Thursday, April 1, 2021

Asus ROG-STRIX-RX6700XT-O12G-GAMING Card (NAVI 22)

Asus Sales Spiel


"a cooling and power-performance juggernaut..."








Official Website

https://rog.asus.com/graphics-cards/graphics-cards/rog-strix/rog-strix-rx6700xt-o12g-gaming-model/






Features

  • Axial-tech Fan Design has been enhanced with more fan blades and a new rotation scheme plus zero rpm feature.
  • 2.9-slot design expands cooling surface area compared to last gen for more thermal headroom than ever before.
  • Super Alloy Power II includes premium alloy chokes, solid polymer capacitors, and an array of high-current power stages.
  • MaxContact heat spreader allows 2X more contact with the GPU chip for improved thermal transfer.
  • A reinforced frame prevents excessive torsion and lateral bending of the PCB.
  • FanConnect II equips a hybrid-controlled fan header for optimal system cooling.
  • A vented backplate prevents hot air from recirculating through the cooling array.
  • 12GB DDR6 
  • HDMI 2.1
  • DisplayPort 1.4a
  • Switchable dual BIOS with out of the box SAM/ReBAR support *
  • PCI-e 4.0





Navi 22

aka Big Navi, RX 6000, Navi 2x, RDNA2 -TPU Specs


The official price of $479 for the AMD RX 6700 XT reference card was announced at the launch on October 28, 2020 but many moons have come and gone and the PC gaming world is a much darker place since then. Crybaby Trump is no longer  POTUS of putty grabbers with Biden being here and now. And MRSP availability is as good as vapourware as global scarcity and price scalping is as real as Covid-19.

Here's sincerely wishing everyone the best of luck in getting hold of a card at some sane end-user wallet friendly price. :)

For the proper context, here's a  quick look at today's kind of pricing by the big international web retailers to gauge the level of pandemic crazy we have gotten ourselves into. Yes, this is the kind of world that we have to live in today... ouch! btw, the MSRP was previously US$309.99 going by its B and H listing.








Web Reviews

This ROG-STRIX-RX6700XT-O12G-GAMING card had been launched a while back so detailed reviews with plenty of nice photos are already out there. 


Techpowerup

Usual must read with nice close-up teardown photos

https://www.techpowerup.com/review/asus-radeon-rx-6700-xt-strix-oc/


IGN

https://www.ign.com/articles/asus-rog-strix-rx-6700-xt-oc-review


eTeknix

https://www.eteknix.com/asus-rog-strix-rx-6700-xt-graphics-card-review/18/






Product Availability

Local - Laz Carouhell

Elsewhere - Egg Asus Webstore both at U$830 but both are OOS!



Resizable BAR (ReBAR)/Smart Access Memory (SAM) *

  • A feature of PCI Express that can boost frame rates in certain games by up to 11 percent
  • Direct access to the GPU memory to bypass I/O bottlenecks
  • Allows CPUs to access the full graphics frame buffer instead of being limited to reading 256MB blocks

BAR =  (Base Address Registers)

Working requirements

  • Suitable CPU support
  • Mobo BIOS support - Above 4G Decoding, Re-Size BAR Support
  • Video card BIOS support
  • Video card drivers support
  • OS support - disabled CSM Option hence EFI/GPT boot drive






Unboxing

Think this card is physically as long as its unwieldy official model name... Asus marketing guy/s should really 罚写一百遍 in hopes of snazzier model names in the near future.





 

 

 

 

Lightweight accessories bundle





Interesting 3 x fan configuration




Note the presence of a backplate and the absence of any "warranty void " sticker on this sample set, nice!




Longer than... say Daniel Grayling Fogelberg?





Wider than... do note the metal support frame too (running vertically right under the number 17).




Mind your P and Q please BIOS toggle switch (Performance and Quiet if you are asking)




Juice up with 2 x 8 pin power plugs




Stainless Steel 304 Backplate with the 4 video output ports, excellent corrosion resistance - click!






Test Setup

Asus ROG-STRIX-RX6700XT-O12G-GAMING | Ryzen 3700X uv air |  Asus Crosshair VIII Hero WIFI X570 | 32GB Ballistix Sports 3200@3600 | 750GB MX300 SSD | Win 10 20H2 fresh

Drivers used - Adrenaline 21.3.2  beta dated 29 March 2021. Mobo BIOS used is 3401 beta AGESA 1.2.0.1 Patch A (USB bugfix and Resizable BAR for Zen 2).

