Subject: Graphics Cards | October 21, 2014 - 06:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: maxwell, nvidia, gaming, mini ITX, small form factor, GTX 970, GM204, gigabyte
Gigabyte has announced a new miniature graphics card based around NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 970 GPU. The upcoming card is a dual slot, single fan design that is even shorter than the existing GTX 970 graphics cards (which are fairly short themselves). Officially known as the GV-N970IXOC-4GD, the miniaturized GTX 970 will be available for your small form factor (Mini ITX) systems in November for around $330.
The new Mini ITX compatible graphics card packs in a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 970 processor, 4GB of video memory, a custom PCB, and a custom WindForce-inspired cooler into a graphics card that is smaller than any of the existing GTX 970 cards. Gigabyte is using a custom design with a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector instead of two 6-pin connectors from the reference design or the 6-pin plus 8-pin from manufacturers like EVGA. The single power connector means less cabling to route (and
successfully attempt to hide heh) and better small form factor PSU compatibility. The cooler is an aluminum fin array with three copper heatpipes paired with a single shrouded fan.
The tiny card comes factory overclocked at 1076 MHz base and 1216 MHz boost, which is a respectable boost over the reference specifications. For reference, the GeForce GTX 970 processor is a 28nm chip using NVIDIA's GM204 "Maxwell" architecture with 1664 CUDA cores clocked at 1051 MHz base and 1178 MHz boost. It appears that Gigabyte has left the 4GB of GDDR5 untouched at 7.0 GT/s.
|Gigabyte GTX 970 Mini ITX||
Reference GTX 970
|Core (MHz) Boost||1216||1178|
|Memory Rate||7.0 (GT/s)||7.0 (GT/s)|
|PCI-E Power||1x 8-pin||2x 6-pin|
The display output on the miniature Gigabyte card differs slightly from the reference design with the addition of a DVI-D connection.
- 3 x DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DVI-I
- 1 x DVI-D
According to Gigabyte, its custom cooler resulted in lower temperatures versus the reference design. The company claims that when running Metro: Last Light, the Mini ITX Gigabyte GTX 970 GPU ran at 62°C versus a reference design hitting 76°C running the same game. If true, the Gigabyte cooler is capable of keeping the card significantly cooler while taking up less space (though fan speeds and sound levels were not mentioned, nor compared to other custom coolers).
The small form factor friendly GTX 970 is coming next month with a MSRP of $329.99. Are you excited?
GeForce GTX 980M Performance Testing
When NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards last month, part of the discussion at our meetings also centered around the mobile variants of Maxwell. The NDA was a bit later though and Scott wrote up a short story announcing the release of the GTX 980M and the GTX 970M mobility GPUs. Both of these GPUs are based on the same GM204 design as the desktop cards, though as you should have come to expect by now, do so with lower specifications than the similarly-named desktop options. Take a look:
|GTX 980M||GTX 970M||
|Memory||Up to 4GB||Up to 3GB||4GB||4GB||4GB/8GB|
|Memory Rate||2500 MHz||2500 MHz||7.0 (GT/s)||7.0 (GT/s)||2500 MHz|
Just like the desktop models, GTX 980M and GTX 970M are built on the 28nm process technology and are tweaked and built for power efficiency - one of the reasons the mobile release of this product is so interesting.
With a CUDA core count of 1536, the GTX 980M has 33% fewer shader cores than the desktop GTX 980, along with a slightly lower base clock speed. The result is a peak theoretical performance of 3.189 TFLOPs, compared to 4.6 TFLOPs on the GTX 980 desktop. In fact, that is only slightly higher than the GTX 880M based on Kepler, that clocks in with the same CUDA core count (1536) but a TFLOP capability of 2.9. Bear in mind that the GTX 880M is using a different architecture design than the GTX 980M; Maxwell's design advantages go beyond just CUDA core count and clock speed.
The GTX 970M is even smaller, with a CUDA core count of 1280 and peak performance rated at 2.365 TFLOPs. Also notice that the memory bus width has shrunk from 256-bit to 192-bit for this part.
As is typically the case with mobile GPUs, the memory speed of the GTX 980M and GTX 970M is significantly lower than the desktop parts. While the GeForce GTX 980 and 970 that install in your desktop PC will have memory running at 7.0 GHz, the mobile versions will run at 5.0 GHz in order to conserve power.
