AMD’s position is not enviable. Though they’re the only large competitor to Intel in the market for x86 processors, the company is dwarfed by the Giant of Santa Clara. As a resident of Portland, I can’t forget this fact. Intel offices are strewn across the landscape of the western suburbs, most of them at least four times larger than any office I’ve worked at.
Despite the long odds, AMD is set in this course for now and has no choice but to soldier on. And so we have today’s reference platform, a laptop powered by AMD’s latest mobile processor, codenamed Trinity. These processors, like the older Llano models, will be sold as the AMD A-Series. This might lead you to think that it’s simply another minor update, but that’s not the case.
Llano was released around the same time as Bulldozer, but it did not use Bulldozer cores. Instead it used yet another update of Stars, which is a mobile incarnation of Phenom II, which was of course an improvement upon the original Phenom. The “new” Llano APU in fact was equipped with some rather old processor cores. This showed in the performance of the mobile Llano products. They simply could not keep up with Sandy Bridge’s more modern cores.
Bulldozer isn’t coming to mobile with Trinity, either. Instead we’re receiving Piledriver. AMD has effectively skipped the first iteration of its new Bulldozer architecture and moved straight on to the second. Piledriver includes the third generation of AMD’s Turbo Core and promises “up to 29%” better processor performance than last year’s Llano-based A-Series.
That’s a significant improvement, should it turn out to be correct. Is it true, and will it be enough to catch up to Intel?
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 10, 2012 - 01:38 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, HD 7970, hd 7950, hd 7870, hd 7850, hd 7770, hd 7750, GTX 690, gtx 680, gtx 670, geforce, amd
Due to popular request, I am going to try to keep our readers up to date on the current availability of graphics cards and pricing on the market. With the recent price drops from AMD, the frequent out-of-stock status of the GTX 680 cards and today's new release of the GTX 670, I thought this would be a great summary of the current situation.
NVIDIA's latest offering, the GeForce GTX 670
We will try to post new updates weekly or maybe more frequently as we see fit. Newegg is our partner of choice for this today, so let's see what we have.
AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series
Radeon HD 7970 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $479
Radeon HD 7950 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $399
Radeon HD 7870 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $329
Radeon HD 7850 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $249
Radeon HD 7770 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $129
Radeon HD 7750 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $109
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 Series
GeForce GTX 690 4GB - No Stock
Starting at $999
GeForce GTX 680 2GB - No Stock
Starting at $499
GeForce GTX 670 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $399
It is launch day for the GTX 670 and those seem to be pretty widely available for the time being. As great a card as it is though, I am hesitant to think it will remain in stock through the end of the day based on past experiences with the GTX 600 cards. Still, the GTX 680 is MIA and the few times I have seen it in stock it only lasts a couple of hours.
AMD is still doing fine on availability with the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 widely available for the price of $479 with a set of three free games including DiRT Showdown and Dues Ex: Human Revolution.
If you are looking for our latest graphics reviews to judge the performance of the above cards, here you go:
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 6, 2012 - 12:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, diablo iii, catalyst 12.4, catalyst, amd
A recent forum entry from a Diablo III official agent informed gamers that if you were planning on playing Diablo III on the May 15th launch date, you had better not be using the Catalyst 12.4 drivers that were just released on April 25th.
While AMD still has about 9 days to respond to this issue, for a support rep from Blizzard to flat-out say that "12.4 isn't going to be supported for use in Diablo III" is indicative of a larger problem - can AMD's somewhat smaller driver team hope to keep up with NVIDIA's as we get set for another way of pretty major PC game releases?
Quite a few users are taking up for AMD in the thread including Mortac that says:
I find this to be a very confusing answer. What are we to expect for the future? You say that Diablo III won't support 12.4, but what exactly do you mean by that? Are we to expect support for future drivers down the road, say a few weeks after release, or are you telling us that we'll never be able to update our drivers again for as long as we intend to play Diablo III? If the latter, then you guys really need to think that through again. People update their drivers for several reasons, and you cannot possibly expect everyone to swap drivers every time they play other games that might require the latest version.
How this issue will be resolved before May 15th will be of importance to quite a few PC gamers so let's hope both AMD and Blizzard can get their acts together.
Besides Blizzard's long awaited Diablo entry, PC gamers can look forward to Guild Wars 2, DiRT Showdown, Max Payne 3, a new Ghost Recon title, BF3: Close Quarters, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Far Cry 3, Borderlands 2, Bioshock Infinite and many more in the coming months.