Open ambient air, non-ac end March 'heaty' weather - as said detailed web reviews already exist but just how hot or noisy will this card get locally?

 






GPU-Z

Showing the PCI-e 4.0 bandwidth as well as the recently AMD enabled Resizable BAR for Zen 2 CPUs like this Ryzen 7 3700X. So far, everything seems to be working well without any inkling of trouble despite the beta status of both the AGESA as well as the Adrenaline drivers.
 
And say 안녕하세요 to the Samseng DDR6 RAM.









AIDA64 GPGPU Benchmark







GFXBench

Showing the highest temperature reached by the hotspot at just over the 80s, not bad considering our current hot spell.


1440p High Tier DX11





1440p High Tier Vulkan






SuperPosition Benchmark

Seems less intense with lower temperatures than GFXBench runs.








Shadowbringers Official Benchmark - FINAL FANTASY XIV

DX11 https://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/benchmark/


Default bench settings for 1080p High Desktop





Default bench settings for 1440p High Desktop





VRMark Orange Room Bench

Compare url - https://www.3dmark.com/vrm/60177872






Temperatures And Noise

Recent weather has occasionally been rather scorching but still this card is a real joy to use with low load temperatures and practically inaudible operation. The screenshot posted earlier consistently show load temps in the low 60s which resulted in low fan rpm hence its silent running especially relative to the Wraith Prism on the Ryzen 3700X next door.

It is a testament to the excellent build and cooling qualities of its Asus ROG Strix level design. 

The Zero rpm feature can be seen here in this Afterburner screenshot which registers an whole hour of nil fan movements with the GPU temps of just 50C during web surfing and downloading.








Stability

Considering the beta status of the AGESA/BIOS, new Zen 2 ReBAR feature and the AMD Adrenaline drivers, the combination looks like the perfect storm for potential issues. Yet, the test rig ran perfectly well over longish hours of benching.






Upgrading And Switching Camps?

Thought I should try out the card on a more mainstream B550 motherboard and see how easy or complicated it is to switch from a previous Nvidia card to this new AMD card. Yes, this section is targeted at the many users currently in the Green/PCI-e 3.0 camp who may be considering upgrading to the Red/PCI-e 4.0 camp.

A fresh Windows 10 20H2 installation was done with a GTX1060 card on the Asus TUF B550M Gaming WIFI motherboard as shown.


OK, everything looks installed all right with PCI-e 3.0 featured as per the older gen Nvidia Pascal card.






Next powered down, the Nvidia card is physically uninstalled and replaced with the Strix RX 6700XT. Windows 10 booted up to the desktop without any issues but could not find proper AMD drivers for it since it is too new. Nvidia drivers were manually uninstalled at this point in time via Windows Apps And Features. 

A reboot was now performed right into the UEFI BIOS. Click select on the ReBAR option and simultaneously 3 options were auto-executed by the UEFI - ReBAR on, CSM off, Above 4G Decoding on. Then, F10 and reboot. Next surfed over to AMD and downloaded and installed the latest available drivers, reboot again. 

Voila, expected proper results achieved with PCI-e 4.0 and ReBAR activated.  A painless switchover cos Windows 10 is so much friendlier to camp switchovers, nice!







Initial Impressions

  • Massively over-built, cool quiet running solid monster card
  • Stable, out of box ready features (listed below) - no hassle with flashing card BIOS updates ala RTX 3K series
  • Forward looking features like PCI-e 4.0, 12GB memory (Samsung!), ReBAR feature etc...
  • Premium pricing
  • Scarce availability even if you are OK with the price
Definitely good stuff but the present time may pose a most formidable challenge for getting hold of a video card upgrade.




Sunday, February 7, 2021

Asus TUF GAMING Z590-PLUS WIFI Motherboard (LGA1200 10/11th Gen.)

Time to buy Intel again?


Consumers are definitely getting mighty impatient waiting to get their hands on the latest and fastest PC stuff. With cabin fever and work from home arrangements due to the drawn out ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, AMD is painfully not helping things out with their trickle of Zen 3 processors. Price scalping just adds salt to the wound... so here comes Intel to the rescue?


In less than a year, Intel is already updating their enthusiast overclocking platform to the incoming Z590 (ETA March 2021) from Z490 (May 2020). Guess it is feeling too much heat from the AMD Zen3 onslaught. 


The Z590 motherboard and RocketLake CPU combination finally brings Intel nearer to par with the competition with regards to PCI-e 4.0, after lagging behind since July 2019.


