Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

GK110 Gets a Lower Price Point

If you want to ask us some questions about the GTX 780 or our review, join us for a LIVE STREAM at 2pm EDT / 11am PDT on our LIVE page.

When NVIDIA released the GeForce GTX Titan in February there was a kind of collective gasp across the enthusiast base.  Half of that intake of air was from people amazed at the performance they were seeing on a single GPU graphics cards powered by the GK110 chip.  The other half was from people aghast of the $1000 price point that NVIDIA launched it at.  The GTX Titan was the fastest single GPU card in the world, without any debate, but with it came a cost we hadn't seen in some time.  Even with the debate between it, the GTX 690 and the HD 7990, the Titan was likely my favorite GPU, cost no concerns.

IMG_9863.JPG

Today we see the extension of the GK110, by cutting it back some, and releasing a new card.  The GeForce GTX 780 3GB is based on the same chip as the GTX Titan but with additional SMX units disabled, a lower CUDA core count and less memory.  But as you'll soon see, the performance delta between it and the GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz is pretty impressive.  The $650 price tag though - maybe not.

We held a live stream the day this review launched at http://pcper.com/live.  You can see the replay that goes over our benchmark results and thoughts on the GTX 780 below.

 

The GeForce GTX 780 - A Cut Down GK110

As I mentioned above, the GTX 780 is a pared-down GK110 GPU and for more information on that particular architecture change, you should really take a look at my original GTX Titan launch article from February.  There is a lot more that is different on this part compared to GK104 than simple shader counts, but for gamers most of the focus will rest there. 

The chip itself is a 7.1 billion mega-ton beast though a card with the GTX 780 label is actually utilizing much fewer than that.  Below you will find a couple of block diagrams that represent the reduced functionality of the GTX 780 versus the GTX Titan:

block1.png

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB GK110 Graphics Card!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Various

Our 4K Testing Methods

You may have recently seen a story and video on PC Perspective about a new TV that made its way into the office.  Of particular interest is the fact that the SEIKI SE50UY04 50-in TV is a 4K television; it has a native resolution of 3840x2160.  For those that are unfamiliar with the new upcoming TV and display standards, 3840x2160 is exactly four times the resolution of current 1080p TVs and displays.  Oh, and this TV only cost us $1300.

seiki5.jpg

In that short preview we validated that both NVIDIA and AMD current generation graphics cards support output to this TV at 3840x2160 using an HDMI cable.  You might be surprised to find that HDMI 1.4 can support 4K resolutions, but it can do so only at 30 Hz (60 Hz 4K TVs won't be available until 2014 most likely), half the refresh rate of most TVs and monitors at 60 Hz.  That doesn't mean we are limited to 30 FPS of performance though, far from it.  As you'll see in our testing on the coming pages we were able to push out much higher frame rates using some very high end graphics solutions.

I should point out that I am not a TV reviewer and I don't claim to be one, so I'll leave the technical merits of the monitor itself to others.  Instead I will only report on my experiences with it while using Windows and playing games - it's pretty freaking awesome.  The only downside I have found in my time with the TV as a gaming monitor thus far is with the 30 Hz refresh rate and Vsync disabled situations.  Because you are seeing fewer screen refreshes over the same amount of time than you would with a 60 Hz panel, all else being equal, you are getting twice as many "frames" of the game being pushed to the monitor each refresh cycle.  This means that the horizontal tearing associated with Vsync will likely be more apparent than it would otherwise. 

4ksizes.png

Image from Digital Trends

I would likely recommend enabling Vsync for a tear-free experience on this TV once you are happy with performance levels, but obviously for our testing we wanted to keep it off to gauge performance of these graphics cards.

Continue reading our results from testing 4K 3840x2160 gaming on high end graphics cards!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Various

A very early look at the future of Catalyst

Today is a very interesting day for AMD.  It marks both the release of the reference design of the Radeon HD 7990 graphics card, a dual-GPU Tahiti behemoth, and the first sample of a change to the CrossFire technology that will improve animation performance across the board.  Both stories are incredibly interesting and as it turns out both feed off of each other in a very important way: the HD 7990 depends on CrossFire and CrossFire depends on this driver. 

