Introduction and Technical Specifications
The measure of a true modder is not in how powerful he can make his system by throwing money at it, but in how well he can innovate to make his components run better with what he or she has on hand. Some make artistic statements with their truly awe-inspiring cases, while others take the dremel and clamps to their beloved video cards in an attempt to eek out that last bit of performance. This article serves the later of the two. Don't get me wrong, the card will look nice once we're done with it, but the point here is to re-use components on hand where possible to minimize the cost while maximizing the performance (and sound) benefits.
EVGA GTX 970 SC Graphics Card
Courtesy of EVGA
We started with an EVGA GTX 970 SC card with 4GB ram and bundled with the new revision of EVGA's ACX cooler, ACX 2.0. This card is well built with a slight factory overclock out of the box. The ACX 2.0 cooler is a redesigned version of the initial version of the cooler included with the card, offering better cooling potential with fan's not activated for active cooling until the GPU block temperature breeches 60C.
Courtesy of EVGA
WATERCOOL HeatKiller GPU-X3 Core GPU Waterblock
Courtesy of WATERCOOL
For water cooling the EVGA GTX 970 SC GPU, we decided to use the WATERCOOL HeatKiller GPU-X3 Core water block. This block features a POM-based body with a copper core for superior heat transfer from the GPU to the liquid medium. The HeatKiller GPU-X3 Core block is a GPU-only cooler, meaning that the memory and integrated VRM circuitry will not be actively cooled by the block. The decision to use a GPU only block rather than a full cover block was two fold - availability and cost. I had a few of these on hand, making of an easy decision cost-wise.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 12, 2015 - 10:31 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Skylake, leak, hbm, fury x, Fury, Fiji, amd
You just never know what's going to come your way on Facebook on a Friday night. Take this evening for me: there I was sitting on the laptop minding my own business when up pops a notification about new messages to the PC Perspective page of FB. Anonymous user asks very simply "do you want pictures of skylake and r9 fury x".
With a smirk, knowing that I am going to be Rick-rolled in some capacity, I reply, "sure".
Well, that's a lot more than I was expecting! For the first time that I can see we are getting the entire view of the upcoming AMD Fury X graphics card, with the water cooler installed. The self-contained water cooler that will keep the Fiji GPU and its HBM memory at reliable temperatures looks to be quite robust. Morry, one of our experts in the water cooling fields, is guessing the radiator thickness to be around 45mm, but that's just a guess based on the images we have here. I like how the fan is in-set into the cooler design so that the total package looks more svelte than it might actually be.
The tubing for the liquid transfer between the GPU block and the rad is braided pretty heavily which should protect it from cuts and wear as well as help reduce evaporation. The card is definitely shorter compared to other flagship graphics cards and that allows AMD to output the tubing through the back of the card rather than out the top. This should help in smaller cases where users want to integrate multi-GPU configurations.
This shot shows the front of the card and details the display outputs: 3x DisplayPort and 1x HDMI.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, we can see that Fiji / Fury X will indeed require a pair of 8-pin power connections. That allows the card to draw as much as 375 total watts but that doesn't mean that will be the TDP of the card when it ships.
Also, for what it's worth, this source did identify himself to me and I have no reason to believe these are bogus. And the name is confirmed: AMD Radeon Fury X.
Overall, I like the design that AMD has gone with for this new flagship offering. It's unique, will stand out from the normal cards on the market and that alone will help get users attention, which is what AMD needs to make a splash with Fiji. I know that many people will lament the fact that Fury X requires a water cooler to stay competitive, and that it might restrict installation in some chassis (if you already have a CPU water cooler, for example), but I think ultra-high-end enthusiasts looking at $600+ GPUs will be just fine with the configuration.
There you have it - AMD's Fury X graphics card is nearly here!
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 10, 2015 - 02:34 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rumor, Radeon 390X, radeon 390, radeon, leak, Hawaii XT, hawaii, amd
Here we go again...
Image credit: WCCFtech
Even more information has allegedly leaked out ahead of AMD’s official announcement of new 300-series Radeon GPUs, this time from rumor site WCCFtech. This information is totally unverified at least from any public source, but it is very specific regarding both price and GPU.
