Project Build: Carmine - Part 1

So the launch of Ryzen was exciting because AMD was finally rejoining the high-end market on the CPU side of things and a lot of the benchmarks were very exciting. So once it was all finished up I had to get a proper AMD build together. The original plan was my wife's new PC might be running a Ryzen 7 CPU but ITX AM4 boards aren’t out yet so rather than wait I decided to build an AMD themed build right away. While Ryzen has gray and orange as its colors I decided to stick with the traditional black and red as AMD has used them both a lot in the past. So I started gathering parts and decided on a project name as well. This build is going to be called Carmine as it is a shade of red while also avoiding the traditional red themed names like Ruby. I’m still working on getting in components and planning out the build but I did want to at least get a post up with the base components we are going with, so check them out!

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Sennheiser GSP 300

When it comes to headphones the Sennheiser brand is well known for their great audio performance both in the enthusiast market and the professional market. They have even been in the gaming market for a while now, I even covered the PC-350’s all the way back in 2009. I was really excited about the PC-350’s back then for their performance and their comfort but the price point was out of range for most regular gamers. It took 8 years but they did finally decide to move into the regular price range of gaming headset. So I’m really excited today to check out the Sennheiser GSP 300’s and see how they compare to the recently improving gaming headset market. Sennheiser finally has a model at a price point that won’t scare people away, but is it too late?

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How to get LAN Sponsors

With a lot of the aspects of hosting a LAN event, you can normally find someone with experience in the area. That isn’t always the case when it comes to getting and keeping event sponsors. Most people fly blind when they start and frankly it leads to emails that if you look back later you would be extremely embarrassing. Even though I have always done well with sponsors, looking back on some of my emails I wish I could go back and just stop myself. Well, I don’t have a time machine, at least not yet, so for now I will settle for stopping some of you before you make mistakes. Hopefully, with a few tips I can help everyone host better events. Better events all over will lead to more events for everyone to go to and we can help keep the LAN tradition alive and well. So hang on I’ve put together a whole bunch of information, I hope it helps.

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Intel i7-7700K vs. AMD Ryzen R7 1700 in Gaming

So at the Ryzen launch I took a look at the 1800X and the 1700X and compared them to the Intel i7-6900K and the i7-7700K and I followed that up with the Ryzen R7 1700. Well around that time Intel sent over the i7-7700K, the one I did my previous testing on was a loaner. So rather than cover everything everyone has already seen with the 7700K I wanted to change things up. I posted up on our Facebook asking people what they would like to see compared between the 7700K and the R7 1700 and I ended up with a list of games and someone also mentioned streaming performance. I decided to combine that list with all of the games we already test our video cards with and I put together a big list of games to check out. After a LOT of testing, I’m ready to finally sit down and check out the results. Are you guys ready? I know I am!

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Midwest RepRap Festival

Well, this weekend I took a break from playing Ghost Recon Wildlands and made the trip over to Indiana to check out Midwest RepRap Festival. While the name most likely isn’t obvious to most people, but RepRap is the community around 3d printing. So unlike Maker Fairs where 3d printing is also very popular, this time the entire event is exclusively focused on it. This event started off as a small get together of friends in a garage and is quickly growing out of control. A few of the big names in 3d printing were there and we have the chance to stop and talk with a few people. We also brought the camera along so I figured I would make a quick post to share what we saw.

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Toshiba OCZ VX500

When it comes to SSDs most people these days are starting to focus on NVMe drives or at least M.2 drives. There is still interest and need for SATA drives as well though. A lot of the SATA drives have been focused on cheaper TLC based NAND but there is still a need for MLC NAND and that’s where the OCZ VX500 that was introduced last fall has been hanging out. It’s designed as a replacement for the OCZ Vector 180. They have dropped the Barefoot 3 controller and moved to a Toshiba based TC358790. That combined with the MLC NAND has me excited to finally take a look at the VX500 and see how it performs and where it fits in today’s marketplace.

