Manufacturer: PC Perspective

To the Max?

Much of the PC enthusiast internet, including our comments section, has been abuzz with “Asynchronous Shader” discussion. Normally, I would explain what it is and then outline the issues that surround it, but I would like to swap that order this time. Basically, the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark utilizes Asynchronous Shaders in DirectX 12, but they disable it (by Vendor ID) for NVIDIA hardware. They say that this is because, while the driver reports compatibility, “attempting to use it was an unmitigated disaster in terms of performance and conformance”.


AMD's Robert Hallock claims that NVIDIA GPUs, including Maxwell, cannot support the feature in hardware at all, while all AMD GCN graphics cards do. NVIDIA has yet to respond to our requests for an official statement, although we haven't poked every one of our contacts yet. We will certainly update and/or follow up if we hear from them. For now though, we have no idea whether this is a hardware or software issue. Either way, it seems more than just politics.

So what is it?

Simply put, Asynchronous Shaders allows a graphics driver to cram workloads in portions of the GPU that are idle, but not otherwise available. For instance, if a graphics task is hammering the ROPs, the driver would be able to toss an independent physics or post-processing task into the shader units alongside it. Kollock from Oxide Games used the analogy of HyperThreading, which allows two CPU threads to be executed on the same core at the same time, as long as it has the capacity for it.

Kollock also notes that compute is becoming more important in the graphics pipeline, and it is possible to completely bypass graphics altogether. The fixed-function bits may never go away, but it's possible that at least some engines will completely bypass it -- maybe even their engine, several years down the road.

I wonder who would pursue something so silly, whether for a product or even just research.

But, like always, you will not get an infinite amount of performance by reducing your waste. You are always bound by the theoretical limits of your components, and you cannot optimize past that (except for obviously changing the workload itself). The interesting part is: you can measure that. You can absolutely observe how long a GPU is idle, and represent it as a percentage of a time-span (typically a frame).

And, of course, game developers profile GPUs from time to time...

According to Kollock, he has heard of some console developers getting up to 30% increases in performance using Asynchronous Shaders. Again, this is on console hardware and so this amount may increase or decrease on the PC. In an informal chat with a developer at Epic Games, so massive grain of salt is required, his late night ballpark “totally speculative” guesstimate is that, on the Xbox One, the GPU could theoretically accept a maximum ~10-25% more work in Unreal Engine 4, depending on the scene. He also said that memory bandwidth gets in the way, which Asynchronous Shaders would be fighting against. It is something that they are interested in and investigating, though.


This is where I speculate on drivers. When Mantle was announced, I looked at its features and said “wow, this is everything that a high-end game developer wants, and a graphics developer absolutely does not”. From the OpenCL-like multiple GPU model taking much of the QA out of SLI and CrossFire, to the memory and resource binding management, this should make graphics drivers so much easier.

It might not be free, though. Graphics drivers might still have a bunch of games to play to make sure that work is stuffed through the GPU as tightly packed as possible. We might continue to see “Game Ready” drivers in the coming years, even though much of that burden has been shifted to the game developers. On the other hand, maybe these APIs will level the whole playing field and let all players focus on chip design and efficient injestion of shader code. As always, painfully always, time will tell.

The great GTX 950 review roundup

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 24, 2015 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, moba, maxwell, gtx 950, GM206, geforce, DOTA 2

It is more fun testing at the high end and the number of MOBA gamers here at PCPer could be described as very sparse, to say the least.  Perhaps you are a MOBA gamer looking to play on a 1080p screen and have less than $200 to invest in a GPU and feel that Ryan somehow missed a benchmark that is important to you.  One of the dozens of reviews linked to below are likely to have covered that game or specific feature which you are looking for.  They also represent the gamut of cards available at launch from a wide variety of vendors, both stock and overclocked models.  If you just want a quick refresher on the specifications and what has happened to the pricing on already released models, The Tech Report has handy tables for you to reference here.


"For most of this summer, much of the excitement in the GPU market has been focused on pricey, high-end products like the Radeon Fury and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Today, Nvidia is turning the spotlight back on more affordable graphics cards with the introduction of the GeForce GTX 950, a $159.99 offering that promises to handle the latest games reasonably well at the everyman's resolution of 1080p."

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

Graphics Cards

Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Another Maxwell Iteration

The mainstream end of the graphics card market is about to get a bit more complicated with today’s introduction of the GeForce GTX 950. Based on a slightly cut down GM206 chip, the same used in the GeForce GTX 960 that was released almost 8 months ago, the new GTX 950 will fill a gap in the product stack for NVIDIA, resting right at $160-170 MSRP. Until today that next-down spot from the GTX 960 was filled by the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, the very first iteration of Maxwell (we usually call it Maxwell 1) that came out in February of 2014!