If you already read our review (or any review that is using the FCAT / frame capture system) of the Radeon HD 7990, you likely came away somewhat unimpressed.  The combination of a two AMD Tahiti GPUs on a single PCB with 6GB of frame buffer SHOULD have been an incredibly exciting release for us and would likely have become the single fastest graphics card on the planet.  That didn't happen though and our results clearly state why that is the case: AMD CrossFire technology has some serious issues with animation smoothness, runt frames and giving users what they are promised. 

Our first results using our Frame Rating performance analysis method were shown during the release of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan card in February.  Since then we have been in constant talks with the folks at AMD to figure out what was wrong, how they could fix it, and what it would mean to gamers to implement frame metering technology.  We followed that story up with several more that showed the current state of performance on the GPU market using Frame Rating that painted CrossFire in a very negative light.  Even though we were accused by some outlets of being biased or that AMD wasn't doing anything incorrectly, we stuck by our results and as it turns out, so does AMD. 

Today's preview of a very early prototype driver shows that the company is serious about fixing the problems we discovered. 

If you are just catching up on the story, you really need some background information.  The best place to start is our article published in late March that goes into detail about how game engines work, how our completely new testing methods work and the problems with AMD CrossFire technology very specifically.  From that piece:

It will become painfully apparent as we dive through the benchmark results on the following pages, but I feel that addressing the issues that CrossFire and Eyefinity are creating up front will make the results easier to understand.  We showed you for the first time in Frame Rating Part 3, AMD CrossFire configurations have a tendency to produce a lot of runt frames, and in many cases nearly perfectly in an alternating pattern.  Not only does this mean that frame time variance will be high, but it also tells me that the value of performance gained by of adding a second GPU is completely useless in this case.  Obviously the story would become then, “In Battlefield 3, does it even make sense to use a CrossFire configuration?”  My answer based on the below graph would be no.

runt.jpg

An example of a runt frame in a CrossFire configuration

NVIDIA's solution for getting around this potential problem with SLI was to integrate frame metering, a technology that balances frame presentation to the user and to the game engine in a way that enabled smoother, more consistent frame times and thus smoother animations on the screen.  For GeForce cards, frame metering began as a software solution but was actually integrated as a hardware function on the Fermi design, taking some load off of the driver.

Continue reading our article on the new prototype driver from AMD to address frame pacing issues in CrossFire!!

New GeForce Game-Ready Drivers Just in Time for 'Dead Island: Riptide,' 'Star Trek', 'Neverwinter'; Boost Performance up to 20%

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 23, 2013 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce, 320.00 beta

NVIDIA rolled out a new set of beta drivers that provide up to 20% faster performance and have been optimized for a handful of new titles, including Dead Island: Riptide, Star Trek, and Neverwinter.

GeForce 320.00 beta drivers are now available for automatic download and installation using GeForce Experience, the easiest way to keep your drivers up to date.

With a single click in GeForce Experience, gamers can also optimize the image quality of top new games like Dead Island: Riptide and have it instantly tuned to take full advantage of their PC’s hardware.

Here are examples of the performance increases in GeForce 320.00 drivers (measured with GeForce GTX 660):

  • Up to 20% in Dirt: Showdown
  • Up to 18% in Tomb Raider
  • Up to 8% in StarCraft II
  • Up to 6% in other top games like Far Cry 3

For more details, refer to the release highlights on the driver download pages and read the GeForce driver article on GeForce.com.

Enjoy the new GeForce Game Ready drivers and let us know what you think.

nvidia-geforce-320-00-beta-drivers-gtx-680-performance.png

Windows Vista/Windows 7 Fixed Issues

The Windows 7 Magnifier window flickers. [1058231]

Games default to stereoscopic 3D mode after installing the driver. [1261633]

[GeForce 330M][Notebook]: The display goes blank when rebooting the notebook after installing th e driver. [1239252]

[Crysis 3]: There are black artifacts in the game. [1251495]

[Dirt 3]: When ambient occlusion is enabled, there is rendering corruption in the game while in split-screen mode. [1253727]

[3DTV Play][Mass Effect]: The NVIDIA Cont rol Panel “override antialiasing” setting does not work when stereoscopic 3D is enabled [1220312]

[Microsoft Flight Simulator]: Level D Simulations add-on aircraft gauges are not drawn correctly. [899771]

[GeForce 500 series][Stereoscopic 3D][Two World 2]: The application crashes when switching to windowed mode with stereoscopic 3D enabled. [909749]

