Meet the new Maxwell STRIX

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 10, 2014 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: asus, strix, GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II OC, GTX 970, nvidia, maxwell

When ASUS originally kicked off their new STRIX line they gained popularity not only due to the decent overclock and efficient custom cooler but also because there was only a small price premium over the base model.  At a price of $400 on Amazon the card has a price inline with other overclocked models, some base models can be up to $50 less.  [H]ard|OCP investigated this card to see what benefits you could expect from the model in this review, comparing it to the R290 and 290X.  Out of the box the card runs at a core of 1253 -1266MHz and memory of 7GHz, with a bit of overvolting they saw a stable core of 1473 - 1492MHz and memory of 7.832GHz. 

With the new price of the 290X dipping as low as $330 it makes for an interesting choice for GPU shoppers.  The NVIDIA card is far more power efficient and the fans operate at 0dB until the GPU hits 65C, which [H] did not see until after running at full load for a time and even then the highest their manually overclocked card hit was 70C.  On the other hand the AMD card costs $70 less and offers very similar performance.  It is always nice to see competition in the market.

1414970377FWgAjDtieB_1_9_l.jpg

"Today we examine ASUS' take on the GeForce GTX 970 video card. We have the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II OC video card today, and will break down its next-gen performance against an AMD Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X. This video card features 0dB fans, and many factors that improve its chance of extreme overclocking."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

FarCry 4, NVIDIA Gameworks and hair products for beasts

Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2014 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, far cry 4, ubisoft, gameworks, txaa, hbao+

Check out the video for a look at the various in game enhancements that NVIDIA's new feaures will be bringing to FarCry 4 and gaze in awe at that gorgeous yak featured at 1:37, just look at its hair waving in the breeze and reacting to the motions of the animal.  It is not clear if AMD's TressFX will provide equivalent body and shine to the beasts that HairWorks does but you have to admit that is an impressive amount of work to make meat on the hoof look pretty.  There are two different technologies to improve the look of shadows, Percentage Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS, aka ShadowWorks) softens the edges of shadows based on the distance between the object creating the shadow and the surface the shadow appears on while Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion (HBAO+) is a new and efficient way to render ambient lighting and shadows accurately without paying for it with a big hit in performance.  Temporal anti-aliasing, TXAA is reputed to offer the benefits of MSAA 8x at the performance cost of 4x; while it is hard to judge the accuracy of that in the video you can certainly see it is an effective way of removing jaggies from straight edges.  You can also expect to see God Rays rendered properly, the shot of the sun through the tree near the end makes a rather nice set peice to display that effect.

Below you can see the recommended hardware, it is worth emphasizing that only 64bit OSes need apply on the PC.

fc4-global-header-logo_142138.png

SANTA CLARA, Calif - November 6, 2014 - Ubisoft announces today a new technology PC gaming development partnership with NVIDIA that will bring players closer to their games than ever before.

Thanks to the power of NVIDIA GeForce GTX technology, including the just-released GTX 980 and 970 GPUs, this holiday’s long-awaited FPS, Far Cry 4 will look even more beautiful. By integrating NVIDIA’s GameWorks technologies, such as HBAO+ for realistic shadows, TXAA for cinema quality smoothness, as well as enhanced 4K support, Ubisoft is delivering cutting-edge content that allow PC players to become fully immersed in their gaming environments. In addition, Far Cry 4 also integrates NVIDIA Godrays technology so gamers can feel the sun beating down in the Himalayas, and NVIDIA HairWorks, for rendering the realistic, but deadly adversaries that will be encountered in the game.

Ubisoft also reveals Far Cry 4 PC system requirements:

  • Supported 64-Bit OS: Windows 7 (SP1) x64 / Windows 8 x64 / Windows 8.1 x64 ·
  • Processor: 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5-750 or 3.2 GHz AMD Phenom II X4 955 (2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-2400S or 4.0 GHz AMD FX-8350 or better recommended)
  • RAM: 4 GB (8 GB or greater recommended)
  • Video Card: 1 GB DirectX 11–compliant with Shader Model 5.0 or higher
    • Supported Video Cards at Time of Release: AMD Radeon HD 5850 / 6000 / 7000 / R7 / R9 series
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 / 500 / 600 / 700 / TITAN series \
  • Sound Card: DirectX-compatible (5.1 surround sound recommended)
  • DVD-ROM Drive: Dual-layer Hard Drive Space: 30 GB
  • Peripherals Supported: Windows-compatible keyboard, mouse, optional controller (Xbox 360 Controller for Windows recommended)
  • Multiplayer: 256 kbps or faster broadband connection ·
  • Note: This product supports 64-bit operating systems only.

Laptop versions of these cards may work, but are not officially supported. For the most up-to-date minimum requirement listings, please visit the FAQ on our support website at support.ubi.com.

If you are wondering whether or not your PC can run Far Cry 4 smoothly at the highest settings, please run the NVIDIA GPU ANALYZER which detects your graphics hardware and compares it to the developer's recommended GPU specification for Far Cry 4. It's a quick and easy way to see if your graphics hardware will provide you with an optimal experience in Far Cry 4.

With Far Cry 4 players will experience the most expansive and immersive Far Cry ever, in an entirely new, massive open-world. Players will find themselves in Kyrat, a breathtaking, perilous and wild region of the Himalayas struggling under the regime of a despotic self-appointed king. Using a vast array of weapons, vehicles and animals, players will write their own story across an exotic open-world landscape. Developed by Ubisoft Montréal in collaboration with other Ubisoft studios, Far Cry 4 will be available worldwide on November 18 for PlayStation4 and PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC.

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #325 - Samsung 850 Pro Roundup, MSI's GTX 760 ITX, 8GB R9 290X and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2014 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, R9 290X, podcast, nvidia, mx cherry brown, msi titan, msi, hawaii, gtx 760 itx, assassin's creed, amd, 8gb, 850 PRO

PC Perspective Podcast #325 - 11/06/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Samsung 850 Pro Roundup, MSI's GTX 760 ITX, 8GB R9 290X 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: http://pcper.com/podcast - 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

Introducing the NVIDIA GeForce GTX "Pick Your Path" Bundle

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2014 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Pick your Path, game bundle, GTX 980, GTX 970, GeForce GTX 780, GeForce GTX 780 Ti, GTX 980M, GTX 970M

NVIDIA has introduced a promotion to compete with AMD's Never Settle Forever program.  The Pick your Path bundle offers purchasers of GTX 980, 970, 780 Ti, or 780 cards or who have bought notebooks with a GTX 980M or 970M the choice of one of three games.   These titles include The Crew, Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity, all of which feature optimization taking advantage of NVIDIA's new HBAO+ and TXAA technologies, enhanced performance at 4k resolutions and other game specific benefits such as the tessellation in Assassin's Creed.  This promotion will run until the end of the year so if you had planned on upgrading your hardware to play one of these games it makes NVIDIA's solutions a little more attractive.

GF-GTX-Pick-Your-Path-Bundle-WheretoBuy-Header-GFcom-717.jpg

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Nov. 4, 2014— NVIDIA today announced a new technology PC gaming development partnership with Ubisoft that will bring consumers closer to their games than ever before.

Thanks to the power of NVIDIA GeForce GTX technology, including the just-released GTX 980 and 970 GPUs, this holiday’s hottest games, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4 and The Crew, will look simply incredible. By integrating NVIDIA’s superior GameWorks technologies, such as HBAO+ for realistic shadows, TXAA for cinema quality smoothness, as well as enhanced 4K support, Ubisoft is delivering cutting-edge content that allow PC gamers to become fully immersed in their gaming environments.

Part of the “Pick Your Path” promotion which kicks off this week and runs to the end of the year, gamers who purchase a qualifying GeForce GTX GPU, including a GeForce GTX 980, 970, 780 Ti, or 780 graphics card or a notebook with GeForce GTX 980M or 970M get their choice of which title--The Crew, Far Cry 4 or Assassin’s Creed Unity--to add to their library for free.

“NVIDIA has worked hard, hand-in-hand with our development teams, to help provide the best experience for our PC players,” said Jean-Francois St.Amour, Lead Graphics Programmer at Ubisoft Montreal. “Their support and insight is even more important now, as we make a big technological leap into the next-generation of Assassin’s Creed games.”

Assassin’s Creed Unity, the latest installment in Ubisoft’s most successful franchise, will feature HBAO+, TXAA, PCSS and tessellation technologies which allow Ubisoft to realistically render the 16th century game environments, which are set in Paris during the French Revolution.

Another legendary game series getting a massively visual and technology upgrade is Far Cry 4. In addition to HBAO+, TXAA, PCSS and enhanced 4K support, Far Cry 4 also integrates NVIDIA Godrays technology so gamers can feel the sun beating down in the Himalayas, and NVIDIA HairWorks, for rendering the realistic, but deadly adversaries that will be encountered in the game.

And finally, if horsepower, engines and pound per cubic feet rev your receptors more, then The Crew, the ultimate street racing game ever made, may be just the ticket you’ve been waiting for. Motoring through the bustling streets of New York City and Los Angeles, cruising down sunny Miami Beach or trekking through the plateaus of Monument Valley never looked so superb thanks in part to the integration of HBAO+ and TXAA technologies-- all rendered in breathtaking 4K. The Crew even comes with an Android companion app that lets you tinker with your ride before playing it live, chat remotely, browse friend profiles, and send your crew on jobs – all from the road.

Source: NVIDIA

What, me jealous? Four weeks with SLI'd GTX 980s

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 31, 2014 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: sli, nvidia, GTX 980

Just in case you need a reason to be insanely jealous of someone, [H]ard|OCP has just published an article covering what it is like to be living with two GTX 980's in SLI.  The cards are driving three Dell U2410 24" 1920x1200 displays for a relatively odd resolution of 3600x1920 but apart from an issue with the GeForce Experience software suite the cards have no trouble displaying to all three monitors.  In their testing of Borderlands games they definitely noticed when PhysX was turned on, though like others [H] wishes that PhysX would abandon its proprietary roots.  When compared to the Radeon R9 290X CrossFire system the performance is very similar but when you look at heat, power and noise produced the 980's are the clear winner.  Keep in mind a good 290X is just over $300 while the least expensive GTX 980 will run you over $550.

1414677298HAmmSaoZGr_1_1.jpg

"What do you get when you take two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 video cards, configure those for SLI, and set those at your feet for four weeks? We give our thoughts and opinions about actually using these GPUs in our own system for four weeks with focus on performance, sound profile, and heat generated by these cards."

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

Graphics Cards

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

Mini-ITX Sized Package with a Full Sized GPU

PC components seem to be getting smaller.  Micro-ATX used to not be very popular for the mainstream enthusiast, but that has changed as of late.  Mini-ITX is now the hot form factor these days with plenty of integrated features on motherboards and interesting case designs to house them in.  Enthusiast graphics cards tend to be big, and that is a problem for some of these small cases.  Manufacturers are responding to this by squeezing every ounce of cooling performance into smaller cards that more adequately fit in these small chassis.

msi760_01.jpg

MSI is currently offering their midrange cards in these mini-ITX liveries.  The card we have today is the GTX 760 Mini-ITX Gaming.  The GTX 760 is a fairly popular card due to it being fairly quick, but not too expensive.  It is still based on the GK104, though fairly heavily cut down from a fully functional die.  The GTX 760 features 1152 CUDA Cores divided into 6 SMXs.  A fully functional GK104 is 1536 CUDA Cores and 8 SMXs.  The stock clock on the GTX 760 is 980 MHz with a boost up to 1033 MHz.

The pricing for the GTX 760 cards is actually fairly high as compared to similarly performing products from AMD.  NVIDIA feels that they offer a very solid product at that price and do not need to compete directly with AMD on a performance per dollar basis.  Considering that NVIDIA has stayed very steady in terms of marketshare, they probably have a valid point.  Overall the GTX 760 performs in the same general area as a R9 270X and R9 280, but again the AMD parts have a significant advantage in terms of price.

The challenges for making a high performing, small form factor card are focused on power delivery and thermal dissipation.  Can the smaller PCB still have enough space for all of the VRMs required with such a design?  Can the manufacturer develop a cooling solution that will keep the GPU in the designed thermal envelope?  MSI has taken a shot at these issues with their GTX 760 Mini-ITX OC edition card.