Here is the list published by WCCFtech in their report:
|R9 390X 8GB||Enhanced Hawaii XT||$389|
|R9 390 8GB||Enhanced Hawaii Pro||$329|
|R9 380X 3GB/6GB||Tonga XT (NOT CONFIRMED)|
|R9 380 4GB||Tonga Pro||$235|
|R9 380 2GB||Tonga Pro||$195|
|R7 370 4GB||Pitcairn||$175|
|R7 370 2GB||Pitcairn||$135|
|R7 360 2GB||Bonaire||$107|
As to whether this comes via leaked slides or is complete guesswork, we’ll likely have no answer until the official unveiling. Such an announcement is likely the purpose of the AMD gaming event at E3 which is now just days away. We can only hope that Fiji will in fact be making an appearance at the show as it does not appear on this list (again, if accurate).
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 9, 2015 - 08:33 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tom petersen, nvidia, maxwell, live, GTX 980 Ti, gtx, gsync, gm200, giveaway, geforce, g-sync, contest
UPDATE: Did you miss the event? No worries, you can still learn all about the GTX 980 Ti, G-Sync changes and even how NVIDIA is changing VR! Once again, a HUGE thanks to NVIDIA and Tom Petersen for coming out to visit.
Even thought it's a week after official release, we are hosting a live stream from the PC Perspective offices with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss the new GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card as well as the changes and updates the company has made to the G-Sync brand. Why would NVIDIA undercut the GTX TITAN X by such a wide margin? Are they worried about AMD's Fiji GPU? Now that we are seeing new form factors and screen types of G-Sync monitors, will prices come down? How does G-Sync for notebooks work without a module?
All of this information and more will be learned on Tuesday, June 9th.
And what's a live stream without a prize? One lucky live viewer will win an EVGA GeForce GTX GTX 980 Ti 6GB graphics card of their very own! That's right - all you have to do is tune in for the live stream Tuesday afternoon and you could win a 980 Ti!!
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti / G-Sync Live Stream and Giveaway
12pm PT / 3pm ET - June 9th
Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!
The event will take place Tuesday, June 9th at 12pm PT / 3pm ET at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the prize you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.
Tom has a history of being both informative and entertaining and these live streaming events are always full of fun and technical information that you can get literally nowhere else.
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Tom or I?
So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Tuesday at 12pm PT / 3pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2015 - 07:51 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: r9 390x, leak, hbm, hawaii, GDDR5, Fiji, amd
On the XFX R9 290X Double Dissipation product page something very curious appears when you scroll all the way down to the bottom…
What’s this image over here on the right, I wonder…
Well would you look at that. The box is clearly labeled for an AMD Radeon R9 390X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, further indicating that the upcoming GPU will in fact be a Hawaii rebrand; and that the HBM-based flagship Fiji GPU we keep hearing about (and seeing pictures of) will have a new name. Whether that ends up being R9 490X or a name like “Fury” we will soon find out. As it is, it looks like we know at least part of what to expect from AMD’s gaming event at E3 on June 16.
Hmm. What might this be about??
Of course we will have complete coverage when any official announcement is made, but for now enjoy the accidental product reveal!
Update: XFX has removed the R9 390X images from their R9 290X DD product page, but not before numerous sites took their own screenshots before posting the news as well. There has been some disagreement about what the leaked photos actually reveal, or if anything has genuinely been "confirmed", but it seems likely that the product named 390X will be a rebranded 290X with 8GB of GDDR5.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 6, 2015 - 04:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, nvidia, gameworks vr
So I'm not quite sure what this hypothetical patent device is. According to its application, it is a head-mounted display that contains six cameras (??) and two displays, one for each eye. The usage of these cameras is not define but two will point forward, two will point down, and the last two will point left and right. The only clue that we have is in the second patent application photo, where unlabeled hands are gesturing in front of a node labeled “input cameras”.
Image Credit: Declassified
The block diagram declares that the VR headset will have its own CPU, memory, network adapter, and “parallel processing subsystem” (GPU). VRFocus believes that this will be based on the Tegra X1, and that it was supposed to be revealed three months ago at GDC 2015. In its place, NVIDIA announced the Titan X at the Unreal Engine 4 keynote, hosted by Epic Games. GameWorks VR was also announced with the GeForce GTX 980 Ti launch, which was mostly described as a way to reduce rendering cost by dropping resolution in areas that will be warped into a lower final, displayed resolution anyway.
Image Credit: Declassified
VRFocus suggests that the reveal could happen at E3 this year. The problem with that theory is that NVIDIA has neither a keynote at E3 this year nor even a place at someone else's keynote as far as we know, just a booth and meeting rooms. Of course, they could still announce it through other channels, but that seems less likely. Maybe they will avoid the E3 hype and announce it later (unless something changes behind the scenes of course)?
