Maingear's Nomad 17 gaming laptop: Ivy Bridge and Kepler join forces

Subject: Systems | October 2, 2012 - 07:38 PM |
Tagged: maingear, kepler, Ivy Bridge, gtx 680m, gaming laptop

Maingear is a company that seemingly ascribes to the “go big or go home” motto, and nowhere is that sentiment made clearer than its latest gaming notebook: the Nomad 17.

Perhaps, the term “notebook” is a bit of an understatement here. The Nomad 17 is a 16.85” x 11.34” x 2.17” gaming notebook that packs the latest and greatest mobile technology into a package that is sure to give your back a workout should you attempt to use this beast as your daily driver (as someone that has attempted such a feat, I can attest to that heh). The Nomad 17 starts at $1,599 and goes up from there, but you do get a lot of hardware for the money.

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An Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3840QM is the highest end CPU you can add, and it is also loaded out with either a NVIDIA GTX 675M or the GTX 680M graphics card and Optimus graphics switching technology. In addition, the Nomad can be configured with either two 512GB SSDs or two 750GB mechanical hard drives in a RAID O or RAID 1 array. The gaming laptop also does not skimp on RAM, allowing up to 32GB of DDR3 running at 1600MHz.

On the outside, you are getting a backlit keyboard, multitouch touchpad, and large 17” LED backlit display with matte anti-glare coating and a resolution of 1920x1080. On the audio front, it supports the THX TruStudio Pro audio codec and sports two speakers and a subwoofer by DynAudio. Connectivity options include a SD card reader, 6x Blu-ray burner/8x DVD writer optical drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. External IO ports include one HDMI, one DVI, three USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, one Firewire, one optical audio out (S/PDIF), one Gigabit Ethernet/RJ45 port, and one RJ-11 port (of all things). Also, it features analog audio outputs, eSATA, and a VGA output.

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The Nomad 17 with come pre-loaded with the 64-bit versions of either the Windows 7 Home, Premium, or Ultimate operating system.

But, the big reveal for gamers wanting to show off their gaming hardware is this: the Nomad 17 will be available in one of six custom, hand painted designs using glossy automotive paint.

The Nomad 17 is available now, and starts at $1,599. When decked out with the Core i7-3840QM, 4GB GTX 680M, 32GB system RAM, and two 512GB Crucial M4 SSDs (in RAID 0) mentioned above, the system total came out to $3,802. At that price, serious gamers only need apply, but is still an awesome piece of gaming technology nonetheless. Maingear has definitely packed the 17” laptop to the max with hardware.

You can find more photos of the Nomad 17 over at the Maingear website.

Source: Engadget

ASUS Launches the GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II Lineup

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, kepler, gtx 660, gk106, geforce, evga, factory overclocked

As those of you who have already read the post below this one know, ASUS decided to create a DirectCU II model for their GTX 660, with the famous heatpipe bearing heatsink.  They have overclocked the GPU already and the card comes with tools to allow you to push it even further if you take the time to get to know your card and what it can manage.  Check the full press release below.

Fremont, CA (September 13, 2012) - ASUS is excited to release the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series featuring the Standard, OC and TOP editions. Utilizing the latest 28nm NVIDIA Kepler graphics architecture, the OC and TOP cards deliver a factory-overclock while all three cards feature ASUS exclusive DirectCU thermal design and GPU Tweak tuning software to deliver a quieter, cooler, faster, and more immersive gameplay experience. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series set a new benchmark for exceptional performance and power efficiency in a highly affordable graphics card. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II is perfect for gamers looking to upgrade from last-generation graphics technology while retaining ASUS’ class-leading cooling and acoustic performance.

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Superior Design and Software for the Best Gaming Experience ASUS equips the GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series with 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked up to 6108MHz. The TOP edition features a blistering GPU core boost clock of 1137MHz, 104MHz faster than reference designs while the OC edition arrives with a factory-set GPU core boost speed of 1085MHz. Exclusive ASUS DIGI+ VRM digital power delivery and user-friendly GPU Tweak tuning software allows all cards to easily overclock beyond factory-set speeds offering enhanced performance in your favorite game or compute intensive application.

The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series feature exclusive DirectCU technology. The custom designed cooler uses direct contact copper heatpipes for faster heat transduction and up to 20% lower normal operating temperatures than reference designs. The optimized fans are able operate at lower speeds providing a much quieter gaming or computing environment. For enhanced stability, energy efficiency, and overclocking margins the cards feature DIGI+ VRM digital power deliver plus a class-leading six-phase Super Alloy Power design for the capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs meant to extend product lifespan and durability while operating noise-free even under heavy workloads.

