.2 SSD (NX500 on the left and M.2 SSD on the right). In gaming, larger game assets can be loaded into memory much faster, however that varies from game to game and the files are generally small enough to not be as effected by the bump in speed, that being said, large file transfers such as video files and other massive workloads can take full advantage of NVMe storage. And that’s pretty much it! The NX500 is a fantastic solution for fast, reliable storage that stays cool and is backed by our 5-year warranty.
  3. The Force MP500 provides the breakneck speed of NVMe SSDs in an ultra-compact M.2 form-factor that allows it to be installed in any current PC platform. Here's a quick how-to so you can hit the ground running while making sure your MP500 is performing at its best. To install the Force MP500, you first need to have a motherboard that sports M.2 sockets. These will usually be between the PCIExpress slots on the motherboard (also double check your motherboard manual to ensure that the M.2 sockets support PCIe devices at 4x Gen 3.0, some older motherboards have M.2 sockets that only support SATA-based drives). Remove the Force MP500 from its packaging, you'll notice that it's safely stored in a plastic clamshell. Remove the screw from the M.2 standoff if pre-installed on your motherboard (some motherboards don't have the M.2 standoff and screw pre-installed, so check the contents of your motherboard's packaging in case they come packed-in, rather than pre-installed out of the box) Gently insert the MP500 into the M.2 slot. The M.2 slot is keyed in such a way that the MP500 will only insert one way (if it doesn't go in, don't force it in or else you'll risk damaging the MP500 and/or your motherboard). Press down on the MP500 so that the notch on the left of the drive lines up with the screw hole. Secure the MP500 by reinstalling the screw. And that's it! Now to make sure we've got it going on the OS side. Boot up your PC and go to disk management. You should get a notification that a new unformatted drive has been installed. Follow the prompts and you're good to go! Alternatively, you can use cloning software or do an OS reinstallation to migrate your OS to the Force MP500 if you'd rather have your main OS boot up from your new drive.
  4. Performance DRAM such as our Vengeance and Platinum series can be found at rated speeds of up to 4333MHz. However, you might notice that when you first install your RAM and boot to your system’s BIOS, the RAM is running at its standard speed (2133MHz/2400MHz in the case of DDR4 memory). Why does memory initially run at this slower speed? *DDR4 memory running at its stock 2133MHz speed (shown as 1066.7MHz in CPU-Z). To answer this question, we must consider the many different combinations of motherboards, processors, and memory that could be possible. A set of memory can be installed on numerous different processor/motherboard combinations, only some of which could actually handle the onboard changes needed for the memory modules to run at their rated speed. To avoid a bad combination resulting in an unbootable system, memory is set to run at a standard speed out of the box, which would put the modules within spec and work universally with all motherboards that support that type of memory. blog_DRAM_XMP_vs_SPD-Content-2.BMP Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) is a predefined high performance profile that’s been tested to work with that particular module or set of modules. To enable XMP, you must install your high-performance memory on a motherboard that supports XMP in some form (usually an Intel Z or X-series chipset) and enable XMP within your motherboard's overclocking utility. *DDR4 memory running at 3000MHz with XMP (shown as 1498.5MHz in CPU-Z). If your motherboard supports overclocking, but doesn’t offer the ability to read the XMP of a module, as is the case with most AMD motherboards, the label on the modules will denote the rated speed, CAS timings, and voltage. These settings can be applied manually within the overclocking utility in your motherboard’s BIOS to enable the rated speed of the module, however, adjustments may need to be made for non-Intel platforms. High speed memory can provide significant gains in various workloads from gaming to content creation. With the help of XMP, unlocking more performance can be as simple as turning it on in your system BIOS.
  5. Introduction Over the past couple of years, the solid state drive market has been turbulent, with consolidation and acquisitions. In the intervening period, we’ve taken our SSD product lineup and streamlined it into a series of drives that leverage different types of flash to produce different levels of performance for each stage of the market. These drives are all based on Phison’s controllers, with the Force LE and Neutron XT both entirely based on the Phison S10. The 960GB Force LS we’re talking about here today also uses the Phison S10, while lower capacities may employ an S9. The Phison S10 is a remarkably powerful controller for consumer-based applications, a quad-core chip that offers class-leading sequential performance and solid consistency and reliability. It’s also incredibly flexible in terms of the flash it supports, and that’s allowed us to spider it out across our product lines. Its only major weakness – as you’ll see below – is in mixed I/O, but you’ll see that only really materializes in specific tests. The Competition We tested the 960GB versions of the Force LE, Force LS, and Neutron XT against three major competing drives that all hover around the same price point as the 960GB Force LE. [attachment=41455:name] [attachment=41456:name] [attachment=41457:name] 960GB 960GB 960GB TLC NAND MLC NAND MLC NAND [attachment=41458:name] [attachment=41459:name] [attachment=41460:name] 1TB 960GB 960GB TLC NAND TLC NAND NAND Unknown Our test platform consisted of: Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.6GHz 32GB (4x8GB) Dominator Platinum