From a feature set stand point though, the GTX 980M/970M are very much the same as the desktop parts that I looked at in September. You will have support for VXGI, NVIDIA's new custom global illumination technology, Multi-Frame AA and maybe most interestingly, Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR). DSR allows you to render a game at a higher resolution and then use a custom filter to down sample it back to your panel's native resolution. For mobile gamers that are using 1080p screens (as our test sample shipped with) this is a good way to utilize the power of your GPU for less power-hungry games, while getting a surprisingly good image at the same time.
SLI Setup and Testing Configuration
The idea of multi-GPU gaming is pretty simple on the surface. By adding another GPU into your gaming PC, the game and the driver are able to divide the workload of the game engine and send half of the work to one GPU and half to another, then combining that work on to your screen in the form of successive frames. This should make the average frame rate much higher, improve smoothness and just basically make the gaming experience better. However, implementation of multi-GPU technologies like NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire are much more difficult than the simply explanation above. We have traveled many steps in this journey and while things have improved in several key areas, there is still plenty of work to be done in others.
As it turns out, support for GPUs beyond two seems to be one of those areas ready for improvement.
When the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 launched last month my initial review of the product included performance results for GTX 980 cards running in a 2-Way SLI configuration, by far the most common derivative. As it happens though, another set of reference GeForce GTX 980 cards found there way to our office and of course we needed to explore the world of 3-Way and 4-Way SLI support and performance on the new Maxwell GPU.
The dirty secret for 3-Way and 4-Way SLI (and CrossFire for that matter) is that it just doesn't work as well or as smoothly as 2-Way configurations. Much more work is put into standard SLI setups as those are by far the most common and it doesn't help that optimizing for 3-4 GPUs is more complex. Some games will scale well, others will scale poorly; hell some even scale the other direction.
Let's see what the current state of high GPU count SLI is with the GeForce GTX 980 and whether or not you should consider purchasing more than of these new flagship parts.
Subject: Mobile | October 7, 2014 - 01:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, msi, maxwell, GTX 980M, GTX 970M, gt dominator, gs stealth, gs ghost
You've heard about NVIDIA's new GTX900M Series and MSI has released two new families of gaming laptops which contain the new GPU. The GS Stealth and Ghost series are the thinner, lighter more mobile of the laptops while the Dominator Series is more a desktop replacement and should also give you a good workout while you are carting them around. The base model will run you $1600, with more expensive options available such as the limited edition Crimson Red Stealth Pro model at the end. Before you ask, no the integral displays are not G-SYNC however since the mobile GPUs are based on Maxwell you may be able to output to a G-SYNC monitor with a variable refresh. Stay tuned for more.
City of Industry, Calif. – October 7, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the immediate availability of the critically acclaimed GS Stealth/Ghost Series and GT Dominator Series gaming laptops with NVIDIA’s latest GTX 900M Series graphics. Armed with unprecedented power and an array of cutting-edge features, including MSI’s new SHIFT technology, the new gaming notebooks deliver up to 28% more graphics performance for a mobile gaming experience without barriers.
“MSI’s newest gaming laptops showcase breakthroughs in mobile gaming technology that improve graphics performance, increase gaming comfort, and transport gamers into an unbelievable gaming journey,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “NVIDIA’s GTX 900M Series GPU delivers mobile graphics that are up to par with desktop graphics card models and superior to anything we’ve ever seen.”
SHIFT Your Speed
MSI’s newest gaming laptops feature their exclusive SHIFT power adjustment technology that enables easy tweaking of CPU and GPU performance to best suit the gamers’ needs. SHIFT comes with three proprietary modes: Sport to maximize CPU and GPU usage for extreme performance, Comfort for a smooth and balanced ride, and Green, which enables the lowest power consumption of both CPU and GPU while maintaining the coolest constant temperatures for both.
MSI provides unprecedented customization in all NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M Series graphics equipped laptops via the Dragon Gaming Center and SteelSeries Engine. Gamers can SHIFT CPU and GPU usage through the Dragon Gaming Center as well as monitor system performance, temperature, network speed, power consumption, fan speed and more. The SteelSeries Engine gives gamers the ability to personalize playing style with over a billion customization options, program individual keys for unlimited configurations, determine key color and lighting patterns, save and share configurations, and learn gaming patterns with key usage statistics.
Cutting Edge Components
All revamped gaming laptops come with 4th Gen Intel Core i7 processors, Killer E2200 Game Networking, Sound Blaster Cinema, Dynaudio Technology, XSplit Gamecaster, 4K HDMI Output, Matrix Display and NVIDIA Surround View. NVIDIA Surround is now supported on all next gen models, allowing gamers to immersive themselves in the ultimate gaming experience. Select models come with MSI’s Super RAID technology which supports up to 4x M.2 SATA SSD’s in RAID 0, ultra-high resolution 3K displays, and Killer DoubleShot Pro combining Killer E2200 Game Networking with Killer N1525 Wireless AC.
