Subject: Graphics Cards | August 15, 2012 - 01:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 660ti, gpu boost, gpu
Gamers have been eagerly awaiting the release of the midrange NVIDIA graphics card thanks to some rather enticing rumors and leaks. Due to launch sometime soon, the GTX 660 Ti is packing some quality hardware and may be the next 8800GT as far as popularity levels with gamers craving the best price/performance. However, that is dependent on pricing–which has been up in the air for a while. Rumored prices have included an MSRP of $349 and retail pre-orders for $299 and just under $400 (and guesses everywhere in between).
US-based computer retailer CompUSA has provided us with further information that suggests the price will, in fact, be the ever-desired $299 price point rather than previous rumors that suggested it would be priced closer to the GTX 670. Gamers rejoice!
Specifically, a reference version of the PNY-manufactured NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti recently appears on CompUSA’s website where customers could purchase it. This card is listed as being model number “VCGGTX660TXPB-C Bundle.” While it is unclear what the “-C” designator means, it is more proof that it is the same (or a very similar) model as the card leaked by MacMall (when it showed up for pre-order ahead of the release date). Speaking of bundles, the CompUSA card gets even better as it is the PNY GTX 660 Ti and a game coupon for Borderlands 2 for the $299 price–not bad at all.
While I have not personally ordered one (so I can’t confirm if CompUSA will actually sell it to me ahead of the official release or if it was just a mistake on its part for making the store page live early), you can try to get your hands on the 660 Ti now for $299 USD.
I’m extremely happy to see the $299 price, and I look forward to see the cards from other manufacturers. Custom and factory overclocked cards should also be interesting as far as pricing and where they fit compared to saving up a bit more money and simply going with a GTX 670. What do you think, will you be picking one of these graphics cards up?
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 17, 2012 - 12:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: toxic edition, sapphire, radeon, overclocked GPU, gpu, 7970 ghz edition
GPU add-in-board partner Sapphire Technology has launched a new factory overclocked graphics card based on the AMD 7970 GHz Edition GPU (which we did a live video review of recently). That particular chip is built on the 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and brings several improvements over the initial (non GHz Edition) 7970 GPU. The main difference between the two is that the GHz variant is a higher binned part that also features a new GPU boost technology similar to NVIDIA’s dynamic overclocking function. The new Sapphire Toxic card takes that chip and pushes it to the max with two levels of factory overclocked settings.
Packing the company’s custom dual 90mm fan and heatpipe-equipped Vapor-X cooler, the HD 7970 TOXIC Edition features 6GB of GDDR5 memory, 2,048 stream processors, and a 7970 GHz Edition GPU. Out of the box, the card has a base GPU clockspeed of 1050 MHz and a boost speed of 1100 MHz. On the memory side of things, it runs the GDDR5 at 6,000 MHz (effective). When you press a button – which the company calls the Lethal Boost Button – the base clockspeed becomes 1100 MHz and the boost speed becomes 1200 MHz. The Lethal Boost also overclocks the memory to 6400 MHz (effective).
The card also includes a 12 layer black PCB with a new eight phase power design package for the GPU and an additional power phase for the VDDCI and MVDD along with other high-end goodies to deliver the stable voltage necessary for the high factory overclocks. Rear IO on the graphics card includes two DVI ports – one dual link and one single link – one mini-DisplayPort, and one full-sized HDMI port. In all, it is a dual slot card and measures 275mm in length, and 115mm wide. You will be able to purchase the Toxic edition card for $680. It looks like a really good card, but it’s not cheap.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 16, 2012 - 11:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Overclocked, nvidia, gt640, gpu, gddr3
Interestingly, in spite of recent rumors suggesting that NVIDIA is refreshing the low-end GeForce GT 640 graphics card with GDDR5 memory, add-in-board partner Point Of View is launching an overclocked GT 640. What’s interesting is that the new card will be packing the older GDDR3. The card will come in two SKUs, a 1GB and a 2GB model – both with 384 CUDA cores. Using a 128-bit memory interface and a PCI-E 3.0 card interface, the card is based on NVIDIA’s 28nm “Kepler” GPU.
In addition to the GDDR3 memory, specifications include a 1006 MHz graphics clock, and 2020 MHz memory clock. Compared to the reference GT 640, the overclocked GT 640 has a healthy boost. The reference GPU clock speed is only 900 MHz while the memory clock speed is 1800 Mhz, meaning the Point of View TGT Ultra Charged has a 106 MHz GPU and 220 MHz memory overclock – very respectable. As Techpowerup notes, the factory overclocked card will cost around or € 115 with VAT tax (around $120 USD). That puts this card in between an AMD 7750 and AMD 7770. The overclocks should help it to get closer to the performance of the 7750, but it is still rather difficult to justify. Especially with a refreshed version with GDDR5 rumored to be in the works, I would hold off on buying any current GT 640 cards, and I think from our recent podcast Ryan would agree with me.\
What do you think though; let us know in the comments below. You can read more about the new factory overclocked GeForce GT 640 over at TechPowerUp.
