Just Arrived: MSI 990FXA-Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | May 21, 2015 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: msi, amd, 990fx, FX-8370, FX-9590, sli, crossfire, SoundBlaster, killer nic, usb 3.1

Several weeks ago MSI officially announced the 990FXA-Gaming motherboard for the AM3+ market.  The board is based on the tried and true 990FX and SB950 combo, but it adds a new wrinkle to the game: USB 3.1 support.  MSI has released the other AMD based USB 3.1 board on the market, the 970 Krait.

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Quite a few people were excited about this part, as the AM3+ market has been pretty stagnant as of late.  This is not necessarily surprising considering that AMD has not launched a new AM3+ chip since Fall of 2014 with a couple of "efficiency" chips as well as the slightly faster FX-8370.

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There was some speculation based on early photographs that the board could have a more robust power delivery system than previous AM3+ boards, but alas, that is not the case.  Upon closer inspection it appears as though MSI has gone the 6+2 phase route.  If there are good quality components in there, you can potentially run the 220 watt TDP FX-9000 series parts, but these puppies are not officially supported.  In fact, I received an email saying that I might want to be really careful in my choice of CPUs as well as being extremely careful when overclocking.

The board still has some real potential at being a really nice home for the 125 watt TDP and below parts.  The audio portion looks very well designed and features the SoundBlaster Cinema 2.  It supports both SLI and CrossFire in native 2 x 16x (highly doubtful with 3 cards with the way the slots are configured).  It has the Killer NIC ethernet suite which may or may not be a selling point, depending on who you ask.

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Overall the board is an interesting addition to the club, but I really wouldn't trust it with the FX-9000 series chips.  I have a 970 Gaming that came with the FX-9590 that had a similar power delivery system, and it ran like a champ; there is a possibility that the board will run this combination.  This is going to be installed this weekend and I will start the benchmarking!  Keep tuned!

Source: MSI

GTA performance part 2 ... GPUs

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2015 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, GTAV, 1440p, 4k, crossfire, sli

Last week [H]ard|OCP investigated the performance of GTAV on single GPU systems and this week comes the promised follow up featuring Crossfire and SLI, including the expensive Titan X.  With these high end setups, they tested 1440p and 4k performance as running these GPUs at 1080p is a crime against silicon.  At 1440p, the GTX 980 in SLI could handle more than a single Titan X though nowhere near what that card managed in SLI while on the AMD the 295X2 could keep up frame wise, but at the cost of some graphical extras.  At 4k resolutions, not even the mighty Titans could manage to run with all graphics options turned up, though it certainly did provide the best performance. AMD's GPUs lagged behind in performance however in scaling they were significantly better than NVIDIA's offerings, though there is still some room for improvement.  The real battle is at the $650 mark, you can choose between a pair of GTX 970's or a single R9 295X2 as they offer relatively similar performance but if you want the most out of GTAV you are going to have to pay much more than that.

You should also make sure to free up your calendar at the end of the month for the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN Party #10 is coming up on the 30th!

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"This is Part 2 of our full evaluation of Grand Theft Auto V's video card gaming performance. In this part we dive into NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire highest playable gameplay settings and apples-to-apples at 1440p and 4K resolutions. We find out just what it takes to get the most out of GTA V at its highest settings."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

First Glimpse of the MSI 990FXA-Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2015 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, sli, piledriver, msi, gaming, crossfire, amd, am3+, 990FXA-Gaming, 990fx

Some months ago MSI announced that they are releasing a slew of USB 3.1 compliant parts.  What was surprising was the mention of a brand new AM3+ board based on the now nearly geriatric AMD 990FX chipset.  The 990FX has had quite a lifespan with PCI-E 2.0 support and the accompanying SB950 southbridge with USB 2.0 and SATA6G features.

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It looks as if MSI is doing a clean sheet design for the 990FXA-Gaming.  This looks to be a class leading product with plenty of features.  Not only does it have the USB 3.1 support, but it also implements the enhanced audio design that we have seen on other top end boards from MSI.  It also embraces the Killer ethernet software suite (utilizing Qualcomm's Atheros Gig-E chip).

The power delivery system looks to be a full 8+2 unit, so it can officially handle the 220 watt TDP FX-9000 series of CPUs.  It supports both SLI and CrossFire.  The cooling on the board looks to be top notch as well, with a heatpipe stretching from the Southbridge, through the Northbridge, and finally to the VRMs.

