ASUS Responds to GTX 1080 "Reviewer VBIOS" Concerns

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 17, 2016 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: asus, GTX 1080, strix, vbios

Yesterday, there were several news stories posted on TechpowerUp and others claiming that ASUS and MSI were sending out review samples of GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 graphics cards with higher clock speeds than retail parts. The insinuation of course is that ASUS was cheating, overclocking the cards going to media for reviews in order to artificially represent performance.

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Image source: Techpowerup

MSI and ASUS have been sending us review samples for their graphics cards with higher clock speeds out of the box, than what consumers get out of the box. The cards TechPowerUp has been receiving run at a higher software-defined clock speed profile than what consumers get out of the box. Consumers have access to the higher clock speed profile, too, but only if they install a custom app by the companies, and enable that profile. This, we feel, is not 100% representative of retail cards, and is questionable tactics by the two companies. This BIOS tweaking could also open the door to more elaborate changes like a quieter fan profile or different power management.

There was, and should be, a legitimate concern about these types of moves. Vendor one-up-manship could lead to an arms race of stupidity, similar to what we saw on motherboards and base frequencies years ago, where CPUs would run at 101.5 MHz base clock rather than 100 MHz (resulting in a 40-50 MHz total clock speed change) giving that board a slight performance advantage. However, the differences we are talking about with the GTX 1080 scandal are very small.

  • Retail VBIOS base clock: 1683 MHz
  • Media VBIOS base clock: 1709 MHz
  • Delta: 1.5%

And in reality, that 1.5% clock speed difference (along with the 1% memory clock rate difference) MIGHT result in ~1% of real-world performance changes. Those higher clock speeds are easily accessible to consumers by enabling the "OC Mode" in the ASUS GPU Tweak II software shipped with the graphics card. And the review sample cards can also be adjusted down to the shipping clock speeds through the same channel.

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ASUS sent along its official statement on the issue.

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 graphics cards come with exclusive GPU Tweak II software, which provides silent, gaming, and OC modes allowing users to select a performance profile that suits their requirements. Users can apply these modes easily from within GPU Tweak II.
 
The press samples for the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC and ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 OC cards are set to “OC Mode” by default. To save media time and effort, OC mode is enabled by default as we are well aware our graphics cards will be reviewed primarily on maximum performance. And when in OC mode, we can showcase both the maximum performance and the effectiveness of our cooling solution.
 
Retail products are in “Gaming Mode” by default, which allows gamers to experience the optimal balance between performance and silent operation. We encourage end-users to try GPU Tweak II and adjust between the available modes, to find the best mode according to personal needs or preferences.
 
For both the press samples and retail cards, all these modes can be selected through the GPU Tweak II software. There are no differences between the samples we sent out to media and the retail channels in terms of hardware and performance.
 
Sincerely,
ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC.

While I don't believe that ASUS' intentions were entirely to save me time in my review, and I think that the majority of gamers paying $600+ for a graphics card would be willing to enable the OC mode through software, it's clearly a bad move on ASUS' part to have done this. Having a process in place at all to create a deviation from retail cards on press hardware is questionable, other than checking for functionality to avoid shipping DOA hardware to someone on a deadline. 

As of today I have been sent updated VBIOS for the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 that put them into exact same mode as the retail cards consumers can purchase. 

We are still waiting for a direct response from MSI on the issue as well.

Hopefully this debacle will keep other vendors from attempting to do anything like this in the future. We don't need any kind of "quake/quack" in our lives today.

ASUS Announces ROG Strix GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 28, 2016 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, strix, GTX 1080, nvidia

The Founders Edition versions of the GTX 1080 went on sale yesterday, but we're beginning to see the third-party variants being announced. In this case, the ASUS ROG Strix is a three-fan design that uses their DirectCU III heatsink. More interestingly, ASUS decided to increase the amount of wattage that this card can accept by adding an extra, six-pin PCIe power connector (totaling 8-pin + 6-pin). A Founders Edition card only requires a single, eight-pin connection over the 75W provided by the PCIe slot itself. This provides an extra 75W of play room for the ROG Strix card, raising the maximum power from 225W to 300W.

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Some of this power will be used for its on-card, RGB LED lighting, but I doubt that it was the reason for the extra 75W of headroom. The lights follow the edges of the card, acting like hats and bow-ties to the three fans. (Yes, you will never unsee that now.) The shroud is also modular, and ASUS provides the data for enthusiasts to 3D print their own modifications (albeit their warranty doesn't cover damage caused by this level of customization).

