Tech News

  • MSI announces GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z

    Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | By: Dennis

    OMGOMGOMG big grin smile

    Legendary Lightning strikes again!

    MSI is proud to officially announce the latest of its legendary LIGHTNING graphics cards. Built to be perfect, the new GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z combines cutting edge new technology with proven features such as TRI-FROZR design with TORX 2.0 Fans, SuperPipe technology and Military Class 4 components. The GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece.

    Unmatched Thermal Design
    MSI Torx Fan 2.0MSI’s reputation in thermal design is well-known to be excellent. The improved TRI-FROZR design on the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z utilizes two 10cm and one 9cm TORX 2.0 Fans combining the advantages of both traditional fan blade and dispersion fan blade, generating huge amounts of airflow while remaining virtually silent. Two 8mm SuperPipes transfer heat much faster to the fins, enabling up to a whopping 700W of heat dissipation.

    Mystic Light Sync with Brilliant RGB Effect
    MSI’s Mystic Light enables you tocustomize the RGB effects of your hardware to give your system a different look whenever you feel like it. Using the MSI Mystic Light software, you can even synchronize colors and effects of your graphics card, motherboard, case-fans and peripherals. Give yourself or the audience a show!

    Dual BIOS and Enhanced Power Design
    The special LN2 BIOS on the card provides extreme overclockers more capibility for overclocking records without special hardware modifications. By removing restrictions, the full potential of the graphics card is unlocked. The enhanced power design contains more power phases than other models to ensure plenty of power is available for record-breaking performance. LIGHTNING’s custom 10-layer PCB is fitted with 14 phases for GPU and 3 phases for Memory to ensure power delivery can handle the most extreme loads.
    MSI Dual BIOS with special LN2 BIOS
    Military Class 4 Components

    Military Class 4 Components
    Equipped with Military Class 4 components, the MSI GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is built to deliver the best quality and stability. The components have gone through rigorous testing by a third-party laboratory to satisfy the MIL-STD-810G standard. Featuring DrMOS 60A power phases, the highest rated available ensuring plenty of power. Hi-C CAP cores, Super Ferrite Choke, and Solid CAP, each aspect of the LIGHTNING Z ensures the best possible performance.

    On-board and in control
    With MSI's exclusive OC kits you're in complete control of the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z. V-Check points allow you to accurately measure GPU, Memory and PLL voltages. Multiple Temp Monitor checks the real-time temperatures of the GPU, Memory and PLL while Quadruple Overvoltage allows you to overvolt those same components in order to achieve higher clock speeds.

    The GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is expected to be available in July.


    Core Clock
    1721 MHz / 1607 MHz (Lightning Mode)
    1695 MHz / 1582 MHz (Gaming Mode)
    1582 MHz / 1480 MHz (Silent Mode)
    Memory Clock
    11120 MHz (Lightning / Gaming mode)
    11016 MHz (Silent mode)

  • Intel X-Series Launch Day

    Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Core i9 marks a turning point in Intel marketing from a "We will NEVER" to a "Hey that is a good idea"  And this isn't so much platform, cores or pissing off snoflake youtubers but simply expanding a product family to include more diversity.

    Diversity is good, or so they say.

    Web Reviews
    - Core i9 7900X processor and MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC review
    - MSI X299 GAMING PRO CARBON AC Review @ Vortez
    - Intel Core i9-7900X And Core i7-7740X CPU Review: Skylake X and Kaby Lake X Debut
    - Intel Core X Series i9-7900X and i7-7740X @ LanOC Reviews

    I'm sure more reviews will come forward as time goes on.

  • GIGABYTE Launches Pre-Orders for X299

    Published: Friday, June 16, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Bonuses For X299 AORUS Motherboards Available From Select Retailers

    City of Industry, California, June 15th, 2017 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, launches its pre-order campaign for the latest X299 AORUS Gaming Series Motherboards. Unveiled at Computex, the highly anticipated Intel platform boasts even more cores than its predecessor with future CPUs that introduce 18-Cores in a single package. To reward pre-order customers GIGABYTE is offering promotions at many retail stores and online retailers.

    X299 AORUS Gaming Motherboard Pre-Orders
    With pre-orders beginning on June 19th, GIGABYTE launches its pre-order site for end-users and all to see. In order to partake in the pre-order promotions, users must purchase a board between June 19th to June 25th. Consumers who pre-order will automatically receive one of the following: a HyperX Cloud Headset, a Steam Code Voucher, or CPU bundle discounts.

