Spicing up the GTX 670
The Power Edition graphics card series from MSI is a relatively new addition to its lineup. The Power Edition often mimics that of the higher-end Lightning series, but at a far lower price (and perhaps a smaller feature set). This allows MSI to split the difference between the reference class boards and the high end Lightning GPUs.
Doing this allows users a greater variety of products to choose from, and to better tailor users' purchases by their needs and financial means. Not everyone wants to pay $600 for a GTX 680 Lightning, but what if someone was able to get similar cooling, quality, and overclocking potential for a much lower price? This is what MSI has done with one of its latest Power Edition cards.
The GTX 670 Power Edition
The NVIDIA GTX 670 cards have received accolades throughout the review press. It is a great combination of performance, power consumption, heat production, and price. It certainly caused AMD a great amount of alarm, and it hurriedly cut prices on the HD 7900 series of cards in response. The GTX 670 is a slightly cut-down version of the full GTX 680, and it runs very close to the clock speed of its bigger brother. In fact, other than texture and stream unit count, the cards are nearly identical.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 15, 2012 - 01:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 660ti, gpu boost, gpu
Gamers have been eagerly awaiting the release of the midrange NVIDIA graphics card thanks to some rather enticing rumors and leaks. Due to launch sometime soon, the GTX 660 Ti is packing some quality hardware and may be the next 8800GT as far as popularity levels with gamers craving the best price/performance. However, that is dependent on pricing–which has been up in the air for a while. Rumored prices have included an MSRP of $349 and retail pre-orders for $299 and just under $400 (and guesses everywhere in between).
US-based computer retailer CompUSA has provided us with further information that suggests the price will, in fact, be the ever-desired $299 price point rather than previous rumors that suggested it would be priced closer to the GTX 670. Gamers rejoice!
Specifically, a reference version of the PNY-manufactured NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti recently appears on CompUSA’s website where customers could purchase it. This card is listed as being model number “VCGGTX660TXPB-C Bundle.” While it is unclear what the “-C” designator means, it is more proof that it is the same (or a very similar) model as the card leaked by MacMall (when it showed up for pre-order ahead of the release date). Speaking of bundles, the CompUSA card gets even better as it is the PNY GTX 660 Ti and a game coupon for Borderlands 2 for the $299 price–not bad at all.
While I have not personally ordered one (so I can’t confirm if CompUSA will actually sell it to me ahead of the official release or if it was just a mistake on its part for making the store page live early), you can try to get your hands on the 660 Ti now for $299 USD.
I’m extremely happy to see the $299 price, and I look forward to see the cards from other manufacturers. Custom and factory overclocked cards should also be interesting as far as pricing and where they fit compared to saving up a bit more money and simply going with a GTX 670. What do you think, will you be picking one of these graphics cards up?
Overclocked and 4GB Strong
Even though the Kepler GK104 GPU is now matured in the market, there is still a ton of life left in this not-so-small chip and Galaxy sent us a new graphics card to demonstrate just that. The Galaxy GeForce GTX 670 GC 4GB card that we are reviewing today takes the GTX 670 GPU (originally released and reviewed on May 10th) and juices it up on two different fronts: clock rates and memory capacity.
The Galaxy GTX 670 GC 4GB graphics card is based on GK104 as mentioned below and meets most of the same specifications as the reference GTX 670. That includes 1344 CUDA cores or stream processors, 112 texture units and 32 ROP units along with a 256-bit GDDR5 memory bus.
The GC title indicates that the Galaxy GTX 670 GC 4GB is overclocked as well - this card runs at 1006 MHz base clock, 1085 MHz Boost clock and 1500 MHz memory clock. Compared to the defaults of 915 MHz, 980 MHz and 1500 MHz (respectively) this Galaxy model gets a 10% increase in clock speed though we'll see how much that translates into gaming performance as we go through our review.
Of course, also in the title of the review, the Galaxy GTX 670 GC includes 4GB of frame buffer, twice as much as the reference cards. The goal is obviously to attract gamers with high resolution screens (2560x1600 or 2560x1440) as well as users interested in triple panel NVIDIA Surround gaming. We test both of those resolutions in our game collection on the following pages to see just how that works out.
7950 gets a quick refresh
Back in June, AMD released (or at least announced) an update to the Radeon HD 7970 3GB card called the GHz Edition. Besides the higher clock speeds, the card was the first AMD offering to include PowerTune with Boost–a dynamic clock scaling capability that allowed the GPU to increase clock speeds when power and temperature allowed.
While similar in ideology to the GPU Boost that NVIDIA invented with the GTX 680 Kepler launch, AMD's Boost is completely predictable and repeatable. Everyone's HD 7970 GHz Edition performs exactly the same regardless of your system or environment.
Here is some commentary that I had on the technology back in June that remains unchanged:
AMD's PowerTune with Boost technology differs from NVIDIA's GPU Boost in a couple of important ways. First, much to its original premise, AMD can guarantee exactly how all Radeon HD 7970 3GB GHz Edition graphics cards will operate, and at what speeds in any given environment. There should be no variability between the card that I get and the card that you can buy online. Using digital temperature estimation in conjunction with voltage control, the PowerTune implementation of boost is completely deterministic.
