Win an ASUS VG248QE Upgrade Kit to Enable NVIDIA G-Sync!!

Subject: Displays | December 24, 2013 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: vg248qe, nvidia, gsync, giveaway, g-sync, contest, asus

We have our winners!! Congratulations to the following 5 submissions and we'll have the upgrade kits on the way to you very soon.  

  • Lewis C.
  • Levi K.
  • Jonathan F.
  • John G.
  • Ben L.

I know that LOTS of you have been clamoring for information on how you can get your hands on one of those DIY G-Sync upgrade kits for yourself and I have some good news.  Though I can't tell you where to buy one or how much it will cost, I can offer you 1 of 5 FREE G-Sync upgrade kits through a giveaway we are hosting at PC Perspective!

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Here are the rules for the sweepstakes:

  • You must already own an ASUS VG248QE monitor
  • We need you to supply feedback on the G-Sync experience after the upgrade
  • Sorry, this is only available in the US and Canada

Now, the real question is, how can you enter to win as long as you meet those above requirements?  It's pretty simple!

  • Fill out the form below with name and email information
    • You have to include a link to a picture of your existing VG248QE monitor.  Include text on it (or on a sheet of paper in the photo) that mentions this contest!  Use Imgur if you need an image host.
  • Leave a comment on this post that describes WHY you want G-Sync technology
  • Hey, if you subscribe to our YouTube channel that won't hurt your chances either.  Leave your YouTube name in the comment as well!

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Our thanks goes to NVIDIA for supplying the kits and good luck to all participants!  We'll pick our winners on December 23rd and have the units out by the end of the year. 

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

The First Custom R9 290X

It has been a crazy launch for the AMD Radeon R9 series of graphics cards.  When we first reviewed both the R9 290X and the R9 290, we came away very impressed with the GPU and the performance it provided.  Our reviews of both products resulted in awards of the Gold class.  The 290X was a new class of single GPU performance while the R9 290 nearly matched performance at a crazy $399 price tag.

But there were issues.  Big, glaring issues.  Clock speeds had a huge amount of variance depending on the game and we saw a GPU that was rated as "up to 1000 MHz" running at 899 MHz in Skyrim and 821 MHz in Bioshock Infinite.  Those are not insignificant deltas in clock rate that nearly perfectly match deltas in performance.  These speeds also changed based on the "hot" or "cold" status of the graphics card - had it warmed up and been active for 10 minutes prior to testing?  If so, the performance was measurably lower than with a "cold" GPU that was just started. 

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That issue was not necessarily a deal killer; rather, it just made us rethink how we test GPUs. The fact that many people were seeing lower performance on retail purchased cards than with the reference cards sent to press for reviews was a much bigger deal.  In our testing in November the retail card we purchased, that was using the exact same cooler as the reference model, was running 6.5% slower than we expected. 

The obvious hope was the retail cards with custom PCBs and coolers would be released from AMD partners and somehow fix this whole dilemma.  Today we see if that was correct.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II Graphics Card!!

ASUS Announced GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II Graphics Card

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 18, 2013 - 01:25 AM |
Tagged: GeForce GTX 780 Ti, DirectCU II, asus

There has not been too many custom coolers for top-end NVIDIA graphics cards as of late. Starting with the GeForce GTX 690, NVIDIA allegedly demands AIB partners stick to the reference designs for certain models. Obviously, this is a problem as it limits the innovation realized by partners when they are forced to compete on fewer metrics (although the reference designs were pretty good regardless). This is especially true because the affected models are the upper high-end where pricing is more flexible if the product is worth it.

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This is apparently not the case for the top end GTX 780 Ti. ASUS has just announced the GeForce GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II graphics card. ASUS claims this will lead to 30% cooler operating with 3x less noise. A 6% bump to performance (as measured in Battlefield 4) will accompany that cooler and quieter operation as the full GK110 GPU will boost to 1020MHz.

ASUS makes custom GPUs for both AMD and NVIDIA. Be sure to check out our review of another high-end DirectCU II card, with 100% less NVIDIA, very soon. It will definitely be a great read and maybe even an excellent podcast topic.