    “We want to reward our loyal fans that have been waiting eagerly for our X299 AORUS Gaming Motherboards,” said Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE’s Motherboard Business Unit. “With the enthusiast platform becoming more accessible for users, we want to invite those who are hesitant in moving from a mainstream or entry platform with these promotions. Thus, offering additional value for our motherboards that already provide quality and performance.”

    With the high-demand for the X299 AORUS Gaming Motherboards, this promotion is only valid during the pre-order timeframe and while supplies last. Be sure to visit the pre-order page for more information

  • Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 6 Review @ Bjorn3d

    Published: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 | By: Dennis

    One of the most difficult decisions you'll make when building your PC is "What case defines my build and reflects me as a user?".  In the early days that decision was pretty simple, pick a beige box and install hardware, it didn't matter what box you picked because they were all beige.  These days there is a wealth of "pre-mods" and custom designs and it can sometimes be tough to know which case is right for you.

    In a sea of gaming PC cases, there are very few that pull the sleek, minimalistic look that many have come to love. I think for me it all started back with the Voodoo Omen that I really started to like cases that were simple, yet did an amazing job housing a powerful system. It seems like some at Cooler Master have the same affinity for a simple design integrated with some forward thinking internal design options. Cooler Master’s  FreeForm™ modular system is aimed at giving users a new level of flexibility when building their systems. We will see just what the MasterCase has to offer in this review.

    If I was to be honest the Cooler Master MasterCase 6 is kind of "meh".  It's basically a MasterCase 5 with a bunch of popup panels to give you better airflow.  Problem is bumping the panels can cause them to break loose since they are only held on with four magnets.  It is a great case but, is also an acquired taste.

    Be sure to check out my review of the Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 6 available on Hardware Asylum dat cam. wink smile

  • Creative Unveils All-New Sound BlasterX AE-5 Audiophile-Grade Gaming Sound Card with World’s Best PC Headphone Amp

    Published: Monday, June 12, 2017 | By: Dennis

    The World’s First Sound Card with an Integrated RGB Controller also Features a PCIe Sabre-Class Gaming DAC will Premier at E3 2017 Los Angeles

    LOS ANGELES – 12 June 2017 – Creative Technology Ltd today announced at E3 2017 the latest addition to its Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Series, the Sound BlasterX AE-5. E3 is the world's premier event for computer, video and mobile games and related products, making it the perfect place to debut the next era of PC audio.  
    The sound card features the world’s best gaming headphone amplifier for PCs. The Sound BlasterX AE-5 delivers the ultimate audio performance with the full force of a 122dB
    32-bit/384kHz ESS Sabre™ DAC, a kick-ass custom-designed 600? discrete headphone amp, audiophile-grade components, and proprietary Sound Blaster audio enhancement technologies.

