Revisiting an old battleground with updated weapons; the RX 480 and GTX 1060 ride again

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2016 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, gtx 1060, sapphire, RX 480 8GB Nitro+, GTX 1060 6GB GAMING, evga

It has been several months and more than a few driver releases since Hardware Canucks last reviewed the RX 480 and GTX 1060, as well as the arrival of more games with at least some DX12 support.  They decided to revisit the performance results of these two cards, both stock versions as well as factory overclocked models.  They chose Sapphire's RX 480 8GB Nitro+ and EVGA's GTX 1060 6GB GAMING models to compare and the results show that the extra work those companies put into these GPUs paid off.  They tested a mix of over a dozen games and their results are interesting, in far more cases than in their first look at these cards the RX 480 comes out the clear performance winner, however that performance comes at a high enough cost that the GTX 1060 shows better performance per dollar.  Take a look at this revised review if these cards are appropriate for your budget.

GTX-1060-UPDATE-2.jpg

"More than four months after the launch of NVIDIA's GTX 1060, we take another look at its performance against AMD's RX 480 8GB in more than a dozen games. The results of this one may surprise you...... "

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NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.19 Drivers (and Two Contests)

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2016 - 07:05 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, nvidia, graphics drivers, giveaways, giveaway

Alongside the release of the Oculus Touch controllers from Oculus VR, and the fifty-or-so games that launched with it, NVIDIA has published another graphics driver. The GeForce Game Ready 376.19 WHQL drivers also resolve one of two SLI issues in No Man’s Sky (the other bug, which involves temporal anti-aliasing, is still being worked on) and also fixes two issues with G-Sync for laptops.

nvidia-geforce.png

Since it affects a few of our readers: the Folding@Home bug is not yet fixed, but it’s now classified as a top-priority bug, though. Personally, I’m guessing that it will be fixed soon, now that there’s a little down-time before and after the holidays, after and before the game release rushes. Otherwise, it seems pretty stable and smooth for me. One user is complaining about Windows 10 UI freezes and crashes, starting with 376.09, but it’s otherwise relatively quiet.

As for the contests

NVIDIA is hosting two giveaways: one on their social media sites (Twitter and Facebook) and the other on GeForce Experience. The first contest runs from Tuesday to Friday, where they are giving away a GTX 1080, game codes, and one grand prize of a custom PC, accessorized with an Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. The other contest runs until December 30th, where NVIDIA will give away a bundle of Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch Controllers, and a GTX 1070 to ten people, at random, who log in to GeForce Experience.

Check out their blog post for details on how to enter, as well as get the new driver (if GeForce Experience hasn’t already started begging).

Source: NVIDIA

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.5

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 28, 2016 - 07:34 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

For tomorrow’s Watch_Dogs 2, AMD has released Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.5 graphics drivers, giving users a day to configure their PCs. Note that, while the download links in the release notes say 16.11.4, hovering your mouse over them shows the correct version, dated last Friday. Don’t worry, though, the Radeon Technologies Group is based out of Markham, Ontario, Canada, so they didn’t miss out on turkey leftovers to bring you this software.

Okay, yes, that joke was lame. Moving on.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

Beyond Watch_Dogs 2, this driver release also adds a new CrossFire profile for Dishonored 2 for Windows 8.x and Windows 10, so multiple GPU users of that game might want to upgrade, too. Beyond that, flickering in The Division and Battlefield 1 while using CrossFire is also addressed.

There are quite a few known issues, though, including a few crashes when using the Vulkan API. Most of these known issues were present in 16.11.4 from a couple of weeks ago, including the aforementioned Vulkan crashes, but this driver adds two. The CrossFire profile for Dishonored 2 that was added with this driver will be disabled on Windows 7, although it sounds like that will be fixed in a future release. Also, Watch_Dogs 2 may flicker or crash when using Crossfire with two RX 480s, but apparently not other configurations.