Source: ASUS
Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

A slightly smaller MARS

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 was released in June of 2013.  Based on the same GK104 GPU as the GTX 680, GTX 670 and GTX 770, the GTX 760 disabled a couple more of the clusters of processor cores to offer up impressive performance levels for a lower cost than we had seen previously.  My review of the GTX 760 was very positive as NVIDIA had priced it aggressively against the competing products from AMD. 

As for ASUS, they have a storied history with the MARS brand.  Typically an over-built custom PCB with two of the highest end NVIDIA GPUs stapled together, the ASUS MARS cards have been limited edition products with a lot of cache around them.  The first MARS card was a dual GTX 285 product that was the first card to offer 4GB of memory (though 2GB per GPU of course).  The MARS II took a pair of GTX 580 GPUs and pasted them on a HUGE card and sold just 1000 of them worldwide.  It was heavy, expensive and fast; blazing fast.  But at a price of $1200+ it wasn't on the radar of most PC gamers.

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Interestingly, the MARS iteration for the GTX 680 never occurred and why that is the case is still a matter of debate.  Some point the finger at poor sales and ASUS while others think that NVIDIA restricted ASUS' engineers from being as creative as they needed to be.

Today's release of the ASUS ROG MARS 760 is a bit different - this is still a high end graphics card but it doesn't utilize the fastest single-GPU option on the market.  Instead ASUS has gone with a more reasonable design that combines a pair of GTX 760 GK104 GPUs on a single PCB with a PCI Express bridge chip between them.  The MARS 760 is significantly smaller and less power hungry than previous MARS cards but it is still able to pack a punch in the performance department as you'll soon see.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG MARS 760 Dual GPU Graphics Card!!

NVIDIA G-Sync Monitors Limited Availability Starting Today

Subject: Displays | December 16, 2013 - 06:11 AM |
Tagged: video, vg248qe, nvidia, gsync, g-sync, asus

It looks like some G-Sync ready monitors are going to be on sale starting today, though perhaps not from the outlets you would have expected.  NVIDIA let me know last night that they are working with partners, including ASUS obviously, to make a small amount of pre-modified ASUS VG248QE G-Sync monitors available for purchase. These are the same monitors we used in our recent G-Sync preview story so you should check that article out if you want our opinions on the display and the technology. 

Those people selling the displays?  Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest, Maingear, and Overlord Computer.  This creates some unfortunate requirements on potential buyers.  For example, Falcon Northwest is only selling the panels to users that either are buying a new Falcon PC or already own a Falcon custom system.  Digital Storm on the other hand WILL sell the monitor on its own or allow you to send in your VG248QE monitor to have the upgrade service done for you.  The monitor alone will sell for $499 while the upgrade price (with module included) is $299. 

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This distribution model for G-Sync technology likely isn't what users wanted or expected.  After all, we were promised upgrade kits for users of that specific ASUS VG248QE display and we still do not have data on how NVIDIA plans to sell them or distribute them.  Being able to purchase the display from these resellers above is at least SOMETHING before the holiday, but it really isn't the way we would like to see G-Sync showcased.  NVIDIA needs to get these products in the hands of gamers sooner rather than later.

NVIDIA also prepared a new video to showcase G-Sync.  Unlike other marketing videos this one wasn't placed on YouTube as the ability for it to run at a fixed 60 FPS is a strict requirement, something that YouTube can't do or can't do reliably.  For this video's demonstration to work correctly you need set your display to a 60 Hz refresh rate and you should use a video player capable of maintaining the static 60 FPS content decoding.

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To grab a copy of this video, you can use the link right here that will download the file directly from Mega.co.nz.  It should help demonstrate the effects us using a G-Sync enabled display for users that don't have access to see one in person.

Oh, and I know that LOTS of you have been clamoring for information on how you can get your hands on one of those DIY G-Sync upgrade kits for yourself and I have some good news.  Though I can't tell you where to buy one or how much it will cost, I can offer you one of 5 FREE G-Sync ASUS VG248QE upgrade kits through a giveaway we are hosting at PC Perspective!  Check out this page for the details!!

