Not a simple answer
After publishing the Frame Rating Part 3 story, I started to see quite a bit of feedback from readers and other enthusiasts with many requests for information about Vsync and how it might affect the results we are seeing here. Vertical Sync is the fix for screen tearing, a common artifact seen in gaming (and other mediums) when the frame rendering rate doesn’t match the display’s refresh rate. Enabling Vsync will force the rendering engine to only display and switch frames in the buffer to match the vertical refresh rate of the monitor or a divisor of it. So a 60 Hz monitor could only display frames at 16ms (60 FPS), 33ms (30 FPS), 50ms (20 FPS), and so on.
Many early readers hypothesized that simply enabling Vsync would fix the stutter and runt issues that Frame Rating was bringing to light. In fact, AMD was a proponent of this fix, as many conversations we have had with the GPU giant trailed into the direction of Vsync as answer to their multi-GPU issues.
In our continuing research on graphics performance, part of our Frame Rating story line, I recently spent many hours playing games on different hardware configurations and different levels of Vertical Sync. After this time testing, I am comfortable in saying that I do not think that simply enabling Vsync on platforms that exhibit a large number of runt frames fixes the issue. It may prevent runts, but it does not actually produce a completely smooth animation.
To be 100% clear - the issues with Vsync and animation smoothness are not limited to AMD graphics cards or even multi-GPU configurations. The situations we are demonstrating here present themselves equally on AMD and NVIDIA platforms and with single or dual card configurations, as long as all other parameters are met. Our goal today is only to compare a typical Vsync situation from either vendor to a reference result at 60 FPS and at 30 FPS; not to compare AMD against NVIDIA!!
In our initial research with Frame Rating, I presented this graph on the page discussing Vsync. At the time, I left this note with the image:
The single card and SLI configurations without Vsync disabled look just like they did on previous pages but the graph for GTX 680 SLI with Vsync on is very different. Frame times are only switching back and forth between 16 ms and 33 ms, 60 and 30 instantaneous FPS due to the restrictions of Vsync. What might not be obvious at first is that the constant shifting back and forth between these two rates (two refresh cycles with one frame, one refresh cycle with one frame) can actually cause more stuttering and animation inconsistencies than would otherwise appear.
Even though I had tested this out and could literally SEE that animation inconsistency I didn't yet have a way to try and demonstrate it to our readers, but today I think we do.
The plan for today's article is going to be simple. I am going to present a set of three videos to you that show side by side runs from different configuration options and tell you what I think we are seeing in each result. Then on another page, I'm going to show you three more videos and see if you can pinpoint the problems on your own.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 15, 2013 - 03:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rumor, nvidia, kepler, gtx 700, geforce 700, computex
Recent rumors seem to suggest that NVIDIA will release its desktop-class GeForce 700 series of graphics cards later this year. The new card will reportedly be faster than the currently-available GTX 600 series, but will likely remain based on the company's Kepler architecture.
According to the information presented during NVIDIA's GTC keynote, its Kepler architecture will dominate 2012 and 2013. It will then follow up with Maxwell-based cards in 2014. Notably absent from the slides are product names, meaning the publicly-available information at least leaves the possibility of a refreshed Kepler GTX 700 lineup in 2013 open.
Fudzilla further reports that NVIDIA will release the cards as soon as May 2013, with an official launch as soon as Computex. Having actual cards available for sale by Computex is a bit unlikely, but a summer launch could be possible if the new 700 series is merely a tweaked Kepler-based design with higher clocks and/or lower power usage. The company is rumored to be accelerating the launch of the GTX 700 series in the desktop space in response to AMD's heavy game-bundle marketing, which seems to be working well at persuading gamers to choose the red team.
What do you make of this rumor? Do you think a refreshed Kepler is coming this year?
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 14, 2013 - 07:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windforce, nvidia, gtx titan, gtx 680, gpu cooler, gigabyte
Earlier this week, PC component manufacturer Gigabyte showed off its new graphics card cooler at its New Idea Tech Tour even in Berlin, Germany. The new triple slot cooler is built for this generation's highest-end graphics cards. It is capable of cooling cards with up to 450W TDPs while keeping the cards cooler and quiter than reference heatsinks.
The Gigabyte WindForce 450W cooler is a triple slot design that combines a large heatsink with three 80mm fans. The heatsink features two aluminum fin arrays connected to the GPU block by three 10mm copper heatpipes. Gigabyte stated during the card's reveal that its cooler keeps a NVIDIA GTX 680 graphics card 2°C cooler and 23.3 dB quiter during a Furmark benchmark run. Further, the cooler will allow these high end cards, like the GTX Titan to achieve higher (stable) boost clocks.