The driver is not signed by WHQL, but I think I prefer what AMD’s doing now, rapidly releasing several drivers a month, addressing issues as they arise, versus a Microsoft stamp of approval. All that matters is that they can be installed on Anniversary Edition clean installs with Secure Boot enabled, and they can.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.09 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 28, 2016 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Because holiday shopping is... wrapping up... this year’s rush of AAA games will be slowing down soon, at least until it starts up again in January. One of the last releases, Watch_Dogs 2, will be arriving on the PC tomorrow. As such, NVIDIA has released GeForce 376.09 drivers out to their website and GeForce Experience. The driver also includes optimizations for Dead Rising 4 and Steep.

nvidia-geforce.png

Unfortunately, the release notes aren’t yet available as of time of this writing (but the link is). As such, we don’t know specifics about what the driver fixes or changes. The notes are supposed to be up at some time today. Users in the forums have been complaining about a few things here and there, but nothing that seems credible and wide-spread that could be attributed to the driver.

Source: NVIDIA

MSI's mercurial new GTX 1070

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 25, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: msi, gtx 1070, GTX 1070 Quick Silver, factory overclocked

MSI's new Quick Silver design looks very different from most of their other cards, black and silver with a shiny metal backplate as opposed to the red and black we are used to.  The GTX 1070 which TechPowerUp reviewed has a bit of a factory overclock, the base Core clock is 76MHz higher than the default at 1582MHz though they have left the VRAM at the default frequency.  There is headroom left in the card, TechPowerUp hit a stable 2101MHz Core, 2290MHz VRAM, not the best results they have seen but certainly a decent increase.  Drop by for a look at its performance in over a dozen games.

card1.jpg

"MSI's GTX 1070 Quick Silver does away with the red-and-black color theme and uses stylish silver instead. Thanks to the powerful cooler from the GTX 1070 Gaming Z, the card is the coolest and quietest GTX 1070 we ever tested. It also comes at a rather affordable $425."

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Source: TechPowerUp

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 17, 2016 - 08:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

The fourth Radeon Software Crimson Edition graphics driver to be released this month, dated November 15th, was just published on their website. These have not been WHQL certified, like the previous ones, but that might actually be for the best. Rapid graphics driver releases, not throttled by Microsoft red tape, probably increases driver quality over this busy time of year. Also, I recently found out that WHQL certification is not a requirement for clean installed Windows 10 Anniversary Edition systems with Secure Boot Enabled. Both AMD and NVIDIA sign their hotfix drivers in a way that satisfies this check, without going through the entire WHQL process.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

That aside, Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4 rolls in additional fixes to Civilization VI. AMD isn’t saying what these fixes are, such as whether they are for general performance optimizations or stability issues that we haven’t heard about yet, but it’s out now so you should probably update if you are currently playing the game. The driver also fixes problems when attempting to watch web video and play a game simultaneously, which is actually something I do frequently. (Don’t knock listening to podcasts while playing StarCraft II Arcade until you try it...) Thirdly, 16.11.4 also fixes rendering issues in Titanfall 2 that occur while piloting a Titan.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA GeForce 375.86 Game Ready Drivers Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 17, 2016 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Update, November 17th @ 7:21pm: NVIDIA has released 375.95 Hotfix to fix this issue. They are working on getting it WHQL certified for their website and GeForce Experience. You can download and install it directly, though.

Update, November 16th @ 12:56pm: NVIDIA has reproduced the low memory clocks issue, found its cause, and are working on a fix. They believe it only affects certain factory-overclocked cards. It is obviously a high priority, so a hotfix driver will likely be issued (unless they can get it WHQL certified quick enough that it would be pointless).

Original post below:

NVIDIA has just released a new graphics driver. GeForce Game Ready 375.86 provides optimized support for Ubisoft's Steep, which is an open-world game with wingsuiters, skiers, snowboarders, and paragliders. It also rolls in extra optimizations for previous game ready games that are receiving patches: Battlefield 1, Civilization VI, and Tom Clancy's The Division.

nvidia-geforce.png

Before you install, though, there is one particularly annoying issue that is being reported on GeForce forums. NVIDIA is currently investigating reports that certain, but not all, Pascal GPUs are having their video memory stuck at 810 MHz, leading to (as you would expect) severe performance loss. It's possible that the affected users are all running a specific overclocking application or something. If you are in a bit of a rush and don't want to put up with potentially rolling back, then you might want to skip the version.

Thankfully, both discrete graphics vendors have been releasing multiple versions per month. The wait shouldn't be too long.

Source: NVIDIA

RX 480 versus the GTX 1060; who gets your $250?