As the above diagram illustrates, the "new" part of PowerTune with the GHz Edition is the ability to vary the voltage of the GPU in real-time to address a wider range of qualified clock speeds. On the previous HD 7970s the voltage was a locked static voltage in its performance mode, meaning that it would not increase or decrease during load operations. As AMD stated to us in a conversation just prior to launch, "by having multiple voltages that can be invoked, we can be at a more optimal clock/voltage combination more of the time, and deliver higher average performance."
The problem I have with AMD's boost technology is that they are obviously implementing this as a reaction to NVIDIA's technology. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the tech feels a little premature because of it. We were provided no tools prior to launch to actually monitor the exact clock speed of the GPU in real-time. The ability to monitor these very small changes in clock speed are paramount to our ability to verify the company's claims, and without it we will have questions about the validity of results. GPU-Z and other applications we usually use to monitor clock speeds (including AMD's driver) only report 1050 MHz as the clock speed–no real-time dynamic changes are being reported.
(As a side note, AMD has promised to showcase their internal tool to show real-time clock speed changes in our Live Review at http://pcper.com/live on Friday the 22nd, 11am PDT / 2pm EDT.) [It has since been archived for your viewing pleasure.]
A couple of points to make here: AMD still has not released that tool to show us internal steps of clock speeds, and instead told me today that they were waiting for an updated API to allow other software (including their own CCC) to be able to report the precise results.
Today AMD is letting us preview the new HD 7950 3GB card that will be shipping soon with updated clock speeds and Boost support. The new base clock speed of the HD 7950 will be 850 MHz, compared to the 800 MHz of the original reference HD 7950. The GPU will be able to boost as high as 925 MHz. That should give the new 7950s a solid performance gain over the original with a clock speed increase of as much as 15%.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 10, 2012 - 07:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: firepro, firepro W8000, firepro W9000, amd, Tahiti XT
For GPU accelerated applications such as CAD there are only two main choices, AMD's FirePro or NVIDIA's Quadro series. Legit Reviews got their hands on two of the three new cards from AMD, the $1600 W9000 and the $900 W8000, with the $600 W5000 missing in this review. The results were good, the new generation cards perform better than their predecessors though in some tests only by a slim margin. It is possible that more mature drivers will see the performance increase on those test to the large gap present in most of the other tests. AMD has also kept the power requirements reasonable which is very important considering the huge improvement in efficiency displayed by NVIDIA's new architecture.
"AMD has successfully brought the new GCN architecture to the workstation! We noticed some pretty nice performance gains in the FirePro W8000 and W9000 cards from the previous generation of AMD FirePro graphics cards. The AMD FirePro W9000 is impressive on paper as it has 2048 stream processors running at 975MHz, 6GB of ECC GDDR5 memory at 1375MHz and the ability to drive six monitors! In some benchmarks the AMD FirePro W9000 blew away the previous generation FirePro V8800 video card, but in others it was..."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Sapphire Radeon FleX HD 7870 GHz Edition 2 GB @ X-bit Labs
- Club3D Radeon HD 7850 Royal Queen @ Guru of 3D
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Vapor-X OC Edition 1GB @ Tweaktown
- HIS HD 7750 iCooler 1GB Review @ HardwareLOOK
- AFOX HD7850 Single Slot Crossfire @ Kitguru
- HIS HD 7770 iCooler 1GB Review @ HardwareLOOK
- HIS HD 7870 IceQ Turbo 2GB Review @ HardwareLOOK
- MSI R7870 HAWK Edition @ Bjorn3D
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 2GB OC Edition @ Tweaktown
- Radeon Gallium3D Has Made Much Progress In Two Years @ Phoronix
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- ASUS GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP Video Card Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Crazily Expensive and Inconceivably Fast: Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 SLI @ X-bit Labs
- Do Graphics Cards Need 4 GB of Memory? - EVGA GeForce GTX 670 4 GB Superclocked+ @ X-bit Labs
- MSI GTX 680 Lightning Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 680 SOC @ Guru3D
- Overclocking the MSI N680GTX Lightning @ Benchmark Reviews
- Zotac GT 640 Zone Edition @ Bjorn3D
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 10, 2012 - 05:34 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tesla, quadro, nvidia, maximus, kepler, gk110
At SIGGRAPH 2012 NVIDIA announced a refresh of its Maximus workstation platform technology. Maximus is a technology aimed at professionals that work with simulations or content creation and editing. The updated platform features a Tesla K20 accelerator card as well as a Kepler-based NVIDIA Quadro K5000 graphics card. The K5000 in particular has 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus and 1536 CUDA cores. NVIDIA states that the Quadro graphics card has 2.1 Teraflops of single precision compute power and draws 122 watts.
The K20 on the other hand features a GK110 Kepler GPU with Dynamic Parallelism and Hyper Q features that reportedly enable more than 1 Teraflop of peak double precision performance. Unfortunately, we do not know much more than that on the new K20 Tesla card as the exact specifications are still listed as “to be announced.” It is slated for a Q4 2012 release.