DDR4-2666 ASUS Z170-DELUXE Motherboard NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 240GB Force GT System Drive Windows 10 64-bitWe’ve employed a healthy range of SSD tests, including PCMark 8’s incredibly extensive Enhanced Storage suite. The Enhanced Storage suite can take upwards of 24 hours to complete on particularly slow drives (like Competitor 2). ATTO Peak Performance The time-honored ATTO benchmark is used to measure peak throughput on drives. You’ll notice most of these drives basically saturate the SATA 6Gbps bus. The Neutron XT takes a minor hit to peak write bandwidth owing to performance differences between the flash it employs and the flash used in the Force LS and Force LE, but you’ll find this is one of the rare occasions where the Neutron XT doesn’t finish first among our drives. CrystalDiskMark Performance Sequential performance is the S10 controller’s bread and butter, and it shows. Read and write speeds are both best in class – across all three of our lines. Two of the other drives in the Force LE’s class can’t keep up. When we switch to 4K random accesses, the Neutron XT’s more powerful flash shows its power. All three Corsair SSDs are mostly competitive, though this is one of the few points where the S10 controller has a little trouble keeping up. IOMeter Performance This is one of the few points where Phison’s S10 controller does stumble, but you’ll notice the Force LE – with its newer firmware – doesn’t take the hit in mixed mode operations that its siblings do. The S10 controller is very powerful, but you’ll want to keep the firmware updated to get the best performance. These numbers are already substantially better than the Neutron XT was when it first launched, and will only improve going forward. Note also that IOMeter is traditionally an enterprise-heavy benchmark; the S10 was geared as a consumer drive benchmark, and you’ll see when we get to the more practical traces PCMark 8 runs that it’s very capable in that space. PCMark 8 Enhanced Storage Suite PCMark 8’s Enhanced Storage suite conditions the drive before measuring its performance, and then runs storage traces based on common applications (like Battlefield 4 or Microsoft Excel) to determine overall performance of the drive. What we found with the three Consistency tests has been that all three drives in our lineup are very competitive. The Neutron XT’s faster flash gives it an advantage in our steady state test, but the Force LS’s slightly less powerful MLC still keeps it competitive. It’s only the TLC in the Force LE that really hurts performance, but even then it still bests two of its three competitors by a comfortable margin. The Corsair SSDs put in a very strong showing when they’re degraded and then put through the wringer. Force LE isn’t far behind its more expensive siblings. Even in a degraded state, our drives offer consistent performance. The Recovery trace test gives the drive controllers a chance to recover performance in between benchmark runs; since the Corsair SSDs don’t really take a hit in the degraded test, they don’t require a whole lot of time to get back to a prime performance state. When we move over to the Adaptive test, the Corsair drives remain fairly consistent across their benchmark runs except for the Force LE, which loses a little steam because of its TLC NAND. Ultimately, the Force LE, Force LS, and Neutron XT all provide very competitive performance in the Adaptive test and especially in the Consistency test. Conclusion Modern SATA SSDs have a habit of running directly into the limits of the interface and the AHCI protocol. This has both good and bad effects; on the one hand, that means that you’re interface-limited for performance. The flip side of that is the performance ceiling is still quite high, user experiences are quite good, and a certain compression occurs where most of the drives are hanging out in the same performance ballpark. At that point it’s really just a matter of what performance profile you’re optimizing the drive for to get the most you can out of it. The Force LE series of SSDs use TLC flash, but don’t let that stop you: the Phison S10 controller makes up a lot of the performance deficit, and even modern TLC can still be quite fast. If you’re looking for a fast SSD on the cheap, the Force LE is really the way to go, although I do recommend spending up for the 480GB or 960GB versions, as the 240GB version does lag somewhat behind the other two. If you want a little more performance, the Force LS line gives you the benefits of MLC flash for a little more money. I primarily recommend the 960GB Force LS here; Force LS is available in capacities all the way down to 60GB, but I’d strongly advise against buying any drive smaller than 240GB at this point, as the price per GB goes up at the low end. Finally, our fastest drive for users that must have the best continues to be the Neutron XT. Note that in the 240GB and 480GB capacities, there’s a Neutron XT and a Neutron XT (2015 Edition), and you can tell the difference between them by the part number (the 2015 Edition ends in a “B” suffix). Performance wise these drives are nigh identical, but the XT-B uses slightly different flash that allowed us to reduce the cost of the drive. Unlike the difference between the Neutron XT and Force LS, though, the two versions of Neutron XT are almost indistinguishable in performance profile. The sweet spot for our Neutron XT drives is really the 480GB version, although the 960GB one still offers stellar performance. But the 480GB seems to be the most efficient of the lot, though even a 240GB drive is mighty fast. On the warranty and support side, all three of these drives see regular firmware updates through our SSD Toolbox application, and the Force LE and LS drives feature three year warranties while the Neutron XT bumps the warranty up to five years. If you’re looking for fast storage, Corsair has you covered.
  6. 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.
  7. We’ve been collecting data on memory bandwidth for some time now – of course we have – but one of the big questions hanging over Skylake is what the DDR4 support really brings to the table. It’s also worth comparing four generations of memory controllers – two dual-channel and two quad-channel – and seeing what the weaknesses and strengths of each one are. With all that in mind, we compared Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E (quad-channel DDR3), Haswell (dual-channel DDR3), Haswell-E (quad-channel DDR4), and Skylake (dual-channel DDR4) at a variety of speed grades in synthetic testing in AIDA64 to isolate raw memory bandwidth. You may have heard by now that Skylake has a very robust memory controller, and that’s turned out to be true as you’ll see. The following CAS latencies were used for each speed grade: MEMORY CLOCK DDR3 CAS LATENCY DDR4 CAS LATENCY 1600 MHz 10 1866 MHz 11 2133 MHz 11 15 2400 MHz 11 15 2666 MHz 11 15 2800 MHz 12 16 3000 MHz 16 3200 MHz 16 3333 MHz 16 3466 MHz 18 3600 MHz 18 One crucial thing to point out with DDR4 is that it has an oddball “CAS latency hole.” You’ll notice we jumped directly from C16 to C18; C17 isn’t officially supported. The result is that there is a substantial jump in CAS latency moving up to 3466MHz that needs to be ameliorated, amusingly enough, by driving the memory at even higher clocks. Read Speed The blue bars represent our DDR3 configurations, while the red bars represent our DDR4 configurations. This should hopefully lay to rest some concerns about DDR4’s higher latencies negatively impacting performance when compared to DDR3. There were situations where DDR3 could be faster than DDR2 during that transition, but DDR4 is a different animal. It offers consistently higher read bandwidth at the same clock. Note also that Haswell’s memory controller has a hard time going past 2400MHz, which really has been the performance sweet spot in DDR3. Yet there’s no point where the wheels start to shake on Skylake’s controller; it continues scaling, even up to and beyond 3600MHz. Finally, one more trend you’ll see: DDR4-3000 on Skylake produces more raw memory bandwidth than Ivy Bridge-E’s default DDR3-1600. We now have a mainstream, dual-channel platform capable of generating nearly as much memory bandwidth as last generation’s quad-channel. Write Speed Interestingly, it seems like memory write operations have consistently been a minor sore spot. Haswell-E’s memory write performance capped at ~48000 MB/s and basically stayed there regardless of speed. That’s mighty fast, but Skylake is able to actually exceed it at 3200MHz and beyond. Skylake also easily eclipses Haswell and Ivy Bridge-E. Copy Speed The memory copy operations look basically the same as the read operations. Haswell has the same drop at 2666MHz, and the DDR4-equipped platforms are consistently faster even at the same speed. Skylake’s exceptional ability to scale up in clock speed allows it to make up bandwidth and, at a high enough speed, put it in striking distance of Haswell-E. Latency This is arguably what DDR4 skeptics are going to gravitate toward despite the immense raw bandwidth of the technology. DDR4 latency is a bit higher than DDR3, but not catastrophically so. What you need to focus on is essentially mapping the curve of DDR3 against the curve of DDR4. DDR3 more or less starts at 1600MHz for mainstream platforms, while DDR4 doesn’t go below 2133MHz. So at the entry level for each platform, latency is more or less the same, while bandwidth is significantly better on DDR4. Conclusions First, while Skylake’s instructions-per-clock gains are a little underwhelming, its memory controller is something else entirely. We’ll need to see how it handles DDR3L – and we’ll be testing that in greater detail soon enough – but it has none of the scaling hiccups any of its predecessors have. Skylake’s memory controller is incredibly robust, and Skylake seems to overall be more efficient with memory in general. Second, DDR4 just doesn’t have the latency issues the transition from DDR2 to DDR3 did. In fact, it’s only when you’re making the C16 to C18 jump that overall latency starts to creep up, but that’s solved almost immediately by just going to the next speed grade. Ultimately, DDR4 draws less power, runs cooler, and delivers more bandwidth-per-clock than the venerable DDR3, and it has the scaling headroom that DDR3 lacked in both capacity and raw bandwidth. In other words, it’s a worthy successor.
  8. 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.
  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. At Corsair, we make all kinds of stuff, but at our core, at our heart, we’ve been a memory company since the beginning. So when someone comes up with what appears to be a fantastic solution to using the largesse of memory modern machines are capable of supporting, we’re interested. With that in mind, I took DIMMDrive for a spin. It’s been garnering very positive reviews on Steam, and the $29.99 buy-in isn’t too unreasonable. I tried it on two different testbeds: Testbed #1 Testbed #2 CPU Intel Core i7-4790K @ 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-5960X @ 4.4GHz DRAM 2x8GB Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 8x8GB Dominator Platinum DDR4-2400 Motherboard ASUS Z97-WS ASUS X99-Deluxe Graphics GeForce GTX 980 2x GeForce GTX 980 Storage 240GB Force LS SSD 512GB Force LX SSD 4x 480GB Neutron GTX SSD in RAID 0 Cooling Hydro Series H110i GT Custom Liquid Cooling Loop PSU HX750i AX860i Chassis Obsidian 450D Obsidian 750D What DIMMDrive does is provide a smart front-end between Steam and its games and an old school RAM drive. You load it up, toggle which games you want loaded into the drive, and then toggle DIMMDrive on. And therein lies your first problem: you’ve just front-loaded your loading times. The games you’re loading have to copy – in their entirety – to the RAM drive, and that loading time continues to be gated by the speed of your storage. The second issue is the footprint of the modern triple-A title. While DIMMDrive offers some small allowance for this by letting you choose which individual files in a game you want copied to the drive, the solution is a clunky one. But look at the storage requirements for these modern games: Battlefield: Hardline – 60GB Battlefield 4 – 30GB Far Cry 4 – 30GB Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 8GB Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (assuming