And in other news, "Intel's Rocket Lake could retake gaming performance crown from AMD" - PC Gamer report.







Official Website

https://www.asus.com/Motherboards-Components/Motherboards/All-series/TUF-Gaming-Z590-PLUS-WIFI/

https://www.asus.com/microsite/motherboard/Intel-Rocket-Lake-Z590-H570-B560-series/








Features

  • Intel® LGA 1200 socket: Ready for 11th and 10th Gen Intel® Core™ processors
  • Enhanced power solution: 14+2 DrMOS power stages, six-layer PCB, ProCool sockets, military-grade TUF components and Digi+ VRM for maximum durability
  • Comprehensive cooling: Enlarged VRM heatsink, PCH fanless heatsink, M.2 heatsinks, hybrid fan headers and Fan Xpert 4 utility
  • Next-gen connectivity: PCIe® 4.0, 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C®, front panel header for USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C® and Thunderbolt 4™ support
  • Made for online gaming: Intel® WiFi 6, Intel® 2.5 Gb Ethernet, TUF LANGuard and TurboLAN technology
  • Two-way AI Noise Cancelation: Reduces background noise from the microphone and audio output for crystal-clear communication in games or video conferences
  • Realtek S1200A codec: Pristine audio quality with unprecedented 108 dB signal-to-noise ratio for stereo line out and 103 dB SNR for line in





Box Label








Bundle

The accessories bundle is light while the mobo itself is surprisingly hefty (reportedly 1.7x heavier!)







Motherboard

Not your mundane rectangularly shaped PCB but different with a notched front and a trimmed corner too.






Hey, modern integrated I/O shield implementation is trickling down to the TUF range too. The back I/O seems  impressive with a good array of ports, lacking mainly BIOS flashback/Clr CMOS buttons.






These massive heatsinks likely account for a good part of the weight of this mobo, nice impressive array of chokes too.






CPU socket caps population - a near full top with a sparse behind... yep, top heavy but not much of a bottom ;)






8+4 CPU power plugs
In keeping with the TUF (read non-ROG) range, note the lack of any heat-pipes between the heatsinks.






CPU fan and RGB connectors 





Front USB connectors x 2, supports both USB 3.2 Gen 1 & 2. Missing are the ROG niceties like debug numerical LEDs, Power/Reset buttons. voltage checkpoints etc...  you do get spot Q-LED instead. Functional but way too tiny and blindingly bright to use comfortably.







Forward SATA3 ports x 2, tucked and hidden away under the oversized Southbridge heatsink. Saw a certain YouTube video paper ''review'' missing them altogether and complaining about the paucity of SATA3 ports on this model. lol






Busy left edge with front case headers, upwards SATA3, fan, RGB, USB and Thunderbolt 4 headers, the long heatsink services 2 x M.2 ports too. Q-Latch tool-free retainers on each M.2 slot so no more dropping or losing pesky tiny screws (more on this later).







The standalone M.2 heatsink with the PCI-e 4.0 label (and it means exactly that ie. PCI-e 4.0 only)





Asus M.2 Q-Latch

Guess this is a good time to introduce a recent Asus innovation to their Z590 product line, getting rid of the tiny M.2 screws. Ah, the little wonders in life...






Intel I225-V 2.5GB/s G.LAN chip, latest SLNMH B3 revision installed






UEFI

Seems to be early days for the BIOS as it had some issues with running and overclocking certain RAM (apparently Intel has just fixed their base code) eg. G.Skill DDR4-3600 16GVRB kit (likely Hynix C die) which had run without any problems on the earlier Z490/Z390 test motherboards.

There is also a slight but noticeable lag moving between submenus.

On the plus side, modern feature updates like OCTVB and ReSize BAR have been added which in addition to useful old favourites like change tracking makes things more interesting.

Noticed these uncommon options for "BIOS Image Rollback Support" and "Publish HII Resources" in the Tool sub-menu but can't find much more on them so please share if anyone has any good info.

From its wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Extensible_Firmware_Interface
HII = Human Interface Infrastructure

Is "BIOS Image Rollback Support" some form of BIOS recovery or just a facility for flashing older BIOS versions?
 
Note that the TUF UEFI features lack the little ROG overclocking niceties like SP score (Silicon Prediction), Cooler score etc... for whatever they are worth. Neither is the MemTest86 included either... THG


















Test Setup

At the time of testing, there was no access to any of the new incoming 11th Gen. Intel RocketLake CPUs (needed for PCI-e 4.0) so the older but available ES i7-10700K CometLake-S (max PCI-e 3.0 only) was used.