    Xamp Discrete Headphone Amp
    Delivering an industry-leading gaming headphone amplification experience, the on-board headphone amplifier is custom-built using discrete transistors and audiophile-grade WIMA® film/foil capacitors in a dual-amp design to satisfy the most demanding needs of today’s intense games and high-resolution audio. Experience the difference of a discrete dual-amp design as each audio channel is individually amplified to deliver pristine, uncompromised audio. Plus, the high heat resistance of the German-made WIMA capacitors greatly reduces noise and audio interference. The Xamp’s ultra low 1? output impedance also makes it perfectly capable of driving sensitive in-ear monitors as well as studio-grade headphones from 16? to 600?.
    122dB DNR Sabre-Class DAC with Industry Leading Audio Processing
    At the heart of the Sound BlasterX AE-5 sound card is the quad-core Sound Core3D audio DSP and a 122dB ESS Sabre-Class DAC that instantly boosts regular motherboard audio with up to 32 times more clarity. The premium audiophile-grade DAC with its high dynamic range indulges users with up to 32-bit/384kHz lossless playback and true audio fidelity for high-definition audio in games, movies, and music.
    Updated, refined and perfected through years of being the leader in sound processing, Creative’s AE-5 is feature-packed with the latest and greatest version of Creative’s award-winning audio processing and algorithms that improve music, movie and gaming experiences. The legendary Sound Blaster technologies provide fully customizable DSP-powered audio enhancements, crystal-clear vocal reproduction, in-game voice communication enhancements, 7.1 virtual surround sound and other advanced audio technologies.
    World’s First Sound Card with Integrated RGB Controller Powered by Aurora Reactive Lighting System
    The Sound BlasterX AE-5 card is the first sound card to feature a built-in RGB controller that comes with the Aurora Reactive Lighting System. A separate RGB lighting system could set a user back by at least USD 50, but now, this is built into the card itself with the AE-5: giving users amazing value and performance for their system. This also means that valuable space within a gamer’s desktop can be saved for other components.
    The RGB controller, powered by Creative’s very own Aurora Reactive Lighting System, not only lights up the card through the PCB, but also gives gamers the flexibility to build their dream gaming rig by connecting up to four LED strips to match the awesome sound with an awesome light show. The fully customizable Aurora Reactive Lighting System allows users to choose from multiple presets or program it with up to 16.8 million colors and various rhythms to choose from, using the Sound Blaster Connect PC software.
    All New Scout 2.0 Feature
    Scout 2.0 is an upgraded version of the Creative’s well-received Scout Mode feature – Scout 2.0 now also includes Scout Radar.
    Scout Radar is a smart companion that enables gamers to visualize and pinpoint their enemy’s position on a Scout Radar app with the user’s smart device, while Scout Mode lets gamers hear their enemies before they are seen.
    The all new Scout 2.0 feature is sure to give gamers that added winning edge.
    5.1 Discrete Speaker System Support
    The Sound BlasterX AE-5 comes with support for a full-fledged discrete 5.1 speaker set-up, enabling gamers to enjoy the full potential of surround sound in today's entertainment content.
    Pricing and Availability
    The Sound BlasterX AE-5 will be available in July 2017 on and at authorized dealers at USD149.99.
    Gamers in the US will be able to pre-order the Sound BlasterX AE-5 from Newegg, Fry’s, Micro Center and Creative websites beginning June 13, 2017, coinciding with the launch at E3.

  • Some Thoughts On Intel’s ‘Core X-Series’ Processor Branding @ Techgage

    Published: Thursday, June 08, 2017 | By: Dennis

    This might be one of the most rational posts addressing the new X299 chipset and Core X-Series processors from Intel.

    One thing that works to Intel’s favor is that its IPC (instructions per clock) performance is better than AMD’s, which means single-threaded performance will generally be better on its chips. In many scenarios (like general computing), that’s important. In situations where more cores benefits a task, processors (like Threadripper) that can offer more cores for less money can come well ahead.

    Whether you’re an AMD or Intel fan, hopefully you’re enjoying the show. There is so much good stuff going on right now, it feels like we’re trying to make up for an entire decade all at once.

    Be sure to check out the article if anything for the handy chart showing the current Core X-Series line of processors and their assoicated names, PCI Express counts and memory channel support.  I'm still scratching my head on a Core i5 in the Core X-Series lineup. 

    I mean... wow.

  • Phanteks Enthoo Evolv mATX Tempered Glass Case Review @ ThinkComputers

    Published: Tuesday, June 06, 2017 | By: Dennis

    One of the most impressive cases I have ever reviewed was the Enthoo Evolv Tempered Glass Edition.  What made the case so great wasn't so much the tempered glass side panels but how everything inside the case was configured along with a good amound of actual mods that you can do.

    The MicroATX version doen't have the same level of modifications but you can still build a pretty good machine inside.

    Phanteks’ line of Enthoo Evlov cases has been one of our favorites over the past couple of years. This year they are giving the tempered glass treatment to many of the models in the series. Today we are going to be checking out the tempered glass version of the Evolv Micro-ATX case. This is the successor to the first ever Evolv case and combines 3mm aluminum with dual tempered glass side panels. This case has already proven to be one of the best out there and adding tempered glass panels is going to make it even better. Phanteks has also added RGB LEDs to the front of the case and around the power button, which you can sync with your motherboard software. Let’s take a closer look at all this tempered glass and see if the Enthoo Evolv remains to be one of the best choices for Micro-ATX system builders.

    Of course the real problem these days is finding a MicroATX motherboard.  It seems most mobo makers are going full and extended ATX and MiniITX and passing over the Micro despite it being the superior platform.

  • X299 Aorus Gaming 9 and X299 Aorus Gaming 7 - First Look!

    Published: Thursday, June 01, 2017 | By: Dennis

    Gigabyte is one of those companies that LOVES to change their mind and when they do watch out because they will go all in to make their vision happen.  Case in point EVERYTHING is going to change and they .  Case in point in 2011 Gigabyte decided to taking on the overclocking niche with a full line of overclocking motherboards.  Custom colors, custom designs dedicated overclockers any and everything they needed to make it work they did.