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 15, 2016 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, nvidia, GTX1060, amd

On one side of the ring is the RX 480, with 2304 Stream Processors, 32 ROPs and 144 Texture Units.  In the opposite corner, at 1280 CUDA Cores, 48 ROPs and 80 Texture Units is the GTX 1060.  The two cards retail for between $200 to $250 depending on the features present on the card as well as any sales.  [H]ard|OCP tested the two cards head to head, not just raw performance numbers but also the stability of the GPU frequencies. power draw and temperatures.  All games were tested at base clocks and at the highest stable overclock and the results were back and forth, in some games AMD pulled ahead while in others NVIDIA was the clear winner.  It is worth keeping in mind that these results do not include VR results.

Capture.PNG

"We take GIGABYTE’s Radeon RX 480 G1 GAMING video card and pit it against a MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X video card in today’s evaluation. We will overclock both video cards as high as possible and compare performance and find out what both video cards have to offer in the upper $200 price range for gaming."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope scales with multi-GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 14, 2016 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: video, the last hope, serious sam vr, rx 480, radeon, Polaris, multi-gpu, liquidvr, amd, affinity

While VR excitement might have cooled slightly in the enthusiast community, there continues to be innovation and software releases on both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that are bringing me back to what I think we believe to be part of the future of PC gaming. Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope was announced at E3 this year and is now available as an early access game on Steam. It is a dual wielding shooter that combines the enemies of the previous games along with the crazy weapons that made the series iconic.

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And hey, there is something awesome about using a missile launcher that takes up half the screen.

One interesting technology addition to the game is use of AMD LiquidVR affinity multi-GPU. A Croteam developer recently posted a blog on the GPUOpen.com site talking about the implementation.

We wanted to add LiquidVR Affinity Multi-GPU rendering support to our engine because two GPUs can render the two eye views in almost half the time compared to a single GPU and this would greatly reduce our GPU bottlenecks. Affinity MGPU can either be done in one pass or with a separate pass for each eye, in which case we reap the GPU side benefits while the CPU workload stays the same.

ssvrscreen2.jpg

We needed about a week to modify all shaders and to make sure that correct data is set for each eye. Single pass rendering with Affinity Multi-GPU gave us a huge speed improvement on both CPU and GPU from our original VR implementation. In the end, it took us less time to do single pass rendering correctly than it took us to fix all the problems caused by multi pass multi-GPU rendering.

After the interest in the Deus Ex multi-GPU scaling video I thought I would see if the Serious Sam implementation was actually beneficial to gamers.

  • Test System
  • Core i7-5960X
  • X99 MB + 16GB DDR4
  • AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB
  • Driver: 16.10.2

The test was simple: I found that a single RX 480 could run the game at Medium settings perfectly well, but could it be playable on High with multi-GPU? By adding in a second Radeon RX 480 I was able to bring the performance up by 55% or so, making the VR experience nearly flawless.

ssvr-1.png

ssvr-2.png

It's not perfect scaling, but the benefits of multi-GPU for VR, when properly implemented, are obvious. As more games and experiences are released that require higher compute capability or have in-game settings that allow for better image quality, the ability to scale across GPUs will be a welcome addition to the ecosystem.

Check out the video here if you haven't seen any Serious Sam VR gameplay yet!

NVIDIA's Third Quarter Up to $2 Billion USD in Revenue

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 10, 2016 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: quarterly earnings, nvidia

The most recent quarter for NVIDIA, which is the three months ending on October 30th, has just passed $2 Billion USD in revenue, an increase of 54% from last year. All said and done, this leads to $542 million in GAAP net income, which is also up 108% from last quarter (or up 120% from the same quarter last year).

nvidia-2016-P100_SXM2-300x172.jpg

NVIDIA doesn't attribute this increase to any specific line of products. Instead, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang takes the opportunity to promote the “years of work and billions of dollars” they spent on the Pascal architecture, applying it all over the place. While I'm guessing a lot of the sales are carried over from last quarter's parts, which are now able to keep up with demand, NVIDIA points to laptop SKUs of 10-series GPUs, the launch of Tesla P4 and P40 GPUs, and initial shipments of the DGX-1 as new and notable for this quarter.

nvidia-2016-q317 table results.jpg

NVIDIA expects to have an even better quarter with the holiday, aimed at $2.1 Billion USD, plus or minus a couple percent. A lot more details are available on NVIDIA's blog, including their Switch announcement with Nintendo, their Drive PX2 platform, and their next-generation Tegra processor, codenamed Xavier.