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 4, 2015 - 04:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, carrizo
My discussion of the Carrizo architecture went up a couple of days ago. The post did not include specific SKUs because we did not have those at the time. Now we do, and there will be products: one A8-branded, one A10-branded, and one FX-branded.
All three will be quad-core parts that can range between 12W and 35W designs, although the A8 processor does not have a 35W mode listed in the AMD Dual Graphics table. The FX-8800P is an APU that has all eight GPU cores while the A-series APUs have six. The A10-8700P and the A8-8600P are separated by a couple hundred megahertz base and boost CPU clocks, and 80 MHz GPU clock.
Also, we have been given a table of AMD Radeon R5 and R7 M-series GPUs that can be paired with Carrizo in an AMD Dual Graphics setup. These GPUs are the R7 M365, R7 M360, R7 M350, R7 M340, R5 M335, and R5 M330. They cannot be paired with every Carrizo APU, and some pairings only work in certain power envelopes. Thankfully, this table should only be relevant to OEMs, because end-users are receiving pre-configured systems.
Pricing and availability will depend on OEMs, of course.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 3, 2015 - 08:39 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, Fiji, radeon, R9, 390x, maybe
Sorry for all of these single item news posts I keep making, but this is how the information is coming out about AMD's upcoming Fiji GPU using new HBM (high bandwidth memory) technology. (And make no mistake this is exactly the way that AMD marketing dreamed it would happen.) Below we have an image of Fiji: the GPU die, the interposer and the four stacks of HBM.
That chip is massive, quite simply, measuring about 70mm x 70mm based on the information presented during our HBM technical session last month. That is gigantic when compared to other GPU dies alone but is smaller than previous generation GPUs and the required memories on the PCB separately.
In case you missed it earlier today, AMD also released a teaser video of a CG Radeon card using Fiji. We'll know everything (maybe?) about AMD's latest flagship on June 16th.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 3, 2015 - 03:25 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, hype train, hbm, Fiji, amd
The AMD Fiji hype train keeps rolling. Here is a video that AMD posted to its AMD Radeon Graphics Twitter account with a several second long teaser video.
— AMD Radeon Graphics (@AMDRadeon) June 3, 2015
First and foremost, it looks like all of the leaks about the cooler and card design of Fiji were at least mostly accurate. Also, note that AMD included the #AMD300 tag in the tweet, leading us to believe that the R9 390X is indeed going to be the branding.
Looks like we'll know more on June 16th during E3.
Digging into a specific market
A little while ago, I decided to think about processor design as a game. You are given a budget of complexity, which is determined by your process node, power, heat, die size, and so forth, and the objective is to lay out features in the way that suits your goal and workload best. While not the topic of today's post, GPUs are a great example of what I mean. They make the assumption that in a batch of work, nearby tasks are very similar, such as the math behind two neighboring pixels on the screen. This assumption allows GPU manufacturers to save complexity by chaining dozens of cores together into not-quite-independent work groups. The circuit fits the work better, and thus it lets more get done in the same complexity budget.
Carrizo is aiming at a 63 million unit per year market segment.
This article is about Carrizo, though. This is AMD's sixth-generation APU, starting with Llano's release in June 2011. For this launch, Carrizo is targeting the 15W and 35W power envelopes for $400-$700 USD notebook devices. AMD needed to increase efficiency on the same, 28nm process that we have seen in their product stack since Kabini and Temash were released in May of 2013. They tasked their engineers to optimize their APU's design for these constraints, which led to dense architectures and clever features on the same budget of complexity, rather than smaller transistors or a bigger die.
15W was their primary target, and they claim to have exceeded their own expectations.
Backing up for a second. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
When I met with AMD last month, I brought up the Bulldozer architecture with many individuals. I suspected that it was a quite clever design that didn't reach its potential because of external factors. As I started this editorial, processor design is a game and, if you can save complexity by knowing your workload, you can do more with less.
Bulldozer looked like it wanted to take a shortcut by cutting elements that its designers believed would be redundant going forward. First and foremost, two cores share a single floating point (decimal) unit. While you need some floating point capacity, upcoming workloads could use the GPU for a massive increase in performance, which is right there on the same die. As such, the complexity that is dedicated to every second FPU can be cut and used for something else. You can see this trend throughout various elements of the architecture.