When approached a couple of weeks ago by Microsoft with the opportunity to take an early look at an upcoming performance benchmark built on a DX12 game pending release later this year, I of course was excited for the opportunity. Our adventure into the world of DirectX 12 and performance evaluation started with the 3DMark API Overhead Feature Test back in March and was followed by the release of the Ashes of the Singularity performance test in mid-August. Both of these tests were pinpointing one particular aspect of the DX12 API - the ability to improve CPU throughput and efficiency with higher draw call counts and thus enabling higher frame rates on existing GPUs.
This game and benchmark are beautiful...
Today we dive into the world of Fable Legends, an upcoming free to play based on the world of Albion. This title will be released on the Xbox One and for Windows 10 PCs and it will require the use of DX12. Though scheduled for release in Q4 of this year, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios allowed us early access to a specific performance test using the UE4 engine and the world of Fable Legends. UPDATE: It turns out that the game will have a fall-back DX11 mode that will be enabled if the game detects a GPU incapable of running DX12.
This benchmark focuses more on the GPU side of DirectX 12 - on improved rendering techniques and visual quality rather than on the CPU scaling aspects that made Ashes of the Singularity stand out from other graphics tests we have utilized. Fable Legends is more representative of what we expect to see with the release of AAA games using DX12. Let's dive into the test and our results!
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 16, 2015 - 09:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: nvidia, msi, liquid cooler, GTX 980 Ti, geforce, corsair, AIO
A GPU with attached closed-loop liquid cooler is a little more mainstream these days with AMD's Fury X a high-profile example, and now a partnership between Corsair and MSI is bringing a very powerful NVIDIA option to the market.
The new product is called the Hydro GFX, with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti supplying the GPU horsepower. Of course the advantage of a closed-loop cooler would be higher (sustained) clocks and lower temps/noise, which in turns means much better performance. Corsair explains:
"Hydro GFX consists of a MSI GeForce GTX 980 Ti card with an integrated aluminum bracket cooled by a Corsair Hydro Series H55 liquid cooler.
Liquid cooling keeps the card’s hottest, most critical components - the GPU, memory, and power circuitry - 30% cooler than standard cards while running at higher clock speeds with no throttling, boosting the GPU clock 20% and graphics performance up to 15%.
The Hydro Series H55 micro-fin copper cooling block and 120mm radiator expels the heat from the PC reducing overall system temperature and noise. The result is faster, smoother frame rates at resolutions of 4K and beyond at whisper quiet levels."
The factory overclock this 980 Ti is pretty substantial out of the box with a 1190 MHz Base (stock 1000 MHz) and 1291 MHz Boost clock (stock 1075 MHz). Memory is not overclocked (running at the default 7096 MHz), so there should still be some headroom for overclocking thanks to the air cooling for the RAM/VRM.
A look at the box - and the Corsair branding
Specs from Corsair:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU with Maxwell 2.0 microarchitecture
- 1190/1291 MHz base/boost clock
- Clocked 20% faster than standard GeForce GTX 980 Ti cards for up to a 15% performance boost.
- Integrated liquid cooling technology keeps GPU, video RAM, and voltage regulator 30% cooler than standard cards
- Corsair Hydro Series H55 liquid cooler with micro-fin copper block, 120mm radiator/fan
- Memory: 6GB GDDR5, 7096 MHz, 384-bit interface
- Outputs: 3x DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, and Dual Link DVI
- Power: 250 watts (600 watt PSU required)
- Requirements: PCI Express 3.0 16x dual-width slot, 8+6-pin power connector, 600 watt PSU
- Dimensions: 10.5 x 4.376 inches
- Warranty: 3 years
- MSRP: $739.99
As far as pricing/availability goes Corsair says the new card will debut in October in the U.S. with an MSRP of $739.99.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 06:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: V Nitro, Skylake, NVMe, nvidia, notebook, mu-mimo, laptop, IFA 2015, geforce, aspire V, acer
Acer’s updated V Nitro notebook series has been announced, and the notebooks have received the newest Intel mobile processors and have been fully updated with the latest connectivity some advanced wireless tech.
The Aspire V 13
"The refreshed Aspire V Nitro Series notebooks and Aspire V 13 support the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port, while 'Black Edition' Aspire V Nitro models support Thunderbolt 3, which brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40Gbps. All models include Qualcomm VIVE 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Qualcomm MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology."
MU-MIMO devices are just starting to hit the market and the tech promises to eliminate bottlenecks when multiple devices are in use on the same network – with compatible adapters/routers, that is.
The Aspire V 15 Nitro
What kind of hardware will be offered? Here’s a brief overview:
- 6th Gen Intel Core processors
- Up to 32GB DDR4 system memory
- NVIDIA GeForce graphics
- (SATA) SSD/SSHD/HDD storage options
- Touchscreen option added for the 15-inch model
Additionally, the “Black Edition” models offer a 4K 100% Adobe RGB display option, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M up to 4GB, NVMe SSDs, and something called “AeroBlade” thermal exhaust, which Acer said has “the world’s thinnest metallic blades of just 0.1mm thin, which are stronger and quieter”.