no mods) – 6GB Watch_Dogs – 25GB The Witcher III: Wild Hunt – 40GB Grand Theft Auto V – 65GB Dota 2 – 8GB World of Warcraft – 35GBFor users playing less intensive games, you’re still looking at a minimum of 16GB of system memory just to have enough to handle the game’s footprint. And how does it work in practice? I tried using it with a few games that seemed like they might benefit from faster access time: Sid Meier’s Civilization V has basically no loading time during the game, but takes an eon to load initially. Wolfenstein: The New Order uses id Tech 5’s texture streaming and thus by its nature desperately needs all the bandwidth it can get. Even old school Left 4 Dead 2 tends to take a while to load. /corsairmedia/sys_master/productcontent/blog_DIMMDrive_Review-Content-1.jpg The biggest problem was that whether I loaded these games off of my RAIDed SSDs or just the one, the longest load time was always by and large just copying the game into memory when DIMMDrive was enabled in the first place. Switching to a single SSD from a mechanical hard disk improves virtually every aspect of the computing experience and brings game load times in line, but going beyond that to the RAID or the DIMMDrive just doesn’t feel any faster. The most noticeable aspect of DIMMDrive was how long it took to load a game into RAM in the first place. Beyond that, Wolfenstein: The New Order would just crash when I tried to run it from DIMMDrive, so I wasn’t able to see if DIMMDrive could at least improve the texture pop any. So why doesn’t DIMMDrive make a homerun impact on gaming and loading times? Quad-channel DDR4-2400 is, at least synthetically, capable of being almost 100x faster on read than a good SSD. But the answer is more complex, because when games load, it isn’t just loading a game from storage into system memory. Many modern games already use system memory intelligently to smooth out load times in the first place. From there, data needs to be copied either from system memory or system storage to the graphic’s card’s video memory, and that’s going to be gated by the PCI Express interface among other things. A PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot is capable of transferring a ballpark 16GB/s. A quad-channel memory bus will outstrip that in a heartbeat, while a more mundane dual-channel DDR3-1600 configuration is still capable of a ballpark ~25GB/s. Even then, though, actually copying/moving data between system memory, system storage, and through the PCI Express bus is only a part of what a game does when it’s loading. There are countless other operations to consider: compiling shaders, connection speed and latency for online games, and so on. My ultimate point is that by the time you’re done taking all of these other operations into account, the amount of time DIMMDrive might save you could be a few seconds at best, or it may actually cost the time it requires to copy the entire game into system memory in the first place. If you’re on mechanical storage, DIMMDrive could definitely demonstrate an improvement, but it would still require a substantial amount of investment in DRAM in the first place. Ultimately, getting value out of DIMMDrive – assuming you’re on a platform that supports enough memory to make it viable for larger games – requires greater expense and more complexity than simply buying a high capacity SSD. While I’d love to sell you our enormous memory kits, and I continue to recommend 16GB of system memory as a baseline for those that can afford it, the more sensible option continues to be solid state storage
  11. Corsair DDR4 memory is among the fastest, if not outright the fastest, DDR4 you can buy. It’s the kind of DRAM that can really stress the memory controller on your shiny new Haswell-E processor, especially as you start to increase capacity. Intel only includes memory straps up to 2400MHz in their new hexacore and octal-core Core i7 processors, but we started at 2666MHz and went up from there, all the way to 3400MHz at present. That’s before overclocking. The secret sauce of Corsair DDR4 below 3000MHz, though, is the inclusion of a second XMP profile beyond the first. The first profile is for what your memory is rated for and is a guaranteed level of performance designed to maximize compatibility; it runs at 1.2V, features tight timings, and just works. On the other hand, the second profile enables overclocking out of the box: it boosts voltage to 1.35V and hits the next speed grade. For testing and future articles, we’re using a staggering 64GB of DDR4 specced for a relatively modest 2400MHz; specifically this Dominator Platinum kit. This kit is attractive because it’s comparatively less expensive than the other 64GB Dominator Platinum kits and is optimized for Haswell-E’s highest native memory strap. Our test platform enjoys an ASUS X99-DELUXE and a Core i7-5960X overclocked to 4.4GHz. To give you some idea of what you get going up from JEDEC spec to our DDR4-2400 at CAS 14, read bandwidth jumps 7.1% and copy bandwidth jumps 13.7%. Write bandwidth remains stable, but that’s normal; Haswell-E seems to have a memory write bandwidth ceiling. Keeping in mind that our DDR4-2400 is built to go higher, running it at 1.35V with 2666MHz speed and CAS 14 again – and remember, this is 64GB, which is really pushing the memory controller – nets us 11.5% read bandwidth over JEDEC and a very healthy 22.6% increase in copy bandwidth. One of the major concerns of making the jump from DDR3 to DDR4 was latency. Yet DDR4-2400 and 2666 latency is actually comparable to Ivy Bridge-E, meaning Haswell-E’s moderate DDR4 can handily outpace its predecessor. JEDEC-standard 2133MHz 72.9ns latency is nothing exciting, but even a modest kit of Dominator Platinums gets you 5.3% faster latency, and the built in overclock increases that lead to a respectable 12.1%. With all that said, if you want more out of a 64GB high capacity kit, you’ll need to buy a faster kit. Our 2666MHz kit contains a 2800MHz XMP profile, and the 2800MHz kit may very well hit 3000MHz depending on the quality of the kit and the amount of optimization your motherboard’s BIOS has seen. But even the “entry level” is still pretty respectable and ensures your processor is never too bottlenecked by memory bandwidth.
  12. 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…
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. (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.