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As for the actual performance, the card naturally comes with an overclock out of the box. The default “Gaming Mode” has a 1759 MHz base clock with an 1898 MHz boost. You can flip this into “OC Mode” for a slight, two-digit increase to 1784 MHz base and 1936 MHz boost. It is significantly higher than the Founders Edition, though, which has a base clock of 1607 MHz that boosts to 1733 MHz. The extra power will likely help manual overclocks, but it will come down to “silicon lottery” whether your specific chip was abnormally less influenced by manufacturing defects. We also don't know yet whether the Pascal architecture, and the 16nm process it relies upon, has any physical limits that will increasingly resist overclocks past a certain frequency.

Pricing and availability is not yet announced.

Source: ASUS

The R9 380X arrives

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 19, 2015 - 06:37 PM |
Tagged: asus, strix, Radeon R9 380X, tonga

The full serving of Tonga in the AMD Radeon R9 380X has 32 compute units, 2048 stream processors, 32 ROPs and 128 texture units which compares favourably to the 23CUs, 1792 stream processors, 32 ROPs and 112 texture units of the existing R9 380.  Memory bandwidth and amount is unchanged, 182GB/sec of memory bandwidth at the stock speed of 5.7GHz effective and the GPU clock remains around 970MHz as well.  The MSRP is to be $230 for the base model.

With the specifications out of the way, the next question to answer is how it fares against the direct competition, the GTX 960 and 970.  That is where this review from [H]ard|OCP comes in, with a look at the ASUS STRIX R9 380X DirectCU II OC, running 1030MHz default and 1050MHz at the push of a button.  Their tests at 1440p were a little disappointing, the card did not perform well until advanced graphics settings were reduced but at 1080p they saw great performance with all the bells and whistles turned up.  The pricing will be key to this product, if sellers can keep it at or below MSRP it is a better deal than the GTX 970 but if the prices creep closer then the 970 is the better value.

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"AMD has let loose the new AMD Radeon R9 380X GPU, today we evaluate the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC video card and find out how it compares to a 4GB GeForce GTX 960 and GeForce GTX 970 for a wide picture of where performance lies at 1440p or where it does not at 1440p considering your viewpoint."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gaming at $165? The ASUS Strix GTX 950 DC2OC

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2015 - 07:57 PM |
Tagged: Strix GTX 950 DC2OC, strix, gtx 950, factory overclocked, asus

At $165 currently the ASUS Strix GTX 950 DC2OC sports the same custom cooler higher end Strix cards use and is overclocked by 141MHz right out of the box.  That cooler helped Bjorn3D get the Boost Clock on the card up to 1425MHz and the memory to 6900MHz effective, not too shabby for such an inexpensive card.  The real question is if that boost is enough to allow this card to provide decent performance while gaming at 1080p.  See if it can in the full review.

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"Naturally NVIDIA wants to cover all price points so they did a snip and clip on the GM206 Maxwell core and trimmed 256 Cuda cores off the GTX 960 leaving 768 Shaders on the GTX 950. You still have the same 2GB GDDR5 running across a 128-bit bus and 32 ROPS but GTX 960 gets 85 TMUs while GTX 950 gets 64 and those are really the hardware trade offs NVIDIA had to do to field a $160 video card."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: Bjorn3D
Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Retail Card Design

AMD is in an interesting spot right now. The general consensus is that both the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and the R9 Fury graphics cards had successful launches into the enthusiast community. We found that the performance of the Fury X was slightly under that of the GTX 980 Ti from NVIDIA, but also that the noise levels and power draw were so improved on Fiji over Hawaii that many users would dive head first into the new flagship from the red team.

The launch of the non-X AMD Fury card was even more interesting – here was a card with a GPU performing better than the competition in a price point that NVIDIA didn’t have an exact answer. The performance gap between the GTX 980 and GTX 980 Ti resulted in a $550 graphics card that AMD had a victory with. Add in the third Fiji-based product due out in a few short weeks, the R9 Nano, and you have a robust family of products that don’t exactly dominate the market but do put AMD in a positive position unlike any it has seen in recent years.

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But there are some problems. First and foremost for AMD, continuing drops in market share. With the most recent reports from multiple source claiming that AMD’s Q2 2015 share has dropped to 18%, an all-time low in the last decade or so, AMD needs some growth and they need it now. Here’s the catch: AMD can’t make enough of the Fiji chip to affect that number at all. The Fury X, Fury and Nano are going to be hard to find for the foreseeable future thanks to production limits on the HBM (high bandwidth memory) integration; that same feature that helps make Fiji the compelling product it is. I have been keeping an eye on the stock of the Fury and Fury X products and found that it often can’t be found anywhere in the US for purchase. Maybe even more damning is the fact that the Radeon R9 Fury, the card that is supposed to be the model customizable by AMD board partners, still only has two options available: the Sapphire, which we reviewed when it launched, and the ASUS Strix R9 Fury that we are reviewing today.