ASUS once again includes the award winning GPU Tweak tuning suite in the box. Overclocking-inclined enthusiasts or gamers can boost clock speeds, set power targets, and configure fan operating parameters and policies; all this and more is accessible in the user-friendly interface. GPU Tweak offers built-in safe guards to ensure all modifications are safe, maintaining optimal stability and card reliability.

Source: ASUS

New Kepler on the Block, meet the vanilla GTX 660

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, kepler, gtx 660, gk106, geforce, evga

The non-Ti version of the GTX 660 has arrived on test benches and retailers, with even the heavily overclocked cards being available at $230, like EVGA's Superclocked model or MSI's OC'd card once you count the MIR.  That price places it right in between the HD 7850 and 7870, and ~$70 less than the GTX 660 Ti, while the performance is mostly comparable to a stock HD7870 though the OC versions can top the GTX660.

[H]ard|OCP received ASUS' version of the card, a DirectCU II based version with the distinctive heatpipes.  ASUS overclocked the card to a 1072MHz base clock and 1137MHz GPU Boost and [H] plans to see just how much further the frequencies can be pushed at a later date.  Their final word on this card for those looking to upgrade, for those of you with "a GTX 560 Ti, and even the GTX 570, the GTX 660 is an upgrade".

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"NVIDIA is launching the new GeForce GTX 660 GPU, codenamed GK106. We have a retail ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II custom video card fully evaluated against a plethora of competition at this price point. This brand new GPU aims for a price point just under the GTX 660 Ti but still promises to deliver exceptional 1080p gaming with AA."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

GK106 Completes the Circle

The release of the various Kepler-based graphics cards have been interesting to watch from the outside.  Though NVIDIA certainly spiced things up with the release of the GeForce GTX 680 2GB card back in March, and then with the dual-GPU GTX 690 4GB graphics card, for quite quite some time NVIDIA was content to leave the sub-$400 markets to AMD's Radeon HD 7000 cards.  And of course NVIDIA's own GTX 500-series.

But gamers and enthusiasts are fickle beings - knowing that the GTX 660 was always JUST around the corner, many of you were simply not willing to buy into the GTX 560s floating around Newegg and other online retailers.  AMD benefited greatly from this lack of competition and only recently has NVIDIA started to bring their latest generation of cards to the price points MOST gamers are truly interested in. 

Today we are going to take a look at the brand new GeForce GTX 660, a graphics cards with 2GB of frame buffer that will have a starting MSRP of $229.  Coming in $80 under the GTX 660 Ti card released just last month, does the more vanilla GTX 660 have what it takes to replace the success of the GTX 460?

The GK106 GPU and GeForce GTX 660 2GB

NVIDIA's GK104 GPU is used in the GeForce GTX 690, GTX 680, GTX 670 and even the GTX 660 Ti.  We saw the much smaller GK107 GPU with the GT 640 card, a release I was not impressed with at all.  With the GTX 660 Ti starting at $299 and the GT 640 at $120, there was a WIDE gap in NVIDIA's 600-series lineup that the GTX 660 addresses with an entirely new GPU, the GK106.

First, let's take a quick look at the reference card from NVIDIA for the GeForce GTX 660 2GB - it doesn't differ much from the reference cards for the GTX 660 Ti and even the GTX 670.

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The GeForce GTX 660 uses the same half-length PCB that we saw for the first time with the GTX 670 and this will allow retail partners a lot of flexibility with their card designs. 

Continue reading our review of the GeForce GTX 660 graphics card!

NVIDIA Launches GTX 650 for Budget Gamers

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 09:38 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 650, graphics cards, geforce

Ah, Kepler: the (originally intended as) midrange graphics card architecture that took the world by storm and allowed NVIDIA to take it from the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 690 all the way down to budget discrete HTPC cards. So far this year we have seen the company push Kepler to its limits by adding GPU boost and placing it in the GTX 690 and GTX 680. Those cards were great, but commanded a price premium that most gamers could not afford. Enter the GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti earlier this year and Kepler started to become an attractive option for gamers wanting a high-end single GPU system without breaking the bank. Those cards, at $399 and $299 respectively were a step in the right direction to making the Kepler architecture available to everyone but were still a bit pricey if you were on a tighter budget for your gaming rig (or needed to factor in the Significant Other Approval Process™).

Well, Kepler has now been on the market for about six months, and I’m excited to (finally) announce that NVIDIA is launching its first Kepler-based budget gaming card! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 brings Kepler down to the ever-attractive $109 price point and is even capable of playing new games at 1080p above 30FPS. Not bad for such a cheap card!