Source: NVIDIA

Oculus Launches Asynchronous Spacewarp, 45 FPS VR

Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | November 10, 2016 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: VR, rift, Oculus, atw, asynchronous timewarp, asynchronous spacewarp, asw

Oculus has announced that as of today, support for Asynchronous Spacewarp is available and active for all users that install the 1.10 runtime. Announced at the Oculus Connect 3 event in October, ASW promises to complement existing Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW) technology to improve the experience of VR for lower performance systems that might otherwise result in stutter.

A quick refresher on Asynchronous Timewarp is probably helpful. ATW was introduced to help alleviate the impact of missed frames on VR headsets and started development back with Oculus DK2 headset. By shifting the image on the VR headset without input from the game engine based on relative head motion that occurred AFTER the last VR pose was sent to the game, timewarp presents a more accurate image to the user. While this technology was first used as a band-aid for slow frame rates, Oculus felt confident enough in its advantages to the Rift that it enables for all frames of all applications, regardless of frame rate.

ATW moves the entire frame as a whole, shifting it only based on relative changes to the user’s head rotation. New Asynchronous Spacewarp attempts to shift objects and motion inside of the scene by generating new frames to insert in between “real” frames from the game engine when the game is running in a 45 FPS state. With a goal of maintaining a smooth, enjoyable and nausea-free experience, Oculus says that ASW “includes character movement, camera movement, Touch controller movement, and the player's own positional movement.”

Source: Oculus

To many of you that are familiar with the idea of timewarp, this might sound like black magic. Oculus presents this example on their website to help understand what is happening.

Source: Oculus

Seeing the hand with the gun in motion, ASW generates a frame that continues the animation of the gun to the left, tricking the user into seeing the continuation of the motion they are going through. When the next actual frame is presented just after, the gun will have likely moved slightly more than that, and then the pattern repeats.

You can notice a couple of things about ASW in this animation example however. If you look just to the right of the gun barrel in the generated frame, there is a stretching of the pixels in an artificial way. The wheel looks like something out of Dr. Strange. However, this is likely an effect that would not be noticeable in real time and should not impact the user experience dramatically. And, as Oculus would tell us, it is better than the alternative of simply missing frames and animation changes.

Some ASW interpolation changes will be easier than others thanks to secondary data available. For example, with the Oculus Touch controller, the runtime will know how much the players hand has moved, and thus how much the object being held has moved, and can better estimate the new object location. Positional movement would also have this advantage. If a developer has properly implemented the different layers of abstraction for Oculus and its runtime, separating out backgrounds from cameras from characters, etc., then the new frames being created are less likely to have significant distortions.

I am interested in how this new feature affects the current library of games on PCs that do in fact drop below that 90 FPS mark. In October, Oculus was on stage telling users that the minimum spec for VR systems was dropping from requiring a GTX 970 graphics card to a GTX 960. This clearly expands the potential install base for the Rift. Will the magic behind ASW live up to its stated potential without an abundance of visual artifacts?

Oculus-Rift-Promo.jpg

In a blog post on the Oculus website, they mention some other specific examples of “imperfect extrapolation.” If your game or application includes rapid brightness changes, object disocclusion trails (an object moving out of the way of another object), repeated patterns, or head-locked elements (that aren’t designated as such in the runtime) could cause distracting artifacts in the animation if not balanced and thought through. Oculus isn’t telling game developers to go back and modify their titles but instead to "be mindful of their appearance."

Oculus does include a couple of recommendations to developers looking to optimize quality for ASW with locked layers, using real-time rather than frame count for animation steps, and easily adjustable image quality settings. It’s worth noting that this new technology is enabled by default as of runtime 1.10 and will start working once a game drops below the 90 FPS line only. If your title stays over 90 FPS, then you get the advantages of Asynchronous Timewarp without the potential issues of Asynchronous Spacewarp.

The impact of ASW will be interesting to see. For as long as Oculus has been around they have trumpeted the need for 90 FPS to ensure a smooth gaming experience free of headaches and nausea. With ASW, that, in theory, drops to 45 FPS, though with the caveats mentioned above. Many believe, as do I, that this new technology was built to help Microsoft partner with Oculus to launch VR on the upcoming Scorpio Xbox console coming next year. Because the power of that new hardware still will lag behind the recommended specification from both Oculus and Valve for VR PCs, something had to give. The result is a new “minimum” specification for Oculus Rift gaming PCs and a level of performance that makes console-based integrations of the Rift possible.

Source: Oculus

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 9, 2016 - 09:52 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, dishonored 2, crimson, amd

Just a handful of days into this busy month for video game companies, and AMD has released their third Radeon Software Crimson Edition drivers for November. 16.11.3, like 16.11.2 and 16.11.1, are not certified by WHQL. From a quality standpoint, Microsoft certification hasn't exactly made a difference over the last year or so. In fact, both graphics vendors rapidly releasing hotfixes between regular WHQL milestones seems to have a better user experience. Unfortunately, this does mean that users of clean installed Windows 10 1607 with Secure Boot enabled will be missing out. Correction: The drivers are actually signed by Microsoft with the attestation process.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

As for the driver itself, 16.11.3 rolls in AMD's optimizations for Dishonored 2. The game goes live in two days, so this should give users an opportunity to find a good time to install and reboot before launch. It also fixes an issue where Valve's Steam client and EA's Origin client would fail when an external GPU, using AMD's X-Connect Technology standard, is detached.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Telemetry Monitor Found in Task Scheduler

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 7, 2016 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Update, November 7th @ 5:25pm EST:

First, NVIDIA gave Ryan their official statement, which I included below verbatem.

GeForce Experience collects data to improve the application experience; this includes crash and bug reports as well as system information needed to deliver the correct drivers and optimal settings. NVIDIA does not share any personally identifiable information collected by GeForce Experience outside the company. NVIDIA may share aggregate-level data with select partners, but does not share user-level data. The nature of the information collected has remained consistent since the introduction of GeForce Experience 1.0.The change with GeForce Experience 3.0 is that this error reporting and data collection is now being done in real-time.

They also pointed to their GeForce Experience FAQ.

It sounds like there's a general consensus, both from NVIDIA and even their harshest critics, that telemetry only affects GeForce Experience, and not their base driver. I still believe that there should be a more granular opt-out that still allows access to GeForce Experience, like web browsers and Visual Studio prompt with a checkbox during install. Still, if this concerns you, and, like Windows 10, it might not and that's okay, you can remove GeForce Experience.

Also, GamersNexus yet again did a very technical breakdown of the situation. I think they made an error, though, since they claimed to have recorded traffic "for about an hour", which may not have included the once-per-day reporting time from Windows Task Scheduler. (My image below suggests, at least for my system, monitor once per hour but report at 12:25pm and user login.) I reached out to them on Twitter for clarification, but it looks like they may have just captured GeForce Experience's typical traffic.

Update, November 7th @ 7:15pm EST: Heard back from GamersNexus. They did check at the Windows Task Scheduler time as well, and they claim that they didn't see anything unusual. They aren't finished with their research, though.

Original news, posted November 6th @ 4:25pm EST, below.

Over the last day, users have found NVIDIA Telemetry Monitor added to Windows Task Scheduler. We currently don't know what it is or exactly when it was added, but we do know its schedule. When the user logs in, it runs an application that monitors... something... once every hour while the computer is active. Then, once per day (at just after noon on my PC) and once on login, it runs an application that reports that data, which I assume means sends it to NVIDIA.

nvidia-2016-telemetrymonitor.png

Before we begin, NVIDIA (or anyone) should absolutely not be collecting data from personal devices without clearly explaining the bounds and giving a clear option to disable it. Lots of applications, from browsers to software development tools, include crash and error reporting, but they usually and rightfully ask you to opt-in. Microsoft is receiving a lot of crap for this practice in Windows 10, even with their “Basic” option, and, while most of those points are nonsense, there is ground for some concern.

I've asked NVIDIA if they have a statement regarding what it is, what it collects, and what their policy will be for opt-in and opt-out. I haven't received a response yet, because I sent it less than an hour ago on a weekend, but we'll keep you updated.

Source: Major Geeks

AMD Releases New Generation of Radeon Pro Workstation Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 7, 2016 - 09:32 AM |
Tagged: WX 7100, WX 5100, WX 4100, workstation, radeon pro, radeon, quadro, Polaris, amd

The professional card market is a lucrative one.  For many years NVIDIA has had a near strangle-hold on it with their Quadro series of cards.  Offering features and extended support far beyond that of their regular desktop cards, Quadros became the go-to cards for many professional applications.  AMD has not been overlooking this area though and have had a history of professional cards that have also included features and support not seen in the standard desktop arena.  AMD has slowly been chipping away at Quadro’s marketshare and they hope that today’s announcement will help further that particular goal.

It has now been around five months since the initial release of the Polaris based graphics cards from AMD.  Featuring the 4th generation GCN architecture and fabricated on Samsung’s latest 14nm process, the RX 4x0 series of chips have proven to be a popular option in the sub-$250 range of cards.  These products may not have been the slam-dunk that many were hoping from AMD, they have kept the company competitive in terms of power and performance.  AMD has also seen a positive impact from the sales of these products on the overall bottom line.

Today AMD is announcing three new professional cards based on the latest Polaris based GPUs.  These range in power and performance from a sub 50 watt part up to a very reasonable 130 watts.  These currently do not feature the SSD that was shown off earlier this year.

wx4100.jpg

The lowest end offering is the Radeon Pro WX 4100.  This is a low profile, single slot card that consumes less than 50 watts.  It features 1024 stream units, which is greater than that of the desktop RX 460’s 896.  The WX 4100 features 2.4 TFLOPS of performance while the RX 460 is at 2.2 TFLOPS.  AMD did not specify exactly what chips were used in the professional cards, but the assumption here is that this one is a fully enabled Polaris 11.

The power consumption of this card is probably the most impressive part.  Also of great interest is the DP 1.4 support and the four outputs.  Finally the card supports 5K monitors at 60 Hz.  This is a small, quiet, and cool running part that features the entire AMD Radeon Enterprise software support of the professional market.

wx5100.jpg

The next card up is the Pro WX 5100.  This features a sub 75 watt GPU that runs 1792 stream units.  We guess that this chip is a cut down Polaris 10.  On the desktop side it is similar to the RX 470, but that particular card features more stream units and a faster clockspeed.  The RX 470 is rated at 4.9 TFLOPS while the WX 5100 is at 3.9 TFLOPS.  Fewer stream units and a lower clockspeed allow it to hit that sub-75 watt figure.

It supports the same number of outputs as the 4100, but they are full sized DP.  The card is full sized but still only single slot due to the very conservative TDP.

wx7100.jpg

The final card is the WX 7100.  This is based on the fully enabled Polaris 10 GPU and is physically similar to the RX 480.  They both feature 2304 stream units, but the WX 7100 is slightly clocked down from the RX 480 as it features 5.7 TFLOPS of performance vs. 5.8 TFLOPS.  The card is rated below 130 watts TDP which is about 20 watts lower than a standard RX 480.  AMD did not explain to us how they were able to lower the TDP of this card, but it could be simple binning of parts or an upcoming revision of Polaris 10 to improve thermals.

This card is again full sized but single slot.  It features the same 4 DP connectors as the WX 5100 and the full monitor support that the 1.4 standard entails.

These products will see initial availability for this month.  Plans may of course change and they will be introduced slightly later.  Currently the 7100 and 4100 are expected after the 10th while the 5100 should show up on the 18th.

software.jpg

AMD is also releasing the Radeon Pro Software.  This is essentially their professional driver development that improves upon features, stability, and performance over time.  AMD aims to release new drivers for this market every 4th Thursday each quarter.

software_2.jpg

This is certainly an important area for AMD to address with their new cards and this updated software scheme.  NVIDIA has made a pretty penny over the years from their Quadro stack due to the extremely robust margins for these cards.  The latest generation of AMD Radeon Pro WX cards look to stack up favorably against the latest products from NVIDIA.

The WX 7100 will come in at a $799 price point, while the WX 5100 and WX 4100 will hit $499 and $399 respectively.

Source: AMD

Phoronix Tests NVIDIA GPUs OpenGL vs Vulkan on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 5, 2016 - 08:19 PM |
Tagged: linux, DOTA 2, valve, nvidia, vulkan, opengl

Phoronix published interesting benchmark results for OpenGL vs Vulkan on Linux, across a wide spread of thirteen NVIDIA GPUs. Before we begin, the CPU they chose was an 80W Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5, which fits somewhere between the Skylake-based Core i7-6700k and Core i7-6700 (no suffix). You may think that Xeon v5 would be based on Broadwell, but, for some reason, Intel chose the E3-1200 series to be based on Skylake. Regardless, the choice of CPU will come in to play.

They will apparently follow up this article with AMD results.

khronos-vulkan-logo.png

A trend arose throughout the whole article. At 1080p, everything, from the GTX 760 to the GTX 1080, was rendering at ~101 FPS on OpenGL and ~115 FPS on Vulkan. The obvious explanation is that the game is 100% CPU-bound on both APIs, but Vulkan is able to relax the main CPU thread enough to squeeze out about 14% more frames.

The thing is, the Xeon E3-1280 v5 is about as high-end of a mainstream CPU as you can get. It runs the most modern architecture and it can achieve clocks up to 4 GHz on all cores. DOTA 2 can get harsh on the CPU when a lot of units are on screen, but this is a little surprisingly low. Then again, I don't have any experience running DOTA 2 benchmarks, so maybe it's a known thing, or maybe even a Linux-version thing?

Moving on, running the game at 4K, the results get more interesting. In GPU-bound scenarios, NVIDIA's driver shows a fairly high performance gain on OpenGL. Basically all GPUs up to the GTX 1060 run at a higher frame rate in OpenGL, only switching to Vulkan with the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, where OpenGL hits that 101 FPS ceiling and Vulkan goes a little above.

Again, it will be interesting to see how AMD fairs against this line of products, both in Vulkan and OpenGL. Those will apparently come “soon”.

Source: Phoronix

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.2 Hotfix Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 4, 2016 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers, crimson

AMD has released another hotfix driver, just a day after releasing 16.11.1. This version has a single listed change: “Improved Shader Cache storage limit”. I'm not sure why the company decided to release this update so abruptly, since I'm not aware of any critical issue that relies upon it, but there's certainly nothing wrong with rapidly releasing optional software. I'm guessing at least one new game has a performance issue with the previous maximum, though.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

If this has been an issue for you, and you are able to install drivers that are unsigned, it's available.

Source: AMD

Call of Duty: Radeon Crimson Remastered

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: amd, Crimson Edition 16.11.1

By the time you read this you should be able to grab the new Radeon Crimson Edition 16.11.1 driver from AMD.  While mostly focused on the new CoD games there are also some fixes for existing games.  Check here for the version which is right for you.

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Radeon Software Crimson Edition is AMD’s revolutionary new graphics software that delivers redesigned functionality, supercharged graphics performance, remarkable new features, and innovation that redefines the overall user experience. Every Radeon Software release strives to deliver new features, better performance and stability improvements.

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.1 Highlights

  • Support For: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

New AMD CrossFire profile added for DirectX®11:

  • Titanfall 2

Fixed Issues

  • AMD XConnect Technology will now allow Microsoft Office applications to migrate to iGPU on unplug.
  • Flickering may be observed on some surfaces in a few maps or locations in Battlefield 1 in AMD CrossFire mode.
  • Radeon R9 390 graphics series may experience a crash or application hang when running Unigine Heaven using OpenGL.
  • The Radeon WattMan feature may intermittently display a Radeon Software popup error regarding Radeon WattMan for non-supported products.
  • The Division may experience an application freeze or hang when running in AMD CrossFire mode after extended periods of play.
  • OBS screen capture may stutter after extended periods of use while capturing video and watching or streaming content in a web browser.

Source: AMD

VRMark arrives

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: VRMark, Futuremark, Blue Room, Orange Room, VR

Futuremark's VRMark is available today via Steam or directly from Futuremark.  As with 3DMark the basic version is free while the Advanced Edition is $20, with a 25% discount for the first week of its release.

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The difference between the two versions is the inclusion of the Blue Room in addition to the Orange Room; the Blue Room is for high end systems which surpass the basic VR requirements and need heavier loads to test.  The two rooms can be used to run either a standard benchmark or to enter Experience Mode which lets you wander the room on your own to get a feel for the headsets reprojection performance as well as spatial audio and an interactive flashlight to test lighting.

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VRMark Basic Edition - free download

  • See if your PC meets the performance requirements for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
  • Test your system's VR readiness with the Orange Room benchmark
  • Explore the Orange Room in Experience mode

VRMark Advanced Edition - $19.99

  • Unlock the Blue Room benchmark for high-performance PCs
  • See detailed results and hardware monitoring charts
  • Explore both rooms in Experience mode
  • Make tests more or less demanding with custom settings.

VRMark comes with two VR benchmark tests, which you can run on your desktop monitor, no headset required, or on a connected HMD. There is also a free-roaming Experience mode that lets you judge the quality of a system's VR performance with your own eyes.