We expect these boards to be available sometime around the middle of this month.  We should also be receiving a sample for testing around then.  It is nice to see new support for AMD's FX CPUs, and this should be a cost effective member of the club.  Though AM3+ is a dead end in terms of socket infrastructure, there is still a lot of value in AMD's FX CPU line.

There is no word on pricing at this time, but I would not be surprised to see it hit the $149 mark.  It does not seem as decked out as the 990FXA-GD80 which is priced around $179.  With the robust featureset that they do implement, it does look to be a value if it can hit that aggressive price point.

Source: MSI

Dual GPUs can still be quiet

Subject: Systems | March 13, 2015 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: sli, quiet computing

Silent PC Review spends a lot of effort choosing components which offer a great performance but do not create a lot of noise and their latest sytem is a perfect example.  Even with a pair of air cooled GTX 970's and an i5-4690K this system only hit 23dBA under load, quiet enough for SPCR to confirm their 970's suffer from coil whine.  The sound came primarily from the GPUs as you would expect so it is possible that finding a very quiet radiator and watercooling them might reduce the sound produced even further.  It just goes to show how much quieter air cooling has become from the days of screaming 40mm Deltas.

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"For our 8th Quiet Gaming PC Build Guide, we take on the challenge of two high-end video cards in an SLI configuration featuring a pair of Zotac GTX 970s in the SilverStone Fortress FT05 case."

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Systems

 

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Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Battlefield 4 Results

At the end of my first Frame Rating evaluation of the GTX 970 after the discovery of the memory architecture issue, I proposed the idea that SLI testing would need to be done to come to a more concrete conclusion on the entire debate. It seems that our readers and the community at large agreed with us in this instance, repeatedly asking for those results in the comments of the story. After spending the better part of a full day running and re-running SLI results on a pair of GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 cards, we have the answers you're looking for.

Today's story is going to be short on details and long on data, so if you want the full back story on what is going on why we are taking a specific look at the GTX 970 in this capacity, read here:

Okay, are we good now? Let's dive into the first set of results in Battlefield 4.

Battlefield 4 Results

Just as I did with the first GTX 970 performance testing article, I tested Battlefield 4 at 3840x2160 (4K) and utilized the game's ability to linearly scale resolution to help me increase GPU memory allocation. In the game settings you can change that scaling option by a percentage: I went from 110% to 150% in 10% increments, increasing the load on the GPU with each step.

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Memory allocation between the two SLI configurations was similar, but not as perfectly aligned with each other as we saw with our single GPU testing.

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In a couple of cases, at 120% and 130% scaling, the GTX 970 cards in SLI are actually each using more memory than the GTX 980 cards. That difference is only ~100MB but that delta was not present at all in the single GPU testing.

Continue reading our look at Frame Rating comparisons between GTX 970 and GTX 980 cards in SLI!

A pair of GTX 980Ms and a Cherry Keyboard; of course you can afford the MSI GT80 Titan

Subject: Mobile | January 29, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: cherry, sli, gaming notebook, GTX 980M

How can you not be saving every penny to buy a MSI GT80 Titan?  With an i7 4980HQ running at 2.8 - 4GHz, 32GB of DDR3, four 256GB SSDs in RAID 0 and a 1TB HDD for long term storage along with a pair of GTX 980M's powering a 467mm 1080p display.   MSI did put together a nice package for those who don't mind paying the price, you also get a mouse, gel wrist pad, gold W, A, S, D and ESC keys and even a little plush dragon in addition to the laptop.  Check out the full review of the most powerful gaming laptop on the planet over at Kitguru but keep in mind, if you have to ask the price then you can't afford it.

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"Few products have generated as much hype and interest as the MSI GT80 Titan Gaming laptop. Kitguru was the first major publication to cover the new laptop when we flew over to Taipei last November. LEO then got his hands on an early pre retail sample for KITGURU TV back in December."

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Mobile

Source: KitGuru

CES 2015: MSI GT80 Titan SLI 18-in Gaming Notebook with Cherry MX Brown Keyboard

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: titan, sli, msi, GTX 980M, gt80, cherry mx brown, ces 2015, CES

Back in late October MSI announced the GT80 Titan gaming laptop that included an impressive array of features, the most interesting of which was the full-size Cherry MX Brown keyboard embedded in the chassis. Seriously.

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At CES this week we got hands on with the beast and I have to say I came away pretty impressed. Hardware powering the system includes an Intel Core i7-4980HQ processor, a pair of GTX 980M GPUs running in SLI, 24GB of DDR3 system memory, up to quad M.2 SSDs in RAID-0, Killer wired and wireless networking and more. All of that hardware sits under the top portion of the bottom of the notebook - the LED backlit Cherry MX Steel Series keyboard takes up the entire depth of the GT80 in the bottom portion.