Podcast #209 - Thunderbolt on Windows, Western Digital Red Drives, a passively cooled GTX 680 and more!
Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2012 - 01:35 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: WD, ThunderFX, thunderbolt, ssd, red, podcast, Intel, gtx 680, gpu, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #209 - 07/12/2012
Join us this week as we talk about Thunderbolt Performance on Windows, the new Western Digital Red Hard Drives, a passively cooled GTX 680 and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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 Malvantano
This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
Program length: 1:15:06
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- Quakecon - we need Tshirt ideas!!
- 00:05:45 Thunderbolt Performance on Windows with ASUS P8Z77-V Premium
- 00:17 Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Motherboard Review
- 00:18:30 AMD, Vishera and Beyond!
- 00:26:45 HP Envy 14 Spectre Review
- 00:28:30 Western Digital Red 3TB NAS HDD Review
- 00:41:51 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
- 00:42:45 Passively cooled GTX 680 anyone?
- 00:45:45 Windows 8 Pro will run you $39
- 00:50:00 Overclocking makes your system less stable...duhhh
- 00:57:00 ASUS and Gigabyte raise warranty times
- 00:58:30 Mid-range Kepler rumors
- 01:03:03 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
For those of you that prefer the video version, see below:
Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2012 - 07:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 660 Ti, gtx 660, gtx 650 Ti, gtx 640, graphics cards, gpu
We have seen and reviewed NVIDIA’s high-end Kepler graphics cards, but the company’s mid-range line has been even harder to find than the GTX 680 was a couple months ago. That may be about to change though, as recent rumors suggest that the company is preparing at least three mid-range graphics cards for public release.
The current GT 640. Expect the refresh to look very similar.
The cheapest rumored card is a refresh of the existing GeForce GT 640. The refresh is slated for an August 2012 release and it takes the existing GK107 GPU with 384 CUDA cores and pairs it with GDDR5 memory instead of the currently used GDDR3. Videocardz predicts that the move to GDDR5 will bump the price up to a bit over $100.
The next card up will reportedly cost around $150 and will be released in August. The GeForce GT 650 Ti will allegedly be based around the GK106 GPU with 960 CUDA cores enabled. It will likely be paired with up to 2GB of GDDR5 memory and a 192-bit memory interface. This card will likely be the high-end HTPC and/or very entry level gaming card on the NVIDIA side.
However, for those serious about wanting to get into gaming, they should probably spend a bit more on the GPU and get at least the GTX 660. This rumored card is using a GK106 GPU with 1152 CUDA cores enabled and an alleged 1.5GB of GDDR5 memory with a 192-bit interface. As far as pricing, it will be positioned between the GT 650 Ti and the GeForce GTX 670 – somewhere in the $200-300 range.
Interestingly, if rumors turn out to be true, there may be yet another new graphics card that would fill the performance (and price) void between the GTX 660 and GTX 670: the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Allegedly, the GTX 660 Ti would be very close to the GTX 670 as far as specifications are concerned. Both cards are based on the GK104 Kepler GPU (which we recently reviewed) and would have 1344 CUDA cores enabled. Where the two differ in the predicted specifications is memory. While the GeForce GTX 670 has either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit interface, the GTX 660 Ti will have 1.5GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory with a 192-bit interface. This card is also predicted to be released in August with the above mentioned NVIDIA GPUs. You can expect this card to be priced in the $300 to $400 dollar range, with an emphasis on the former for reference designs with 1.5GB of memory.
All these rumored cards should really help NVIDIA to flesh out its Kepler lineup and take on AMD on all fronts. These cards (assuming the rumors hold true, of course) should also be much easier to find and get a hold of since they are probably using binned chips that could not be sold as a GTX 670 or GTX 680 which were difficult to find in stock at launch.
What do you think about these rumors, do they sound plausible? Have you been holding off on Kepler until cheaper cards are released? Let us know in the comments below. You can find more information on the rumored graphics cards here.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2012 - 05:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rumor, hd 7950 GHz edition, graphics card, gpu boost, gpu, amd
An interesting rumor floating around the internet concerns a new AMD 7950 graphics card. Specifically, a forum post over at EXPReview hinted at a new GHz Edition 7950 card. They reference a source and a photo of a graphics card with GHz Edition markings and two six-pin PCI-E power connectors. They further quoted a source that said AMD would be releasing a fourth card to its 7000-series lineup. In other words, there was not a whole lot to go on.
The alleged AMD Radeon HD 7950 GHz Edition graphics card.
I saw the rumor a couple of days ago, but decided to let it sink in for a bit before writing about it. After some thought and internal conversations, I think a 7950 GHz edition is plausible, and certainly a possibility. With the addition of the HD 7970 GHz Edition (which we recently reviewed), AMD now has a 7900 series part with its new GPU Boost (aka Powertune Boost) technology. Unfortunately, that tech can not simply be rolled out to the other existing 7900 series cards meaning that the original 7950 and 7970 are stuck without boost, leaving a gap in its lineup. Because of that, it seems logical that AMD would want to fill in that gap with a refreshed 7950 part that has higher clocks and GPU boost.
The 7970 GHz Edition helped AMD stay competitive with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 and enabled AMD to (re)claim it had the fastest single GPU card. That card was enabled by AMD finding extra headroom and higher bins in its 28nm GPUs. The current Radeon HD 7950 runs at an 800 MHz GPU clock speed and a 5GHz GDDR5 effective clock speed. It is unclear if the company’s chips have enough headroom that they are able to overclock 7950 oriented silicon or if they are simply reworking the bins such that the 7950 GHz Edition is either using silicon that just barely can’t make the cut as a 7970 GHz Edition or AMD is artificially locking down 7970 GHz chips to make these proposed 7950 GHz GPUs. Apart from the increased clock speeds and GPU Boost, the rumored card is said to maintain the same hardware specifications as the existing 7950. Mainly, that means 1,792 stream processors, 112 texture units, and the same number of transistors – 4.31 billion – on a 28nm process. In comparison, the 7970 has 2,048 stream processors and 128 texture units.
As mentioned above, such a chip sounds like a logical step for AMD. By refreshing the 7950 with higher clock speeds and adding GPU Boost functionality it will be fight with the GeForce 670 for the performance crown, and may even come close to 680/7970 performance when overclocked further. I do have a couple of questions about this rumored card, however. Specifically, I am wondering if AMD will simply refresh the 7900 series cards and let the original releases fade out as the stock dwindles or if they will keep them around. I’m leaning towards the later but it will still be interesting to see, and it also makes me wonder how much a 7950 GHz Edition will cost me.
I’m curious what you think about the rumor though, do you think it has any merit? And assuming this is legit, where do you think it will stand performance-wise versus NVIDIA’s products?
If you are curious about how AMD’s new GPU Boost technology works, be sure to check out our Live Review of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with AMD’s Evan Groenke where we are given a live demonstration showing how it works and some background on the technology.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 3, 2012 - 08:36 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: radeon, hd 7770, graphics cards, gpu, clock speed, amd
Gigabyte has had an overclocked version of the Radeon HD 7770 graphics card for a couple months now, but the company is already readying a second revision of the card. Curiously, the new revision will maintain the same hardware but will run at slightly lower clock speeds. While the current revision (1.0) runs at 1100 MHz and 5000 MHz for the GPU core and memory respectively, the updated graphics card will run at 1050 MHz and 4500 MHz.
Beyond the lower clock speeds, the new revision of the GV-R7770 OC card maintains the same PCB, chips, and cooler design. That hardware includes a 28nm GPU, 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit interface, and a PCI-E 3.0 expansion slot. Display outputs include a DVI port, full-size HDMI port, and two mini DisplayPorts. It also maintains the same custom Gigabyte heatsink and fan.
According to Videocardz, users will be able to identify which revision they are getting before handing over any money by looking at the box. Alternatively, users can identify which revision it is by looking at the sticker on the underside of the card just above the PCI-E connector. As a new revision, especially with the release of higher-binning chips from AMD, it is a bit confusing that the card is being released with lower clock speeds than its predecessor. It may be that the higher factory overclock was not stable on enough cards and Gigabyte was having to deal with too many returns – that’s only a guess though.
All the same, if you are shopping for a 7770 graphics card and have been considering the Gigabyte model, be sure to double check which revision you are getting.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 3, 2012 - 05:17 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: txaa, nvidia, graphics drivers, gpu, drivers, bug fixes
NVIDIA has made the latest version of its beta graphics card drivers available for download. With the new version 304.79 beta drivers comes TXAA support, numerous bug fixes, and the first unified Windows 8 and Windows 7 release.