MSI’s latest update applies to the ultra-thin and light GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro models, and the potent GT72 Dominator, GT70 Dominator and GT60 Dominator gaming laptops. All GS and GT gaming laptops equipped with NVIDIA’s GTX 900M graphics are available now starting at $1,599.99.
In addition, MSI is launching a special edition GS70 Stealth Pro in Crimson Red, catering to the demands of gamers who want more choices in color and style. The GS70 Stealth Pro Crimson Red edition will be available through online retailers with next gen graphics.
If there is one message that I get from NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 900M-series announcement, it is that laptop gaming is a first-class citizen in their product stack. Before even mentioning the products, the company provided relative performance differences between high-end desktops and laptops. Most of the rest of the slide deck is showing feature-parity with the desktop GTX 900-series, and a discussion about battery life.
First, the parts. Two products have been announced: The GeForce GTX 980M and the GeForce GTX 970M. Both are based on the 28nm Maxwell architecture. In terms of shading performance, the GTX 980M has a theoretical maximum of 3.189 TFLOPs, and the GTX 970M is calculated at 2.365 TFLOPs (at base clock). On the desktop, this is very close to the GeForce GTX 770 and the GeForce GTX 760 Ti, respectively. This metric is most useful when you're compute bandwidth-bound, at high resolution with complex shaders.
The full specifications are:
|GTX 980M||GTX 970M||
|Memory||Up to 4GB||Up to 3GB||4GB||4GB||4GB/8GB|
|Memory Rate||2500 MHz||2500 MHz||7.0 (GT/s)||7.0 (GT/s)||2500 MHz|
As for the features, it should be familiar for those paying attention to both desktop 900-series and the laptop 800M-series product launches. From desktop Maxwell, the 900M-series is getting VXGI, Dynamic Super Resolution, and Multi-Frame Sampled AA (MFAA). From the latest generation of Kepler laptops, the new GPUs are getting an updated BatteryBoost technology. From the rest of the GeForce ecosystem, they will also get GeForce Experience, ShadowPlay, and so forth.
For VXGI, DSR, and MFAA, please see Ryan's discussion for the desktop Maxwell launch. Information about these features is basically identical to what was given in September.
BatteryBoost, on the other hand, is a bit different. NVIDIA claims that the biggest change is just raw performance and efficiency, giving you more headroom to throttle. Perhaps more interesting though, is that GeForce Experience will allow separate one-click optimizations for both plugged-in and battery use cases.
The power efficiency demonstrated with the Maxwell GPU in Ryan's original GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 review is even more beneficial for the notebook market where thermal designs are physically constrained. Longer battery life, as well as thinner and lighter gaming notebooks, will see tremendous advantages using a GPU that can run at near peak performance on the maximum power output of an integrated battery. In NVIDIA's presentation, they mention that while notebooks on AC power can use as much as 230 watts of power, batteries tend to peak around 100 watts. Given that a full speed, desktop-class GTX 980 has a TDP of 165 watts, compared to the 250 watts of a Radeon R9 290X, translates into notebook GPU performance that will more closely mirror its desktop brethren.
Of course, you probably will not buy your own laptop GPU; rather, you will be buying devices which integrate these. There are currently five designs across four manufacturers that are revealed (see image above). Three contain the GeForce GTX 980M, one has a GTX 970M, and the other has a pair of GTX 970Ms. Prices and availability are not yet announced.
Installation and Overview
While once a very popular way to cool your PC, the art of custom water loops tapered off in the early 2000s as the benefits of better cooling, and overclocking in general, met with diminished returns. In its place grew a host of companies offering closed loop system, individually sealed coolers for processors and even graphics cards that offered some of the benefits of standard water cooling (noise, performance) without the hassle of setting up a water cooling configuration manually.
A bit of a resurgence has occurred in the last year or two though where the art and styling provided by custom water loop cooling is starting to reassert itself into the PC enthusiast mindset. Some companies never left (EVGA being one of them), but it appears that many of the users are returning to it. Consider me part of that crowd.
During a live stream we held with EVGA's Jacob Freeman, the very first prototype of the EVGA Hydro Copper was shown and discussed. Lucky for us, I was able to coerce Jacob into leaving the water block with me for a few days to do some of our testing and see just how much capability we could pull out of the GM204 GPU and a GeForce GTX 980.