  • Asus TUF GAMING Z590-PLUS WIFI Mainboard
  • Intel i7-10700K (ES) - with iGPU utilised
  • 2 x 8GB Crucial Ballistix DDR4-3200 kit@XMP
  • Samsung Evo 850 SSD 
  • Corsair HX1000i PSU
  • Deepcool Neptwin with single 120mm fan (Cooler Master)
  • Windows 10 build 20H2 clean install with latest updates
  • Open air test rig early February SG ~26-30C

The Micron-E based Crucial Ballistix kit provided a single and fast POST for quickly booting up the test rig, nice.

A simple overclock of all cores at 5GHz loaded was done for the i7-10700K with a -2 AVX offset ie. 5.0/4.8 GHz, basing off the hard work already done by the commercial binning outfit siliconlottery.com. Applying more elbow grease with the use of  OCTVB may satisfy the more patient enthusiasts.

And overclocking at 5/5 vs 5/4.8 was previously discussed here.

A GTX 1060 6GB card was also later installed to check gaming stability, mainly a good excuse to revisit the GOG release of Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Here is a sprinkling of some demo numbers at 5/4.8GHz. Note the parameters are definitely not refined or tested for the 24/7 P95 crazed fans. :)




CPU-Z

 

Stock





5GHz

 






Cinebench R20







Cinebench R23

 






HyperPi  0.99b

Freebie RAM stability oldie, just can't beat the price. Oldtimer here still using oldtimer tools. lol







Realbench 2.56

OpenCL option was not enabled to run on the HD 630 iGPU (just holler if you really need this score)






O.C.C.T v7.3.2

Just getting re-aquainted with this oldie goldie, long time since last used so no longer familiar with it. Personally find prolonged pure synthetic stress tests super boring vs real life testing/gaming/video transcoding thus did only a 15 min mini-run just to check load parameters. No more pretty graph logs so sianzz to do more with it... see *footnote for info.





* PS: Really lots of changes in newer versions eg. it has switched to the hwinfo monitoring engine and the ever useful graphical logs are done only in paid subscriptions only - author too.




AIDA64 Bench

Latest beta version may be a pre-requisite in recognising the new Z590 chipset







Linpack Xtreme 1.1.5 Benchmark

Totally new to me so did a quickie run for a look see look see. The 2GB quickie run doesn't seem to load the CPU fully (correctly detected 16 threads at launch but reportedly used only 8) nor that hot either.







Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers Benchmark

Pretty neat looking bench with concise score reporting though definitely not my fave game genre







Intel I225-V 2.5Gbps G.LAN

This Intel network chip has an unusually chequered history, no thanks to Intel's ineptitude in cleaning up the errata and driver messiness. Thus the need to address this issue each and every time any motherboard with this network chip is encountered... the latest B3 revision chip is found on this motherboard.

Intel seems on the way to resolving the issues with newer drivers eg. 1.0.2.8 (dated 18 Dec 2020) from the following Intel website link - Intel 1.0.2.8 drivers. Just skip the older ones from Asus website (1.0.1.8) and Windows Update (1.0.2.6) altogether.


The B3 revision is also helpfully denoted by its drivers in the Windows Device Manager as (3)






Tested on M1 500Mbps home fibre line 






60s test run - https://packetlosstest.com/ (default run is 10s)





Initial Impressions

Decision making for potential buyers of this motherboard ultimately comes to buying either Intel or AMD so consider the following factors regarding this motherboard (not exhaustive, of course)

  • Well built 6 layered Z590 motherboard with good onboard power and hefty heatsinks all round
  • Well featured with 3 x M.2 ports, front and back 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, Thunderbolt 4, WiFi 6, latest B3 revision Intel 2.5Gbps G.LAN etc
  • Both tested i7-10700K and motherboard are capable of cool and silent running when overclocked on air
  • 10th Gen K processors offer immediate availability presently with good gaming cost performance especially in view of Zen3 unavailability, scalper pricing and planned EOY EOL schedule

vs

  • Early days BIOS w.r.t RAM overclocking (common teething issue for new chipsets)
  • Retail RocketLake CPUs are unavailable and the rumoured pricing seems high
  • Z590 models command premium pricing yet possible LGA1200 EOY EOL status with the planned introduction of LGA1700