  16. Notebooks have become extremely inexpensive, almost staggeringly. While the netbook rush of yesteryear flooded the market with cheap, light laptops, those systems were nowhere near as capable as modern entry-level systems. Systems based on Intel’s Bay Trail platform and AMD’s Kabini platform and their derivatives offer a remarkably usable computing experience, a far cry from where we were three years ago. Yet cheap laptops often hit their price points by cutting potentially more expensive components, components that can dramatically improve the user experience. Poor memory speed or capacity and slow mechanical storage keep prices low but can hamstring an otherwise capable machine. To demonstrate what a modest upgrade can do for you, we took Lenovo’s ThinkPad X140e and installed faster memory and an entry-level SSD and ran some performance tests. The ThinkPad X140e comes equipped with AMD’s A4-5000 APU and Radeon HD 8330 integrated graphics; that’s a 1.5GHz quad core processor strapped to 128 of AMD’s GCN compute cores running at 500MHz. It’s not an especially fast chip; the four cores are based on AMD’s low performance, low power Jaguar architecture. There’s also only a single channel memory controller, so memory bandwidth is at a premium. Stock configuration includes 4GB of DDR3L-1600 running at CAS 11 and a punishingly slow 500GB, 5400-RPM mechanical hard disk. Our upgrades are modest: a 60GB Force LS SSD is just $49.99 on our site, and this is arguably the best upgrade you can make. AMD’s memory controller on the A4-5000 is very limited; adding a second DIMM will force the memory speed down to just 1333MHz, while trying to use higher speed memory (we used an 8GB DDR3L-2133 CAS11 DIMM) can get you tighter timings but not much else. We tested with the memory upgraded (8GB of DDR3L-1600 CAS 9), and that helped a little bit, but unless you need the memory capacity you’ll probably be fine with just an SSD. Stock Upgraded % Improved Battery Life 371 min. 407 min. 9.7% PCMark 8 MS Office 1002 1274 27.2% PCMark 8 Storage 2306 4754 106.2% Ultra Street Fighter IV 48 fps 48.88 fps 1.8% Final Fantasy XIV 17.45 fps 17.71 fps 1.5% Gaming benchmarks were run at the laptop’s native 1366x768 resolution and low-to-minimum settings, and you can see they’re pretty much entirely limited by the APU itself. But productivity is where our upgrades shine: something as basic as Microsoft Office 2013 gets a very healthy speed bump, the SSD is worlds away in performance from the stock mechanical hard drive, and most impressively, we score an extra half hour worth of productive battery life. While the memory upgrade is questionable and ultimately more of a convenience than anything else, switching from mechanical storage to solid state is highly recommended. This is something you probably already knew; common wisdom dictates that an SSD is the single biggest upgrade anyone can make to improve the user experience, and even an absolutely barebones, entry-level one is still going to make a big difference. With SSDs as inexpensive as they are now, there’s very little reason not to make the jump and eke more performance and more battery life out of your laptop.
  17. 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…
  18. Today’s review roundup is focused on DDR4. Now that they’ve had a chance to exist in the wild, reviewers have had time to play with our Vengeance LPX and Dominator Platinum DDR4 kits…and they liked what they saw. First blood was drawn stateside with TweakTown and Overclockers.com, and those reviews are in this earlier roundup. Today we’re expanding our net and tackling international coverage. Before we visit the UK, a trip to Hardware Heaven sees our Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800 kit tested against competing kits and coming out the fastest. That earned it a Recommended award. Proclockers.com tested our more mainstream 2666MHz Vengeance LPX kit, but found that even that kit was able to hit 2900MHz with some coaxing. The ability to go from fast to faster scored a Recommended award. OCDrift.com tested our Dominator Platinum DDR4 at 2800MHz and just like Proclockers, they found there was still some gas in the tank as the kit took to 3000MHz C15 with ease. Keep reading and you’ll find this is a trend. Starting with high performance and being able to go higher still earned the kit a Gold award. Hexus.net used our Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800 kit exclusively in their review of Intel’s Haswell-E platform, then examined the kit on its own and handed off an “Approved” award in the process. Overclock3D has spent an extensive amount of time with our Vengeance LPX kit as well, using it in their i7-5960X review and then featuring it in not , not , but separate videos. Continuing the trend, Hilbert Hagedoorn over at Guru3D also employed our Vengeance LPX for his maiden review of the Haswell-E platform. Over at eurogamer.net, Richard Leadbetter saw fit to outfit his entire test platform for Haswell-E with Corsair kit. That includes an RM1000, an H105 to keep the i7-5960X frosty, and of course, Vengeance LPX DDR4. You can see that review here. New friends over at Gaming Till Disconnected also came away happy with the Vengeance LPX kit; watch their video here. As it turns out, even outside of English-speaking countries, Corsair DDR4 is the weapon of choice for maximizing performance and stability with Intel’s new platform. Those of you who don’t speak French may want to fire up Google Translate for this next set of reviews. Reviewers from Clubic.com, Hardware.fr, 59Hardware, Ginjfo, Cowcotland, and multiple print publications all chose Corsair DDR4 for their X99 testbeds and Haswell-E CPU reviews. The reviewer at OverClex who spent a little extra time with our Vengeance LPX 2800MHz DDR4 kit was pleasantly surprised to discover a little bit of Corsair’s secret sauce: our 2800MHz kit runs at 1.2V, but a secondary XMP profile will bump the voltage to 1.35V and the speed to a brisk 3000MHz C16. That turned out not even to be the limit: his kit went up to 3200MHz C15. He gave it 4 out of 5 stars. The reviewer at Overclocking Made in France also had a chance to play with our Vengeance LPX 2800MHz DDR4 kit, and just like his peer at OverClex, he was able to hit 3200MHz. Another 4 out of 5 stars. Finally, if you expand into the Nordic countries and elsewhere in Europe, you’ll see the same thing happening: reviewers sticking with reliable Corsair DDR4 for their X99 reviews and testing. Swedish juggernauts Sweclockers used Vengeance LPX exclusively, as did Hardware.no and Tweak.dk. Likewise, over in Benelux, you’ll see the same choice at the incredibly popular Tweakers.net and especially Hardware.info, which used both Vengeance LPX and Dominator Platinum DDR4.