Our performance preview today will look at the water block itself, installation, performance and temperature control. Keep in mind that this is a very early prototype, the first one to make its way to US shores. There will definitely be some changes and updates (in both the hardware and the software support for overclocking) before final release in mid to late October. Should you consider this ~$150 Hydro Copper water block for your GTX 980?
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 01:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr
Move over Super Best Friends, the Dynamic Super Resolution Duo is here to slay the evil Jaggies! Ryan covered NVIDIA's new DSR in his review of the new Maxwell cards and how it can upsample a monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 or lower to much higher resolutions using a process similar to supersampling but is in fact a 13-tap gaussian filter. That is important because supersampling would have some interesting challenges rendering 2560x1440 on a 1080p monitor. DSR gives you a much wider choice of resolutions as you can see in the Guild Wars screenshot below, allowing you to choose a variety of multipliers to your displays native resolution to give your game a much smoother look. The Tech Report has assembled a variety of screenshots from games with different DSR and AA settings which you can examine with your own eyeballs to see what you think.
"One of the more intriguing capabilities Nvidia introduced with the GeForce GTX 970 and 980 is a feature called Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR, for short. Nvidia bills it as a means of getting 4K quality on a 2K display. How good is it? We take a look."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- There's more to Windows 10 than miscounting @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really @ The Register
- AMD demonstrates NFV tool using 64-bit ARM-based SoC codenamed 'Hierofalcon' @ The Inquirer
- Hong Kong Protesters Use Mesh Networks To Organize @ Slashdot
- Mozilla might add Tor encryption to its Firefox web browser @ The Inquirer
- Lenovo becomes the biggest x86 server provider in China as acquisition of IBM x86 server business completes, says IDC @ DigiTimes
- Supercomputers: The Next Generation – Cray puts burst buffer tech, Intel Haswell inside @ The Register
- Competition: Win One of Three BioStar Motherboards @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | September 28, 2014 - 12:25 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: X99, video, maxwell, live, GTX 980, GTX 970, evga
UPDATE: If you missed the live stream with myself and Jacob, you can catch the entire event in the video below. You won't want to miss out on seeing the first ever GTX 980 water block as well as announcements on new Torq mice!
EVGA has been a busy company recently. It has continued to innovate with new coolers for the recent GTX 980 and GTX 970 card releases, newer power supplies offer unique features and improved quality and power output, a new line of X99 chipset motherboards including a Micro ATX variant and hey, the company even released a line of high-performance mice this year! PC Perspective has covered basically all of these releases (and will continue to do so with pending GPU and MB reviews) but there is a lot that needs explaining.
To help out, an industry and community favorite will be stopping by from EVGA to the PC Perspective offices: Jacob Freeman. You might know him as @EVGA_JacobF on Twitter or have seen him on countless forums, but he will making an in-person appearance on Friday, September 26th on PC Perspective Live! We plan on discussing the brand new ACX 2.0 cooler on the Maxwell GPUs released last week, go over some of highlights of the new X99 motherboards and even touch on power supplies and the Torq mice line as well.
EVGA GTX 980/970, X99, PSU and Torq Live Stream featuring Jacob Freeman
3pm ET / 12pm PT - September 26th
EVGA has been a supporter of PC Perspective for a long time and we asked them to give back to our community during this live stream - and they have stepped up! Look at this prize list:
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 980 SC
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0
- 1 x EVGA X99 Classified
- 1 x EVGA X99 FTW
- 1 x EVGA X99 SLI
- 1 x EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2 PSU
- 4 x Torq Mice
How can you participate and win these awesome pieces of hardware? Just be here at 3pm ET / 12pm PT on http://www.pcper.com/live and we'll be announcing winners as we go for those that tune in. It really couldn't be more simple!
If you have questions you want to ask Jacob about EVGA, or any of its line of products, please leave them in the comments section below and we'll start compiling a list to address on the live stream Friday. Who knows, we may even save some prizes for some of our favorite questions!
To make sure you don't miss our live stream events, be sure you sign up for our spam-free PC Perspective Live! Mailing List. We email that group a couple hours before each event gets started.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 27, 2014 - 07:24 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, gsync, g-sync, freesync, adaptive sync
During an interview that we streamed live with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen this past Thursday, it was confirmed that NVIDIA is not currently working on, or has any current plans to, add support for the VESA-based and AMD-pushed Adaptive Sync portion of the DisplayPort 1.2a specification. To quote directly:
There is no truth [to that rumor of NVIDIA Adaptive Sync support] and we have made no official comments about Adaptive Sync. One thing I can say is that NVIDIA as a company is 100% dedicated to G-Sync. We are going to continue to invest in G-Sync and it is a way we can make the gaming experience better. We have no need for Adaptive Sync. We have no intention of [implementing it]."
