Gaming graphics for under $100

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 14, 2017 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: RX 550, gt 1030, nvidia, amd, esports

If the majority of gaming time your PC spends is on CS:GO, Starcraft 2 or DOTA then it would be cruel to force a GTX 1080 or Vega 64 to do your heavy lifting.  In many twitch games there is even a distinct advantage to reducing graphics quality to its lowest settings when trying to improve your K/D ratio.  TechSpot decided to examine this segment of the market, testing a ~$70 GT 1030 and a ~$90 RX 550 on a variety of eSports titles.  The NVIDIA card outperformed AMD's offering across the board on low settings, however the RX 550 actually performed better on high quality settings though often both cards were below 60fps.  Check out their benchmarks as well as their advice for those shopping for budget GPUs right here.

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"It's time for another GPU battle, though this one is a bit different with GPUs under $100: from AMD we have the Radeon RX 550 and on Nvidia's side is the GeForce GT 1030. Our focus will be primarily on eSports titles including CS:GO, Overwatch and Dota 2 running on a Ryzen 3 test bench."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: TechSpot

Blender Foundation Releases Blender 2.79

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2017 - 07:03 PM |
Tagged: Blender, amd

The latest version of Blender, 2.79, makes a few significant changes, especially for users with AMD GPUs. Their main rendering engine, Cycles, has now reached feature-parity on OpenCL and CUDA. While those with NVIDIA GPUs will keep using the latter compute API, users of recent AMD GPUs can now (on Windows and Linux -- macOS requires a driver update) harness their graphics cards for higher performance.

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10 samples is actually very low. I'm usually in the 100-1000 range.

For the rest of us, there are four improvements that I would consider major. First, Cycles now has a denoise filter, which reduces speckles and thus should let you get away with fewer samples. Second, Filmic Color Management is now included by default, which can represent a much wider dynamic range. This was available as a user mod for a while, but you needed to manually install it. Third is a shadow catcher object for Cycles, which lets you render off translucent shadows onto dummy objects and composite them later (in Photoshop, After Effects, or Blender’s video editor).

Fourth, and most interesting to me, is their new PBR shader. I’ve done PBR materials in Cycles before, and it’s a bit of a pain to set up. If I don’t copy/paste from an existing material, it takes about 15-20 minutes of my time to wire together diffuse nodes, glossy nodes, Fresnel nodes, and so forth such that I can attach metal, bump, and so forth to it. Now? Just drag in one node and hook up the correct textures and colors, like the ones that are generated in Substance or Quixxel.

As always, Blender is free, so have fun.

Threadripping on MSI's new GAMING PRO CARBON AC

Subject: Motherboards | September 13, 2017 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: amd, msi, X399, Threadripper, GAMING PRO CARBON AC

MSI have added a GAMING PRO CARBON AC motherboard to their X399 offerings for AMD's ThreadRipper.  The exceptional socket makes the ATX board look a little disproportionate compared to previous members of this motherboard family but there is still a lot of space on the board.  There are four PCIe Express x16 Gen 3 slots along with two 1x slots, three M.2 ports and an impressive array of USB ports including two USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type-C ports, a single USB 3.1 Gen. 3 Type-A and nine USB 3.1 Gen.1 Type-A ports.  The Guru of 3D provides benchmarks and overclocking results in their full review.

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"Let's check out another Ryzen Threadripper motherboard. We review the one from MSI as they have released their X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC. The board is stylish, comes with very subtle LED effects and obviously offers everything you need from quadruple x16 PCI-Express slots, triple M2 SSD slots, quad-channel memory and some really supreme AC WIFI."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: Guru of 3D

AMD Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri Goes on Sabbatical

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2017 - 01:36 AM |
Tagged: rtg, raja koduri, radeon technologies group, radeon, amd

Radeon Technologies Group SVP and Chief Architect Raja Koduri is taking sabbatical from AMD as of today, with a target return date in December. As first reported by our friends at Fudzilla (and also Tweaktown), and that I was able to confirm through AMD this evening, one of our favorite people in the graphics industry will be stepping aside for the time being. AMD CEO Lisa Su will be taking over the Radeon Technologies Group in the interim.

Raja is a great personality and innovator in the graphics market and I was able to interview him during the Polaris roll out last year. He was candid, open to ideas, and clearly cared about the gamers and PC gaming market. It was only in September of 2015 that he returned to AMD as the leader of the newly created Radeon Technologies Group, a division of AMD rededicated to graphics leadership.

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AMD Radeon Technologies Group SVP, Raja Koduri

The easy response to this news, and the most common reaction, will be to assume that Raja was pushed out and will not return due to the state of the Radeon division after the launch of Vega. But in truth, despite it having issues with efficiency and performance that we noted in our reviews, AMD has had no issue selling the Vega cards its made. The professional markets are competitive again and AMD's entrance into the enterprise compute space opens up a wide array of new opportunity for AMD architectures.

