AMD RX590 Crossfire Testing

So yesterday AMD introduced the RX590, a refreshed Polaris GPU based on a 12 nm FinFET manufacturing process. I did a full review of it while testing the XFX RX590 Fatboy, you can check that out HERE. Well in an accidental set of circumstances I ended up with two matching cards. Normally I patch together Crossfire or Multi-GPU testing with two different cards. Well, I spent the rest of the day yesterday after everything went live testing out the XFX RX590 Fatboy in our same tests only with both cards running. As always these results depend a lot on the games that you play but I was curious how things would work out with our test suite. Like our previous Crossfire and SLI coverage, the commenting will be at a minimum and this is just a quick article to show off the numbers so keep that in mind and use the information however you would like.

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XFX RX580 Fatboy

Unlike Nvidia, AMD has actually had a few more recent launches, they all fell right in the middle of the coin mining craze though that played havoc on GPU prices and availability. The RX580 launched last April and then Vega came in August to fill some of the gap in the high end. The RX580 was a refresh of the popular sweet spot card, the RX480 that launched back in 2016. They were both on the Polaris architecture and here we are again with a new Polaris based card in hand. AMD is officially introducing the RX590 today, just two weeks short of two and a half months after the original launch. AMD surprisingly decided to stick with the 500 series naming and just slip in a card hoping to fill in the gap between the RX580 and the GTX 1070.

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Asus ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming

Well, it wouldn’t be a new chipset and CPU launch if I wasn’t trying to get my hands on a good ITX board to use in one of our LAN rigs. Especially with a few LANs upcoming. Well from looking at the initial boards announced for the Z390, one of the most exciting ITX boards was the Strix Z390-I Gaming from Asus and I was excited to see it come in. I’m curious what is different from the Z370 or the Z270 for the matter and to dive into Asus’s feature set and see if the Strix Z390-I Gaming covers all of the bases for a high-end gaming PC that will take up less space on your desk and be easy to pack up and take to events to play with your friends. Let's run through the boards features, look at its software, check out the performance, then see how it fits in the market overall.

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Customizing Ballistix memory with 3D printing or CNC

Just about every company now has memory with RGB lighting but Crucial with their Ballistix lineup was a little late to the party. I had been keeping an eye on them because the Ballistix brand made its name years ago by having their Tactical Tracer memory with LEDs built into them that would seek depending on how fast the memory was being used. This was long before RGB so I was curious what they would do to stand out in the already crowded RGB memory market. Well, they came out with a design that allows you to take the light bar off the top and customize it. Thermaltake and Asus have also jumped into this type of customization with 3D printing. Well, this was up my alley specifically because I love customizing my builds and I have a room full of 3D printers as well as a Carvey CNC. So rather than a normal ram review, today I’m going to check out the new Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB memory and then play around with the customization.

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MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus

With the 9900K launch, a few weeks back along with the other 9th generation core processors Intel also released their new chipset, the Z390 chipset. This is the latest high-end chipset for the mainstream socket but you might be wondering what is even different when compared to Z370. Well as far as the chipset goes, it is adding USB 3.1 Gen 2 onto the chipset and the option to integrate Wireless AC. But it also means new motherboards and I’m curious what else might get changed. MSI, for example, has revamped their naming scheme. The board they sent over is the MPG Z390 Gaming Plus. So I wanted to touch on the new MSI naming and then check out the new board and see what it has to offer.

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Intel i9-9900K

About a week and a half ago Intel gathered up a lot of the press and live streamed the introduction of their new 9000 series of CPUs as well as new Core-X CPUs. They also brought out details on the 28 core CPU that they teased earlier this year. We had a chance to dive into the details and then check out the new CPUs being used in a variety of demos including some overclocking demos showing off their new soldered TIM. By now I’m guessing most of you have seen some of those details but today I’m going to run through what Intel introduced and then after that I’m going to put the new i9-9900K through our tests and see how the new 8 core CPU performs. It’s been a busy month for big launches and this one has been a long time coming, I can’t wait to see how it performs compared to the growing competition from AMD so let's get into it!

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Nvidia RTX 2070 Founders Edition

So just over 3 weeks ago both the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 were unveiled. You can find my reviews of the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 at those links. While both were extremely fast, they were also expensive and a lot of the main features weren’t really out yet. With those at the top of Nvidia’s product stack that left a lot of people wondering what to do for builds that aren’t as expensive as a used car. Some people just decided to go with last generation cards, but today the RTX 1070 is finally available and with a $499 starting point it is at least in reach of a lot more people. But before you run out and buy one, let’s take a look at how they perform. With the RTX 2070 Founders Edition in hand, I’m also curious to see how different it is than the two other RTX cards so I will take a quick look at that as well. 