[GeForce 660 Ti][All Points Bulletin (APB) Reloaded]: The game crashes occasionally, followed by a black/grey/red screen. [1042342]

[Geforce GTX 680][Red Orchestra 2 Heroes of Stalingrad]: Red-screen crash occurs after exiting the game. [1021046]

[GeForce 6 series][Final Fantasy XI]: TDR crash occurs in the game when using the Smite of Rage ability. [1037744]

[SLI][Surround][GeForce GTX Titan][Tomb Raider]: There is corruption in the game and the system hangs when played at high resolution and Ultra or Ultimate settings. [1254359]

[3D Surround, SLI], GeForce 500 Series: With Surround enabled, all displays may not be activated when selecting Activate All Displays from the NVIDIA Control Panel- > Set SLI Configuration page. [905544]

[SLI][Starcraft II][3D Vision]: The game crashes when run with 3D Vision enabled. [1253206]

[SLI][GeForce GTX 680][Tomb Raider (2013)]: The game crashes and TDR occurs while running the game at Ultra settings. [1251578]

[SLI][Starcraft II][3D Vision]: The game cras hes when played with 3D Vision and SLI enabled. [1253206]

SLI][Call of Duty: Black Ops 2]: The player emblems are not drawn correctly.

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

What to look for and our Test Setup

Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons.  Here is the schedule:

 

Today marks the conclusion of our first complete round up of Frame Rating results, the culmination of testing that was started 18 months ago.  Hopefully you have caught our other articles on the subject at hand, and you really will need to read up on the Frame Rating Dissected story above to truly understand the testing methods and results shown in this article.  Use the links above to find the previous articles!

To round out our Frame Rating testing in this interation, we are looking at more cards further down the product stack in two different sets.  The first comparison will look at the AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 graphics cards in both single and dual-card configurations.  Just like we saw with our HD 7970 vs GTX 680 and our HD 7950 vs GTX 660 Ti testing, evaluating how the GPUs compare in our new and improved testing methodology in single GPU configurations is just as important as testing in SLI and CrossFire.  The GTX 660 ($199 at Newegg.com) and the HD 7870 ($229 at Newegg.com) are the closest matches in terms of pricing though both card have some interesting game bundle options as well.

7870.jpg

AMD's Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition

Our second set of results will only be looking at single GPU performance numbers for lower cost graphics cards like the AMD Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7790 and from NVIDIA the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GTX 650 Ti BOOST.  We didn't include multi-GPU results on these cards simply due to time constraints internally and because we are eager to move onto further Frame Rating testing and input testing. 

gtx660.jpg

NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 660


If you are just joining this article series today, you have missed a lot!  If nothing else you should read our initial full release article that details everything about the Frame Rating methodology and why we are making this change to begin with.  In short, we are moving away from using FRAPS for average frame rates. We are using a secondary hardware capture system to record each frame of game play as the monitor would receive them. That recorded video is then analyzed to measure real world performance.

Because FRAPS measures frame times at a different point in the game pipeline (closer to the game engine) its results can vary dramatically from what is presented to the end user on their display.  Frame Rating solves that problem by recording video through a dual-link DVI capture card that emulates a monitor to the testing system and by simply applying a unique overlay color on each produced frame from the game, we can gather a new kind of information that tells a very unique story.

card1.jpg

The capture card that makes all of this work possible.

I don't want to spend too much time on this part of the story here as I already wrote a solid 16,000 words on the topic in our first article and I think you'll really find the results fascinating.  So, please check out my first article on the topic if you have any questions before diving into these results today!

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7790 1GB
Graphics Drivers AMD: 13.2 beta 7
NVIDIA: 314.07 beta
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

On to the results! 

Continue reading our review of the GTX 660 and HD 7870 using Frame Rating!!

What to Look For, Test Setup

Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons.  Here is the schedule:

We are back again with another edition of our continued reveal of data from the capture-based Frame Rating GPU performance methods.  In this third segment we are moving on down the product stack to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti and the AMD Radeon HD 7950 - both cards that fall into a similar price range.

gtx660ti.JPG

I have gotten many questions about why we are using the cards in each comparison and the answer is pretty straight forward: pricing.  In our first article we looked at the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and the GeForce GTX 680 while in the second we compared the Radeon HD 7990 (HD 7970s in CrossFire), the GeForce GTX 690 and the GeForce GTX Titan.  This time around we have the GeForce GTX 660 Ti ($289 on Newegg.com) and the Radeon HD 7950 ($299 on Newegg.com) but we did not include the GeForce GTX 670 because it sits much higher at $359 or so.  I know some of you are going to be disappointed that it isn't in here, but I promise we'll see it again in a future piece!