Nor has it had issues selling Radeon RX 400 or RX 500 products either. Whether you consider that good planning by Raja and his team or just the luck of the cryptocurrency market, it really doesn't matter. The Radeon group has provided value to the company and to shareholders. 

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The Radeon Vega family of graphics cards

As with most things in life, the truth is likely more complex than we can decipher from a single note or message. I was able to get my hands on the letter sent from Raja to his team, which I have provided below:

RTG Team,

You haven’t heard from me collectively in a while – a symptom not only of the whirlwind of launching Vega, but simply of the huge number of demands on my time since the formation of RTG. Looking back over this short period, it is an impressive view. We have delivered 6 straight quarters of double-digit growth in graphics, culminating in the launch of Vega and being back in high-performance. What we have done with Vega is unparalleled. We entered the high-end gaming, professional workstation and machine intelligence markets with Vega in a very short period of time. The demand for Vega (and Polaris!) is fantastic, and overall momentum for our graphics is strong.

Incredibly, we as AMD also managed to spectacularly re-enter the high-performance CPU segments this year. We are all exceptionally proud of Ryzen, Epyc and Threadripper. The computing world is not the same anymore and the whole world is cheering for AMD. Congratulations and thanks to those of you in RTG who helped see these products through. The market for high-performance computing is on an explosive growth trajectory driven by machine intelligence, visual cloud, blockchain and other exciting new workloads. Our vision of immersive and instinctive computing is within grasp. As we enter 2018, I will be shifting my focus more toward architecting and realizing this vision and rebalancing my operational responsibilities.

At the beginning of the year I warned that Vega would be hard. At the time, some folks didn’t believe me. Now many of you understand what I said. Vega was indeed hard on many, and my sincere heartfelt thanks to all of you who endured the Vega journey with me. Vega was personally hard on me as well and I used up a lot of family credits during this journey. I have decided to take a time-off in Q4 to spend time with my family. I have been contemplating this for a while now and there was never a good time to do this. Lisa and I agreed that Q4 is better than 2018, before the next wave of product excitement. Lisa will be acting as the leader of RTG during by absence. My sincere thanks to Lisa and rest of AET for supporting me in this decision and agreeing to take on additional workload during my absence.

I am looking to start my time-off on Sept 25th and return in December.

Thank you, all of you, for your unwavering focus, dedication and support over these past months, and for helping us to build something incredible. We are not done yet, and keep the momentum going!

Regards, Raja

Straight from the man himself, the intention and reason for the leave appears to be to catch up on family responsibility. As someone who has often traded work-related travel for home-based committments in future months, I understand this completely.

I have no doubt that Raja takes this leave with some reluctance. He built this team himself (for the most part) and my conversations with AMD employees always mention respect and appreciation for what he has been able to do. He loves the industry, he loves the technology, he loves the fans. That doesn't mean he can't or won't leave or be forced out if comes down to it, but it does give me hope that the potential for his return after the sabbatical is better than most other news outlets and pundits might lead us to believe.

For the interim, I have a lot of faith in Lisa Su to handle RTG. She has led AMD out of the CPU doldrums and into competitiveness for the first time in a decade. Any additional knowledge, experience, or input she can can gleam from her time as the lead at the Radeon Technologies Group can only be a benefit to AMD in the long run. 

Source: Fudzilla

Free Champions Pack for Quake Champions for free with AMD GPUs and CPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 12, 2017 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: Vega, ryzen 7, ryzen 5, ryzen, RX 580, RX 570, RX 560, ruby, repetition, quake champions, amd

Remember Ruby, that animated heroine ATI used in tech demos many years back?  She has returned recently and is now playable in Quake Champions for those who claim their free key.  In addition to appearing in the game, she is also the centre of attention in this announcement from AMD.

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If you purchase a new Ryzen 5 or 7 APU, or a RX 560, 570 or 580 you can now claim the Champions pack for Quake Champions for free.  The Champions pack will retail for $40 and add access to all current and future characters to your game, including a custom Ruby skin for Nyx.  If you purchased one of these products after August 22nd you are eligible to claim your key over at AMDRewards.  The contest will run until October 29th or until the keys run out.

 

Source: AMD

Threadripper cooler on an AM4 socket? Yes, you can!

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 12, 2017 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, ryzen 7, AM4, XSPC RayStorm

The question is if installing the XSPC RayStorm Threadripper waterblock on an AM4 actually improves your systems thermals.  [H]ard|OCP tested out the difficulty of the installation process and the performance of the cooler on a Ryzen 7 1700X overclocked to 4GHz.  The mounting worked exactly as advertised, mating perfectly with the AM4 processor; the performance on the other hand demonstrates the advantage of using coolers specifically designed for your processor.