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Quality time with G-Sync

Readers of PC Perspective will already know quite alot about NVIDIA's G-Sync technology.  When it was first unveiled in October we were at the event and were able to listen to NVIDIA executives, product designers and engineers discuss and elaborate on what it is, how it works and why it benefits gamers.  This revolutionary new take on how displays and graphics cards talk to each other enables a new class of variable refresh rate monitors that will offer up the smoothness advantages of having V-Sync off, while offering the tear-free images normally reserved for gamers enabling V-Sync. 

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NVIDIA's Prototype G-Sync Monitor

We were lucky enough to be at NVIDIA's Montreal tech day while John Carmack, Tim Sweeney and Johan Andersson were on stage discussing NVIDIA G-Sync among other topics.  All three developers were incredibly excited about G-Sync and what it meant for gaming going forward.

Also on that day, I published a somewhat detailed editorial that dug into the background of V-sync technology, why the 60 Hz refresh rate existed and why the system in place today is flawed.  This basically led up to an explanation of how G-Sync works, including integration via extending Vblank signals and detailed how NVIDIA was enabling the graphics card to retake control over the entire display pipeline.

In reality, if you want the best explanation of G-Sync, how it works and why it is a stand-out technology for PC gaming, you should take the time to watch and listen to our interview with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen, one of the primary inventors of G-Sync.  In this video we go through quite a bit of technical explanation of how displays work today, and how the G-Sync technology changes gaming for the better.  It is a 1+ hour long video, but I selfishly believe that it is the most concise and well put together collection of information about G-Sync for our readers.

The story today is more about extensive hands-on testing with the G-Sync prototype monitors.  The displays that we received this week were modified versions of the 144Hz ASUS VG248QE gaming panels, the same ones that will in theory be upgradeable by end users as well sometime in the future.  These monitors are TN panels, 1920x1080 and though they have incredibly high refresh rates, aren't usually regarded as the highest image quality displays on the market.  However, the story about what you get with G-Sync is really more about stutter (or lack thereof), tearing (or lack thereof), and a better overall gaming experience for the user. 

Continue reading our tech preview of NVIDIA G-Sync!!

ASUS Teases R9 290X DirectCU II

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 9, 2013 - 12:03 AM |
Tagged: R9 290X, DirectCU II, asus

The AMD Radeon R9 290X is a very good graphics processor whose reference design is marred with a few famous design choices. AMD specs the GPU to run at a maximum of 95C, perpetually, and will push its frequency up to 1 GHz if it can stay at or under that temperature. Its cooler in the typical, "Quiet", default setting is generally unable to keep this frequency for more than a handful of minutes. This lead to countless discussions about what it means to be a default and what are the components actual specifications.

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All along we note that custom designs from add-in board (AIB) partners could change everything.

ASUS seems to be first to tease their custom solution. This card, based on their DirectCU II design, uses two fans and multiple 10mm nickel plated heatpipes directly atop the processor. The two fans should be able to move more air at a slower rate of rotation and thus be more efficient per decibel. The heatsink itself might also be able to pull heat, quicker, altogether. I am hoping that ASUS provisioned the part to remain at a stable 1GHz under default settings or perhaps even more!

The real test for Hawaii will be when the wave of custom editions washes on shore. We know the processor is capable of some pretty amazing performance figures when it can really open up. This, and other partner boards, would make for possibly the most interesting AIB round-up we have ever had.

No word, yet, on pricing or availability.

ASUS PadFone Mini Announcement Next Wednesday

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 6, 2013 - 01:13 AM |
Tagged: asus, padfone, PadFone Mini

I will be entirely honest with you: every time I need to look up the PadFone to make sure I am not getting it confused with the FonePad.

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An older model but it gets the point across.

The upcoming PadFone Mini is expected to be a phone of some size (probably smaller than the 5" Pad Fone Infinity) with a dock of some other unknown size. The phone was briefly mentioned in a China Times article back in September. There it was expected to have a 4-inch display on the handset and a 7-inch display on the tablet dock. According to Engadget's interpretation of the VR-Zone leak (who saw that coming?) that might have changed since then.