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Fractal Design Define S2

So we have to go back a few years to get to the Define S launch from Fractal Design. All the way back to April of 2015, a lot has changed in that time especially in the case market. The Define S came before the tempered glass explosion and there are a few other checkboxes that people look for in cases like hidden power supply mounting and some modularity for options with AIO and custom water cooling. So Fractal introducing a new Define S wasn’t a huge surprise. But I am interested in seeing what else Fractal has done to continue to evolve the always popular Define design. I’m sure they went beyond just hitting the standard features, so let's dive into the case and see what is new then build in it to get the full experience!

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Nvidia RTX 2080 Founders Edition

In addition to the new RTX 2080 Ti that I already took a look at. Nvidia also introduced the cheaper RTX 2080 and I have also been testing the RTX 2080 Founders Edition to see how it performs and compares to the 2080 Ti and everything already on the market. The RTX 2080 Ti had a shockingly high price tag and the RTX 2080 FE comes in $400 less so it does have the potential to be a little better on the pocketbook.  While still not cheap, it is currently the cheapest way to get the Turing architecture and you still get that great looking Founders Edition cooler design. So let’s dive in and see how the RTX 2080 does and figure out of the RTX 2080 Founders Edition is the right direction to go if you decide to go RTX 2080, or if you should look at some of the aftermarket designs.

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Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition

Just to put things in perspective, the GTX 1080 launched May 27th, 2016, that was the last consumer launch of a new series of cards and microarchitecture from Nvidia. That is nearly two and a half years ago. In that time the US elected a new president, we saw a total eclipse over the US, the Cubs broke their 108-year long curse and won the world series, we have even been through TWO Olympics, and not to mention the whole crypto craze! Even crazier, the PC market has completely changed as well, The Intel i7-6700K was the top dog in the consumer market with its 4 cores and the bleeding edge was the recently introduced i7-6950X with its 10 cores. Now 6 and 8 core CPUs are the norm in the mainstream lineups and AMD has the 2990WX with 32 cores on the high end! So even with the 1080Ti and later the 1070Ti, we are long overdue for big graphics launches and Nvidia is going all out. Today both the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 launch, I’m going to check out the 2080 Ti first and dive into the new Turing architecture, the use for RTX over GTX, the completely new cooler, and of course performance so hang on we have a lot to get through and a short time to get there (RIP Bandit).

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Cherry MX Board 5.0

So most of you who are looking at mechanical keyboards have heard the name Cherry. They are the name brand in mechanical switches, coming out with their MX switch back in the 80’s. It was later used with other brands especially in recent years with the push back into mechanical keyboards. Recently there have been a lot of other switches from companies making clones and a few new designs as well, but Cherry is the classic go-to. Well, it might be a surprise for some of you that Cherry also makes keyboards as well, not just the switches used in them. I’ve covered a few like the MX Board 6.0 and the MX Board 3.0. Well, they also came out with the MX Board 5.0, sporting their Cherry MX Silent Reds. I loved the 3.0 and the 6.0, so I’m curious what sets this one apart.

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Cryorig C7 Cu

Okay, I can admit it, I might love Small Form Factor builds a little more than I should. But I have yet to find the perfect setup, the smaller they get the harder it is to pack all of the hardware need into them, especially for a gaming-focused LAN rig. When I did my original SFF Ryzen cooler testing last year I realized some a few hard truths (okay I knew them, but it cemented them). No matter what you do, a larger cooler is going to perform better and if you can wedge water cooling in a SFF build that will work even better. But to get the really small and portable rigs those aren’t an option. For cases like the GEEEK A30 or the  In Win Chopin you really only have a few options and even the Wraith Stealth isn’t possible in some cases. So the Cryorig C7 and the Noctua L9 series have been the main options. Noctua has been bringing out new options including an AM4 specific model that I recently reviewed, but Cryorig hasn’t been leaving things alone as well. They have the C7 Cu, Cu is the periodic table symbol for copper. That is because they have taken the already popular and powerful C7 design and made the same cooler out of the much more efficient material. So today I’m going to put it through the same tests as before and see just how well the new cooler performs. You guys ready? Cu after the page break…

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SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD 1TB

Internet bandwidth hasn’t really kept up with the file sizes needed for supporting 4k content creation or even just movies. You can stream it just fine, but when you are pulling huge amounts of data off of your camera on trips and bringing things to watch while you are away you are most likely going to need some more space than what your laptop has. You could go with a basic hard drive, but when you have a lot of files that could take a long time to transfer them, who wants to sit waiting on all of that while you are enjoying a vacation. That is why portable SSDs have been gaining a lot of traction. I personally keep one in my laptop bag all of the time but the new Extreme Portable SSD from SanDisk caught my eye. Its shape could allow you to clip it to your bag to make sure you don’t lose it. So today I’m going to check it out and see how that works out and also test out the performance of the drive.

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Asus ROG Maximus X Hero

Well with the Z370 launch I did get a few boards in to check out (and I have a few more still in the works), but none of them were nicer boards that would really allow me to play around with overclocking on the platform. So when I found out we had an Intel i7-8086K coming in I reached out to Asus about a board and they sent over their ROG Maximus X Hero. Like most Z370 boards, the Maximus X Hero does share a lot of features with the Z270 variant, in this case, the Maximus IX Hero. Well, today I’m going to check out the board and see what it has to offer and see if this is the board you want to get if you are planning a higher end Z370 build right now.