UPDATE 2:22pm: An AMD representative has informed us that that bug referred to by the Blizzard forum support person in fact ONLY affects Radeon HD 2000, 3000 and 4000 users. The 12.4 Catalyst software will work fine with 5000, 6000 and the new 7000 series of graphics cards apparently.
@ryanshrout This post from Blizzard is an unfortunate misunderstanding we are working to correct. 12.4 works fine for 5k/6k/7k users.
— Robert Hallock (@Thracks) May 6, 2012
Also, as Robert Hallock commented in our thread below:
Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2012 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gpu, pricing, nvidia, amd, radeon
AMD has spent a lot of money developing GCN and it shows with products that provide better performance than the previous generation and do so with less power consumption, a hard trick to pull off. There are also numerous other architectural changes in the three current families of Southern Island cards which benefit users, but most will be focused on faster graphics without the need to upgrade their PSU. Until last week, since AMD had the fastest GPU going period, as well as much better price/performance numbers than NVIDIA's choice, there was no reason for AMD to consider changing their pricing structure as they need to recuperate the amount of dollars spent on R&D as well as manufacturing.
Last week the GTX 680 changed that, as not only did NVIDIA steal the performance crown back from AMD but they also successfully reduced the power consumption which was the Achilles Heel of Fermi. Even worse news for AMD was the pricing that NVIDIA attached to their flagship Kepler product, at $500 they are priced below AMD's HD 7970 by between $50 to $100. AMD's only hope is that the process problems at TSMC will keep the availability of the GTX 680 down, which it seems to have as NewEgg has run out of that card. Hoping that your competitor cannot keep their stock up is not exactly a good model to run your business.
Unfortunately any price change AMD makes will have repercussions on many models. The 7950 averages about $460 which is far too close to the GTX 680's price since the performance is not that close, however dropping the HD 7950 towards $400 makes the HD 7870 at $360 a little uncomfortable. That is going to have an effect on AMD's profitability, since they likely set out their accounting based on the current pricing of the Radeon series and will have to recalculate a lot of numbers to lower price and still remain profitable. However painful a process that might be they need to think of it sooner, rather than later; NVIDIA has more Kelper cards in store and they are not going to cost more than the GTX 680.
So far we have not heard any substantiated rumours about price changes from AMD but you can speculate that they must be coming. For now you should first decide how much your budget can manage and then start looking for specials at retailers that bring the cards down to the price you have decided you can afford. If they aren't low enough today then wait a few days as the GPU market is going to be decidedly unstable for the next while.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel to offer new SSDs, say Taiwan makers @ DigiTimes
- Intel extends lead over Samsung in semiconductor market share @ The Inquirer
- AMD completes its buyout of Seamicro @ The Inquirer
- Many Ivy Bridge ultrabooks expected to be showcased at Computex Taipei
- The TR Podcast 108: Take three tablets and call Dr. Kepler in the morning
Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 10:36 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sapphire, radeon, HD 7970, gpu, amd, 7970
Sapphire Technologies recently launched a new factory overclocked version of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card. The new Radeon HD 7970 OC Edition promises to combine the performance of AMD's 7970 GPU (you can find our review of the 7970 here) with Sapphire's own Dual X two fan heatpipe cooler.
The Sapphire HD 7970 GPU is powered by one 8 pin and one 6 pin PCI-E power connection, and supports the PCI-E 3.0 standard and Microsoft's DirectX 11.1 technology. Other specifications include 3 GB of GDDR5 memory, a 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU core, a 384-bit memory interface, and a dual BIOS switch depending on whether you want to run at stock clock speeds or use the factory overclocked profile.
Specifically, the Sapphire HD 7970 GPU features a dual bios switch that allows customers to switch between default clock speeds of 950 MHz core and 1425 MHz memory and the factory overclocked speeds of 1 GHz (1,000 MHz) core and 1450 MHz memory. When using the overclocked BIOS, the graphics card will employ more a more aggressive fan profile and also allows raises the maximum limits for overclocking the core, memory, and voltage values.
Further, the Sapphire GPU uses their own Dual X cooler that features a dual slot aluminum heatsink connected to the GPU core by five copper heatpipes. This heatsink is then cooled by two large fans, that Sapphire claims will enable quiet operation even while under load.