The Aspire V 17 Nitro
Pricing will start at $599 for the V Nitro 13, $999 for the V Nitro 15, and $1099 for the V Nitro 17. All versions will be available in the U.S. in October.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2015 - 07:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce, drivers
Unlike last week's 355.80 Hotfix, today's driver is fully certified by both NVIDIA and Microsoft (WHQL). According to users on GeForce Forums, this driver includes the hotfix changes, although I am still seeing a few users complain about memory issues under SLI. The general consensus seems to be that a number of bugs were fixed, and that driver quality is steadily increasing. This is also a “Game Ready” driver for Mad Max and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
NVIDIA's GeForce Game Ready 355.82 WHQL Mad Max and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain drivers (inhale, exhale, inhale) are now available for download at their website. Note that Windows 10 drivers are separate from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x ones, so be sure to not take shortcuts when filling out the “select your driver” form. That, or just use GeForce Experience.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 27, 2015 - 05:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, nvidia, geforce, drivers, graphics drivers
While GeForce Hotfix driver 355.80 is not certified, or even beta, I know that a lot of our readers have issues with SLI in Windows 10. Especially in games like Battlefield 4, memory usage would expand until, apparently, a crash occurs. Since I run a single GPU, I have not experienced this issue and so I cannot comment on what happens. I just know that it was very common in the GeForce forums and in our comment section, so it was probably a big problem for many users.
If you are not experiencing this problem, then you probably should not install this driver. This is a hotfix that, as stated above, was released outside of NVIDIA's typical update process. You might experience new, unknown issues. Affected users, on the other hand, have the choice to install the fix now, which could very well be stable, or wait for a certified release later.
You can pick it up from NVIDIA's support site.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 24, 2015 - 03:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, moba, maxwell, gtx 950, GM206, geforce, DOTA 2
It is more fun testing at the high end and the number of MOBA gamers here at PCPer could be described as very sparse, to say the least. Perhaps you are a MOBA gamer looking to play on a 1080p screen and have less than $200 to invest in a GPU and feel that Ryan somehow missed a benchmark that is important to you. One of the dozens of reviews linked to below are likely to have covered that game or specific feature which you are looking for. They also represent the gamut of cards available at launch from a wide variety of vendors, both stock and overclocked models. If you just want a quick refresher on the specifications and what has happened to the pricing on already released models, The Tech Report has handy tables for you to reference here.
"For most of this summer, much of the excitement in the GPU market has been focused on pricey, high-end products like the Radeon Fury and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Today, Nvidia is turning the spotlight back on more affordable graphics cards with the introduction of the GeForce GTX 950, a $159.99 offering that promises to handle the latest games reasonably well at the everyman's resolution of 1080p."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GeForce GTX 950 STRIX Graphics Card Review @ Techgage
- MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G @ Modders-Inc
- EVGA GeForce GTX 950 FTW Edition Video Card Review @HiTech Legion
- Nvidia GTX 950 Round-Up Review: Three Cards Go Head to Head @ eTeknix
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 Roundup featuring ASUS and MSI @ Neoseeker
- Palit GTX 950 2GB StormX Dual @ Kitguru
- GeForce GTX 950 @ HardwareHeaven
- Asus STRIX Gaming GTX 950 2GB DC2 OC @ Kitguru
- NVIDIA Introduces the GeForce GTX 950 for MOBA Gamers and Shares the GeForce Experience @ OCC
- ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 OC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- EVGA GeForce GTX 950 SSC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- ASUS GTX 950 STRIX OC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 950 @ Legion Hardware
- The NVIDIA GTX 950 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Asus, MSI, EVGA GTX 950 Review @ OCC
- The Extreme Cases Where A Sub-$200 NVIDIA GPU Can Beat A $550+ AMD R9 Fury On Linux @ Phoronix
- NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 950 Is A $150+ Bargain For Linux Gamers @ Phoronix
- The NVIDIA GPUs Delivering The Best Performance Per Watt & Per Dollar For Linux Gamers @ Phoronix
- The ASUS GTX 980 Ti STRIX OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Inno3D iChill GeForce GTX 980 4GB Ultra Review @ NikKTech
- HIS R7 370 IceQ X2 OC 2GB Video Card Review @ Madshrimps
- ASUS R9 390X STRIX DirectCU III 8G OC @ [H]ard|OCP
Another Maxwell Iteration
The mainstream end of the graphics card market is about to get a bit more complicated with today’s introduction of the GeForce GTX 950. Based on a slightly cut down GM206 chip, the same used in the GeForce GTX 960 that was released almost 8 months ago, the new GTX 950 will fill a gap in the product stack for NVIDIA, resting right at $160-170 MSRP. Until today that next-down spot from the GTX 960 was filled by the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, the very first iteration of Maxwell (we usually call it Maxwell 1) that came out in February of 2014!