We covered TXAA, or temporal anti-aliasing, in our NVIDIA GTX 680 2GB review. The new 304.79 drivers enable support for it in The Secret World MMORPG – following a game update. TXAA will come in two levels with TXAA 2 having quality greater than 8x MSAA, especially with in-game objects like chain link fences. The issue with TXAA adoption is that it must be implemented in the game engine, and cannot simply be added on after the fact via the NVIDIA control panel. Also, it is a feature that is exclusive to the company’s 600-series Kepler graphics cards.
There are a few other games that have claimed support for TXAA, but gamers will have to wait for a future update to take advantage of it.
The beta drivers are the first graphics drivers to be a unified release with support for both desktops and laptops running Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. Further, the company has updated its SLI profiles to support End of Nations, Nexuiz, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Tornado Force, and Tribes: Ascend. The release also addresses a number of bugs. Some of the larger bug fixes include a fix for an issue that caused the PC to reboot instead of shut down, an issue that caused a black screen after driver installation, and a fix for flickering mouse cursors when hardware cursor is enabled in certain games.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 2, 2012 - 06:53 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: passive cooling, nvidia, kepler, gtx 680, gpu
Chinese graphics card manufacturer Colorful recently showed off a massive NVIDIA GTX 680 GPU. Massive may even be an understatement, as this card uses not one, but two heatsinks – and more heatpipes that Josh can shake a GPU at – to passively cool the fastest single GPU graphics card that NVIDIA has.
While there is no word on pricing, availability, or clock speeds, the iGAME NVIDIA GTX 680 is a silent GPU that is going to need a seriously large case. One heatsink attaches as you would expect, right over the GPU, GDDR5 memory, and VRMs. It uses 140 aluminum fins and seven heatpipes traveling the length of the PCB to distribute heat.
From there, six copper heatpipes transfer heat to a second heatsink with another 140 fins and seven heatpipes(!). This second heatsink appears to float over the top of the card, supported by the six heatpipes. The heatsink and PCB are black, with a blue piece covering the two heatsinks that features the iGame and NVIDIA GTX 680 logos. The back of the card features a single DVI port, a DisplayPort, and a full-size HDMI port.
For the PC gamer that values silent performance with the least compromises possible, this card is looking like the perfect solution – assuming it comes to market, of course. If you are interested in seeing more photos of this passively cooled GTX 680 graphics card, check out the EXPReview story.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 22, 2012 - 04:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tahiti, gpu, ASUS ROG, asus, amd, 7970
ASUS recently posted a few teaser photos of its upcoming Republic of Gamers branded 7970 graphics card. The Matrix HD 7970 is a three slot design with the company’s DirectCU II heatsink, dual fans, DIGI+ VRM, and (of course) AMD’s 7970 Tahiti GPU core. While likely not based on the higher-binned cores used in the new 7970 GHz Edition graphics cards, with the large cooler and extra power phases that ASUS is packing into this Matrix GPU it should overclock to similar levels of performance.
The card features fans, and a large dual slot cooler with the traditional red and black ROG theme. The ASUS and Matrix logos are etched into the side of the card as well. The PCB is black and further covered by a bracing plate to reinforce the PCB to support the weight of the cooler. On the front of the card, it houses an air vent, two DVI connectors, and four DisplayPort video outputs. On the back of the card are four buttons. Two of the buttons with plus and minus symbols let you adjust the core voltage in preset jumps. The Safe Mode button next to the minus button clears the overclocks from the BIOS and resets the card to default settings. Finally, the red button will spin the fan up to 100% to overclock the card as far as possible. They also have a bank of LEDs below the buttons that offer at-a-glance load monitoring (really only useful for those testing outside a case...). In the rear corner of the card is two eight pin PCI-E power connectors. Then, on the underside (top when installed in the case) of the graphics card’s PCB, ASUS has a VGA Hotwire port which allows the card to interface with the ASUS OC Key and Extreme edition motherboards (such as the Maximus V and Rampage IV Extreme). There are also voltage checking points.
Internals are somewhat similar to ASUS Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU II, but with some aspects ratcheted up. The power phases, for example, have increased from 12 phases to 20 on the Matrix card. It continues to use the 7970 “Tahiti” GPU with 2048 shaders, 32 ROPs, and AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture. ASUS is packing 3GB of GDDR5 memory with a 384-bit memory interface. ASUS has stated that both the GPU core and memory will be overclocked from the factory. Unfortunately, they have not released any specific numbers. We will have to wait until the card is closer to the launch date for that information.
The ASUS ROG Matrix graphics card will be launching in Q3 of 2012. It will be aimed at extreme overclockers – especially those that are already using Republic of Gamers branded motherboards from ASUS. What do you think of this new card, especially now that AMD has launched its 7970 GHz Edition reference GPU? You can find more photos of the card over at the ASUS website.