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"If you could mount your Threadripper custom cooling waterblock on your socket AM4 Ryzen 7 CPU, wouldn't you? Of course the answer is yes. However, the results turned out a bit different than we thought those might."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #466 - ECS Z270, Clutch Chairz, AMD market share, Lenovo Yoga, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2017 - 09:46 AM |
Tagged: z270, Yoga 920, Yoga 720, video, Threadripper 1900x, superfish, skylake-x, podcast, Lenovo, IFA 2017, HP S700 Pro, GTX 1080, gigabyte, ECS, Die shot, Core i7-6700K, Core i5-6600k, Clutch Chairz, Aorus X5, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #466 - 09/07/17

Join us for discussion on ECS Z270 motherboards, Clutch Chairz, AMD market share, Lenovo Yoga, and more!

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!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:15:50

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:25:05 Casper
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:09:10 Allyn: FolderTimeUpdate
  4. Closing/outro

Source:

Threadripper 1900X makes it official today

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, 1900x, X399

We knew about the Threadripper 1900X back in July, but it did not arrive at the same time that the other two models did; AMD waited until today.  The official specifications do not differ from the pre-launch specifications, though we have confirmation the TDP is 180W and the cache is 20MB.  [H]ard|OCP describes it as a Ryzen 7 with the benefits of the X399 platform, a good way to quickly understand what this processor is.  [H] posted the slideshow as well as positing some usage scenarios in their article, which you can see here.

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"Today AMD rolls out what is not a very well kept secret, the Ryzen Threadripper model 1900X CPU. There is no doubt that Threadripper has already been a success for AMD, but how exactly does does an 8-core Threadripper fit into High End Desktop (HEDT) world of processors and platforms? The user profile is fairly skinny."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

New GPU Launch, New Attempt to Unlock Stuff

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 30, 2017 - 09:27 PM |
Tagged: amd, Vega, vega 56, vega 64

Because so many different video cards are made from a handful of chip designs, there is a group of people who like to see whether a lower-end SKU can be unlocked to behave like a higher-end one. In this case, kdtree on the ChipHell forums has apparently flashed the new AMD RX Vega 56 with the vBIOS from an AMD RX Vega 64. Personally, I would find that a little sketchy, given the difference in stream processor count, but they’re the one with the graphics card.

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Image Credit: kdtree from ChipHell forums

Turns out, it did something, but it did not magically create an RX Vega 64. The extra 512 shaders are probably disabled at the hardware level, such as with a laser. Your first reaction is probably “well, of course it is...” but, if you remember Polaris, users have software-modified 4GB cards into 8GB cards... so there is some precedence for “maybe AMD put more on the card than they said on the box”.

Oh right, so what did it do? It apparently gave the card a significant overclock. It’s hard to tell under the watermark, but the modified Vega 56 was just a percent or so away from the Vega 64 on 3DMark. I’m guessing a conventional overclock might do the same, but who knows.

An expensive failure to launch; Llano's fine

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2017 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: llano, amd

***Update***

Having spoken with representative from AMD, we can confirm those in the comments were correct and that "the settlememt is coming from our insurance carrier....So there is no financial impact to AMD."  

Good news for AMD and enthusiasts!

***Update***

Those indignant souls for whom the recent issues with Vega's launch represent the worst thing to happen ever in the history of the world may be somewhat discombobulated to learn that worse happened a mere eight years ago.  It was a heady time for AMD, three years previous to these events they had just purchased ATI and were excited about the growth potential offered from having two types of products.  Bright minds at AMD realized there was a different potential for growth; synergistic in nature.   Why limit yourself to just selling GPUs and CPUs when you could combine the two in a silicon version of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup?  Thus was born Llano, a chip touted to rival Sandy Bridge in computational power with an APU more powerful than any which had existed before.

Things did not go according to plan.

The launch of Llano was delayed several times and when it finally arrived in 2011, two years after the initially planned release date, it did not outperform Sandy Bridge as advertised.  Instead the A8-3850 could mostly hold its own against the Core i3-2100 in multi-threaded tasks but fell far behind in single threaded performance.  This was a major issue as there were even less applications taking advantage of multithreaded processors than there are today. 

The graphics portion of the chip was very impressive, offering the first APU which you could actually use to game and watch HD video; perhaps not Crysis but certainly many online games were well within Llano's grasp.  This was not enough to save Llano in the marketplace and set the stage for the following years in which AMD has struggled.

Today we learn of the final penalty AMD must endure as a result of Llano, a $29.5 million payout to anyone who purchased AMD shares between April 4, 2011 and October 18, 2012.  This is not the best timing for AMD to dig into their pockets, their budget is already stretched and we would all prefer to see that money going into R&D for their next generation of products.  However, the lawsuit is no longer hanging over their heads and they can now budget for the coming quarters without having an unknown expense in the ledgers.

Hopefully AMD's fortune will reverse in the near future, as Threadripper, Epyc and Vega all show very good signs compared to the state of AMD six years ago.

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"Advanced Micro Devices has agreed to pay out $29.5m to settle a class action lawsuit its shareholders filed after the disastrous Llano chip rollout."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register