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AMD Ryzen R7 1700

The AMD Ryzen launch was exciting and filled with drama. The hype levels peaked just before the launch and while the performance was amazing in almost every benchmark there were some people surprised at the in game performance numbers and a few of the early issues with the new platform. On top of all of that, for me, I was also dealing with a dead CPU right at the launch. Our original review was written to include the R7 1700 but due to having trouble with it those results had to be pushed until AMD sent a replacement. Well that came in and I was able to get it tested but our review queue was already filled with completed coverage. So today I finally have the chance to take a closer look at it. Now I recommend everyone check out my original review for most of the details on the launch as this was an unplanned article, but once you are done we can run through the performance of the lowest priced Ryzen 7 CPU and find out if it is the value CPU to pick up right now.

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OPSEAT Master Series Gaming Chair

At this point, there is a whole list of companies who are now selling their one racing style gaming chairs and it is starting to make it hard to figure out who you might want to go with. One of the new companies that reached out to us about checking out their chairs is OPSEAT. Unlike some of the other brands, the OPSEAT has a brand name that is taken right from gaming. OP is a term used in games to describe a champion or weapon overpowered. Their Master Series is their first line of chairs, but I’m curious to find out if they really are overpowered. One thing is for sure though, they do seem to be one of the only brands with a chair priced where a lot of people can afford it. If the OPSEAT is good, this could end up being a good buy, so let's get it put together and see what it’s all about.

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Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum

So I recently had the chance to check out the G533 wireless headset from Logitech and I was impressed with its performance. While testing it, I have also been checking out Logitech’s newest wireless gaming mouse, the G900 Chaos Spectrum. While some people may prefer to stay wired for performance reasons, the gap between wired and wireless is getting smaller. With that, there are a lot more people looking at wireless devices for the added convenience. For me, I’ve been using wireless headsets for my Coms for a while now just because it is easier than getting tangled in the cord. The G900 has a great optical sensor and it shares a lot of features with Logitech’s mice so I’m excited to put it to the test today and see what it is all about.

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Project Build: Crush – Part 6 – I can’t leave things alone

Well, things have been extremely busy and with that, I haven’t been able to follow up on the Crush project build recently. AMD and Intel both had big launches that pushed everything back and I just couldn’t fit these into the publishing schedule. That said I have still been working on things. More specifically I have been making a few tweaks after living with the build for a while. I said I was all finished a few articles ago then I just had to paint the cards. Well with them painted I had to do something about the Intel 750 Series drive to match and I also noticed just how much dust and dirt was in the case after a few weeks so today I’m going to deal with both of those issues.

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Asus Crosshair VI Hero

It’s crazy to look back at the original Crosshair and see just how much things have changed. Hell, the original was running on a Nvidia nForce 590 chipset, how many people even remember that Nvidia had their own chipsets! Anyhow, even all the way back to the original Asus has always packed the Crosshair boards full of features and from what I’ve seen of the new Crosshair VI Hero it looks like they have done the same thing again. This is one of the two boards that came with our initial review setup for the new Ryzen processors. So today I’m going to check out the new Crosshair VI Hero and see what it is all about and find out if it is a good option to consider for those of you excited to build a new high-end AMD build.

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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands Performance Testing

Well, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands came out last Tuesday and currently has a favorable (77) Metacritic score. I’ve been seeing a lot of people playing it and I have even take a little time to start checking it out. Beyond being a great looking game it is also relatively demanding as well. Combine all of that with a built-in benchmark tool that makes testing with it easier and more consistent I was interested in checking it out to see if it might have the potential to be added to our test suites. So rather than take Friday off like I had planned after the GTX 1080 Ti launch I spent the day testing a range of video cards in just about every test configuration to see how they perform. This way if we add the game we have a few cards already tested. Well, I figured I might as well share the results as well for anyone thinking about playing the game that way you know what settings you should be running depending on your card. So let's take a quick look at the results.  

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Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition

After almost a year of different rumors, Nvidia announced the GTX 1080 Ti last week along with a few other announcements at GDC. Recently GTX 1080 owners were most likely disappointed to hear about the price drops for the GTX 1080 and the new faster 1080’s as well. Not to mention the new GTX 1080 Ti is promised to be 35% faster than the GTX 1080. That in itself is really exciting because that is a big performance jump but given all of the launches this year, 2017 is looking like an exciting year for gaming and enthusiasts hardware. Well, today the NDA drops and I can finally dive into the performance of the new video card. Nvidia sent over the GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, but I hope to see what the aftermarket cards can do as well here soon.

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MSI GTX 1060 Aero ITX 6G OC

When it comes to LAN rigs, there are some cases that support full sized cards, but when getting into the smallest options they need shorter ITX sized cards. Over the past few years, these options have been opening up, especially with the GTX 1060’s where the cooling and power requirements are a little lower but the performance is still what people are looking for. I’ve had the chance to check out one ITX sized 1060 back at launch and one that was close as well. Well MSI is introducing their new Aero ITX lineup with a GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, and a GTX 1070. Today we have the chance to check out the GTX 1060 so I’m going to see what MSI is doing differently and then find out how it compares to the competition. Is this the card for your LAN rig as we get close to all of the spring events? Let’s find out.

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MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

Beyond the exciting new CPU and the nice wooden box that came with our Ryzen review kit, down in the bottom I found an awesome looking motherboard to test with. AMD and MSI had slipped us an X370 XPower Gaming Titanium along with the rest of the kit. While I’ve taken a look at a lot of MSIs boards, I haven’t had the chance to check out any of their Titanium boards and it is an area where I think MSI has really been showing some creativity, so I’m excited to take a closer look at the new board and find out if the Titanium has the features to back up its good looks.

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Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3

Part of the excitement about the Ryzen launch is the possibility of getting high performance at a much lower price than the premium that Intel has had on it recently. With the new CPUs, some of the new X370 boards have pushed their pricing up with all of the added features. Well, this is where the B350 chipset comes in. AMD dropped the number of USB and SAT ports on the B350 and you can’t get SLI on a B350 board but they still allow overclocking and the prices for B350 boards are a lot cheaper. This will come into play more with the mid range Ryzen CPUs, but even paired with the Ryzen 7 1700, a B350 board can be a good value. So today I’m going to check out the AB350 Gaming 3 from Gigabyte as it seems to fit the bill perfectly with a good feature list at a good price.

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AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs

So by now even most of the gamers and geeks that I know that don’t even follow hardware launches have been talking about AMDs RYZEN launch. It’s an almost unprecedented launch and there are a few reasons for it. While Intel has been chugging away with their yearly CPU launches on their mainstream chips, the every two year release of new CPU sockets. AMD has been running on various revisions of their Bulldozer microarchitecture and the AM3+ platform for the past 6 years. For a lot of the younger enthusiasts, this actually goes back to before they could afford to build a custom PC. Add to all of that the recent dominance by Intel in the higher end market and you have a lot of people foaming at the mouth to pick up something from AMD that can compete. Well after months of hype, today is the day that we can finally sit down and check out the new CPUs and the new AM4 platform. AMD sent over all three of the newly launched CPUs, the flagship 1800X, the 1700X, and the 1700. Before you run out and pick one up, check out how it performed for us and make a point to check out a few other independent sources as well so make sure it is what you were hoping.

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GTX 1080 Founders Edition SLI Testing

Well while I have the Crush project build apart I painted the two GTX 1080’s and after that, I had a little extra time. To fill that time I went ahead and put the two cards on our testbench and ran them through our standard test suite to see how they perform. I put all of the results together and today I’m tossing the up for anyone who wants to see how the 1080’s compare in SLI to a single GTX 1080, two RX 480’s, or two GTX 1070’s. As always with our SLI/Crossfire articles, it is mostly just the results with very little content beyond that, so you can use the information to form your own opinions.

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LG V20

There are only a few phones that I get really excited about every year. The LG V20 is one of those phones, the ultra-premium feature list with things like a built-in headphone DAC are always interesting. This is also one of only a few phones on the premium phone market that has a removable battery and expandable memory. Those features and the aluminum body all help it stand out in a crowded market, but today I’m going to see what else the V20 has going for it and find out just where it stands for performance.

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Project Build: Crush – Part 5 – Painting a GTX 1080 FE

For some people, you get your computer together and never mess with it again. I, on the other hand, have a problem and as they say, the first thing is to admit you have a problem. I finished up the Crush build and even posted up performance numbers last week. My problem is I keep looking and thinking how much better the build could look with this one change. Once you do that, you are done, right? Nope! Now that you did that, this other thing really needs to be changed. It’s an endless battle. Well with Crush I just HAD to pull it all apart and keep messing with it. I’m actually in the middle of a few different changes, but the biggest was painting the two GTX 1080’s like I had originally planned. So today I’m going to run through how to paint the new GTX 1080/1070 Founders Edition cards for a nice matching look.

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