    Before overclocking motherboards everything was built on blue PCBs and there was a time that color coding was used to help OEMs build PCs.  If you step back much of this is creative marketing but instead of addressing the problem they take the opportunity to highlight the situation and their solution best they can.

    This year overclocking has fallen by the wayside in favor of a new niche, gaming.  The Gigabyte OC Lab is now the Aorus Gaming Lab and while you can still overclock on Aorus motherboards the marketing message has changed to focus on gaming and esports.

    During Computex the Intel X299 chipset was announced and Gigabyte (Aorus) launched three new board designs following their Aorus Gaming brand and yet still retaining some of the Ultra Durable nomenclature.  I wanted to take a closer look at the X299 Gaming 7 and X299 Gaming 9 motherboards.  If history holds true the Gaming 7 will be the high-end mainstream board while Gaming 9 will most likely be limited edition, cost prohibitive and generally unavailable.

    Looking at the boards side by side they look virtually identical.  In fact the only difference I see is the lack of M.2 covers and a few slight changes to the onboard heatsinks.  Looking at the feature list tells a similar story. 

    Gaming 9: Intel X299 Gaming motherboard with RGB Fusion, Digital LED, Triple M.2 with Thermal Guard, ESS SABRE 9018K2M DAC, Killer DoubleShot™ Pro, Front & rear USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C

    Gaming 7: Intel X299 Gaming motherboard with RGB Fusion, Digital LED, Triple M.2 with Thermal Guard, ESS SABRE 9018 DAC, Killer DoubleShot™ Pro, Front & rear USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C

    The only major difference is the DAC processor.

    Key Features

    • Supports Intel® Core™ X-series Processor Family
    • Quad Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 8 DIMMs
    • Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
    • ASMedia 3142 USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Type-C™ and Type-A
    • Front USB 3.1 Gen 2 Header
    • 3-Way Graphics Support with Dual Armor and Ultra Durable™ Design
    • Ultra Durable™ Base Plate Armor and Integrated I/O Shield Armor Design
    • Server-Class Digital Power Design
    • 127dB SNR AMP-UP Audio with High-End ESS SABRE 9018K2M DAC, LME 49720 and OPA1622 OP-AMP, WIMA audio capacitor
    • Sound BlasterX 720°, the top-of-the-line audio engine solution for 4K gaming and entertainment
    • Killer DoubleShot™ Pro and Intel® GbE LAN for the best gaming networking experience possible
    • Killer 2x2 802.11ac Wireless – AC 1535
    • RGB FUSION with Multi-Zone Digital LED Light Show design, support digital LED & RGB LED strips
    • Swappable Overlay for Accent LED
    • Smart Fan 5 features Multiple Temperature Sensors and Hybrid Fan Headers with FAN STOP
    • Triple Ultra-Fast M.2 with PCIe Gen3 x4 interface and Thermal Guard
    • PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Add-In Card with Thermal Guard
    • NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 U.2 adaptor
    • USB DAC-UP 2 with Adjustable Voltage
    • Precise Digital USB Fuse Design for Stronger Protection
    • Anti-Sulfur Resistor Design
    • Ultra Durable™ 25KV ESD and 15KV Surge LAN Protection
    • Lightning-Fast Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 support by option AIC
    • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™ with Q-Flash Plus USB port

    Both motherboards are designed for 3-way graphics support and include a High Bandwidth bridge for SLI.  As you can assume Fusion RGB is a standard feature with lighting support everywhere including on the I/O shields, expansion slots, memory slots, heatinks and audio controller.  

    DDR4 memory support is limited to 2666Mhz and I find it interesting that memory density is dictated by the PCI Express Lane support in your CPU.  That makes sense given that the 16-Lane CPUs only have a dual channel memory controller while the 44-Lane and 28-Lane CPUs support quad channel memory like they should.

    I doubt anyone will load up a Gaming 7 or Gaming 9 with a 16-Lane CPU but stranger things have happened.  Sadly, it would seem the SOC (Super OverClock) versions of the X299 were not released during Computex however I did see some photos of the X299 SOC Champion.  So I'll be crossing all of my body parts in anticipation. wink smile

  • EVGA GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin Edition Video Card - First Look!

    Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 | By: Dennis

    There is plenty of hot Computex news coming out of Taiwan and in following with my evaluation of the EVGA X299 Dark I figured it was time to look at the new GTX 1080 TI Kingpin edition.