  19. Recently released but flying a little under the radar is the new Flash Voyager Vega USB 3.0 drive. While the Flash Voyager GTX sits at the top of our food chain, able to hit read speeds in excess of 400MB/sec, it’s also a physically robust, sizable drive, owing to its powerful internals. If you just need a tiny drive with good performance, though, we can see the Flash Voyager GTX being a little…largish. That’s why we have the Flash Voyager Vega. Physically, it’s basically a USB 3.0 port with a keychain loop. Internally, it supports up to 64GB of flash over USB 3.0, and it’s delightfully tiny. And despite having basically enough space for flash and the port, it can still crank out read speeds in excess of 90MB/sec. Not bad at all. I can tell you how small the Voyager Vega is, but it might be easier just to show you: For starters, its longest dimension is smaller than the smallest dimension of one of our case/radiator fans. It fits on your keychain…and is dwarfed by your keys. It fits neatly into the MacBook Pro it was admittedly styled to work with (although really, silver goes with almost everything.) It’s a perfect match for your aftermarket head unit… …or your car’s built-in USB player. Just don’t lose it with your pocket change, because it’s about as small as that is, too. If you’re thinking you can go for a little storage, check out the Flash Voyager Vega’s product page here.
  20. We’ve done a couple FAQs and Q&As, but we haven’t painted a clear, by-the-numbers picture yet of what DDR4 really has to offer beyond DDR3. On the desktop side the lower power consumption is offset somewhat by the fact that the only platform that supports it starts chugging power the instant overclocking gets involved, while 16GB DIMMs (one of the key advantages of DDR4) aren’t expected to be available until 2015.That leaves us with performance. A lot of users are concerned that the increased timings on DDR4 make it inferior to DDR3 at similar speeds, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. While DDR2 and DDR3 were architecturally very similar and took some time to separate, DDR4 is host to a few internal architectural changes that affect overall latency and performance. Those changes allow it to see benefits over DDR3 right out of the gate. I want to stress that this exercise, at least right now, is academic: there is no platform currently available that supports both DDR3 and DDR4. So if you want DDR4, you’re using Haswell-E, and vice versa. That makes this comparison a little bit difficult since it’s tough to quantify in apples-to-apples terms whether or not DDR4 really is “faster” than DDR3. For testing, I used three platforms with both single rank and dual rank DIMMs. Dual rank DIMMs increase parallelization a little bit at the cost of a very minor hit in latency, typically about 1ns. In lay terms, denser memory DIMMs (i.e. 8GB) get a little more mileage than lower capacity, single rank DIMMs (i.e. 4GB). Single rank DIMMs pretty much have to bank on hitting higher speeds to make up the deficit. These are the testbeds I used: Haswell Ivy Bridge-E Haswell-E CPU Intel Core i7-4790K Intel Core i7-4930K Intel Core i7-5960X Motherboard ASUS Z97-WS ASUS P9X79 Pro ASUS X99-Deluxe Single Rank Kit CMY16GX3M4A3000C12R CMD16GX3M4A2933C12 CMD16GX4M4B3200C16 Dual Rank Kit CMY32GX3M4A2800C12R CMY64GX3M8A2400C11R CMD32GX4M4A2800C16 Memory Channels 2x DDR3 4x DDR3 4x DDR4 Note that in each case, the CPU’s core clock was set to 4GHz and uncore clock was set to 3GHz. And these are the latencies I tested with at each speed: DDR3 DDR4 1600 MHz 10-10-10-30 1866 MHz 11-13-13-31 2133 MHz 11-13-13-31 15-15-15-35 2400 MHz 11-13-13-31 15-15-15-35 2666 MHz 11-13-13-31 15-15-15-35 2800 MHz 12-14-14-36 16-16-16-36 3000 MHz 16-16-16-36 3200 MHz 16-16-16-36 You can see I’ve tried to make it as apples-to-apples as possible, but these are different architectures and memory controllers. For bandwidth testing, I used AIDA64. I’m keen to point out before we get started that it’s tough to actually quantify “faster” since there are essentially four disciplines you’re looking at: three that are bandwidth related and one that is latency related. It’s more sensible to look for trends. READ 1600 1866 2133 2400 2666 2800 3000 3200 Haswell 1R 23233 26392 30586 34079 22850 23917 Haswell 2R 23982 27840 31833 35406 23585 Ivy-E 1R 41435 48444 50573 55197 Ivy-E 2R 43670 50520 57341 59831 Haswell-E 1R 54514 57664 60025 59651 60848 62407 Haswell-E 2R 56771 60231 62164 61045 So right off the bat, you can see Haswell’s dual-channel memory controller is going to have a hard time keeping up with the quad-channel memory controllers on Ivy Bridge-E and Haswell-E. What’s notable right off the bat, though, is that DDR3 and DDR4 are very close at the same clock speed despite DDR4’s increased CAS latency. In fact, if you’re using single rank DIMMs, DDR4 is measurably faster than DDR3. You may also be seeing Haswell’s memory bandwidth take a bath after 2400MHz; this is something independently verifiable. Latency continues to improve past 2400MHz, but memory bandwidth takes a consistent hit. Meanwhile, Haswell-E’s DDR4 controller takes a slight dip at 2800MHz when we have to shift to CAS16 from CAS15, but resumes climbing at 3000MHz and 3200MHz. WRITE 1600 1866 2133 2400 2666 2800 3000 3200 Haswell 1R 23715 27157 30852 34819 22926 24053 Haswell 2R 25132 29222 33248 37415 24158 Ivy-E 1R 30537 33096 37845 42184 Ivy-E 2R 31488 52746 60432 43347 