The device itself is expected to be based on the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC, run Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), and have a handset resolution of 960x540. That is about all that we have even the slightest clue about at this point.

No word yet on whether this device will even be available in North America though. For that, we will probably need to wait until the actual announcement (or even later).

Source: Engadget

Podcast #278 - PS4 Teardown and Storage Benchmarks, ASUS MARS 760, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2013 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: video, teardown, sshd, ps4 ssd, ps4, podcast, mars 760, mars, asus

PC Perspective Podcast #278 - 11/21/2013

Join us this week as we discuss our PS4 Teardown and Storage Benchmarks, ASUS MARS 760, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

 
Program length: 1:16:24
  1. Week in Review:
  2. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  3. Closing/outro

 

ASUS Announces the Republic of Gamers Mars 760 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 20, 2013 - 10:52 AM |
Tagged: mars, asus, ROG MARS 760, gtx 760, dual gpu

Fremont, CA (November 19, 2013) - ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the MARS 760 graphics card featuring two GeForce GTX 760 graphics-processing units (GPUs) capable of delivering incredible gaming performance and ensuring ultra-smooth high-resolution gameplay. The MARS 760 even outpaces the GeForce GTX TITAN — with game performance that’s up to 39% faster overall. The MARS 760 is a two-slot card packed with exclusive ASUS technologies including DirectCU II for 20%-cooler and vastly quieter operation, DIGI+ voltage-regulator module (VRM) for ultra-stable power delivery and GPU Tweak, an easy-to-use utility that lets users safely overclock the two GTX 760 GPUs.

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Exclusive ASUS features provide cool, quiet, durable and stable performance ASUS exclusive DirectCU II technology puts 8 highly-conductive cooling copper heatpipes in direct contact with both GPUs. These heatpipes provide extremely efficient cooling, allowing the MARS 760 to run 20% cooler and vastly quieter than reference GeForce GTX 690 cards. Dual 90mm dust-proof fans help to provide six times (6X) greater airflow than reference design. And with 4GB of GDDR5 video memory, the ASUS ROG MARS 760 is capable of delivering visuals with incredibly high frame rates and no stutter, ensuring extremely smooth gameplay — even at WQHD resolutions. An attention-grabbing LED even illuminates as the MARS 760 is operating under load.

The MARS 760 is equipped with ROG’s acclaimed DIGI+ voltage-regulation module (VRM), featuring a 12-phase power design that reduces power noise by 30% and enhances efficiency by 15%. Custom sourced black metallic capacitors offer 20%-better temperature endurance for a lifespan that’s up to five times (5X) longer. The new card is built with extremely hardwearing polymerized organic-semiconductor capacitors (POSCAPs) and has an aluminum back-plate, further lowering power noise while increasing both durability and stability to unlock overclocking potential.

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The exclusive GPU Tweak tuning tool allows quick, simple and safe control over clock speeds, voltages, cooling-fan speeds and power-consumption thresholds; GPU Tweak lets users push the two GTX 760 GPUs even further. The ROG edition of GPU Tweak included with the MARS 760 also enables detailed GPU load-line calibration and VRM-frequency tuning, allowing for the most extensive control and tweaking parameters in order to maximize overclocking potential — all adjusted via an attractive and easy-to-use graphical interface.

The GPU Tweak Streaming feature, the newest addition to the GPU Tweak tool, lets users share on-screen action over the internet in real time so others can watch live as games are played. It’s even possible to add a title to the streaming window along with scrolling text, pictures and webcam images.

SPECIFICATIONS:

MARS760-4GD5

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 SLI
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • 4096MB GDDR5 memory (2GB per GPU)
  • 1008MHz (1072MHz boosted) core speed
  • 6004 MHz (1501 MHz GDDR5) memory clock
  • 512-bit memory interface
  • 2560 x 1600 maximum DVI resolution
  • 2 x dual-link DVI-I output
  • 1 x dual-link DVI-D output
  • 1 x Mini DisplayPort output
  • HDMI output (via dongle)

Source: ASUS