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Despite its appearance, the GT80 Titan is similar in size to some of the other 17/18-in Alienware notebooks currently selling, but they obviously don't include a Cherry keyboard will full travel switches. MSI also claims that access to the system memory, M.2 storage, 2.5-in HDD location and optical drive through the top panel allows for reasonable upgrade options down the road. Even the two MXM modules for the GTX 980M cards can be changed through the bottom of the GT80. (Mobile GPU upgrades have always been problematic.)

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The GT80 Titan will be available next week and will start at $3299 with a $3499 option including the faster Intel processor. That is an incredibly high price for a gaming machine that is less "portable" than "transportable" but it would be hard to get more gaming horsepower in a smaller package anywhere else. We are looking forward to a review unit showing up shortly after our return! Stay tuned!

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

GTX 970 in SLI, $700 of graphics power

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 20, 2014 - 07:08 PM |
Tagged: sli, NVIDA, GTX 970

The contestants are lined up in [H]ard|OCP's test bench, at around $700 you have a pair of GTX 970's and in the same weight class are a pair of R9 290X cards, next weighing in at just under $550 are two R9 290s, and rounding out the completion are a pair of GTX 780's who punch somewhere between $800 to $1000 depending on when you look.  The cards are tested for their ability to perform on a 4K stage as well as in the larger 5760x1200 multi-monitor event.  After a long and gruelling battle the extra work the 290X put into trimming its self down and fitting into a lower weight class has proven to be well worth the effort as they managed to show up the 970's in every performance category although certainly not in power efficiency.  Any of these pairings will be powerful but none can match a pair of GTX 980's who are also in a price class all by themselves.

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"We take 2-Way NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 SLI for a spin and compare it to R9 290X CF, R9 290 CF, GTX 780 SLI at 4K resolution as well as NV Surround on a triple-display setup. If you want to see how all these video cards compare in these different display configurations we've got just the thing. Find out what $700 SLI gets you."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gigabyte Wants All Your Money for a 3-Way SLI Watercooled GTX 980 Setup

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 14, 2014 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: sli, nvidia, N980X3WA-4GD, maxwell, GTX 980, gigabyte, geforce, 3-way

Earlier this week, a new product showed up on Gigabyte's website that has garnered quite a bit of attention. The GA-N980X3WA-4GD WaterForce Tri-SLI is a 3-Way SLI system with integrated water cooling powered by a set of three GeForce GTX 980 GPUs.

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That. Looks. Amazing.

What you are looking at is a 3-Way closed loop water cooling system with an external enclosure to hold the radiators while providing a display full of information including temperatures, fans speeds and more. Specifications on the Gigabyte site are limited for now, but we can infer a lot from them:

  • WATERFORCE :3-WAY SLI Water Cooling System
  • Real-Time Display and Control
  • Flex Display Technology
  • Powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU
  • Integrated with 4GB GDDR5 memory 256-bit memory interface(Single Card)
  • Features Dual-link DVI-I / DVI-D / HDMI / DisplayPort*3(Single Card)
  • BASE: 1228 MHz / BOOST: 1329 MHz
  • System power supply requirement: 1200W(with six 8-pin external power connectors)

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The GPUs on each card are your standard GeForce GTX 980 with 4GB of memory (we reviewed it here) though they are running at overclocked base and boost clock speeds, as you would hope with all that water cooling power behind it. You will need a 1200+ watt power supply for this setup, which makes sense considering the GPU horsepower you'll have access to.

Another interesting feature Gigabyte is listing is called GPU Gauntlet Sorting.

With GPU Gauntlet™ Sorting, the Gigabyte SOC graphics card guarantees the higher overclocking capability in terms of excellent power switching.

Essentially, Gigabyte is going to make sure that the GPUs on the WaterForce Tri-SLI are the best they can get their hands on, with the best chance for overclocking higher than stock.

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Setup looks interesting - the radiators and fans will be in the external enclosure with tubing passing into the system through a 5.25-in bay. It will need to have quick connect/disconnect points at either the GPU or radiator to make that installation method possible.

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Pricing and availability are still unknown, but don't expect to get it cheap. With the GTX 980 still selling for at least $550, you should expect something in the $2000 range or above with all the custom hardware and fittings involved.

Can I get two please?

Source: Gigabyte

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.

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"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."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP