A curious new driver from AMD
In case you missed the news, AMD is going to be making a big push with their Radeon brand from now until the end of the year starting with an incredibly strong game bundle that includes as many as three full games and 20% off the new Medal of Honor. The second part of this campaign is a new driver specifically the 12.11 beta that will be posted to the public later this week.
AMD is claiming to have made some substantial improvements on quite a few games including the very popular Battlefield 3 and the upcoming Medal of Honor (both of which use the same base engine). But keep in mind that 15% is a LOT and this is the best case scenario in specific maps and you may not see benefits on others.
There are going to be some debates about the validity of these performance boosts from AMD until we can get some more specific details on WHAT has changed. Essentially the company line is that they have finally "caught up" to the GCN GPU architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 7970 in January of 2012. We traditionally see this happen with new GPU architectures from both vendors but for it to have taken this long is troublesome and will surely cause some raised eyebrows from gamers and the competition.
We decided to run through the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition with this new 12.11 beta driver to compare it to the 12.9 beta driver we had just completed testing on a few weeks ago. AMD claims performance advantages for all the GCN cards including the 7700/7800/7900 cards though we only had time to test a single card for our initial article. The results are on the following pages...
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 22, 2012 - 12:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: never settle, HD 7970, hd 7950, hd 7870, hd 7850, hd 7770, bundle, amd
AMD has a couple of surprises for gamers today, both using the "Never Settle" branding. Later this morning you will see an article that looks at a new driver revision - 12.11 beta - that will be published this week (it maybe online already). Promising performance increases is 20% and more, it should be an interesting discussion.
Another big push for AMD going into the holiday season will be the Never Settle game bundle; a collection of games included with a graphics card purchase unlike you have ever seen before. And we aren't talking about scrub games here, with the HD 7900 series of cards you'll see Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs and Medal of Honor Warfighter.
Starting today, if you buy an AMD Radeon HD 7900 series of graphics cards, including the HD 7990, HD 7970 and HD 7950, you will get three full games absolutely free! Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs to be exact. Also, you will get a 20% discount on a copy of the new Medal of Honor: Warfighter. And because I already asked, AMD assures us that this is the ONLY discount on Medal of Honor that will be available this year.
Buyers on tighter budgets aren't going to be left out and if you pick up an HD 7800 series or an HD 7770 GHz Edition (not a 7750), you'll get a free copy of Far Cry 3 as well as the 20% off offer on Medal of Honor.
And just to mix things up, if you buy a PAIR of Radeon HD 7800s or a pair of HD 7770 GHz Editions AMD will add in a free copy of Hitman.
I realize that not every gamer is interested in every game that is released, but the value of the Never Settle bundle is really unmatched in anything I have seen before. Valued at $170, the package that you can get by purchasing a Radeon HD 7950 3GB for $299 in theory brings the total out of pocket price of the GPU to $129!!
As I have mentioned previously, bundles are not a cure-all for performance issues, but they can definitely swing a buyer's decision when the other factors are close. I think AMD will have a HUGE advantage going into the holiday buying season even though NVIDIA has the Assassin's Creed 3 bundle (with the GTX 650 Ti) and the Borderlands 2 bundle (with the GTX 660 Ti and above).
See what happens when you have healthy competition in the market? Gamer's always come out ahead!
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | October 20, 2012 - 12:33 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: hitman, amd, extravalanza, hitman: absolution, video
We are at the first AMD ExtravaLANza today getting some hands on time with some cool new hardware as well as new games like Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution. We attended a session with the Hitman developer IO Interactive where some interesting information about the DX11 features. I recorded a video of the presentation for those interested in seeing it in its entirety.