Continue reading our review of the MSI GTX 760 Mini-ITX Graphics Card!!

Podcast #324 - Civilization: Beyond Earth, Consoles Performance Issues, Samsung SSD updates and more

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2014 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, video, steiger dynamics, ps4, podcast, nvidia, Mantle, LIVA, Intel, ECS, Broadwell-E, amd, Alienware 13

PC Perspective Podcast #324 - 10/30/2014

Join us this week as we discuss Civilization: Beyond Earth Performance, Consoles Performance Issues, Samsung SSD updates 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: http://pcper.com/podcast - 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

Author:
Manufacturer: Firaxis

A Civ for a New Generation

Turn-based strategy games have long been defined by the Civilization series. Civ 5 took up hours and hours of the PC Perspective team's non-working hours (and likely the working ones too) and it looks like the new Civilization: Beyond Earth has the chance to do the same. Early reviews of the game from Gamespot, IGN, and Polygon are quite positive, and that's great news for a PC-only release; they can sometimes get overlooked in the games' media.

For us, the game offers an interesting opportunity to discuss performance. Beyond Earth is definitely going to be more CPU-bound than the other games that we tend to use in our benchmark suite, but the fact that this game is new, shiny, and even has a Mantle implementation (AMD's custom API) makes interesting for at least a look at the current state of performance. Both NVIDIA and AMD sent have released drivers with specific optimization for Beyond Earth as well. This game is likely to be popular and it deserves the attention it gets.

Testing Process

Civilization: Beyond Earth, a turn-based strategy game that can take a very long time to complete, ships with an integrated benchmark mode to help users and the industry test performance under different settings and hardware configurations. To enable it, you simple add "-benchmark results.csv" to the Steam game launch options and then start up the game normally. Rather than taking you to the main menu, you'll be transported into a view of a map that represents a somewhat typical gaming state for a long term session. The game will use the last settings you ran the game at to measure your system's performance, without the modified launch options, so be sure to configure that before you prepare to benchmark.

The output of this is the "result.csv" file, saved to your Steam game install root folder. In there, you'll find a list of numbers, separated by commas, representing the frame times for each frame rendering during the run. You don't get averages, a minimum, or a maximum without doing a little work. Fire up Excel or Google Docs and remember the formula:

1000 / Average (All Frame Times) = Avg FPS

It's a crude measurement that doesn't take into account any errors, spikes, or other interesting statistical data, but at least you'll have something to compare with your friends.

settings.jpg

Our testing settings

Just as I have done in recent weeks with Shadow of Mordor and Sniper Elite 3, I ran some graphics cards through the testing process with Civilization: Beyond Earth. These include the GeForce GTX 980 and Radeon R9 290X only, along with SLI and CrossFire configurations. The R9 290X was run in both DX11 and Mantle.

  • Core i7-3960X
  • ASUS Rampage IV Extreme X79
  • 16GB DDR3-1600
  • GeForce GTX 980 Reference (344.48)
  • ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II (14.9.2 Beta)

Mantle Additions and Improvements

AMD is proud of this release as it introduces a few interesting things alongside the inclusion of the Mantle API.

  1. Enhanced-quality Anti-Aliasing (EQAA): Improves anti-aliasing quality by doubling the coverage samples (vs. MSAA) at each AA level. This is automatically enabled for AMD users when AA is enabled in the game.
     
  2. Multi-threaded command buffering: Utilizing Mantle allows a game developer to queue a much wider flow of information between the graphics card and the CPU. This communication channel is especially good for multi-core CPUs, which have historically gone underutilized in higher-level APIs. You’ll see in your testing that Mantle makes a notable difference in smoothness and performance high-draw-call late game testing.
     
  3. Split-frame rendering: Mantle empowers a game developer with total control of multi-GPU systems. That “total control” allows them to design an mGPU renderer that best matches the design of their game. In the case of Civilization: Beyond Earth, Firaxis has selected a split-frame rendering (SFR) subsystem. SFR eliminates the latency penalties typically encountered by AFR configurations.

EQAA is an interesting feature as it improves on the quality of MSAA (somewhat) by doubling the coverage sample count while maintaining the same color sample count as MSAA. So 4xEQAA will have 4 color samples and 8 coverage samples while 4xMSAA would have 4 of each. Interestingly, Firaxis has decided the EQAA will be enabled on Beyond Earth anytime a Radeon card is detected (running in Mantle or DX11) and AA is enabled at all. So even though in the menus you might see 4xMSAA enabled, you are actually running at 4xEQAA. For NVIDIA users, 4xMSAA means 4xMSAA. Performance differences should be negligible though, according to AMD (who would actually be "hurt" by this decision if it brought down FPS).

Continue reading our article on Civilization: Beyond Earth performance!!

Podcast #323 - GTX 980M Performance, MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2014 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, GTX 980M, msi, X99S GAMING 9 AC, amd, nvidia, Intel, Kingwin, APU, Kaveri, 344.48, dsr

PC Perspective Podcast #323 - 10/23/2014

Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980M Performance, MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC 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: http://pcper.com/podcast - 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

 

GeForce Game Ready Driver 344.48 WHQL

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 22, 2014 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: whql, nvidia, GeForce 344.48

"Game Ready" for Lords of the Fallen, Civilization: Beyond Earth, and Elite: Dangerous. 

Grab it straight from NVIDIA or GeForce.com.

dsr-auto-enabled-in-geforce-experience-640px.jpg

What’s New in Version 344.48

Game Ready

Best gaming experience for Lords of the Fallen, Civilization: Beyond Earth, and Elite:Dangerous.

Gaming Technology

  • Supports Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) on Kepler and Fermi-based desktop GPUs. Software Modules
  • NVIDIA PhysX System Software - version 9.14.0702
  • NVIDIA GPU PhysX acceleration is available only on systems with GeForce 8-series and later GPUs with a minimum of 256 MB dedicated graphics memory.
  • NVIDIA GPU PhysX acceleration is not available if there is a non-NVIDIA graphics processor in the system, even if it is not used for rendering.
  • HD Audio Driver - version 1.3.32.1 CUDA - version 6.5
  • GeForce Experience - 16.13.56.0 Application Profiles

Added or updated the following profiles:

  • Assassin's Creed Unity – control panel FXAA disabled
  • Dead Rising 3 – SLI-Single profile added
  • Elite Dangerous – SLI profile added, control panel FXAA disabled
  • Escape Dead Island – SLI profile added
  • FIFA 15 – SLI-Single profile added
  • Lichdom: Battlemage– SLI profile added
  • Lords of the Fallen – SLI profile added
  • MechWarrior Online – DX11 SLI profile added
  • Monster Hunter Online Benchmark – SLI profile added
  • Ryse: Son of Rome – SLI profile added, stereo blocked
  • Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth – ambient occlusion (AO) profile added
  • Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – SLI profile added
  • The Crew – control panel FXAA disabled
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – SLI profile added 3D Vision Profiles

Added or updated the following profiles:

  • Dead Rising 3 – Not Recommended
  • Strife – rated as Fair 3D Compatibility Mode Support

Support for 3D Compatibility Mode has been added for the following games:

  • Dead Rising 3 – rated as Excellent
  • Strife – rated as Excellent

Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 8.1 Fixed Issues

  • Make control panel option for MFAA visible in NVIDIA Control Panel only for non-SLI configurations.
  • Implement MFAA along with porting TSF filter to driver side shim.
  • Add SLI profile for Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition.
  • GeForce GTX 980, Windows 8.1: Occasionally, the first line in a displayed frame mistakenly has content from a prior rendered frame.
  • Need SLI profile for FIFA 15.
  • Having G-SYNC enabled with Oculus Rift drivers installed causes applications to crash while launching and sometimes causes the system to reboot.
  • Green screen when certain videos played back in Media Player Classic Home Cinema. Backport to r304_00 all missing changes to the FreeBSD installer.
  • Device does not start (error code 49) in certain OEM motherboards.
  • Assassin's Creed Unity, Windows 8: TDR crash after loading a level and playing a little on NVIDIA 7-series GPUs.
  • Windows 8.1: Significant drop off in performance with 3D Vision enabled in SLI in Tomb Raider, no repro with Windows 7.
Source: NVIDIA