Even though that is a long time to go without refreshing the GTX x50 part of the lineup, NVIDIA was likely hesitant to do so based on the overwhelming success of the GM107 for mainstream gaming. It was low cost, incredibly efficient and didn’t require any external power to run. That led us down the path of upgrading OEM PCs with GTX 750 Ti, an article and video that still gets hundreds of views and dozens of comments a week.
The GTX 950 has some pretty big shoes to fill. I can tell you right now that it uses more power than the GTX 750 Ti, and it requires a 6-pin power connector, but it does so while increasing gaming performance dramatically. The primary competition from AMD is the Radeon R7 370, a Pitcairn GPU that is long in the tooth and missing many of the features that Maxwell provides.
And NVIDIA is taking a secondary angle with the GTX 950 launch –targeting the MOBA players (DOTA 2 in particular) directly and aggressively. With the success of this style of game over the last several years, and the impressive $18M+ purse for the largest DOTA 2 tournament just behind us, there isn’t a better area of PC gaming to be going after today. But are the tweaks and changes to the card and software really going to make a difference for MOBA gamers or is it just marketing fluff?
Let’s dive into everything GeForce GTX 950!
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 23, 2015 - 10:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, gtx, bundle, metal gear solid, phantom pain
NVIDIA continues with its pattern of flagship game bundles with today's announcement. Starting today, GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 980, 970 and 960 GPUs from select retailers will include a copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, due out September 15th. (Bundle is live on Amazon.com.) Also, notebooks that use the GTX 980M or 970M GPU qualify.
From NVIDIA's marketing on the bundle:
Only GeForce GTX gives you the power and performance to game like the Big Boss. Experience the METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN with incredible visuals, uncompromised gameplay, and advanced technologies. NVIDIA G-SYNC™ delivers smooth and stutter-free gaming, GeForce Experience™ provides optimal playable settings, and NVIDIA GameStream™ technology streams your game to any NVIDIA SHIELD™ device.
It appears that Amazon.com already has its landing page up and ready for the MGS V bundle program, so if you are hunting for a new graphics card stop there and see what they have in your range.
Let's hope that this game release goes a bit more smooth than Batman: Arkham Knight...
SLI and CrossFire
Last week I sat down with a set of three AMD Radeon R9 Fury X cards, our sampled review card as well as two retail cards purchased from Newegg, to see how the reports of the pump whine noise from the cards was shaping up. I'm not going to dive into that debate again here in this story as I think we have covered it pretty well thus far in that story as well as on our various podcasts, but rest assured we are continuing to look into the revisions of the Fury X to see if AMD and Cooler Master were actually able to fix the issue.
What we have to cover today is something very different, and likely much more interesting for a wider range of users. When you have three AMD Fury X cards in your hands, you of course have to do some multi-GPU testing with them. With our set I was able to run both 2-Way and 3-Way CrossFire with the new AMD flagship card and compare them directly to the comparable NVIDIA offering, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.
There isn't much else I need to do to build up this story, is there? If you are curious how well the new AMD Fury X scales in CrossFire with two and even three GPUs, this is where you'll find your answers.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 12:53 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: the phantom pain, nvidia, metal gear solid, graphics, gpus, geforce, gameworks
A blog post on NVIDIA's site indicates that Konami's upcoming game Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will make use of NVIDIA technologies, a move that will undoubtedly rankle AMD graphics users who can't always see the full benefit of GameWorks enhancements.
"The world of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is going to be 200 times larger than the one explored in Ground Zeroes. Because so much of this game’s action depends on stealth, graphics are a key part of the gameplay. Shadows, light, and terrain have to be rendered perfectly. That’s a huge challenge in a game where the hero is free to find his own way from one point to another. Our engineers are signed up to work closely with Konami to get the graphics just right and to add special effects."
Now technically this quote doesn't confirm the use of any proprietary NVIDIA technology, though it sounds like that's exactly what will be taking place. In the wake of the Witcher 3 HairWorks controversy any such enhancements will certainly be looked upon with interest (especially as the next piece of big industry news will undoubtedly be coming with AMD's announcement later today at E3).
It's hard to argue with better graphical quality in high profile games such as the latest Metal Gear Solid installment, but there is certainly something to be said for adherence to open standards to ensure a more unified experience across GPUs. The dialog about inclusion though adherence to standards vs. proprietary solutions has been very heated with the FreeSync/G-Sync monitor refresh debate, and GameWorks is a series of tools that serves to further divide gamers, even as it provides an enhanced experience with GeForce GPUs.
Such advantages will likely matter less with DirectX 12 mitigating some differences with more efficiency in the vein of AMD's Mantle API, and if the rumored Fiji cards from AMD offer superior performance and arrive priced competitively this will matter even less. For now even though details are nonexistent expect an NVIDIA GeForce GPU to have the advantage in at least some graphical aspects of the latest Metal Gear title when it arrives on PC.