Podcast #281 - NVIDIA GSYNC Preview, ASUS ROG MARS 760, Custom Cooled R9 290Xs and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2013 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: video, ROG, podcast, nvidia, mars 760, gtx 760, gsync, DirectCU II, aus, 290x

PC Perspective Podcast #281 - 12/19/2013

Join us this week as we discuss our NVIDIA GSYNC Preview, ASUS ROG MARS 760, Custom Cooled R9 290Xs 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, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:38:13
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 1:04:00 Intel Roadmap Leaks
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

 

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 - 04:25 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

ASUS Teases R9 290X DirectCU II

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 9, 2013 - 03:03 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.

Author:
Manufacturer: Various

ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP

Earlier this month AMD took the wraps off of a revamped and restyled family of GPUs under the Radeon R9 and R7 brands.  When I reviewed the R9 280X, essentially a lower cost version of the Radoen HD 7970 GHz Edition, I came away impressed with the package AMD was able to put together.  Though there was no new hardware to really discuss with the R9 280X, the price drop placed the cards in a very aggressive position adjacent the NVIDIA GeForce line-up (including the GeForce GTX 770 and the GTX 760). 

As a result, I fully expect the R9 280X to be a great selling GPU for those gamers with a mid-range budget of $300. 

But another of the benefits of using an existing GPU architecture is the ability for board partners to very quickly release custom built versions of the R9 280X. Companies like ASUS, MSI, and Sapphire are able to have overclocked and custom-cooled alternatives to the 3GB $300 card, almost immediately, by simply adapting the HD 7970 PCB.

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Today we are going to be reviewing a set of three different R9 280X cards: the ASUS DirectCU II, MSI Twin Frozr Gaming, and the Sapphire TOXIC. 

Continue reading our roundup of the R9 280X cards from ASUS, MSI and Sapphire!!

ASUS' Direct CU II works well with GTX 780s

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 5, 2013 - 04:04 PM |
Tagged: asus, GTX 780 DC II OC, DirectCU II, gtx 780

With 3GB of memory ASUS' GeForce GTX 780 DirectCU II OC card strays from the pack in terms of features and design.  With new and improved DirectCU II cooling on the card, high quality chokes and 10 phase power you should be able to push far ahead of the factory overclock of 889MHz with a boost of 941MHz.  You can use [H]ard|OCP's result of 1093-1145MHz core and 6.158GHz memory as a goal to try to reach, as long as you are willing to put the power sliders all the way to the right.  Check out how it performs in their full review.

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"ASUS revamped the DirectCU II cooling system and visual style, providing a full non-reference video card with the ASUS GeForce GTX 780 DiretCU II OC. New is the hybrid CoolTech fan providing improved airflow, and a 10mm heat pipe. We will see how this video card performs against several GPUs."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #265 - XSPC GTX 680 Waterblock, ASUS's DirectCU II Refresh, V-NAND SSDs and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2013 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: XSPC, video, V-NAND, ssd, Samsung, podcast, MXC, Intel, gtz 780, gtx 680, DirectCU II, asus, 670 mini

PC Perspective Podcast #265 - 08/22/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the XSPC GTX 680 Waterblock, ASUS's DirectCU II Refresh, V-NAND SSDs 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: 1:17:41

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Jeremy: Logitech Z506 5.1 Surround Speaker System 75W on sale for Canucks or not quite as good for 'muricans
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

*Due to upload issues on YouTube's side today, the video may take substantially longer than usual to be available

Author:
Manufacturer: Asus

Plus one GTX 670...

Brand new GPU architectures are typically packaged in reference designs when it comes to power, PCB layout, and cooling.  Once manufacturers get a chance to put out their own designs, then interesting things happen.  The top end products are usually the ones that get the specialized treatment first, because they typically have the larger margins to work with.  Design choices here will eventually trickle down to lower end cards, typically with a price point $20 to $30 more than a reference design.  Companies such as MSI have made this their bread and butter with the Lightning series on top, the Hawk line handling the midrange, and then the hopped up reference designs with better cooling under the Twin Frozr moniker.

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ASUS has been working with their own custom designs for years and years, but it honestly was not until the DirectCU series debuted did we have a well defined product lineup which pushes high end functionality across the entire lineup of products from top to bottom.  Certainly they had custom and unique designs, but things really seemed to crystallize with DirectCU.  I guess that is also the power of a good marketing tool as well.  DirectCU is a well known brand owned by Asus, and users typically know what to expect when looking at a DirectCU product.

Click to read the entire review here!

Overclocked and custom cooled, check out ASUS' custom GTX 650 Ti card

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2013 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: asus, gtx 650 ti boost, DirectCU II, factory overclocked

The sub-$200 GPU market is getting crowded which is great for enthusiasts without pockets deep enough to drop $400+ on a GPU as they can upgrade a card now and consider getting a second card some time down the road.  At $175 ($165 after MIR) the ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC 2GB is fully customized with a boost clock of 1085MHz though a stock 6GHz effective on the RAM.  Thanks to the impressive design and cooling of the card [H]ard|OCP pushed those up to 1150MHz and 6.2GHz on the RAM which pushed its performance even further passed the XFX Radeon HD 7790 Black Edition that it tested against. 