ComputerBase.de was on hand at Gigabyte's event in Berlin to snap shots of the upcoming GPU cooler.
The company has not announced which graphics cards will use the new cooler or when it will be available, but A Gigabyte GTX 680 and a custom cooled-Titan seem to be likely candidates considering these cards were mentioned in the examples given in the presentation. Note that NVIDIA has prohibited AIB partners from putting custom coolers on the Titan thus far, but other rumored Titan graphics cards with custom coolers seem to suggest that the company will allow custom-cooled Titans to be sold at retail at some point. In addition to using it for the top-end NVIDIA cards, I think a GTX 670 or GTX 660 Ti GPU using this cooler would also be great, as it would likely be one of the quieter running options available (because you could spin the three 80mm fans much slower than the single reference fan and still get the same temps).
What do you think about Gigabyte's new 450W GPU cooler? You can find more photos over at Computer Base (computerbase.de).
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 14, 2013 - 02:22 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: never settle, never settle reloaded, amd, far cry 3
So when AMD reloaded their Never Settle bundles, they left an extra round in the barrel.
Some of my favorite games were given to me in a bundle with some piece of computer hardware. You might remember from the PC Perspective game night that I am a major fan of the Unreal Tournament franchise. My first Unreal Tournament game was an unexpected surprise when I purchased my first standalone GPU. My 166MHz Pentium computer also came bundled with Mechwarrior 2 and Wipeout.
As we discussed, AMD considers bundle-offers as a way to keep the software industry rolling forward. The quantity and quality of games which participate in the recent Never Settle bundles certainly deserve credit as it is due. Bioshock: Infinite is a game that just about every PC gamer needs to experience, and there are about a half-dozen other great titles as a part of the promotion depending upon which card or cards you purchase.
As it turns out, AMD negotiated with Ubisoft and added Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon to their Never Settle bundle. The coolest part is that AMD will retroactively email codes for this new title to anyone who has redeemed a Never Settle: Reloaded code.
So if you have ever Reloaded your Never Settle in the past, check your email as apparently you can Never Settle your reloads again.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 13, 2013 - 10:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: radeon hd7790, powercolor, GCN, amd, 7790
PowerColor launched a new factory overclocked graphics card recently that is a revision of a previous model. The PowerColor HD7790 OC V2 is based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and measures a mere 180 x 150 x 38mm.
The AMD Radeon HD 7790 GPU features 896 stream processors, 56 texture units, and 80 ROP units. The GPU is clocked at 1000 MHz base and 1030 MHz boost while the 1GB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at the 6Gbps reference speed. PowerColor has fitted the overclocked card with an aluminum heatsink cooled by a single 8mm copper heatpipe and 70mm fan.
The new card features two DL-DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort video outputs. Its model number is AX7790-1GBD5-DHV2/OC. According to Guru3D, the new/revised card is priced at 120 pounds sterling. However, considering the currently available OC (non-V2) card is $150, the revised card is likely to come in around that price when it hits US retailers.
Also: If you have not already, read our latest Frame Rating article to see how the Radeon HD 7790 graphics card stacks up against the competition!
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 8, 2013 - 07:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gk106, gtx660, asus, GTX 660 DirectCU II OC
Not everyone can afford to spend $400+ on a GPU in one shot but sometimes they can manage it if the purchase is split into two. For those considering a multi-GPU setup, it has become obvious from Ryan's testing that NVIDIA is the way to go. The 660 Ti is a favourite but even it might be too rich for some peoples wallets which is why it is nice to see the ASUS offer their GTX 660 DirectCU II OC for $215 after MIR. [H]ard|OCP just put up a review of this card covering both the FPS performance of the card as it was when it arrived as well as after they pushed the base clock up almost as high as the original boost clock. If you are on a limited GPU budget you should check out the full review.