The brand new Glacier2 engine has some impressive new features including:
- DX11 hardware tessellation on character models
- A global illumination engine using light propagation volumes
- AA options including FXAA and MSAA 2x-8x
- Eyefinity and HD3D
There is more, but you can hear it all in the video above. IO Interactive wanted to assure PC gamers that they are developing the game to be a first class PC title with higher quality imaging, controls and texture detail; this doesn't look to be a standard console port.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 10, 2012 - 09:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, driver, win8
It is not just that the latest GeForce drivers will work on Windows 8, these are the third WHQL certified drivers so you can be pretty much guaranteed to have the same compatibility and control over your GPU after making the switch as you do with Win7 and previous versions. The GeForce 306.97 drivers are good for Win7 and Win8 and offers the list of fixes and improvements which you can see below. Owners of Doom 3: BFG Edition who want to play in NVIDIA 3D should definitely upgrade as NVIDIA specifically mentions the quality improvements you will enjoy upon upgrading.
Adds support for the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti GPU.
Updates SLI profile for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier.
Updates 3D Vision profiles for the following PC games:
- Check vs. Mate - Rated Excellent
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - Rated Good
- Doom 3: BFG Edition - Rated Excellent
- English Country Tune - Rated Good
- F1 2012 - Rated Good
- Iron Brigade - Rated Fair
- Jagged Alliance: Crossfire - Rated Good
- Orcs Must Die 2! - Rated Good
- Planetside 2 - Rated Not Recommended
- Prototype 2 - Rated Poor
- Sleeping Dogs - Rated Good
- Spec Ops: The Line - Rated Good
- Tiny Troopers - Rated Fair
- Torchlight 2 - Rated Good
- Transformers: Fall of Cybertron - Rated Fair
Another GK106 Completes the Stack
It has been an interesting year for graphics cards and 2012 still has another solid quarter of releases ahead of it. With the launch of AMD's 7000-series back in January, followed by the start of NVIDIA's Kepler lineup in March, we have had new graphics cards on a very regular basis ever since. And while AMD's Radeon HD 7000 cards seemed to be bunched together a bit better, NVIDIA has staggered the release of the various Kepler cards, either because of capacity at the manufacturing facilities or due to product marketing plans - take your pick.
Today we see the completion of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 stack (if you believe the PR at NVIDIA) with the release of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, a $150 graphics card that fills in the gap between the somewhat anemic GTX 650 and GT 640 cards and the most recently unveiled card, the GTX 660 2GB that currently sells for $229.
The GTX 650 Ti has more in common with the GTX 660 than it does the GTX 650, both being based on the GK106 GPU, but is missing some of the unique features that NVIDIA has touted of the 600-series cards like GPU Boost. Let's dive into the product and see if this new card will be the best option for those of you with $150 graphics budgets.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 7, 2012 - 10:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 650ti, gpu, gk106-220
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti is rumored to launch soon, and so far specifications have leaked on the reference design as well as two custom cards from ASUS and Galaxy. Zotac is the latest manufacturer to have its GTX 650 Ti lineup leaked, and the company is bringing as many as three graphics cards to the GK106-220 Kepler family. In all, Zotac is rumored to be launching one 1GB GTX 650 Ti and two 2GB GPUs – all with vared levels of factory overclocks. Video outputs on all three cards include two DVI and two HDMI connectors.
The Zotac GTX 650 Ti 1GB stays close to the reference design, but bumps up the GPU core clockspeed to 941 MHz. It also includes 1 GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit interface clocked at 1350 MHz (5400 MHz effective), which matches the reference design. The price of this card is said to be $160, and features a custom cooler from Zotac that is similar (but smaller than) to the cooler used on the company's GTX 660 Ti GPU wich we recently reviewed.
The Zotac GTX 650 Ti 2GB is, as the name suggests, a GTX 650 Ti graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. It features Zotac's custom cooler, and a single PCI-E 6-pin power connector. The GPU clockspeed is 941 MHz and the memory clockspeed is 1350 MHz. The extra 1GB of graphics memory is nice, but it is still on a 128-bit interface so don't expect too much of a performance boost. MSRP of this card is rumored to be $180.