If you are just joining this article series today, you have missed a lot!  If nothing else you should read our initial full release article that details everything about the Frame Rating methodology and why we are making this change to begin with.  In short, we are moving away from using FRAPS for average frame rates or even frame times and instead are using a secondary hardware capture system to record all the frames of our game play as they would be displayed to the gamer, then doing post-process analyzation on that recorded file to measure real world performance.

Because FRAPS measures frame times at a different point in the game pipeline (closer to the game engine) its results can vary dramatically from what is presented to the end user on their display.  Frame Rating solves that problem by recording video through a dual-link DVI capture card that emulates a monitor to the testing system and by simply applying a unique overlay color on each produced frame from the game, we can gather a new kind of information that tells a very unique story.

card1.jpg

The capture card that makes all of this work possible.

I don't want to spend too much time on this part of the story here as I already wrote a solid 16,000 words on the topic in our first article and I think you'll really find the results fascinating.  So, please check out my first article on the topic if you have any questions before diving into these results today!

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB
Graphics Drivers AMD: 13.2 beta 7
NVIDIA: 314.07 beta
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

 

On to the results! 

Continue reading our review of the GTX 660 Ti and HD 7950 using Frame Rating!!

Summary Thus Far

Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons.  Here is the schedule:

Welcome to the second in our intial series of articles focusing on Frame Rating, our new graphics and GPU performance technology that drastically changes how the community looks at single and multi-GPU performance.  In the article we are going to be focusing on a different set of graphics cards, the highest performing single card options on the market including the GeForce GTX 690 4GB dual-GK104 card, the GeForce GTX Titan 6GB GK110-based monster as well as the Radeon HD 7990, though in an emulated form.  The HD 7990 was only recently officially announced by AMD at this years Game Developers Conference but the specifications of that hardware are going to closely match what we have here on the testbed today - a pair of retail Radeon HD 7970s in CrossFire. 

titancard.JPG

Will the GTX Titan look as good in Frame Rating as it did upon its release?

If you are just joining this article series today, you have missed a lot!  If nothing else you should read our initial full release article that details everything about the Frame Rating methodology and why we are making this change to begin with.  In short, we are moving away from using FRAPS for average frame rates or even frame times and instead are using a secondary hardware capture system to record all the frames of our game play as they would be displayed to the gamer, then doing post-process analyzation on that recorded file to measure real world performance.

Because FRAPS measures frame times at a different point in the game pipeline (closer to the game engine) its results can vary dramatically from what is presented to the end user on their display.  Frame Rating solves that problem by recording video through a dual-link DVI capture card that emulates a monitor to the testing system and by simply applying a unique overlay color on each produced frame from the game, we can gather a new kind of information that tells a very unique story.

card1.jpg

The capture card that makes all of this work possible.

I don't want to spend too much time on this part of the story here as I already wrote a solid 16,000 words on the topic in our first article and I think you'll really find the results fascinating.  So, please check out my first article on the topic if you have any questions before diving into these results today!

 

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4GB
AMD Radeon HD 7970 CrossFire 3GB
Graphics Drivers AMD: 13.2 beta 7
NVIDIA: 314.07 beta (GTX 690)
NVIDIA: 314.09 beta (GTX TITAN)
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

 

On to the results! 

Continue reading our review of the GTX Titan, GTX 690 and HD 7990 using Frame Rating!!

How Games Work

 

Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons.  Here is the schedule:

 

Introduction

The process of testing games and graphics has been evolving even longer than I have been a part of the industry: 14+ years at this point. That transformation in benchmarking has been accelerating for the last 12 months. Typical benchmarks test some hardware against some software and look at the average frame rate which can be achieved. While access to frame time has been around for nearly the full life of FRAPS, it took an article from Scott Wasson at the Tech Report to really get the ball moving and investigate how each frame contributes to the actual user experience. I immediately began research into testing actual performance perceived by the user, including the "microstutter" reported by many in PC gaming, and pondered how we might be able to test for this criteria even more accurately.