AMD’s product and financial issues aside, the fact is that the Radeon R9 Fury 4GB and the ASUS Strix iteration of it are damned good products. ASUS has done its usual job of improving on the design of the reference PCB and cooler, added in some great features and packaged it up a price that is competitive and well worth the investment for enthusiast gamers. Our review today will only lightly touch on out-of-box performance of the Strix card mostly because it is so similar to that of the initial Fury review we posted in July. Instead I will look at the changes to the positioning of the AMD Fury product (if any) and how the cooler and design of the Strix product helps it stand out. Overclocking, power consumption and noise will all be evaluated as well.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Strix R9 Fury Graphics Card!!

Report: ASUS STRIX AMD Radeon Fury (Non-X) Card Listings Found

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 4, 2015 - 12:45 AM |
Tagged: strix, rumor, report, Radeon Fury, asus, amd

A report from VideoCardz.com shows three listings for an unreleased ASUS STRIX version of the AMD Radeon Fury (non-X).

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Image credit: VideoCardz

The listings are from European sites, and all three list the same model name: ASUS-STRIX R9FURY-DC3-4G-GAMING. You can find the listing from the above photo here at the German site Computer-PC-Shop.

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Image credit: VideoCardz

We can probably safely assume that this upcoming air-cooled card will make use of the new DirectCU III cooler introduced with the new STRIX GTX 980 Ti and STRIX R9 390X, and this massive triple-fan cooler should provide an interesting look at what Fury can do without the AIO liquid cooler from the Fury X. Air cooling will of course negate the issue of pump whine that many have complained about with certain Fury X units.

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The ASUS STRIX R9 390X Gaming card with DirectCU III cooler

We await offical word on this new GPU, and what price we might expect this particular version to sell for here in the U.S.A.

Source: VideoCardz

ASUS Announces the STRIX R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2015 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: Strix R9 390X, Strix R9 390, Strix R9 380, Strix R7 370, strix, DirectCU II, asus

These particular ASUS STRIX models don't seem to have arrived at Amazon yet but Gigabyte, Sapphire, MSI and XFX are all showing up with prices, though perhaps not reasonable availability.  Newegg is also showing similar models and pricing, so keep your eyes out for the ASUS cards to appear.

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Fremont, CA (June 17, 2015) — ASUS today announced the Strix R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370 graphics cards. Powered by the latest AMD Radeon graphics-processing units (GPUs), the new Strix R9 390X and R9 390 graphics cards are packed with exclusive ASUS technologies. These include DirectCU III with a patented triple wing-blade fan design and ASUS Auto-Extreme technology with Super Alloy Power II components for aerospace-grade production quality and reliability. All models feature GPU Tweak II with XSplit Gamecaster software for intuitive performance tweaking and instant gameplay streaming.

Cool, silent gameplay: DirectCU III with a triple wing-blade fan design

The Strix R9 390X and R9 390 are equipped with ASUS-exclusive DirectCU III cooling technology, which features two 10mm direct-GPU-contact heat pipes — outperforming reference designs for gaming performance by up to 30%. They each have three fans engineered with a patented, new wing-blade design that delivers maximum airflow and static pressure over the heat sink — giving a 105% improvement over fans without wing-blades. This exclusive triple wing-blade design operates at noise levels three times (3X) quieter than reference cards, making DirectCU III the coolest and quietest graphics card-cooling solution available to date.

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The Strix R9 380 and R7 370 come with DirectCU II cooling technology, featuring direct-GPU-contact copper heat pipes and a dual wing-blade design to deliver an incredible gaming experience. All cards feature 0dB fan technology, which stops fan rotation completely during lighter gaming sessions — eliminating noise for undisturbed gameplay.

Premium quality and reliability: Auto-Extreme technology with Super Alloy Power II components

The Strix R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370 benefit from ASUS-exclusive Auto-Extreme technology, the industry’s first 100%-automated manufacturing process that removes human fallibility from the production line for consistent perfection — making them ultra-reliable in all scenarios, from general use to hardcore gaming and overclocking. Auto-Extreme technology eliminates flux to minimize dust buildup and oxidization, while the rear of the printed-circuit boards are totally smooth, for easy handling. This new manufacturing process is also environmentally friendly, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals and reducing production power consumption by 50%.

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The new cards also feature aerospace-grade Super Alloy Power II1 components for enhanced efficiency, reduced mechanical noise under load, and lower operating temperatures for unsurpassed quality and reliability. Complementing their amazing reliability, the latest Strix graphics cards are built to be incredibly tough. The Strix R9 390X, R9 390 and R9 380 each come with a strengthened backplate that provides protection and also prevents PCB bending over time.