Haswell-E 1R 46711 46817 46919 46888 46927 47009 Haswell-E 2R 47758 47832 47892 47912 At this point it’s obvious Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E and Haswell DDR3 controllers just weren’t architected to handle high speeds. Ivy Bridge-E and DDR3 do offer consistently higher write speeds than DDR4 does (provided you’re running dual rank modules), while DDR4’s write speed is essentially constant and stable at about 47GB/s. While write speeds are obviously a weak point in Haswell-E’s DDR4 memory controller, they’re really the only one. COPY 1600 1866 2133 2400 2666 2800 3000 3200 Haswell 1R 21557 24347 27535 30596 22256 23324 Haswell 2R 23794 27262 30494 33635 23557 Ivy-E 1R 39492 44368 49485 54149 Ivy-E 2R 43876 51026 58393 59667 Haswell-E 1R 52447 57749 62076 62793 65558 68990 Haswell-E 2R 56066 61703 67144 59848 Memory copy functions start slightly behind DDR3 at 2133MHz and then pretty much start soaring past it at 2400MHz. Judging from the synthetics so far, it seems like users who want to start getting the most out of Haswell-E should be looking at 2666MHz kits at a minimum. Again, mainstream Haswell’s dual-channel DDR3 controller is totally outclassed by the fatter pipes of these higher end, hexa-core and octal-core processors. COPY 1600 1866 2133 2400 2666 2800 3000 3200 Haswell 1R 60.2 57.2 53.6 48.6 46.1 45.6 Haswell 2R 61.5 58.3 53.7 49.4 46.5 Ivy-E 1R 78.3 72.2 65.7 60.6 Ivy-E 2R 80.8 67.7 60.1 61.7 Haswell-E 1R 71.3 66.2 62.3 63.3 61.2 56.3 Haswell-E 2R 72.9 67.5 63.3 64.6 This is probably the biggest bugbear in the transition from DDR3 to DDR4. But users expecting DDR4 to grossly underperform DDR3 due to the higher CAS latency are going to be in for a surprise: as you ramp DDR4 to its intended speeds, latency actually drops below DDR3 (excepting Haswell’s dual-channel controller, which is just plain lower latency than both quad-channel controllers.) So while it’s true that DDR4 can be as much as 10ms slower than DDR3 at the same clock speed, it still has lower latency at its mainstream speeds, and the deficit isn’t any greater than if you were going from Haswell’s dual-channel controller to Ivy Bridge-E’s quad-channel. Ultimately that’s kind of the takeaway here: DDR4 starts at very high speeds with room to scale higher, and at those entry level speeds, it’s faster and more capable than its predecessor in almost every test. Mainstream DDR4 actually winds up with lower overall latency and higher bandwidth than mainstream DDR3. In the future we’ll be testing DDR4 in practical applications to see if there are performance gains to be had from exceeding the baseline 2133MHz, but for now it’s clear that if nothing else, DDR4 is a more than worthy successor to DDR3, and fears regarding the higher timings resulting in substantially increased overall latency are by and large unfounded.
  21. 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.”
  22. Today we have a video that takes you through building a high performance, SLI gaming system inside the new Carbide Series Air 240. Despite being a smaller case, the Air 240 makes very efficient use of the space available, and is remarkably easy to use. The specifications for our build are as follows: CPU Intel Core i7-4790K Motherboard MSI Z97M Gaming DRAM 4x8GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3 2133MHz CAS 9 Graphics Cards 2x EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SuperClocked Storage Corsair Force Series LX 512GB SSD CPU Cooler Corsair Hydro Series H100i Power Supply Corsair HX1000i Accessories Green modular cable kit, 6x Corsair SP120 LED Fan Green, Corsair Commander Mini, 2x Corsair Dominator Platinum Lightbar Kit The video is embedded here:
  23. If you were at PAX, then you already know we had a couple of incredibly beefy gaming systems with tri-monitor surround configurations set up there. Of course, if you weren’t, then the systems we had built up for head-to-head gaming might surprise you a little…especially since we couldn’t even announce what was running in them until August 29th. But that time has passed, and now we can show you our PAX Graphite 780T red and blue configurations. We knew in advance that Intel would be using PAX Prime as their opportunity to launch their new high end desktop platform, complete with Haswell-E processors, X99 chipset, and DDR4 support. It would have been frankly embarrassing if we showed up with anything less. That’s why we got these two bad boys ready to go. These two systems were almost identically configured with the components listed below: Processor Intel® Core i7 5960X Motherboard Asus® X99-DELUXE GPU 2x EVGA® GeForce GTX 780 ACX Superclocked Case Corsair Graphite Series 780T White PSU Corsair HX1000i Power Supply (Blue); Corsair AX1500i Power Supply (Red) Memory Corsair Vengeance LPX Black DDR4 2800MHz (4x4GB) Storage Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB Cooling Corsair Hydro Series H105 Additionally, we used red and blue sleeved cables along with red and blue SP120 and SP140 LED fans to contrast the systems against each other. You can see glamour shots of the two systems below. With eight fast cores, sixteen gigabytes of new DDR4 memory, and dual GeForce GTX 780s in SLI in each system, let’s just say we didn’t have much trouble running our games at the required 5760x1080 resolution that the trio of monitors plugged into each system called for. Here the blue/white system is in action at PAX Prime and barely breaking a sweat.