The result of that research is being fully unveiled today in what we are calling Frame Rating – a completely new way of measuring and validating gaming performance.

The release of this story for me is like the final stop on a journey that has lasted nearly a complete calendar year.  I began to release bits and pieces of this methodology starting on January 3rd with a video and short article that described our capture hardware and the benefits that directly capturing the output from a graphics card would bring to GPU evaluation.  After returning from CES later in January, I posted another short video and article that showcased some of the captured video and stepping through a recorded file frame by frame to show readers how capture could help us detect and measure stutter and frame time variance. 

card4.jpg

Finally, during the launch of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan graphics card, I released the first results from our Frame Rating system and discussed how certain card combinations, in this case CrossFire against SLI, could drastically differ in perceived frame rates and performance while giving very similar average frame rates.  This article got a lot more attention than the previous entries and that was expected – this method doesn’t attempt to dismiss other testing options but it is going to be pretty disruptive.  I think the remainder of this article will prove that. 

Today we are finally giving you all the details on Frame Rating; how we do it, what we learned and how you should interpret the results that we are providing.  I warn you up front though that this is not an easy discussion and while I am doing my best to explain things completely, there are going to be more questions going forward and I want to see them all!  There is still much to do regarding graphics performance testing, even after Frame Rating becomes more common. We feel that the continued dialogue with readers, game developers and hardware designers is necessary to get it right.

Below is our full video that features the Frame Rating process, some example results and some discussion on what it all means going forward.  I encourage everyone to watch it but you will definitely need the written portion here to fully understand this transition in testing methods.  Subscribe to your YouTube channel if you haven't already!

Continue reading our analysis of the new Frame Rating performance testing methodology!!

Get more out of Columbia with the all new GeForce 314.22 driver

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2013 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: bioshock infinite, geforce, GeForce 314.22, nvidia, gaming

Official_cover_art_for_Bioshock_Infinite.jpg

BioShock Infinite launches tomorrow and promises to be an exciting third installment to the award-winning franchise.

GeForce gamers today can get ready for a great Day 1 experience with BioShock Infinite by upgrading to our new GeForce 314.22 Game Ready drivers. These drivers are Microsoft WHQL-certified and available for download on GeForce.com.

Our software engineers have been working with Irrational Games over the past two years to optimize BioShock Infinite for GeForce users and, as a result, these drivers offer game-changing performance increases of up to 41 percent.

Also, with a single click in GeForce Experience, gamers can optimize the image quality in BioShock Infinite and have it instantly tuned to the capability of their PC’s hardware.

GeForce 314.22 drivers also offer several other significant performance increases in other current games. For more details, refer to the release highlights on the driver download pages and read the GeForce driver article on GeForce.com.

GeForce 314.22 Highlights

  • Delivers GeForce Game Ready experience for BioShock Infinite:
    • Up to 41% faster performance
    • Optimal game settings with GeForce Experience
    • Microsoft WHQL-certified
  • Increases gaming performance in other popular titles:
    • Up to 60% faster in Tomb Raider
    • Up to 23% faster in Sniper Elite V2
    • Up to 13% faster in Sleeping Dogs
  • Adds new SLI and 3D Vision profiles for upcoming games.

logo_geforce.png

Source: NVIDIA

A year of GeForce drivers reviewed

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 5, 2013 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, graphics drivers

After evaluating the evolution of AMD's drivers over 2012, [H]ard|OCP has now finalized their look at NVIDIA's offerings over the past year.  They chose a half dozen drivers spanning March to December, tested on both the GTX680 and GTX 670.  As you can see throughout the review, NVIDIA's performance was mostly stable apart from the final driver of 2012 which provided noticeably improved performance in several games.  [H] compared the frame rates from both companies on the same chart and it makes the steady improvement of AMD's drivers over the year even more obvious.  That does imply that AMD's initial drivers for this year needed improvement and that perhaps the driver team at AMD has a lot of work cut out for them in 2013 if they want to reach a high level of performance across the board, with game specific improvements offering the only deviation in performance.

H_Geforce.jpg

"We have evaluated AMD and NVIDIA's 2012 video card driver performances separately. Today we will be combining these two evaluations to show each companies full body of work in 2012. We will also be looking at some unique graphs that show how each video cards driver improved or worsened performance in each game throughout the year."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP