PhysX Settings Comparison
Borderlands 2 is a hell of a game; we actually ran a 4+ hour live event on launch day to celebrate its release and played it after our podcast that week as well. When big PC releases occur we usually like to take a look at performance of the game on a few graphics cards as well to see how NVIDIA and AMD cards stack up. Interestingly, for this title, PhysX technology was brought up again and NVIDIA was widely pushing it as a great example of implementation of the GPU-accelerated physics engine.
What you may find unique in Borderlands 2 is that the game actually allows you to enabled PhysX features at Low, Medium and High settings, with either NVIDIA or AMD Radeon graphics cards installed in your system. In past titles, like Batman: Arkham City and Mafia II, PhysX was only able to be enabled (or at least at higher settings) if you had an NVIDIA card. Many gamers that used AMD cards saw this as a slight and we tended to agree. But since we could enable it with a Radeon card installed, we were curious to see what the results would be.
Of course, don't expect the PhysX effects to be able to utilize the Radeon GPU for acceleration...
Borderlands 2 PhysX Settings Comparison
The first thing we wanted to learn was just how much difference you would see by moving from Low (the lowest setting, there is no "off") to Medium and then to High. The effects were identical on both AMD and NVIDIA cards and we made a short video here to demonstrate the changes in settings.
Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 01:46 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Sea Islands, Samsung, PSU, podcast, nvidia, IOPS, Intel, evga, amd, 840 pro, 840, 1500W
PC Perspective Podcast #220 - 09/27/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the Samsung 840 Pro SSD, a 1500W PSU from EVGA, AMD GPU leaks, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano
Program length: 1:07:28
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:23:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
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Subject: Graphics Cards | September 22, 2012 - 04:01 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, MSI GTX660 HAWK, msi, gtx 660
This week has certainly had its share of leaked graphics card news, and the latest information on that market indicates that MSI is working on a enthusiast-level HAWK version of the GTX 660 GPU. That card will take the GK106 Kepler chip to the max with the fastest factory overclocks yet.
Last week Nvidia debuted its GTX 660 graphics card, which is currently the lowest-end GPU to use the Kepler GK106 chip. Once the NDA broke, the review of the card went live, and the performance of the reference designs was analyzed.
GK106 features 5 SMX units in 2.5 Graphics Processing Clusters (GPC), which Nvidia has said is the most that the chip will ever have. The GTX 660 version has 960 CUDA cores, 80 texture units, 24 ROPs, and a 192-bit memory bus.
While GK106 will likely not see a version with three complete GPCs, the mid-range Kepler chip still has a bit of performance headroom that can be unleased with overclocking, and several OEMs are preparing factory overclocked GTX 660 graphics cards with custom coolers.
The latest custom GTX 660 to be leaked is the MSI GTX 660 HAWK edition with out-of-the-box overclocked settings, beefed up power management hardware, and a TwinFrozr IV cooler.
MSI has gone with a custom PCB and cooler to keep the GK106 fed with power and running cool. The PCB has been fitted with a 10-phase VRM, SSC chokes, and IR DirectFETs to provide the power needed to run at overclocked settings. Of course, MSI has included its GPU Reactor hardware – a feature exclusive to its HAWK branded cards that differentiates them from the lower tier lightning and power edition cards. The GPU Reactor is a set of tantalum capacitors that are said to deliver more stable voltage to the Kepler chip.
The graphics card continues to be powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. MSI has also added a dual BIOS feature to the HAWK card that will run the GPU at GTX 660 reference speeds (980/1033MHz) or at the overclocked profile, depending on physical BIOS switch position.
Clockspeeds are where the MSI GTX 660 HAWK really gets interesting, however. The base clockspeed of 1100MHz is more than most GTX 660 cards run at /boost/ speeds, and the 1176MHz boost speed is the fastest boost speed we’ve seen yet. In an interesting twist, MSI has not touched the clockspeed for the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Instead, it has left the graphics card clocked at 6008MHz memory (the reference speed). It may be that the memory chips simply cannot overclock much beyond the reference clockspeeds as there are no other factory overclocked GTX 660s that I know of that push the memory clocks beyond reference.