Finally, the GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! Edition is Zotac's highest-end GTX 650 Ti graphics card. It comes with the GK106-220 Kepler GPU and 2GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus. Powered by a single 6-pin PEG connector, the factory overclocked graphics card is clocked at 1033 MHz for the GPU and 1550 MHz (6200 MHz effective) for the memory.The Zotac GTX 650 Ti AMP! Edition comes with the company's custom cooler and is the first card to feature factory overclocked memory. The rumored price of this card is $190. Unfortunately, that puts it fairly close to the price of a reference GTX 660, which may make this card a hard sell. The factory overclocks are impressive, but saving up the extra $30 needed to get a GTX 660 is likely a better idea because it will still offer up better performance thanks to the additional CUDA cores and wider memory bus.
The following chart compares the three Zotac cards to the leaked reference specifications.
|Reference Specifications||Zotac GTX 650 Ti 1GB||Zotac GTX 650 Ti 2GB||Zotac GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! Edition|
|CPU Clockspeed||925 MHz||941 MHz||941 MHz||1033 MHz|
|Memory Clockspeed||1350 MHz||1350 MHz||1350 MHz||1550 MHz|
|GDDR5 Amount||1 GB||1 GB||2 GB||2 GB|
Comparison of several GTX 650 Ti graphics cards versus the rumored reference specifications.
Further, this chart compares the leaked specifications of the top end cards from each manufacturer (at least, the ones we know of so far) to the highest-end Zotac GPU: the 2GB AMP! Edition.
|Reference Specifications||ASUS GTX 650 Ti TOP||Galaxy GTX 650 Ti GC 1GB||Gigabyte GTX 650 Ti OC||Zotac GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! Edition||POV GTX 650 Ti 1GB Ultra Charged|
|CPU Clockspeed||925 MHz||1033 MHz||966 MHz||1032 MHz||1033 MHz||1058 MHz|
|Memory Clockspeed||1350 MHz||1350 MHz||1350 MHz||1350 MHz||1550 MHz||1350 MHz|
|GDDR5 Amount||1 GB||1 GB||1 GB||2 GB||2 GB||1 GB|
|Video Outputs||2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI||2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA||2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI||2 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA||2 x DVI, 2 x HDMI||1 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA|
Inno3D is also rumored to have a GTX 650 Ti graphics card coming out, but we don't know clockspeeds or price on it. Only that it has two DVI and one HDMI connector, a single PEG power connector, and a custom cooler.
Overall, the Zotac card measures up well, with pricing being the only major disadvantage. The 2GB of memory, factory overclocks, and two HDMI ports are welcome additions, however. Interestingly, the Zotac card is not the highest clocked graphics card overall, but it is the only one that features overclocked memory. It is unclear to me why manufactuers of NVIDIA cards are so hesitant to push the memory clockspeeds (or if they are even allowed to), but Zotac seems to prove that it is possible to do so.
Also worth pointing out is the rumored pricing, as some of these custom graphics cards are pushing $200 (especially the ASUS card when coverted to USD... I'm sure that has to be in error...), and reference GTX 660 with the full GK106 Kepler core are only $230. It will be interesting to see if these rumored prices turn out to be true, and how well Zotac's factory overclocked 650 Ti models sell.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 7, 2012 - 04:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, GTX 660 Windforce OC, factory overclocked, gtx 660
Gigabyte's Windforce cooler has become popular thanks to its efficient performance and low noise, which makes it perfect for a card like the GTX 660 which you would expect to find in a small enclosure. Gigabyte gave a little more power to this non-Ti GTX 660 however, with a base clock of 1033MHz, boosting to 1098MHz and GDDR5 at 6GHz which Guru of 3D managed to increase when they tried overclocking the card and ended up with many benchmarks equalling or surpassing a GTX 660 Ti. At $230 the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Windforce OC is not a bad choice for a system that needs to be quiet and won't be used to play the newest games at high settings,
"We review one more Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 it is the Windforce OC model The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 Windforce OC comes with a dual-slot Windforce cooler that is incredibly silent yet manages to keep the card at very cool temps, and it's even factory overclocked for you. Have a peek as this card should be somewhere at the top of you list. Combined with Ulra Durable component selection you may expect something long-lasting and well performing."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GTX 560 Ti 2GB DirectCUII @ Bjorn3D
