Monday, September 22, 2014

The plan to upgrade the graphics card


Now that NVidia has released their latest graphics cards, the GTX 970 and GTX 980, it is time to analyse which GPU I should upgrade to, from my aging GTX 670.

It is almost definitely going to be the GTX 970 because it is priced extremely aggressively compared to competition (i.e. AMD Radeon R9 290) and does not need a nuclear reactor to power up. The GTX 980 is also power efficient, in fact even more than the GTX 970 for some unexplainable reason, but the price is absurd. It should have been priced below $500. $449 perhaps.

There is also another advantage of going with the GTX 970. With it, there is a possibility of adding a second card for SLI without a need for the change of the 650W PSU that I currently own. Even when the GTX 970 is overclocked, I doubt it would draw in excess of 200W, hence two cards will consume less than 400W. With my Core i7 4790K overclocked to 4.6GHz, which would max out at 130W on a really stressful work load (though not Prime 95), that would give sufficient breathing room for the other components.

Perhaps it is possible to power up two GTX 980s with 650W PSU, and there are apparently people who do with just a 600W PSU, but there is the issue of shedding down $1100 for graphics cards. Two GTX 970s would set you back at $700, which is still way out of many peoples' budgets, including me, hence the chances of going SLI is very slim.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Haswell-E is here


Haswell-E finally hit the market on August 29 and the whole review sites went crazy. It was about time Intel refreshed its enthusiast platform, as it was catering the enthusiast community with technology from 3-4 years ago.

Intel made a few changes to the product line this time, compared to the previous two. Some are for the better, some are for the worse.

Goods and bads of Haswell-E

The merits of Haswell-E are the following.
  1. Release of the first consumer grade 8-core CPU from Intel
  2. The baseline model being a 6-core CPU instead of 4-core, but costing only a fraction above the 4790K CPU
  3. 10 native SATA 6Gbps ports
  4. Quad Channel DDR4 support
  5. Lots of native USB 3.0 ports
  6. 10Gbps M.2 support
On the other hand, we have the following deal-breakers.
  1. You have to shed $1000 to get those 8-cores
  2. The baseline model lacks full PCI-E support (28-lanes vs. 40-lanes in the other two SKUs)
  3. DDR4 is pretty expensive at the moment
  4. The boards are fairly more expensive and the Micro ATX board options are limited. (You can confidently claim that Mini-ITX won't be a reality this time either)
  5. Needs a cooler that can handle a lot of TDP, such a dual tower air cooler or an AI 240mm rad. Custom water cooling is recommended for people who are willing to shed a grand on the Octa-core model and overclock
  6. Large variation in overclockability just like the mainstream Haswell variants
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