The Quadro K5000 workstation GPU
Beyond the hardware itself, the company’s Maximus platform has received software support from several high-profile software companies and system integrators. Some of the companies that certify and support Maximus are Adobe, Autodesk, Mathworks, and Paradigm among others. Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, and Supermicro are OEMs that support the hardware and manufacture Maximus-powered workstations.
The Tesla K20 accelerator card.
The second-generation Maximus technology will be available in desktop workstations as early as December 2012. Further, the NVIDIA Quadro K5000 will be available for purchase as a separate discrete card in October 2012 for $2,249 (MSRP). The Tesla K20 will (for now) only be available integrated in a workstation, but NVIDIA lists the MSRP at $3,199.
More information on the NVIDIA Maximus refresh can be found in the company’s press release.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Memory, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2012 - 10:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, workshop, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways
It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop! Once again we will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2012 being held in Dallas, TX August 2-5th.
Main Stage - Quakecon 2012
Saturday, August 4th, 2pm CT
Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year. We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do! Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!
Our thanks for this year's workshop logo goes to John Pastor!!
Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out! Our thanks to NVIDIA, MSI Computer and Corsair!!
If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry! You can still watch the workshop live on our page right here as we stream it over one of several online services. Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/workshop and you will find your way!
Case Mod Competition
Along with the Hardware Workshop, PC Perspective is working with Modders Inc on the annual case mod contest! There are two categories for the competition: "Scratch Built" and "In the Box" that will allow those that build their computer enclosures from the ground up to compete separately from those that heavily modify their existing cases and systems.
For more details, be sure to check out the on going thread at the Modders Inc Forums!
Prize List (will continue to grow!)
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 9, 2012 - 10:14 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Crysis 3, CryENGINE 3
Crytek released a video to show off new features of the CryEngine 3. Global illumination, tessellated foliage, and area lights are among the obvious enhancements. Check out the video and let it speak for itself.
Graphics good enough it will make you and your systems cry – we hope.
Once again Crytek has provided us with a video to show off how they intend to push the boundaries of real-time graphics. The engine is designed to run on the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 albeit there will almost definitely be variance between graphics quality going from one platform to another.
Just don’t lick your screen.
Particle lighting and shadowing has been updated in several ways. Global illumination has been given yet another revision. Water has been given better scattering abilities. Lens flares and area lights. Most of these features bring CryEngine 3 towards the feature set available with the upcoming Unreal Engine 4. Good stuff and should choice for game developers large and small who wish to license the engine for their projects.
Crysis 3 is expected to be available in February 2013 for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2012 - 03:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Siggraph, opengl, OpenGL ES, OpenGL 4.3, OpenGL ES 3.0
OpenGL turned 20 as of the start of this year. Two new versions of the API have just been released during SIGGRAPH: OpenGL 4.3 and OpenGL ES 3.0. Ars Technica put together a piece to outline the changes in these versions – most importantly: feature parity between Direct3D 11 and OpenGL 4.3.
As much attention as Direct3D gets for PC gamers – you cannot ignore OpenGL.
Reigning in graphics hardware is a real challenge. We desire to make use of all the computational performance of our devices but also make it easy to develop for in as few times as possible. Regardless of what mobile, desktop, or other device you own – if it contains a GPU it almost definitely supports either OpenGL or OpenGL ES.
Even certain up-and-coming websites utilize the GPU to break new ground.
The Khronosgraph says 20 years.
Two new versions of OpenGL were recently published: OpenGL 4.3 as well as OpenGL ES 3.0. For the first time OpenGL allows programmers to access compute shaders which makes it easier to accelerate computations which do not work upon pixels, vertices, or geometry without bringing in OpenCL or some other API. Unfortunately this feature does not appear to carry over to OpenGL ES 3.0.
OpenGL ES is also important, not just for native mobile development as it is intended, but also because it is considered the basis of WebGL. It is likely that a future WebGL revision will contain the OpenGL ES 3.0 enhancements such as many rendering targets, more complex shaders, and so forth.
But it seems like the major reason why these two revisions were released together – apart from their timing aligning with the SIGGRAPH trade show – is because OpenGL and OpenGL ES have been somewhat merged. OpenGL ES 3.0 is now a subset of OpenGL 4.3 rather than some heavily overlapping Venn diagram. Porting from one specification to the other should be substantially easier.
So happy birthday, OpenGL – just don’t go down the toilet on your 21st.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 7, 2012 - 01:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day, evga, gtx 460, 2win
Do you remember when we posted our review of the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2Win graphics card? Just last year it retailed for $409 and rivaled the performance of the GTX 580. Well now you can pick one up for just $169 after a mail-in rebate!
This card features a pair of GF104 GTX 460 GPUs on a single PCB running in a semi-permanent SLI configuration. And considering a GTX 580 card will still cost you over $400 online today, the GTX 460 2Win from EVGA for $169 is a fantastic deal!!