"ASUS has delivered a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II OC to our doorstep to run through the wringer. We match this ASUS video card up against AMD's Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7850 to see which will prevail in the battle of the mainstream cards. There are good values at this price point."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Radeon HD 7790 Crossfire vs. GeForce GTX 660 Ti @ Legion Hardware
- ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost Direct CU II OC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Video Cards in SLI @ Tweaktown
- ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU Mini 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost SLI @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX Titan @ iXBT Labs
- Asus GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost OC Edition 2GB @ eTeknix
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost @ Tweaktown
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Inside the second with Nvidia's frame capture tools @ The Tech Report
- Frame Capture and Analysis Tools Review @ OCC
Frametime tests 2.0: our take on the latest developments @ Hardware.info
- Club3D Radeon HD 7790 13Series CrossFire @ eTeknix
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Low Profile @ Tweaktown
- PowerColor PCS+ AX7850 2GBD5-2DHPP @ Bjorn3D
- Gigabyte GV-R779OC-1GD Review @ Neoseeker
- Radeon HD 7790 vs. GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire Radeon 7870 XT With Boost (Tahiti LE) Review & Bioshock Infinite Giveaway @ HCW
- ASUS Radeon HD 7870 DirectCU II Review @ Custom PC Review
- Sapphire HD7850 OC @ FunkyKit
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | April 7, 2013 - 10:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: DirectX, DirectX 12
Microsoft DirectX is a series of interfaces for programmers to utilize typically when designing gaming or entertainment applications. Over time it became synonymous with Direct3D, the portion which mostly handles graphics processing by offloading those tasks to the video card. At one point, DirectX even handled networking through DirectPlay although that has been handled by Games for Windows Live or other APIs since Vista.
AMD Corporate Vice President Roy Taylor was recently interviewed by the German press, "c't magazin". When asked about the future of "Never Settle" bundles, Taylor claimed that games such as Crysis 3 and Bioshock: Infinite keep their consumers happy and also keep the industry innovating.
Keep in mind, the article was translated from German so I might not be entirely accurate with my understanding of his argument.
In a slight tangent, he discussed how new versions of DirectX tends to spur demand for new graphics processors with more processing power and more RAM. He has not heard anything about DirectX 12 and, in fact, he does not believe there will be one. As such, he is turning to bundled games to keep the industry moving forward.
Neowin, upon seeing this interview, reached out to Microsoft who committed to future "innovation with DirectX".
This exchange has obviously sparked a lot of... polarized... online discussion. One claimed that Microsoft is abandoning the PC to gain a foothold in the mobile market which it has practically zero share of. That is why they are dropping DirectX.
Unfortunately this does not make sense: DirectX would be one of the main advantages which Microsoft has in the mobile market. Mobile devices have access to fairly decent GPUs which can use DirectX to draw web pages and applications much smoother and much more power efficiently than their CPU counterparts. If anything, DirectX would be increased in relevance if Microsoft was blindly making a play for mobile.
The major threat to DirectX is still quite off in the horizon. At some point we might begin to see C++Amp or OpenCL nibble away at what DirectX does best: offload highly-parallel tasks to specialized processing units.
Still, releases such as DirectX 11.1 are quite focused on back-end tweaks and adjustments. What do you think a DirectX 12 API would even do, that would not already be possible with DirectX 11?
What to look for and our Test Setup
Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons. Here is the schedule:
- 3/27: Frame Rating Dissected: Full Details on Capture-based Graphics Performance Testing
- 3/27: Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition vs GeForce GTX 680 (Single and Dual GPU)
- 3/30: AMD Radeon HD 7990 vs GeForce GTX 690 vs GeForce GTX Titan
- 4/2: Radeon HD 7950 vs GeForce GTX 660 Ti (Single and Dual GPU)
- 4/5: Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition vs GeForce GTX 660 (Single and Dual GPU)
- 4/16: Frame Rating: Visual Effects of Vsync on Gaming Animation
Today marks the conclusion of our first complete round up of Frame Rating results, the culmination of testing that was started 18 months ago. Hopefully you have caught our other articles on the subject at hand, and you really will need to read up on the Frame Rating Dissected story above to truly understand the testing methods and results shown in this article. Use the links above to find the previous articles!
To round out our Frame Rating testing in this interation, we are looking at more cards further down the product stack in two different sets. The first comparison will look at the AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 graphics cards in both single and dual-card configurations. Just like we saw with our HD 7970 vs GTX 680 and our HD 7950 vs GTX 660 Ti testing, evaluating how the GPUs compare in our new and improved testing methodology in single GPU configurations is just as important as testing in SLI and CrossFire. The GTX 660 ($199 at Newegg.com) and the HD 7870 ($229 at Newegg.com) are the closest matches in terms of pricing though both card have some interesting game bundle options as well.
AMD's Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition
Our second set of results will only be looking at single GPU performance numbers for lower cost graphics cards like the AMD Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7790 and from NVIDIA the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GTX 650 Ti BOOST. We didn't include multi-GPU results on these cards simply due to time constraints internally and because we are eager to move onto further Frame Rating testing and input testing.
NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 660
If you are just joining this article series today, you have missed a lot! If nothing else you should read our initial full release article that details everything about the Frame Rating methodology and why we are making this change to begin with. In short,
Because FRAPS measures frame times at a different point in the game pipeline (closer to the game engine) its results can vary dramatically from what is presented to the end user on their display. Frame Rating solves that problem by recording video through a dual-link DVI capture card that emulates a monitor to the testing system and by simply applying a unique overlay color on each produced frame from the game, we can gather a new kind of information that tells a very unique story.
The capture card that makes all of this work possible.
I don't want to spend too much time on this part of the story here as I already wrote a solid 16,000 words on the topic in our first article and I think you'll really find the results fascinating. So, please check out my first article on the topic if you have any questions before diving into these results today!
|Test System Setup|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E|
|Motherboard||ASUS P9X79 Deluxe|
|Memory||Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB|
|Hard Drive||OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD|
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7790 1GB
AMD: 13.2 beta 7
NVIDIA: 314.07 beta
|Power Supply||Corsair AX1200i|
|Operating System||Windows 8 Pro x64|
On to the results!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 5, 2013 - 11:48 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: premiere pro, opencl, firepro, amd, Adobe
As we prepare for the NAB show (National Association of Broadcasters) this week, AMD and Adobe have released a fairly substantial news release concerning the future of Premiere Pro, Adobe's flagship professional video editing suite.
Earlier today Adobe revealed some of its next generation professional video and audio products, including the next version of Adobe® Premiere Pro. Basically Adobe is giving users a sneak peek at the new features coming to the next versions of its software. And we’ve decided to give you a sneak peek too, providing a look at how the next version of Premiere Pro performs when accelerated by AMD FirePro™ 3D workstation graphics and OpenCL™ versus Nvidia Quadro workstation graphics and CUDA.
This will be the first time that OpenCL is used as the primary rendering engine for Premiere and is something that AMD has been hoping to see for many years. Previous versions of the software integrated support for NVIDIA's CUDA GPGPU programming models and the revolution of the Mercury Playback Engine was truly industry changing for video production. However, because it was using CUDA, AMD users were left out of these performance improvements in favor of the proprietary NVIDIA software solution.
Adobe's next version of Premiere Pro (though we aren't told when that will be released) switches from CUDA to OpenCL and the performance of the AMD GCN architecture is being shown off by AMD today.
Using 4K TIFF 24-bit sequence content, Microsoft Windows® 7 64-bit, Intel Xeon E5530 @ 2.40 GHZ and 12GB system memory, AMD compared several FirePro graphics cards (using OpenCL) against NVIDIA Quadro options (using CUDA). Idealy we would like to see some OpenCL NVIDIA benchmarks as well, but I assume we'll have to wait to test that here at PC Perspective.
AMD also claims that by utilizing OpenCL rather than CUDA, the AMD FirePro GPUs are running at a lower utilization, opening up more graphics processing power for other applications and development work.
While this performance testing is conducted on a pre-release version of the next Adobe Premiere Pro, we’re really pleased with the results. As with all of the professional applications we support, we’ll continue to make driver optimizations for Adobe Premiere Pro that can only help to improve the overall user experience and application performance. So if you’re considering a GPU upgrade as part of your transition to the next version of Adobe Premiere Pro, definitely consider taking a look at AMD FirePro™ 3D workstation graphics cards.
You can continue on to read the full press release from AMD and Adobe on the collaboration or check out the complete blog post posted on AMD.com.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 3, 2013 - 11:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 660 Ti, 660 ti
Two new photos recently popped up on Cowcotland, showing off an unreleased "Dragon Edition" GTX 660 Ti graphics card from ASUS. The new card boasts some impressive factory overclocks on both the GPU and memory as well as a beefy heatsink and a new blue and black color scheme.
The ASUS GTX 660 Ti Dragon will feature a custom cooler with two fans and an aluminum heastink. The back of the card includes a metal backplate to secure the cooler and help dissipate a bit of heat itself. However, there is also a cutout in the backplate to allow for (likely) additional power management circuitry. The card also features the company's power phase technology, NVIDIA's 660 Ti GK-104 GPU, and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The graphics core is reportedly clocked at 1150MHz (no word on whether that is the base or boost figure) while the memory is overclocked to 6100MHz. For comparison, the reference GTX 660 Ti clocks are 915MHz base, 980MHz boost, and 6,000MHz memory. The new card will support DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI video outputs.
There is no word on pricing or availability, but the Dragon looks like it will be one of the fastest GTX 660 Ti cards available when (if?) it publicly released!