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With the GTX 650, you are making some sacrifices as far as hardware, but things are not all bad. The card features a mere 384 CUDA cores and 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus. This is a huge decrease in hardware compared to the GTX 660 Ti’s 1344 CUDA cores and 2GB memory on a 192-bit bus – but that card is also $200 more. And while the GTX 650 runs the memory at 5Gbps, NVIDIA was not shy about pumping up the GPU core clockspeed. No boost functionality was mentioned but the base clockspeed is a respectable 1058 MHz. Even better, the card only requires a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector and has a TDP of 64W (less than half of its higher-end GeForce brethren).

Specs Comparison

The following chart compares the specifications between the new Geforce GTX 650 through the GTX 670 graphics card. 

GTX 650 and GTX 660 Specifications.jpg

Click on the above chart for a larger image.

Gaming Potential?

The really important question is how well it handles games, and NVIDIA showed off several slides with claimed performance numbers. Taking these numbers with a grain of salt as they are coming from the same company that built the hardware, the GTX 650 looks like a capable GPU for the price. The company compared it to both its GTS 450 (Fermi) and AMD’s 7750 graphics card. Naturally, it was shown in a good light in both comparisons, but nothing egregious.

NVIDIA is claiming an 8X performance increase versus the old 9500 GT, and an approximate 20% speed increase versus the GTS 450. And improvements to the hardware itself has allowed NVIDIA to improve performance while requiring less power; the company claims the GTX 650 uses up to half the power of its Fermi predecessor.

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The comparison between the GTX 650 and AMD Radeon HD 7750 is harder to gauge, though the 7750 is priced competitively around the GTX 650’s $109 MSRP so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out. NVIDIA is claiming anywhere from 1.08 to 1.34 times the performance of the 7750 in a number of games, shown in the chart below.

GTX 650 vs HD 7750.jpg

If you have been eyeing a 7750, the GTX 650 looks like it might be the better option, assuming reviewers are able to replicate NVIDIA’s results.

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Keep in mind, these are NVIDIA's numbers and not from our reviews.

Unfortunately, NVIDIA did not benchmark the GTS 450 against the GTX 650 in the games. Rather, they compared it to the 9500 GT to show the upgrade potential for anyone still holding onto the older hardware (pushing the fact that you can run DirectX 11 at 1080p if you upgrade). Still, the results for the 650 are interesting by themselves. In MechWarrior Online, World of Warcraft, and Max Payne 3 the budget GPU managed at least 40 FPS at 1920x1080 resolution in DirectX 11 mode. Nothing groundbreaking, for sure, but fairly respectable for the price. Assuming it can pull at least a min of 30 FPS in other recent games, this will be a good option for DIY builders that want to get started with PC gaming on a budget.

All in all, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 looks to be a decent card and finally rounds out the Kepler architecture. At this price point, NVIDIA can finally give every gamer a Kepler option instead of continuing to rely on older cards to answer AMD at the lower price points. I’m interested to see how AMD answers this, and specifically if gamers will see more price cuts on the AMD side.

GTX 650 Specs.jpg

If you have not already, I strongly recommend you give our previous Kepler GPU reviews a read through for a look at what NVIDIA’s latest architecture is all about.

PC Perspective Kepler-based GTX Graphics Card Reviews:

Author:
Manufacturer: Various

Multiple Contenders - EVGA SC

One of the most anticipated graphics card releases of the year occurred this month in the form of the GeForce GTX 660 Ti from NVIDIA, and as you would expect we were there on the day one with an in-depth review of the card at reference speeds. 

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The GeForce GTX 660 Ti is based on GK104, and what you might find interesting is that it is nearly identical to the specifications of the GTX 670.  Both utilize 7 SMX units for a total of 1344 stream processors – or CUDA cores – and both run at a reference clock speed of 915 MHz base and 980 MHz Boost.  Both include 112 texture units though the GeForce GTX 660 Ti does see a drop in ROP count from 32 to 24. Also, L2 cache drops from 512KB to 384KB along with a memory bus width drop from 256-bit to 192-bit. 

We already spent quite a lot of time talking about the GTX 660 Ti compared to the other NVIDIA and AMD GPUs in the market in our review (linked above) as well as on our most recent episode of the PC Perspective Podcast.  Today's story is all about the retail cards we received from various vendors including EVGA, Galaxy, MSI and Zotac. We are going to show you each card's design, the higher clocked settings that were implemented, performance differences between them and finally the overclocking comparisons of all four.  

Continue reading our roundup of four NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards!!

Live Review Recap: GeForce GTX 660 Ti

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | August 16, 2012 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: video, nvidia, live review, live, kepler, gtx 660 Ti, GK104

A PC Perspective Live Review Recap is a recorded version of a previously live streamed event from http://pcper.com/live.  If you couldn't make the original air time, or simply want to re-watch, the on-demand version is provided below!

Today has been a busy day for the PC Perspective crew.  Not only have we published like 100 graphics card reviews in the last three days but we also held a live event at the offices to host NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss and debate the release of the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti.

If you need to catch up, you should check out our GeForce GTX 660 Ti review posted earlier today to learn all about this $299 GPU that offers very compelling performance that competes with the HD 7950 and leaves the HD 7870 a fairly distant second.  Based on the same GK104 chip as the GTX 680 and the GTX 670, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti should find a lot of new homes this week.

For this event we not only gave a short presentation with some demos and review discussion, we also featured questions from the hardware subreddit and gave away an EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti to a lucky viewer! 

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more events and contests and the best reviews anywhere on PC hardware!!

Meet the many varieties of GTX 660 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 16, 2012 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 660 Ti, GK104, galaxy

Launch day for the GTX 660 Ti is here and there are a long list of reviews to go through.  Not only have all of the major vendors released a card, they've also released overclocked and custom cooled cards which could make choosing the model you want difficult. [H]ard|OCP received a reference model from Galaxy, which is a perfect example of how the base 2GB version of the card will perform.  They also received an overclocked 3G model with custom cooling and a 10" board which is bigger than some other models.  Performance wise, the 2GB model is a perfect choice for anyone using a GTX 460 or equivalent and is looking for an upgrade.  The 3GB model is more interesting, often out performing an HD 7950 and doing so at a similar, if not lower, price. 

You can also read Ryan's take on the MSI version of the 660 Ti, with a round up scheduled to appear later this week.

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"NVIDIA is launching its third Kepler GPU for 2012, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. We have a retail GTX 660 Ti video card on tap from GALAXY to evaluate along with reference clocked GTX 660 Ti. We've got a lot of comparisons that show how the GTX 660 Ti will upgrade you from not just one, but two GPU generations past."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Join PCPer and NVIDIA for a GeForce GTX 660 Ti Live Review!

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | August 16, 2012 - 11:06 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 660 Ti, kepler, GK104, live, live review

Hopefully by now you have read our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB graphics card that was just released.  I think you'll find the article interesting so be sure to give it a look to see how this $299 GPU competes!

However, we have another event to promote right now: NVIDIA's Tom Petersen will be joining me on PCPer Live! at 10am PT / 1pm ET to talk about the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and its performance, features, pricing and more! 

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Join us at http://pcper.com/live at 10am PT / 1pm ET!!

If you have questions for Tom or me, you can either leave them in the comments below or head over to this thread in the hardware subreddit to leave your thoughts.

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Oh...and we ARE going to be giving away at GeForce GTX 660 Ti on the live stream, so you'll want to make sure you are in attendance!!!

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Another GK104 Option for $299

If you missed our live stream with PC Perspective's Ryan Shrout and NVIDIA's Tom Petersen discussing the new GeForce GTX 660 Ti you can find the replay at this link!!

While NVIDIA doesn't like us to use the codenames anymore, very few GPUs are as flexible and as stout as the GK104.  Originally released with the GTX 680 and then with the dual-GPU beast known as the GTX 690 and THEN with the more modestly priced GTX 670, this single chip has caused AMD quite a few headaches.  It appears things will only be worse with the release of the new GeForce GTX 660 Ti today, once again powered by GK104 and the Kepler architecture at the $299 price point.

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While many PC gamers lament about the lack of games that really push hardware today, NVIDIA has been promoting the GTX 660 Ti as the upgrade option of choice for gamers on a 2 -4 year cycle.  Back in 2008 the GTX 260 was the mid-range enthusiast option while in 2010 it was the GTX 470 based on Fermi.  NVIDIA claims GTX 260 users will see more than 3x the performance increase with the 660 Ti all while generating those pixels more efficiently. 

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I mentioned that the GeForce GTX 660 Ti was based on GK104 and what you mind find interesting is that it is nearly identical to the specifications of the GTX 670.  Both utilize 7 SMXs for a total of 1344 stream processors or CUDA cores and both run at a reference clock speed of 915 MHz base and 980 MHz Boost.  Both include 112 texture units though the GeForce GTX 660 Ti does see a drop in ROP count from 32 to 24 and L2 cache drops from 512KB to 384KB.  Why?

Continue reading our review of the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Graphics Card!!