    For those of you who don’t know the Kingpin edition cards are specially designed “Classified” cards that were tweaked for LN2 Extreme overclocking.  They work perfectly well on air however memory timings and the onboard VRM have been adjusted for high frequency overclocking and work better under those conditions.  Of course to get the most from your Kingpin edition card you also had to find the special “unlocked” BIOS along with using an EVBot or the special voltage software used to control the power delivery.  Neither were available direclty from EVGA.

    Thing is with Pascal based chips the internal voltage controller limited how much you could do with the GPU and is one reason why we never saw a GTX 1080 Ti Classified, until now. 


    The 1080 Ti KPE features an all new design with a revised 10-phase VRM, PCI Express power connections on the back edge of the PCB (something we talked about in the Hardware Asylum Podcast), voltage test points, EVBot connector and a couple of new things including an SLI Style finger at the top and a pin block at the bottom.  They are claiming that every card is guaranteed to overclock to 2025Mhz out of the box meaning that the GPUs have been prequalified to run a certain speed.  I would fully expect that to warrant a price premium similar to what EVGA did with the 980 Ti KPE cards.

    Of course the photo I found is of a bare PCB.  Final versions will feature a triple fan cooler like on the FTW3, copper plated heatsink (like on previous KPE cards), ICX cooling technology so you can monitor temps of everything on the board, and cast style backplate for that added EVGA style.

    Funny thing about the backplate.  They were always “hop up” parts before everyone started making them standard and now that every card is expected to have a backplate EVGA has gone over the top with a cast style plate with even more thermal contacts.

    Current rumors are that this card will be available in July so get your LN2 containers ready.  

  • EVGA X299 Dark Overclocking Motherboard - First Look!

    Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 | By: Dennis

    A close look at the EVGA X299 Dark

    Computex 2017 is in full effect and while I was unable to attend this year there is still plenty to talk about and do some armchair analysis.

    The first up is the new X299 Dark from EVGA.  As many of you may have noticed the X299 is the chipset supporting the new generation of Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors which promises more PCI Express lands, More Cores and generally more performance.  The EVGA Dark has traditionally been a  ultra high-end motherboard design that sits above the Classified with a unique spin on how Overclocking and Multi GPU configurations are handled. 

    I’m sure some more accurate information will be available as reports from Computex get released but, until this let's speculate.

    The first thing you will notice is the large MCP/Chipset cooler with a very large blower style fan.  It is unlikely that the X299 chipset will require any cooling however M.2 drives typically do.  By the looks of it exhaust air from the blower will pass over the M.2 drives to help regulate their temperature.

    VRM is located at the top of the motherboard between the banks of DDR4 memory.  This motherboard only comes with four memory slots and as we have learned from past motherboard designs, if you want high speed memory you have to drop the extra “crybaby” DIMM  slots.  As a result 4133Mhz is supported.

    Along all of the sides you will notice every connector is set at 90 degrees with several of them “cut” into the motherboard making them slightly recessed.  You’ll notice dual debug LEDs,  I suspect dual temperature montitors OR,  maybe a selectable display where it would show everything from POST codes to CPU temp, CPU voltage, VRM temp and maybe even frequency.  Once we see the X299 Dark in action that speculation should become clear.

    I also see triple BIOS, PCI Express disable switches, dual U.2 connectors, onboard power and reset and two very strange connectors located under the last PCI Express slot. 

    Key Features

    • Form Factor – Optimized EATX for clean cable management
    • Supports x16 PCIe Graphics with all CPUs
    • Audio – Creative Sound Core3D Quad-Core Audio Processor + Optical
    • Highly-Efficient 14 Phase Digital VRM
    • 12 Layer PCB Design
    • Bundled Bench Stand Plate
    • Dedicated M.2 Cooling
    • Onboard Power, Reset and Clear CMOS
    • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility
    • Triple BIOS Support
    • M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD Support
    • U.2 NVMe SSD Support
    • Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
    • Switchable DC / PWM Fan Control
    • 10-zone Temperature Monitor
    • Onboard Voltage Display


    • Intel® X299 Express Chipset
    • SLI – Up to 4-Way
    • Memory Support – 4 DIMM Quad-Channel DDR4 4133MHz+ (Up to 64GB)
    • Ethernet – 2x Intel® Gigabit NIC

    Saying I am excited to see this motherboard in action is an understatement!