- Zotac GeForce GT 640 Zone Edition Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- ARCTIC Accelero Twin Turbo 690 Cooler @ Kitguru
- i3DSpeed, September 2012 @ iXBTlabs
- Workstation Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Prolimatech MK-26 Video Card Cooler @ TweakTown
- Prolimatech MK-26 VGA Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Devilishly Effective: Deepcool Dracula Graphics Card Cooler @ X-bit Labs
- Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 Liquid Cooling System @ Guru of 3D
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Vapor-X Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- HIS 7750 iCooler 1GB GDDR5 PCI-E Video Card Review @ Madshrimps
- XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 fleX GHz Edition 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire Flex HD 7770 GHz Edition @ Bjorn3D
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Flex Edition 1GB @ Tweaktown
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition FleX Review @ Neoseeker
- PowerColor HD 7870 PCS+ 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Sapphire HD 7970 6GB Vapor-X GHZ Edition Review @ OCC
- Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 Cooler Review @ OCC
- SAPPHIRE Vapor-X Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 5, 2012 - 06:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: powercolor, gpu, dual gpu, amd, 7990
Towards the end of August, a new dual GPU graphics card from PowerColor was fully detailed. The dual GPU Devil 13 graphics card combined two AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPUs onto a single PCB with factory overclocks and a custom cooler. The 6GB (3GB per GPU) HD 7990 6GB Devil 13 is an awesome card, but comes with a hefty $999 price tag.
This month, PowerColor has taken the wraps off of a (slightly) cheaper 7990 graphics card that is not clocked as high but uses a similar custom cooler as the Devil 13. It will allegedly be priced at around $900 USD.
The new PowerColor HD7990 (sans Devil 13 branding) features two HD7970 Graphics Core Next (GCN) based GPUs clocked at 900 MHz by default or 925 MHz when using the factory overclocked BIOS. (You can switch between the two modes by using the Dual BIOS switch.) As a point of comparison, standard Radeon 7970s have a reference clockspeed of 925 MHz, and PowerColor’s own HD 7990 Devil 13 is clocked at either 925 MHz or 1 GHz depending on BIOS switch position. PowerColor is likely binning 7970 GPUs that don’t quite make the cut as Devil 13 models for this new dual gpu 7990 graphics card with lower clockspeeds.
Fortunately, the memory clockspeed has not been downclocked on the new HD 7990. Each GPU has 3GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit bus, and the memory is clocked at 1375 MHz.
Also good news is that the standard PowerColor 7990 appears to use the same custom cooler as the Devil 13 – but with an all-black design rather than the red and black color scheme. That includes a triple slot design, numerous heatpipes and fins, and two 92mm fans on either side of an 80mm fan.
The graphics card measures 315mm x 140mm x 60mm and features two DVI, one HDMI, and two min-DisplayPort video outputs. It has the same 850W minimum system power requirement as the Devil 13, and is powered by three 8 pin PCI-E power connectors in addition to power from the PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot.
Although an interesting card that is sure to attract enthusiasts, it lends credence to the idea that AMD is not going to release its own reference HD 7990 after all. At this point, so long as your case and motherboard permit, it would likely best to go for two individual ~$400 Radeon 7970 GHz Edition cards in a CrossFire configuration. PowerColor does seem to have you covered if that’s not an option for you though there is no word on exactly when this graphics card will be available – or what the final pricing will be.
Read more about AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture at PC Perspective.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 4, 2012 - 04:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 680, gtx 670, gtx 660 Ti, gigabyte, factory overclocked
Gigabyte is launching three new factory overclocked graphics cards featuring a Kepler GPU, custom PCB, and custom cooler. The factory overclocks are notable, but will cost you. Specifically, the company is producing versions of the GTX 660 Ti, GTX 670, and GTX 680.
