Here they come - the G-Sync monitors are finally arriving at our doors! A little over a month ago we got to review the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q, a 2560x1440 144 Hz monitor that was the first retail-ready display to bring NVIDIA's variable refresh technology to consumers. It was a great first option with a high refresh rate along with support for ULMB (ultra low motion blur) technology, giving users a shot at either option.
Today we are taking a look at our second G-Sync monitor that will hit streets sometime in mid-October with an identical $799 price point. The Acer XB280HK is a 28-in 4K monitor with a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz and of course, support for NVIDIA G-Sync.
The Acer XB280HK, first announced at Computex in June, is the first 4K monitor on the market to be announced with support for variable refresh. It isn't that far behind the first low-cost 4K monitors to hit the market, period: the ASUS PB287Q and the Samsung U28D590D both shipped in May of 2014 with very similar feature sets, minus G-Sync. I discussed much of the general usability benefits (and issues) that arose when using a consumer 4K panel with Windows 8.1 in those reviews, so you'll want to be sure you read up on that in addition to the discussion of 4K + G-Sync we'll have today.
While we dive into the specifics on the Acer XB280HK monitor today, I will skip over most of the discussion about G-Sync, how it works and why we want it. In our ASUS PG278Q review I had a good, concise discussion on the technical background of NVIDIA G-Sync technology and how it improves gaming.
The idea of G-Sync is pretty easy to understand, though the implementation method can get a bit more hairy. G-Sync introduces a variable refresh rate to a monitor, allowing the display to refresh at wide range of rates rather than at fixed intervals. More importantly, rather than the monitor dictating what rate this refresh occurs at to the PC, the graphics now tells the monitor when to refresh in a properly configured G-Sync setup. This allows a monitor to match the refresh rate of the screen to the draw rate of the game being played (frames per second) and that simple change drastically improves the gaming experience for several reasons.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 24, 2014 - 02:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sli, nvidia
SLI Bridges are thrown in with compatible motherboards and there is usually little reason to want anything else. They work. There is no performance advantage for getting a "better" one, unless it does not connect with your specific arrangement of two-to-four cards. Today, NVIDIA gives another reason: a soft, beautiful glow to match the green "GeForce GTX" on the cards themselves.
Mind you, this is not the first glowing SLI Bridge. EVGA even provided us with a few of their own for a giveaway last year.
NVIDIA has three models, depending on the layout of your cards. 3-way SLI will need to be arranged as a series of two-wide with no gaps, using the "3-Way SLI Bridge". 2-way configurations have the choice of two empty slots between the two-wide cards, or no gap; former would purchase the "2-Way Spaced SLI Bridge" and the later, the "2-Way SLI Bridge". They each require GeForce GTX 770 cards, or better, as well as a recent GeForce Experience (1.7+). Certain non-reference designs may be incompatible.
The SLI Bridges are available now. Both 2-Way bridges are $29.99 and the 3-Way is $39.99.
NVIDIA GeForce 344.11 Driver and GeForce Experience 2.1.2 Released Alongside Maxwell-based GTX 980 and GTX 970
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 20, 2014 - 12:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, graphics drivers, geforce experience
Update: There is also the 344.16 for the GTX 970 and GTX 980, resolving an issue specific to them.
When they release a new graphics card, especially in a new architecture, NVIDIA will have software ready to support it. First and most obvious, Maxwell comes with the GeForce 344.11 drivers - which is the first to support only Fermi and later GPUs. Mostly, the driver's purpose is supporting the new graphics cards and optimizing to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, The Evil Within, F1 2014, and Alien: Isolation. It also supports multi-monitor G-Sync, which was previously impossible, even with three single-DisplayPort Kepler cards.
At the same time, NVIDIA launched a new GeForce Experience with more exciting features. First, and I feel least expected, it allows the SHIELD Wireless Controller to be connected to a PC, but only wired with its provided USB cable. This also means that you cannot use the controller without a GeForce graphics card.
If you have a GeForce GTX 900-series add-in board, you will be able to use Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) and record in 4K video with ShadowPlay. Performance when recording on a PC in SLI mode has been improved also, apparently even for Kepler-based cards.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 20, 2014 - 12:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, nvidia, microsoft, maxwell, DirectX 12, DirectX
Microsoft and NVIDIA has decided to release some information about DirectX 12 (and DirectX 11.3) alongside the launch of the Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 graphics cards. Mostly, they announced that Microsoft teamed up with Epic Games to bring DirectX 12 to Unreal Engine 4. They currently have two demos, Elemental and Infiltrator, that are up and running with DirectX 12.
Moreover, they have provided a form for developers who are interested in "early access" to apply for it. They continually discuss it in terms of Unreal Engine 4, but they do not explicitly say that other developers cannot apply. UE4 subscribers will get access to the Elemental demo in DX12, but it does not look like Infiltrator will be available.
DirectX 12 is expected to target games for Holiday 2015.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 19, 2014 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vr direct, video, nvidia, mfaa, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr
The answer to the two most important questions are as follows, the GTX 980 will cost you around $560 compared to the $500 for an R9 290X and the GTX 970 an attractive $330 compared to $380 for an R9 290. Availability is hard to predict but the cards will be shipping soon and you can pre-order your choice of card by following the links on the last page of Ryan's review. Among all the new features that have been added to this new GPU one of the most impressive is the power draw, as you can see in [H]ard|OCP's review this card pulls 100W less than the 290X at full load although it did run warmer than the 290X Double Dissipation card which [H] compared it to, something that may change with a 980 bearing a custom cooler. Follow those links to see the benchmarking results of this card, both synthetic and in game.
"Today NVIDIA launches its newest Maxwell GPU. There will be two new GPUs, the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970. These next generation GPUs usher in new features and performance that move the gaming industry forward. We discuss new features, architecture, and evaluate the gameplay performance against the competition."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 and 970 @ The Tech Report
- Maxwell is here! GTX 980 is now revealed! @ Bjorn3D.com
- Nvidia unveils second-gen Maxwell GPUs, the Geforce GTX 970 and GTX 980 @ The Inquirer
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB Review @HiTech Legion
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Review @ Neoseeker
- NVIDIA GTX 980 Review @ OCC
- NVIDIA GeForce GeForce GTX 980 Maxwell Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G GPU Review @ Modders-Inc
- GeForce GTX 980 @ HardwareHeaven
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 @ Benchmark Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Review: Does Maxwell Bring Maximum Gameplay? @ Techgage
- ASUS Strix GTX 970 OC 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 SLI @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 & GTX 980 @ Legion Hardware
- Nvidia Geforce GTX 980 @ Kitguru
- Asus GTX970 STRIX OC @ Kitguru
- MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G @ Kitguru
The GM204 Architecture
James Clerk Maxwell's equations are the foundation of our society's knowledge about optics and electrical circuits. It is a fitting tribute from NVIDIA to include Maxwell as a code name for a GPU architecture and NVIDIA hopes that features, performance, and efficiency that they have built into the GM204 GPU would be something Maxwell himself would be impressed by. Without giving away the surprise conclusion here in the lead, I can tell you that I have never seen a GPU perform as well as we have seen this week, all while changing the power efficiency discussion in as dramatic a fashion.
To be fair though, this isn't our first experience with the Maxwell architecture. With the release of the GeForce GTX 750 Ti and its GM107 GPU, NVIDIA put the industry on watch and let us all ponder if they could possibly bring such a design to a high end, enthusiast class market. The GTX 750 Ti brought a significantly lower power design to a market that desperately needed it, and we were even able to showcase that with some off-the-shelf PC upgrades, without the need for any kind of external power.
That was GM107 though; today's release is the GM204, indicating that not only are we seeing the larger cousin of the GTX 750 Ti but we also have at least some moderate GPU architecture and feature changes from the first run of Maxwell. The GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are going to be taking on the best of the best products from the GeForce lineup as well as the AMD Radeon family of cards, with aggressive pricing and performance levels to match. And, for those that understand the technology at a fundamental level, you will likely be surprised by how much power it requires to achieve these goals. Toss in support for things like a new AA method, Dynamic Super Resolution, and even improved SLI performance and you can see why doing it all on the same process technology is impressive.
The NVIDIA Maxwell GM204 Architecture
The NVIDIA Maxwell GM204 graphics processor was built from the ground up with an emphasis on power efficiency. As it was stated many times during the technical sessions we attended last week, the architecture team learned quite a bit while developing the Kepler-based Tegra K1 SoC and much of that filtered its way into the larger, much more powerful product you see today. This product is fast and efficient, but it was all done while working on the same TSMC 28nm process technology used on the Kepler GTX 680 and even AMD's Radeon R9 series of products.