To be clear, the Adaptive Sync part of DP 1.2a and 1.3+ are optional portions of the VESA spec that is not required for future graphics processors or even future display scalar chips. That means that upcoming graphics cards from NVIDIA could still be DisplayPort 1.3 compliant without implementing support for the Adaptive Sync feature. Based on the comments above, I fully expect that to be the case.
The ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q G-Sync monitor
With that new information, you can basically assume that the future of variable refresh monitors is going to be divided: one set for users of GeForce cards and one set for users with Radeon cards. (Where Intel falls into this is up in the air.) Clearly that isn't ideal for a completely open ecosystem but NVIDIA has made the point, over and over, that what they have developed with G-Sync is difficult and not at all as simple as could be solved with the blunt instrument that Adaptive Sync is. NVIDIA has a history of producing technologies and then keeping them in-house, focusing on development specifically for GeForce owners and fans. The dream of having a VRR monitor that will run on both vendors GPUs appears to be dead.
When asked about the possibility of seeing future monitors that can support both NVIDIA G-Sync technology as well as Adaptive Sync technology, Petersen stated that while not impossible, he "would not expect to see such a device."
The future of G-Sync is still in development. Petersen stated:
"Don't think that were done. G-Sync is not done. Think of G-Sync as the start of NVIDIA solving the problems for gamers that are related to displays...G-Sync is our first technology that makes games look better on displays. But you can start looking at displays and make a lot of things better."
Diagram showing how G-Sync affects monitor timings
So now we await for the first round of prototype FreeSync / Adaptive Sync monitors to hit our labs. AMD has put a lot of self-inflicted pressure on itself for this release by making claims, numerous times, that FreeSync will be just as good of an experience as G-Sync, and I am eager to see if they can meet that goal. Despite any ill feelings that some users might have about NVIDIA and some of its policies, it typically does a good job of maintaining a high quality user experience with these custom technologies. AMD will have to prove that what it has developed is on the same level. We should know more about that before we get too much further into fall.
You can check out our stories and reviews covering G-Sync here:
- PCPer Live! NVIDIA Maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970 Discussion with Tom Petersen, Q&A
- Acer XB280HK 28-in 4K G-Sync Monitor Review
- NVIDIA G-Sync Surround Impressions: Using 3 ASUS ROG Swift Displays
- PCPer Live! Recap - NVIDIA G-Sync Surround Demo and Q&A
- ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q 27-in Monitor Review - NVIDIA G-Sync at 2560x1440
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 26, 2014 - 12:14 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vxgi, video, tom petersen, nvidia, mfaa, maxwell, livestream, live, GTX 980, GTX 970, dsr
UPDATE: If you missed the live stream yesterday, I have good news: the interview and all the information/demos provided are available to you on demand right here. Enjoy!
Last week NVIDIA launched GM204, otherwise known as Maxwell and now branded as the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards. You should, of course, have already read the PC Perspective review of these two GPUs, but undoubtedly there are going to be questions and thoughts circulating through the industry.
To help the community get a better grasp and to offer them an opportunity to ask some questions, NVIDIA's Tom Petersen is stopping by our offices on Thursday afternoon where he will run through some demonstrations and take questions from the live streaming audience.
Be sure to stop back at PC Perspective on Thursday, September 25th at 4pm ET / 1pm PT to discuss the new Maxwell GPU, the GTX 980 and GTX 970, new features like Dynamic Super Resolution, MFAA, VXGI and more! You'll find it all on our PC Perspective Live! page on Monday but you can sign up for our "live stream mailing list" as well to get notified in advance!
NVIDIA Maxwell Live Stream
1pm PT / 4pm ET - September 25th
We also want your questions!! The easiest way to get them answered is to leave them for us here in the comments of this post. That will give us time to filter through the questions and get the answers you need from Tom. We'll take questions via the live chat and via Twitter (follow me @ryanshrout) during the event but often time there is a lot of noise to deal with.
So be sure to join us on Thursday afternoon!
UPDATE: We have confirmed at least a handful of prizes for those of you that tune into the live stream today. We'll giveaway an NVIDIA SHIELD as well as several of the brand new SLI LED bridges that were announced for sale this week!