Of course, the other big selling point of this MSI card is the custom cooler – one that Josh seems to like thanks to the addition of “supa pipes!” The Twin Frozr IV is a dual fan cooled aluminum fin array that is connected to the block over the GPU by five heat-pipes. There does not appear to be much information on the HSF beyond that, unfortunately. Judging by past iterations, it should be more than capable of running at the factory overclocked speeds, however.
Display outputs will include two DVI, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI. Pricing and availability are still unknown, but expect it to command a small premium over the standard GTX 660’s $229 price tag.
EXPreview was the source of the photos, however the webpage seems to be down at the moment. Fortunately, WCCF Tech manged to grab them before the original page was lost, and you can see more photos of the MSI GTX 660 HAWK (SKU: N660GTX HAWK) on that page.
A comparison chart of the various GTX 600 series cards.
Note: GTX 650 is GK107, GTX 660 is GK106, GTX 660Ti and above is GK104.
Read more about Nvidia's Kepler graphics card architecture at PC Perspective!
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | September 17, 2012 - 02:23 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: pcper, nvidia, live, giveaway, contest, borderlands 2
I hope your day is going to be free tomorrow - we have some big stuff planned! In cooperation with NVIDIA, Gearbox and PC Perspective, we'll be hosting a multi-hour live streaming launch party for Borderlands 2! We'll be going over some of the unique PC-exclusive features, showing off gameplay in the crazy co-op mode and we'll have some giveaways for viewers as well including a pair of Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards!
Tomorrow, Sept 18th, from 4pm ET until at least 8pm ET, staff from PC Perspective and NVIDIA will be using our PC Perspective Live! channel to discuss and show off the new "shoot and loot" title from Gearbox.
Come join us to see Borderlands 2 in action, hang out with PC Perspective and NVIDIA reps and enter for a chance to win one of two Zotac GeForce GTX 660 Ti cards!
Be sure to set your calendars and join us for the Borderlands 2 launch live streaming celebration!!
- PC Perspective Live! channel - pcper.com/live
- Start time: 4pm ET / 1pm PT
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 05:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 04:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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".
"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:
- Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 @ The Tech Report
- ASUS GTX 660 Direct CU II TOP Review @ OCC
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SC (SuperClocked) 2GB @ Bjorn3D
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 @ Hardware.info
- NVIDIA Geforce GTX 660 Reviews @Hi Tech Legion
- The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Review: GK106 Fills Out The Kepler Family @ AnandTech
- SI GEFORCE GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2GB OC @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 @ Legion Hardware
- Gigabyte GTX 660 Overclock 2GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB SuperClocked @ Benchmark Reviews
- MSI GTX 660 OC Edition Twin Frozr @ Kitguru
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 @ Techspot
- Gigabyte GTX 660 OC Video Card Review @ Ninjalane
- MSI GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2GB OC @ LanOC Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Overclocked Graphics Card Review (EVGA/ZOTAC)@ HardwareHeaven
- EVGA GTX 660 Superclocked 2Gb @ LanOC Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASUS, KFA2 and MSI GeForce GTX 660 reviews with 2-way SLI @ Guru of 3D
- MSI GeForce GTX 660 Twin Frozr 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- ZOTAC GeForce GTX 660 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GTX 660 Windforce OC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Direct Cu II 2 GB @ techPowerUp
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Video Card Review w/ MSI and EVGA @ Legit Reviews
- Six GeForce GTX 660 Ti graphics cards: ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI and Zotac @ Hardware.info
- Gigabyte GTX 660 Ti OC Windforce @ Kitguru
- AFOX Radeon HD 7850 (Single Slot), MSI R7870 Hawk Graphics Cards @ iXBT Labs
- Inno3D GTX 680 iChill Black Series Accelero Hybrid 4GB Overclocked @ Tweaktown
- MSI Geforce GTX 670 Power Edition @ Rbmods
- i3DSpeed, August 2012 @ iXBT Labs
- Arctic Accelero Xtreme 7970 VGA Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X OC 6GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire FleX HD 7770 GHz Edition @ LanOC Reviews
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 09:38 AM | Tim Verry
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!
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).
The following chart compares the specifications between the new Geforce GTX 650 through the GTX 670 graphics card.
Click on the above chart for a larger image.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- GeForce GTX 690: Dual GK104 Kepler Greatness
- GeForce GTX 680: Kepler is ready for retail
- GeForce GTX 670: Kepler for $399
- GeForce GTX 660 Ti: Another GK104 Option for $299
- GeForce GTX 660: GK106 Completes the Circle
Subject: Mobile | August 29, 2012 - 03:45 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: unreal engine, tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, gaming
One of the reasons why I have hope for Windows RT is its gaming potential. Microsoft has been hit-or-miss with its gaming projects, but when it succeeds, it really knocks it out of the park – see DirectX, the Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s digital distribution via its console. Bringing Windows to tablets could make life easier for game developers in that space and offer a wider selection of mature titles rather than mobile-focused games, which often (in my opinion) feel watered down and look underwhelming.
NVIDIA showcased this potential at IFA 2012 by demonstrating a Windows RT tablet (with Tegra 3 hardware, of course) running Unreal Engine 3. The tablet is shown playing the NVIDIA “Epic Citiadel” demo which we saw at the editor’s day conference used to debut the GTX 680 earlier this year. Quality details are probably reduced compared to the version that ran on the GTX 680 (it’s hard to tell in the video) but it still looks excellent and runs smoothly.
The demonstration highlighted the fact this isn’t some one-off or stripped-down version of the engine designed only for mobile devices. It’s a port of the existing Unreal Engine 3 engine used to make Windows PC games, which means developers shipping games that use UE3 should have minimal trouble porting their game to a Windows 8 RT tablet. Mark Rein, president of Epic Games, stated that Windows 8 RT code is now available to UE3 licenesees. It’ll be interesting to see which game developer is first to jump on board.
The tablet in the video is an ASUS Vivo Tab RT, an upcoming Windows 8 RT tablet with an 11.6” IPS display with 1366x768 resolution and a Tegra 3 SoC. A tablet like this could be a compelling mobile gaming device if the games become available. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 28, 2012 - 07:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: triple fan, nvidia, mars 3, gtx 680, dual gpu, custom cooler, asus
If rumors hold true, NVIDIA’s GTX 690 will soon be joined by a custom dual GTX 680 card from ASUS. First shown off at Computex, the Mars III combines two GTX 680 graphics chips, 8GB RAM, and a massive triple fan cooler. Expect it to cost quite a bit but offer up some impressive performance numbers.
ASUS has a long history of taking high-end graphics chips to the extreme, even going so far as to put more than one graphics processor on the same PCB. The third iteration of its custom dual GPU "MARS" series graphics cards, the MARS III was first shown off at Computex. At the time, the company indicated that the dual NVIDIA GPU card was not quite ready for final release as the GPU cooling solution and PCB in particular required further tweaking.
Going by the recently leaked photos, ASUS has been hard at work refining the custom design, and it certainly looks ready for prime time. The MARS III takes two Kepler architecture-based GTX 680 GPUs, beefed up power phases, and a total of 32 RAM chips (8 per GPU) for 8GB of total RAM, and places it on a single black PCB. Further, the two GTX 680 GPUs are configured in SLI using a PLX PEX8747 bridge chip. While it does not have more CUDA cores than the NVIDIA reference GTX 690 (which we recently reviewed), it should have a bit more overclocking headroom in addition to the extra 4GB of GDDR5 memory. I would expect that it will cost more than the GTX 690 as a result of its custom design and extra memory, but so far there is no word on what that price might be.
Needless to say, all that hardware is going to require a lot of power. Internally, each GPU will be fed electricity using an 8+2 power phase. Further, the board continues to feature the three 8-pin PCI-E power connectors which allows the dual-GPU graphics card to draw up to 525 Watts of power. While the color of the cooler has been changed from the model seen at Computex to a red and black color scheme, the red overclocking button is still there on the side of the card. It will spin the fans up to 100% to allow you to push the NVIDIA GPUs as far as possible.
Video outputs include three DVI and a single mini-DisplayPort connector for NVIDIA Surround gaming and a fourth accessory monitor.
The dual GTX 680 graphics card at Computex.
Sources speaking with Videocardz have confirmed that the card is nearly ready for retail availability, and is only waiting NVIDIA’s go ahead.
Now that the rumored 7990 is on the way (or at least a custom version of the 7990), I would bet that we will be seeing this custom ASUS card sooner rather than later – and that NVIDIA’s “okay” to unleash this beastly graphics card should not be difficult to get.
[Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to clean the drool off of my desk.]