The fundamental structure of GM204 is setup like the GM107 product shipped as the GTX 750 Ti. There is an array of GPCs (Graphics Processing Clustsers), each comprised of multiple SMs (Streaming Multiprocessors, also called SMMs for this Maxwell derivative) and external memory controllers. The GM204 chip (the full implementation of which is found on the GTX 980), consists of 4 GPCs, 16 SMMs and four 64-bit memory controllers.
Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2014 - 01:59 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: windows 9, video, TSV, supernova, raptr, r9 390x, podcast, p3700, nvidia, Intel, idf, GTX 980, evga, ECS, ddr4, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #318 - 09/18/2014
Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980 and R9 390X Rumors, Storage News from IDF, ADATA SP610 SSDs 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 Malventano
Program length: 1:33:48
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Allyn: Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces goodness (updated features)
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 03:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, game24
If you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Mission Viejo (Ca.), Indianapolis, Shanghai or Stockholm you might want to see if you can get into GAME24, a 24-hour event celebrating PC gamers that kicks off on Thursday September 18th at 6PM PDT. If you can't make it in person it will be broadcast live on the internet at www.GAME24.nvidia.com.
- New products announcements from NVIDIA and game publishers
- A DOTA 2 Invitational tournament featuring professional teams including Evil Geniuses, Cloud 9, Team Tinker, and Alliance competing for a share of $15,000 in prizes.
- Mod24, the world’s first 24-hour livestreamed modding completion will also be held.
- Renowned modders Team Mongoose, BSMODS, and Team Kill Ninja will be at NVIDIA HQ in Santa Clara, California doing the onsite build. Viewers of the live stream will be the judges and three lucky winners will take home these one of a kind builds.
- Two world records will be broken!
Special guests will include
- Jay (no Silent Bob though)
- cos-play queen Chloe Dykstra
- (ex)MythBuster Grant Imahara
- Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter.
- also appearing will be Tiffany Smith, Zach Selwyn, Alison Haislip, Alex Albrecht, Kristin Adams, Chris Gore and Blair Butler.
More information about GAME24 and details on the many local events taking place on September 18 can be found at: www.GAME24.nvidia.com.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 15, 2014 - 08:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, GTX 980
Details and photographs of the GeForce GTX 980 are leaking on various forums and websites. Based on the Maxwell architecture, it is supposed to be faster and more efficient than Kepler while being manufactured on an identical, 28nm fab process. While we were uncertain before, it now looks like the GTX 980 will be its formal name, as seen in leaked photographs, below.
Image Credit: Videocardz
As expected, the cooler is a continuation of NVIDIA's reference cooler, as seen on recent high-end graphics cards (such as the GeForce Titan). Again, this is not a surprise. The interesting part is that it is rated for about 250W whereas Maxwell is rumored to draw 180W. While the reference card has two six-pin PCIe power connectors, I am curious to see if the excess cooling will lead to interesting overclocks. That is not even mentioning what the AIB partners can do.
Image Credit: Videocardz
Beyond its over-engineering for Maxwell's TDP, it also includes a back plate.
Its display connectors have been hotly anticipated. As you can see above, the GTX 980 has five outputs: three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI. Which version of HDMI? Which version of DisplayPort? No clue at the moment. There has been some speculation regarding HDMI 2.0, and the DisplayPort 1.3 standard was just released to the public today, but I would be pleasantly surprised if even one of these made it in.
Check out Videocardz for a little bit more.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 11, 2014 - 07:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: quad sli, quad crossfire, nvidia, amd
Psst. AMD fans. Don't tell "Team Green" but Linus decided to take four R9 290X graphics cards and configure them in Quad Crossfire formation. They did not seem to have too much difficulty setting it up, although they did have trouble with throttling and setting up Crossfire profiles. When they finally were able to test it, they got a 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme score of 14979.
Psst. NVIDIA fans. Don't tell "Team Red" but Linus decided to take four GeForce Titan Black graphics cards and configure them in Quad SLI formation. He had a bit of a difficult time setting up the machine at first, requiring a reshuffle of the cards (how would reordering PCIe slots for identical cards do anything?) and a few driver crashes, but it worked. Eventually, they got a 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme score of around 13,300 (give or take a couple hundred).