Accessories wise, Sapphire provides one DVI, one HDMI, and two mini Display Port video outputs. In the retail packaging, Sapphire provides an Active mini Display Port to single-link DVI adapter, HDMI to DVI adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, two PCI-E to molex power adapters (one molex to PCI-E 8 pin and one molex to PCI-E 6 pin), a mini Display Port to Display Port adapter, a 1.8 meter HDMI 1.4a cable, and a CrossFire bridge.
The new Sapphire HD 7970 OC Edition is available now from authorized retailers, and is retailing for between $580 and $630 at several retailers at the time of writing.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 6, 2012 - 05:42 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, pitcairn, hd 7870, hd 7850, amd, 7870, 7850
After the launch of our Radeon HD 7870 and HD 7850 review this week, I got a couple of emails asking for another data point around the Radeon HD 5800 cards that many users might be looking to upgrade from. Well, since everyone asked so nicely and I felt bad for not including it in the first place, I decided to quickly throw a HD 5870 1GB card on the test bed and run some 3DMark11 action.
Using the same hardware test bed as the other graphics cards, we ran the HD 5870 1GB using the 12.2 pre-certified driver, the same we used on the rest of our non-7000 series Radeon cards. Here are the results.
How does this compare to the new Pitcairn GPUs?
- 3DMark11 Performance Preset
- HD 5870 1GB: 4832
- HD 7870 2GB: 6601 (+36%)
- HD 7850 2GB: 5497 (+13%)
- 3DMark11 Extreme Preset
- HD 5870 1GB: 1649
- HD 7870 2GB: 2058 (+25%)
- HD 7850 2GB: 1645 (+0%)
It looks like with just this simple glance, the HD 7870 2GB card would be the only upgrade worth really stretching towards based on performance alone. There are definitely going to be cases where the 2GB frame buffer will help over the 1GB included in most HD 5870/5850 cards including Eyefinity and titles like Battlefield 3, so even if you go with the HD 7850 card you should see some gains.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 5, 2012 - 12:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: southern islands, radeon, pitcairn, hd 7870, hd 7850, amd, 7870, 7850
To give the end of the story away at the beginning, sometime around March 19th you should be able to find an HD 7870 for about $350 and an HD 7850 for around $250. The HD 7870 not only costs less than the 6970 it consumes less power and can outperform it, making the HD 7870 the more attractive of the two cards. [H]ard|OCP was less impressed with the HD7850 as it costs about $40 more than a GTX 560 Ti but only performs a small amount better. It does consume a lot less power than the NVIDIA card though, which can be a big deal for some users and hints at possible overclocking potential.
Ryan had a slightly better experience with the HD 7850, which might attract those who cannot justify spending over $300 on a graphics card but still want multi-monitor functionality.
"AMD is introducing the performance mainstream Radeon HD 7870 and Radeon HD 7850 today. We'll look at performance compared to the competition and talk about pricing and explore value. If you are in the market for a video card between $249 and $349 these video cards will likely need to be on your short list."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition & Radeon HD 7850 @ AnandTech
- AMD's Radeon HD 7870 GHz @ The Tech Report
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition & 7850 Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 & 7850 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB @ Tweaktown
- AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB @ Tweaktown
- AMD Radeon HD 7850 Video Card Review Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 & Radeon HD 7850 @ Techspot
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 and Radeon HD 7850 Graphics Cards Launch Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 and Radeon HD 7850 @ Legion Hardware
- AMD HD7870 and HD7850 @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 & HD 7850 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon HD 7850 and 7870 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7850 & HD 7870 2 GB @ techPowerUp
Completing the Family
When we went to Austin, Texas to sit with AMD and learn about the Radeon HD 7900 series of cards for the first time, an interesting thing happened. While the official meeting was about the performance of the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950, when things started to settle several AMD employees couldn't help but discuss Cape Verde (7700-series) and Pitcairn (7800-series) GPUs. In particular, the HD 7800 cards were generating a lot of excitement internally as a spiritual follow up to the wildly successful HD 5800 and HD 5700 series of cards in terms of price and performance characteristics.
So while the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 are being labeled as the world's fastest GPUs, and the Radeon HD 7700 is the fastest GPU for everyone, the HD 7800s are where many of our readers will look when upgrading their machines while staying within a budget.
Be sure to check out our video review posted here and then continue on to our full, written review for all the benchmarks and analysis!!!
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 15, 2012 - 02:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xfx, southern islands, hd 7770, hd 7750, cape verde, amd, radeon, factory overclocked
The days of the HD 6870 are numbered as today we see the arrival of the new sub-$200 GPUs from AMD, the HD7770 and HD7750. The stock HD 7770 run at 1GHz with 640 stream processors, 40 texture units and 16 ROPs and the 1GB of memory rides on a 128-bit bus at 4.5GHz. The stock HD7750 has a slower core, running at 800MHz and a lower stream processor count of 512 as well as only 32 Texture units, with the memory subsystem unchanged from the HD7770.
Those who were disappointed by the lack of custom coolers and factory overclocks at the release of the HD 7970 will be happy to see the variety of HD7700 series cards. For instance [H]ard|OCP reviewed the XFX R7770 Black Edition Super Overclocked which has a custom cooler, a 120MHz overclock on the core and a 300Mhz on the memory, effectively 5.2GHz. [H] proved that there is more memory headroom available in this card, adding another 1.1GHz without needing to adjust the voltage. For those who are willing to risk upping the power there might be even more speed possible from this card.
"Today marks the launch of AMD's Radeon HD 7700 series of GPUs in the sub-$200 bracket. We've got a retail XFX R7770 Black Edition Super Overclocked video card just itching to show us what it can do. Will this Radeon HD 7770 based video card hold up to the likes of the Radeon HD 6870 and GeForce GTX 560 Ti? You may be surprised."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition @ The Tech Report
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Overclocked Video Card @ Pro-Clockers
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 XT 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- AMD HD7770 @ OC3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & 7750 @ Legion Hardware
- XFX & Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Review @ Neoseeker
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Overclock Edition 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 & Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition Review: Evading The Price/Performance Curve @ AnandTech
- AMD HD7770 Cape Verde with “Verdetrol 1GHz” @ SemiAccurate
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & 7750 Launch Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 Pro 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- HIS Radeon HD 7750 iCooler @ Funky Kit
- XFX & Sapphire HD 7770 1GB Review @ OCC
- HIS Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 and 7750 Video Card Reviews @ Legit Reviews
- MSI Radeon HD 7770 OC @ Guru of 3D
- HIS Radeon HD 7750 iCooler Video Card @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & Radeon HD 7750 @ Techspot
- XFX Radeon HD 7770 Jet Black Edition Super Overclock vs GTX 560 @ HardwareHeaven
- Sapphire HD 7770 Overclock Edition @ LanOC Reviews
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 OC Graphics Card Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 & HD 7750 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- TX3D HD7770 1GHZ Edition Crossfire @ Kitguru
- HIS HD7750 iCooler @ Kitguru
- Sapphire HD7770 1GHZ Overclock Edition @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 and 7770 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1 GB @ techPowerUp
Southern Islands Get Small
When AMD first started to talk to me about the upcoming Southern Islands GPUs they tried to warn me. Really they did. "Be prepared for just an onslaught of card releases for 2012," I was told. In much the same strategy the company took with the HD 6000 series of cards, the new Radeon HD 7000 cards have been trickling out, part by part, so as to make sure the name "AMD" and the brand "Radeon" are showing up as often as possible in your news feeds and on my keyboard. In late December we wrote our review of the Radeon HD 7970 3GB flagship card and then followed that up in January with a review of the Radeon HD 7950. In those briefings were told in a general way about Cape Verde, the Radeon HD 7700 series, and Pitcairn, the Radeon HD 7800 series, but without the details of performance, specifications or release dates. We have the answer for one more of these families now: Cape Verde.
Cape Verde is the smallest of the Southern Islands dies and falls into the sub-$175 graphics market depending on card vendors' pricing and overclocking settings. The real question we all wanted to know is what performance levels these new cards were going to offer and if they could be the TRUE successor to popular Radeon HD 5770. While the answer will take pages and pages of details to cement into place, I can say that while an impressive card, I wasn't as excited as I had wanted to be.
But I am getting ahead of myself... Check out our video review right here and then keep reading on for the full evaluation!!
AMD Cape Verde - the smallest of the Southern Islands
GPU companies like to brag when they are on top - you'll see that as a recurring theme in our story today. One such case is the success of the Radeon HD 5770 that mentioned above - it still today sits on the throne of the most adopted DX11 capable GPU on the Steam Hardware Survey, one of our best places for information on the general PC gamer.
While the inclusion of it, as well as the Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850, on this list are great for AMD a couple of years ago, the lack of a 6000-series card here shows us that users need another reason to upgrade; another card that is mass market enough (ala under $200) and offers performance advantages that really push gamers to spend that extra cheddar.
Bring in the Cape Verde GPU...