  24. With the launch of DDR4 in conjunction with Intel’s Haswell-E high end desktop platform, it only makes sense for us to provide you with as much information as possible about this exciting new memory technology. Not just in terms of why you might need it or what it might offer you, but what it is and how to use it. DDR4, the X99 chipset, and the Haswell-E platform are all brand new technology and this is about as bleeding edge as it gets. To that end we’ve authored a whitepaper for the more technical folks in our readership as well as this FAQ. The whitepaper is aimed at an enthusiast level: not low level technical detail, but not overly simplified either. If that sounds like you, have a look here. Frequently Asked Questions Why do we need DDR4? There are four major reasons why DDR4 is set to replace DDR3: it’s capable of hitting faster speeds, it’s capable of hitting higher densities (16GB DIMMs are expected in 2015), it has improved error correction built into the baseline specification, and it consumes less power for equivalent or better performance than DDR3. In short, while DDR3 is butting up against its limitations today, DDR4 still has a tremendous amount of room to scale. Is DDR4 slower than DDR3? Because DDR4 uses looser latencies than DDR3 does, it can be slightly slower than DDR3 at the same clock speeds. What makes DDR4 important is that it can easily make up for that deficit by hitting higher clock speeds than DDR3 can. Getting DDR3 to run at 2666MHz or higher requires very careful binning of memory chips and can be very expensive, while 2666MHz is the lowest speed we’re launching DDR4 at. Is DDR4 backwards compatible with DDR3? No. DDR4 and DDR3 have key notches in different places on the DIMM to prevent them from being mixed up, and Haswell-E and X99 are DDR4 only. Does DDR4 have XMP? Yes! We’ve been working hard with all major motherboard vendors to ensure compatibility with our high speed DDR4 memory, and that includes XMP. DDR4 employs a new specification, XMP 2.0, while DDR3 remains on XMP 1.3. How does XMP work on DDR4? Very similarly to DDR3, but with some caveats. For starters, Haswell-E tops out at a 2666MHz memory strap, which is very low for what DDR4 can do. Since XMP specifies speeds in excess of 2666MHz, your motherboard BIOS has to compensate somehow. Typically, when XMP tells the motherboard to use a higher memory speed than 2666MHz, the motherboard BIOS will bump the BClk strap from 100MHz to 125MHz. That’s normal, but that change will also increase the clock speed of the CPU itself; a well-designed BIOS will compensate and bring the CPU clock speed in line. Why are there two XMP profiles on my Corsair DDR4? We include a pair of XMP profiles instead of just one for users who want to control how much power is consumed by the memory. The first XMP profile runs the DDR4 at its specification of 1.2V, while the second offers a higher speed at the cost of bumping the voltage to 1.35V. The first profile, then, is officially supported, while the second is not and instead offers a baseline of what the memory should be able to achieve. Why am I encountering stability issues with XMP? While we’ve been working around the clock with motherboard vendors to maximize compatibility and performance, these technologies are all very new. If you have trouble with stability using either XMP profile, we recommend either manually entering the speed and timings the DDR4 is rated for or running your memory at its default speeds until your motherboard vendor provides a BIOS update to improve stability. I’m running at the default 2133MHz speed, but my system still isn’t stable. Double-check to see which memory slots your DDR4 is installed in against your motherboard’s instruction manual. We’ve found that you have to install your DIMMs in the primary set of memory channels first, in order, to ensure stability. If this checks out, please contact our tech support. What’s the difference between Dominator Platinum DDR4 and Vengeance LPX DDR4? Vengeance LPX is our mainstream DDR4, utilizing a standard height PCB and heatspreader. Dominator Platinum DDR4 adds a larger, more robust heatspreader as well as compatibility with our Light Bar Kit, Dominator Airflow Platinum fan, and Corsair Link for monitoring voltage and temperature (Airflow Pro required.) What can we expect from DDR4 in the future? We’re launching DDR4 at up to 3000MHz speeds and 8GB per stick densities, but that’s just this year alone. DDR4 is expected to hit 16GB densities in 2015, allowing your X99 motherboard to support a staggering 128GB of memory (provided it has eight memory slots). In short, it’s gonna get bigger, and it’s gonna get faster. Where can I learn more about DDR4? As I mentioned in the introduction, we’ve authored a whitepaper that provides a much more detailed examination of this new memory technology. You can find it here.
  25. The recently launched Flash Voyager GTX drive is fast. Really fast. So fast, actually, that it can be used safely as an external, removable gaming drive on storage-deprived systems. To prove it, we shot a very short video demonstrating exactly that.
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