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"Today on the test bench for your reading pleasure, we have the ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC 2GB that comes in at the $175 mark. We will compare it to the XFX Radeon HD 7790 Black Edition 2GB to determine which factory overclocked card can run circles around the other."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Just Delivered: The Latest Midrange to High End NVIDIA Graphics Cards from ASUS

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 10, 2013 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: Overclocked, nvidia, just delivered, gtx 780, gtx 770, gtx 760, GTX 670 Mini, DirectCU II, DCII, asus

Returning home on Monday, I was greeted by several (slightly wet) boxes from Asus.  Happily, the rainstorm that made these boxes a bit damp did not last long, and the wetness was only superficial.  The contents were perfectly fine.  I was pleased by this, but not particularly pleased with FedEx for leaving them in a spot where they got wet.  All complaints aside, I was obviously ecstatic to get the boxes.

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Quite the lineup.  The new packaging is sharp looking and clearly defines the contents.

Inside these boxes are some of the latest and greatest video cards from Asus.  Having just finished up a budget roundup, I had the bandwidth available to tackle a much more complex task.  Asus sent four cards for our testing procedures, and I intend to go over them with a fine toothed comb.

The smallest of the bunch is the new GTX 670 DC Mini.  Asus did some serious custom work to not only get the card as small as it is, but also to redesign the power delivery system so that the chip only requires a single 8 pin PCI-E power connection.  Most GTX 670 boards require 2 x 6 pin connectors which would come out to be around 225 watts delivered, but a single 8 pin would give around 175 watts total.  This is skirting the edge of the official draw for the GTX 670, but with the GK104 chip being as mature as it is, there is some extra leeway involved.  The cooler is quite compact and apparently pretty quiet.  This is aimed at the small form factor crowd who do not want/need a overly large card, but still require a lot of performance.  While the GTX 700 series is now hitting the streets, there is still a market for this particular card.  Oh, and it is also overclocked for good measure!

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We see a nice progression from big to little.  It is amazing how small the GTX 670 DC Mini is compared to the rest, and it will be quite interesting to see how it compares to the GTX 760 in testing.

The second card is the newly released GTX 760 DCII OC.  This is again based on the tried and true GK104 chip, but has several units disabled.  It has 1152 CUDA cores, but retains the same number of ROPS as the fully enabled chips.  It also features the full 256 bit memory bus running at 6 Gbps.  It has plenty of bandwidth to provide the card in most circumstances considering the amount of functional units enabled.  The cooler is one of the new DirectCU II designs and is a nice upgrade in both functionality and looks from the previous DCII models.  It is a smaller card than one would expect, but that comes from the need to simplify the card and not overbuild it like the higher priced 770 and 780 cards.  As I have mentioned before, I really like the budget and midrange cards.  This should be a really fascinating card to test.

The next card is a bit of an odd bird.  The GTX 770 DCII OC is essentially a slightly higher clocked GTX 680 from yesteryear.  One of the big changes is that this particular model foregoes the triple slot cooler of the previous generation and implements a dual slot cooler that is quite heavy and with a good fin density.  It features six pin and eight pin power connections so it has some legs for overclocking.  The back plate is there for stability and protection, and it gives the board a very nice, solid feel.  Asus added two LEDs by the power connections which show if the card is receiving power or not.  This is nice, as the fans on this card are very silent in most situations.  Nobody wants to unplug a video card that is powered up.  It retains the previous generation DCII styling, but the cooler performance is certainly nothing to sneeze at.  It also is less expensive than the previous GTX 680, but is faster.

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All of the cards sport dual DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI outputs.  Both DVI ports are dual-link, but only one is DVI-I which can also output a VGA signal with the proper adapter.

Finally we have the big daddy of the GTX 700 series.  The 780 DCII OC is pretty much a monster card that exceeds every other offering out there, except the $1K GTX Titan.  It is a slightly cut down chip as compared to the mighty Titan, but it still packs in 2304 CUDA cores.  It retains the 384 bit memory bus and runs at a brisk 6 Gbps for a whopping 288.4 GB/sec of bandwidth.  The core is overclocked to a base of 889 MHz and boosts up to 941 MHz.  The cooler on this is massive.  It features a brand new fan design for the front unit which apparently can really move the air and do so quietly.  Oddly enough, this fan made its debut appearance on the aforementioned GTX 670 DC Mini.  The PCB on the GTX 780 DCII OC is non-reference.  It features a new power delivery system that should keep this board humming when overclocked.  Asus has done their usual magic in pairing the design with high quality components which should ensure a long lifespan for this pretty expensive board.

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I do like the protective plates on the backs of the bigger cards, but the rear portion of the two smaller cards are interesting as well.  We will delve more into the "Direct Power" functionality in the full review.

I am already well into testing these units and hope to have the full roundup late next week.  These are really neat cards and any consumer looking to buy a new one should certainly check out the review once it is complete.

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Asus has gone past the "Superpipe" stage with the GTX 780.  That is a 10 mm heatpipe we are seeing.  All of the DCII series coolers are robust, and even the DC Mini can dissipate a lot of heat.

Source: Asus