The Gigabyte GV-N680OC-4GD takes the GTX 680 GPU, places it on a custom PCB, and pairs it with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. It features two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors, and Gigabyte’s Windforce X3 450W custom cooler using a triangular fin design that allegedly increases cooling potential. While the GDDR5 memory clockspeeds have not been increased over the reference clocks, the GPU core and boost clockspeeds have been pushed to 1071 MHz and 1137 MHz respectively. The following chart shows the differences in clockspeed and memory over the reference design.
|Reference GTX 680||Gigabyte N680OC-4GD|
|GPU Core||1006 MHz||1071 MHz|
|GPU Boost||1058 MHz||1137 MHz|
|GDDR5 Amount||2 GB||4 GB|
|GDDR5 Speed||6 Gbps||6 Gbps|
The GTX 680 is not the only card to get a custom makeover by Gigabyte, however. The GV-N670OC-4GD is a custom GTX 670. With this card, Gigabyte has set the base clockspeed at 980 MHz – the boost clockspeed of reference cards – and the boost clockspeed at 1058 MHz. Gigabyte has also doubled down on the GDDR5 memory by packing 4GB onto the custom PCB. The memory clockspeed remains the same 6 Gbps as reference cards, however.
This card uses the same Windforce X3 cooler as the cust GTX 680, and as a result has a triple slot design that looks identical to the N680OC-4GD. If you look just above the PCI-E connector though, you can see tell them apart by the product name.
|Reference GTX 670||Gigabyte N670OC-4GD|
|GPU Core||915 MHz||980 MHz|
|GPU Boost||980 MHz||1058 MHz|
|GDDR5 Amount||2 GB||4 GB|
|GDDR5 Speed||6 Gbps||6 Gbps|
Finally, we have the GV-N66TOC-3GD which overclocks the GTX 660 Ti GPU to the max. Factory clockspeeds are set at 1032 MHz base and 1111 MHz boost. Memory also sees a small bump from 2GB reference to 3GB. On the other hand, the memory is not overclocked and remains at the reference 6 Gbps clockspeed. This card also has a triple fan Windforce cooler, however this version is not the triple slot design found on the GTX 670 and GTX 680s SKUs – only dual slot.
|Reference GTX 660 Ti||Gigabyte N66TOC-3GD|
|GPU Core||915 MHz||1032 MHz|
|GPU Boost||980 MHz||1111 MHz|
|GDDR5 Amount||2 GB||3 GB|
|GDDR5 Speed||6 Gbps||6 Gbps|
All three of the Gigabyte GPUs feature two DVI, one full-size HDMI, and one full-size DisplayPort connector for video outputs.
All three factory overclocked graphics cards feature respectable GPU overclocks, and it appears that Gigabyte has provided ample cooling for each GPU. The triple slot, triple fan version on the N670OC-4GD and N680OC-4GD in particular seem to offer headroom above even what Gigabyte has clocked these out of the box. Curiously though, Gigabyte is continuing the trend of not touching the memory clockspeed of Kepler cards. It may be that the RAM chips are already at their max on the reference design, or there could be some behind the scenes talk with NVIDIA not waning Add In Board partners to touch the memory Unfortunately, all I have at this point is speculation, but it is a rather curious omission on such high end cards. That point becomes clearer when price is taken into consideration. Videocardz claims to have the pricing information for the three video cards, and the custom cards are going to cost you a large premium over reference cards. The rumored prices can be found in the charts above compared against the reference pricing, but the basic run down is that the GV-N66TOC-3GD will cost $415, the GV-N670OC-4GD will cost $550, and the GV-N680OC-4GD will cost (an astounding) $800.
I’m hoping that the rumored prices are in error and will be adjusted once the cards are available. These are neat cards that look to have plenty of cooling, but I’m still trying to figure out just what these cards have to offer to justify the huge jump over reference pricing. And, no, the superfluous gold plated HDMI connectors do not count. [For example, the 4GB Galaxy GTX 670 we recently reviewed was only $70 over reference while the Gigabyte card is rumored to be $150!]
The Gigabyte N66TOC-3GD factory overclocked GPU.
You can find links to the Gigabyte product pages in the charts above. If you have not already, please check out our GTX 660 Ti, GTX 670, and GTX 680 graphics card reviews for the full scoop on the various Kepler iterations. And if you are considering the Gigabyte N680OC-4GD, you should probably check out the dual GPU GTX 690 review as well (heh).
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.