Tweakable and intuitive: GPU Tweak II with XSplit Gamecaster

Redesigned with an intuitive, all-new user interface, GPU Tweak II makes gaming and overclocking the new Strix cards easier and more visual than ever, while retaining advanced options for seasoned overclockers. With one click, the new Gaming Booster function maximizes system performance by removing redundant processes and allocating all available resources automatically. An included 1-year XSplit Gamecaster premium license — a $99 value — lets gamers easily stream or record gameplay via a convenient, in-game overlay.

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Source: ASUS

The new 4GB ASUS Strix GeForce GTX 960

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 10, 2015 - 09:48 PM |
Tagged: strix, gtx 960, factory overclocked, DirectCU II, asus, 4GB

The ASUS Strix Series is popular around PC Perspective thanks to the hefty factory overclocks and the quiet and efficient DirectCU II cooling.  We have given away 2GB versions of the GTX 960 and Josh recently wrapped up a review of the tiny GTX 750 Ti for SFF builds. 

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Today ASUS announced the STRIX-GTX960-DC2OC-4GD5, a 4GB version of the Strix GTX 960 with a base clock of 165MHz higher than the default at 1291MHz and with a 1317MHz boost clock and memory clocked at 7010MHz.  The DirectCU II cooling solution has proven to live up to the hype that surrounds it, indeed the cooler is whisper quiet and even under load which heavily overclocked it is much less noticeable than other solutions, especially when attached to Maxwell.

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The outputs are impressive, DVI, HDMI and three DisplayPort outputs will have you gaming on a variety of monitors and it will support 4k resolutions, at reasonable graphics settings of course.  Along with the card you get the familiar GPU Tweak utility for tweaking your card and for a limited time the card will come with a free one year XSplit Premium License to allow you to share your best and worst moments with the world.  So far only the 2GB model is showing up at Amazon, NewEgg and B&H so you might want to hold off for a few days but it is worth noting that these cards will get you a free pre-ordered copy of Witcher 3.

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Source: ASUS

Podcast #339 - NVIDIA SHIELD and Titan X, AMD Mantle, OpenGL Vulkan, and much more from GDC!

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2015 - 08:22 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, vive, video, valve, titan x, strix, Silverstone, shield, Samsung, rv05, re vive, raven, podcast, nvidia, Nepton 240M, liquidvr, Khronos, Intel, htc, gtx 960, glnext, coolermaster, amd, 750ti

PC Perspective Podcast #339 - 03/05/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA SHIELD and Titan X, AMD Mantle, OpenGL Vulkan, and much more from GDC!

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: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Ken Addison

Program length: 1:22:13

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News item of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Jeremy: Um, I don’t know, SteamOS sales I guess?
  4. Closing/outro

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

Author:
Manufacturer: Asus

Quiet, Efficient Gaming

The last few weeks have been dominated by talk about the memory controller of the Maxwell based GTX 970.  There are some very strong opinions about that particular issue, and certainly NVIDIA was remiss on actually informing consumers about how it handles the memory functionality of that particular product.  While that debate rages, we have somewhat lost track of other products in the Maxwell range.  The GTX 960 was released during this particular firestorm and, while it also shared the outstanding power/performance qualities of the Maxwell architecture, it is considered a little overpriced when compared to other cards in its price class in terms of performance.

It is easy to forget that the original Maxwell based product to hit shelves was the GTX 750 series of cards.  They were released a year ago to some very interesting reviews.  The board is one of the first mainstream cards in recent memory to have a power draw that is under 75 watts, but can still play games with good quality settings at 1080P resolutions.  Ryan covered this very well and it turned out to be a perfect gaming card for many pre-built systems that do not have extra power connectors (or a power supply that can support 125+ watt graphics cards).  These are relatively inexpensive cards and very easy to install, producing a big jump in performance as compared to the integrated graphics components of modern CPUs and APUs.

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The GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti have proven to be popular cards due to their overall price, performance, and extremely low power consumption.  They also tend to produce a relatively low amount of heat, due to solid cooling combined with that low power consumption.  The Maxwell architecture has also introduced some new features, but the major changes are to the overall design of the architecture as compared to Kepler.  Instead of 192 cores per SMK, there are now 128 cores per SMM.  NVIDIA has done a lot of work to improve performance per core as well as lower power in a fairly dramatic way.  An interesting side effect is that the CPU hit with Maxwell is a couple of percentage points higher than Kepler.  NVIDIA does lean a bit more on the CPU to improve overall GPU power, but most of this performance hit is covered up by some really good realtime compiler work in the driver.

Asus has taken the GTX 750 Ti and applied their STRIX design and branding to it.  While there are certainly faster GPUs on the market, there are none that exhibit the power characteristics of the GTX 750 Ti.  The combination of this GPU and the STRIX design should result in an extremely efficient, cool, and silent card.

Click to read the rest of the review of the Asus STRIX GTX 750 Ti!