Even though that is a long time to go without refreshing the GTX x50 part of the lineup, NVIDIA was likely hesitant to do so based on the overwhelming success of the GM107 for mainstream gaming. It was low cost, incredibly efficient and didn’t require any external power to run. That led us down the path of upgrading OEM PCs with GTX 750 Ti, an article and video that still gets hundreds of views and dozens of comments a week.


The GTX 950 has some pretty big shoes to fill. I can tell you right now that it uses more power than the GTX 750 Ti, and it requires a 6-pin power connector, but it does so while increasing gaming performance dramatically. The primary competition from AMD is the Radeon R7 370, a Pitcairn GPU that is long in the tooth and missing many of the features that Maxwell provides.

And NVIDIA is taking a secondary angle with the GTX 950 launch –targeting the MOBA players (DOTA 2 in particular) directly and aggressively. With the success of this style of game over the last several years, and the impressive $18M+ purse for the largest DOTA 2 tournament just behind us, there isn’t a better area of PC gaming to be going after today. But are the tweaks and changes to the card and software really going to make a difference for MOBA gamers or is it just marketing fluff?

Let’s dive into everything GeForce GTX 950!

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 2GB Graphics Card!!

Podcast #361 - Intel Skylake Core i7-6700K, Logitech G29 Racing Wheel, Lenovo LaVie-Z and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2015 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: Z170-A, z170 deluxe, Z170, video, Skylake, podcast, nvidia, maxwell, logitech g29, Lenovo, lavie-z, Intel, gigabyte, asus, 950ti, 6700k

PC Perspective Podcast #361 - 08/06/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Intel Skylake Core i7-6700K, Logitech G29 Racing Wheel, Lenovo LaVie-Z 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: - Share with your friends!

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  • 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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Rumor: NVIDIA to Replace Maxwell GTX 750 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2015 - 07:31 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, gtx 960, gtx 950 ti, gtx 950

A couple of sites are claiming that NVIDIA intends to replace the first-generation GeForce GTX 750 Ti with more Maxwell, in the form of the GeForce GTX 950 and/or GTX 950 Ti. The general consensus is that it will run on a cut-down GM206 chip, which is currently found in the GTX 960. I will go light on the rumored specifications because this part of the rumor is single-source, from accounts of a HWBattle page that has been deleted. But for a general ballpark of performance, the GTX 960 has a full GM206 chip while the 950(/Ti) is expected to lose about a quarter of its printed shader units.


The particularly interesting part is the power, though. As we reported, Maxwell was branded as a power-efficient version of the Kepler architecture. This led to a high-end graphics cards that could be powered by the PCIe bus. According to these rumors, the new card will require a single, 8-pin power connector on top of the 75W provided by the bus. This has one of two interesting implications that I can think of.


  • The 750 Ti did not sell for existing systems as well as anticipated, or
  • The GM206 chip just couldn't hit that power target and they didn't want to make another die

Whichever is true, it will be interesting to see how NVIDIA brands this if/when the card launches. Creating a graphics card for systems without available power rails was a novel concept and it seemed to draw attention. That said, the rumors claim they're not doing it this time... for some reason.

Source: VR-Zone
Manufacturer: Various

SLI and CrossFire

Last week I sat down with a set of three AMD Radeon R9 Fury X cards, our sampled review card as well as two retail cards purchased from Newegg, to see how the reports of the pump whine noise from the cards was shaping up. I'm not going to dive into that debate again here in this story as I think we have covered it pretty well thus far in that story as well as on our various podcasts, but rest assured we are continuing to look into the revisions of the Fury X to see if AMD and Cooler Master were actually able to fix the issue.


What we have to cover today is something very different, and likely much more interesting for a wider range of users. When you have three AMD Fury X cards in your hands, you of course have to do some multi-GPU testing with them. With our set I was able to run both 2-Way and 3-Way CrossFire with the new AMD flagship card and compare them directly to the comparable NVIDIA offering, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

There isn't much else I need to do to build up this story, is there? If you are curious how well the new AMD Fury X scales in CrossFire with two and even three GPUs, this is where you'll find your answers.

Continue reading our results testing the AMD Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti in 3-Way GPU configurations!!

Zotac's GTX 980Ti AMP! Extreme Is A Factory Overclocked Monster

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 4, 2015 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: zotac, maxwell, gtx 980ti, factory overclocked

Zotac recently unleashed a monstrous new GTX 980Ti AMP! Extreme graphics card featuring a giant triple slot cooler and a very respectable factory overclock.

Specifically, the Zotac ZT-90505-10P card is a custom card with a factory overclocked NVIDIA GTX 980Ti GPU and GDDR5 memory. The card is a triple slot design that uses a dual fin stack IceStorm heatsink with three 90mm temperature controlled EKO fans. The cooler wraps the fans and HSF in a shroud and also uses a backplate on the bottom of the card. The card is powered by two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors and display outputs include three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DL-DVI.

Zotac ZT-90505-10P GTX 980Ti Amp Extreme Graphics Card.jpg

Zotac was able to push the Maxwell GPU with its 2,816 CUDA cores to 1,253 MHz base and 1,355 MHz boost. Further, the 6GB GDDR5 memory also has a factory overclock of 7,220 MHz. These clockspeeds are a decent bump over the reference speeds of 1,000 MHz GPU base, 1,076 MHz GPU boost, and 7,012 MHz memory.

We’ll have to wait for reviews to know for sure, but on paper this card looks to be a nice card that should run fast and cool thanks to that triple fan cooler. The ZT-90505-10P will be available shortly with an MSRP of $700 and a 2 year warranty.

Definitely not a bad price compared to other GTX 980Ti cards on the market.

Source: Zotac

Podcast #355 - AMD R9 Fury X, Sapphire Nitro R9 390, Batman: Arkham Knight and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, fury x, Fury, Fiji, nvidia, gtx 980ti, maxwell, gm200, batman, arkham knight, gameworks, r9 390, sapphire, nitro, Intel, Braswell, Cherry Trail, Lenovo, thinkcentre

PC Perspective Podcast #355 - 06/25/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Fury X, Sapphire Nitro R9 390, Batman: Arkham Knight 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: - 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, Sebastian Peak, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Revisting the GTX 980 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 17, 2015 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: NVIDA, maxwell, GTX 980 Ti

Now that they have had time with the new NVIDIA card to test on games both familiar and new, [H]ard|OCP have put together a longer review of the GTX 980 Ti.  The Witcher 3 shows that for 4K gamers, the extra power of the TITAN does marginally beat out the newcomer.  Indeed that tended to hold true in many games, Dying Light and Far Cry 4 all saw the 980 Ti needing to lower graphical settings to remain at a decent frame rate but still remained a far better value for those gaming at 1440p.  They compare VRAM usage at 1440p versus 4K resolutions and it is obvious how much more memory is consumed as resolution increases.  Considering how none of the games tested used even half of the 12GB of VRAM on the TITAN it will be very interesting to see how AMD's new smaller sized but higher bandwidth HBM-based card will perform.


"Now that we have had some solid gaming time with the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, we will be putting it up against the GTX 980 and TITAN X video cards, in the full HardOCP GPU review format. We are including new games, The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V. We also look at VRAM utilization and power and temperature levels."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

PCPer Live! GeForce GTX 980 Ti, G-Sync Live Stream and Giveaway!

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 9, 2015 - 08:33 AM |
Tagged: video, tom petersen, nvidia, maxwell, live, GTX 980 Ti, gtx, gsync, gm200, giveaway, geforce, g-sync, contest

UPDATE: Did you miss the event? No worries, you can still learn all about the GTX 980 Ti, G-Sync changes and even how NVIDIA is changing VR! Once again, a HUGE thanks to NVIDIA and Tom Petersen for coming out to visit.

Even thought it's a week after official release, we are hosting a live stream from the PC Perspective offices with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss the new GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card as well as the changes and updates the company has made to the G-Sync brand. Why would NVIDIA undercut the GTX TITAN X by such a wide margin? Are they worried about AMD's Fiji GPU? Now that we are seeing new form factors and screen types of G-Sync monitors, will prices come down? How does G-Sync for notebooks work without a module?

All of this information and more will be learned on Tuesday, June 9th.


And what's a live stream without a prize? One lucky live viewer will win an EVGA GeForce GTX GTX 980 Ti 6GB graphics card of their very own! That's right - all you have to do is tune in for the live stream Tuesday afternoon and you could win a 980 Ti!!


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti / G-Sync Live Stream and Giveaway

12pm PT / 3pm ET - June 9th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

The event will take place Tuesday, June 9th at 12pm PT / 3pm ET at There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the prize you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

Tom has a history of being both informative and entertaining and these live streaming events are always full of fun and technical information that you can get literally nowhere else.

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Tom or I?

So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Tuesday at 12pm PT / 3pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!