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Intel i7-8086K

Its been an exciting few years in the PC market, especially with big gains in the CPU market. But it gets a lot crazier when you look back farther. Intel recently did this when they were celebrating the 40th birthday of their 8086 microprocessor. While most of you may not know the 8086 specifically, you would recognize some of the processors that it paved the way for. Most notably the ones that came after it the 286 and the 386. I personally grew up playing with those and played my first real PC games like the original Warcraft on a 486 after we spent a LOT of money to upgrade to I think it was 12MB of ram. The 8086 brought the X86 platform so 40 years was a big milestone. To celebrate Intel brought out the 8086K, named after the original. It is also their first CPU to deliver 5.0 GHz single core turbo clock speeds. Well, today I’m going to take a look at the 8086K and see where it fits in the market.

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SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC and Arctis Pro Wireless

All the way back in November 2016 I took a look at the SteelSeries Arctis 5 and was impressed with the direction they were going. It even earned out top honors and an editors choice award. But I was waiting on the change to check out the Arctis 7 because I hate getting tangled in the wires. Well later in mid-2017 I covered the Arctis 7 and while I was really happy with it I felt like it had lost a few features from the H Wireless that were great. Well, we are back at it again, only this time SteelSeries has brought out two headsets for the high end of their product line with the Arctis Pro name. One is the Arctis Pro Wireless, I can’t wait to see how that compares to the Arctis 7 that I have been using for the past year. The others are wired Arctis Pro’s, they are the same headset only one also comes with what they call the GameDAC, a desktop DAC for those who don’t have a high-end audio card or DAC already. Today I will be checking out that version alongside of the wireless to see if both are worth their wallet busting price points.

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Searching for the right poolside portable speaker

So this summer I found myself in an interesting position, up until now my wife and I haven’t had any need for portable Bluetooth speakers, but this year we bought a new house with a pool and have spent as much time as we can out in the pool enjoying the tiny window that Ohio offers for good weather. Well, our Razer Leviathan Mini did the job at first but quickly developed a rattle prompting me to look for a new speaker. What I found was that I really didn’t know what I needed feature wise or how a lot of them compare for audio quality and loudness. So I reached out to both the LanOC social media pages (Facebook and Twitter, join us!) as well as my own Facebook as well and asked what everyone was using. There were a few that were mentioned a lot or came highly recommended, I reached out to a few companies and here we are. Ultimate Ears, a subsidiary of Logitech sent two speakers, Creative sent one, and Braven sent one as well. There were others but remember Ohio summers are so short I had to get out testing and not wait any longer. So I’ve been testing these portable speakers and today I want to dive into their features and how each of them performed.

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Casting 3D Printed Parts

So you have had a shiny new 3D printer for a few months, your house now is full of little plastic tchotchkes. There are Little Yoda heads in the living room, some benchy boats in the bath, and an R2D2 on your desk. What’s next? You can buy fancy filaments with metal powders embedded in them so you can make your gnomes rusty or green but they’re still plastic. How does one make something metal with a 3D printer? You can spend a huge sum of money and buy a printer that can sinter metal powders together. Unless you’re NASA or SpaceX that is a lot of money. Sure, you could slap a MIG welder nozzle on your printer but that is not very precise and would take a lot of tinkering to get something useful out of it. Instead of going high tech, let’s go low tech. Casting liquid metal into sand molds is a process humans have been doing for centuries. What if you used a 3D printer to create the mold patterns for the sand in a few hours instead of the day(s) it would have taken to do by hand?

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Qnap TS-453Be

When you just have one computer in the house storing your data and putting together a backup solution can be as simple as an external hard drive and a basic cloud storage account. But what I have found is that as you have more computers being used, especially when you also start running HTPCs or in my case Shield TVs on all of your TVs you need a better solution. For around my house, we run multiple NAS. One with critical data on it and others with stuff like our backed up media files for access at the televisions. That is where companies like Qnap come into play, they have developed low power usage NAS that goes WAY beyond just storing your data. They have a lot of media integrations and a variety of ways to back everything up. Qnap sent over the TS-453Be, a quad-core NAS designed to be expandable for M.2 or 10GbE support while keeping the costs down without fancy external screens. So today I’m going to see what kind of feature Qnap is offering and check out its performance and their software.

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CableMod AIO Sleeving Kit

Okay so just about everyone and their moms have AIO kits in their PC these days. They have gone down in pricing and when it comes to the nicer builds there are now a lot of good options available. A lot of the companies even now pre-sleeve their kits for an even cleaner look. But if you are running an AIO, the one thing you can’t do that you can with a custom water cooling kit is change the color of your coolant. Well, CableMod came out with another option last year and I put it to use in our D-Frame Mini build this week. They have sleeving kits for your AIO kit available in a few different colors. Today I’m going to take a quick look at them and see how easy they are to install and find out if they are worth picking up.

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