The performance requirements for VR games are much higher than for typical PC games. So if you're thinking about buying an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift this holiday, wouldn't it be good to know that your PC is ready for VR?

VRMark includes two VR benchmark tests that run on your monitor, no headset required. At the end of each test, you'll see whether your PC is VR-ready, and if not, how far it falls short.

Orange Room benchmark
The VRMark Orange Room benchmark shows the impressive level of detail that can be achieved on a PC that meets the recommended hardware requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If your PC passes this test, it's ready for the two most popular VR systems available today.

Blue Room benchmark
The VRMark Blue Room benchmark is a more demanding test with a greater level of detail. It is the ideal benchmark for comparing high-end systems with specs above the recommended requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. A PC that passes this test will be able to run the latest VR games at the highest settings, and may even be VR-ready for the next generation of VR headsets.

Results and reporting
After running a benchmark, you'll see clearly whether your PC is VR-ready or not. To pass, your PC has to meet or exceed the target frame rate without dropping frames. You also get an overall score, which you can use to compare systems.

Hardware monitoring charts show how your PC performed frame-by-frame. There are charts for frame rate, GPU frequency, GPU load, and GPU temperature.

Experience mode
VR headsets use clever techniques to compensate for missed frames. With Experience mode, you can judge the quality of the VR experience with your own eyes. VRMark Experience mode features free movement, spatial audio, and an interactive flashlight for lighting up the details of the scene. Explore each scene in your own time in VR or on your monitor.

Source: Futuremark

The down and dirty on the hot and bothered ACX 3.0 cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX1070, GTX1060, GTX 1080, fail, evga, ACX 3.0

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Checklist time readers, do you have the following:

  • A GTX 1060/1070/1080
  • Which is from EVGA
  • With an ACX 3.0 cooler
  • With one of the model numbers above

If not, make like Bobby McFerrin.

If so, you have a reason to be concerned and EVGA offers their apologies and more importantly, a fix.  EVGA's tests, which emulate the ones performed at Tom's show that the thermal temperature of the PWM and memory was just marginally within spec.  That is a fancy way of saying that in certain circumstances the PWM was running just short of causing a critical thermal incident, also know as catching on fire and letting out the magic smoke.  They claim that this was because the testing focused on GPU temperature and the lowest acoustic levels possible and did not involve measuring the heat produced on memory or the VRM which is, as they say, a problem.

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You have several choices of remedy from EVGA, please remember that you should reach out directly to their support, not NVIDIA's.  You can try requesting a refund from the store you purchased it at but your best bet is EVGA.

The first option is a cross-ship RMA.  Contact EVGA as a guest or with your account to set up an RMA and they will ship you a replacement card with a new VBIOS which will not have this issue and you won't need to send yours back until the replacement arrives.

You can flash to the new VBIOS which will adjust the fan-speed curve to ensure that your fans are running higher than 30% and will provide sufficient cooling to additional portions of the GPU.  Your card will be louder but it will also be less likely to commit suicide in a dramatic fashion.

Lastly you can request a thermal pad kit, which EVGA suggests is unnecessary but certainly sounds like a good idea especially as it is free although requires you sign up for an EVGA account.  Hopefully in the spare seconds currently available to the team we can get our hands on an ACX 3.0 cooled Pascal card with the VBIOS update and thermal pads so we can verify this for you.

This issue should not have happened and does reflect badly on certain factors of EVGA's testing.  Their response has been very appropriate on the other hand, if you are affected then you can get a replacement card with no issues or you can fix the issue yourself.  Any cards shipped, though not necessarily purchased, after Nov. 1st will have the new VBIOS so be careful if you are sticking with a new EVGA Pascal card.

Source: EVGA

NVIDIA Releases 375.76 Hotfix Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

The release of NVIDIA's GeForce 375.57 graphics drivers wasn't the most smooth. It introduced a few bugs into the package, which was likely due to all of the games that were coming out at the time. One issue introduced artifacts in animated GIFs, which could introduce seconds worth of black blotches. This was supposed to be fixed in the next WHQL driver, but it slipped. Since the next WHQL driver is looking to be a couple of weeks out, NVIDIA released a hotfix.

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The driver also fixes “occasional flicker on high refresh rate monitors”. I'm not sure how old this bug is. I've heard some people complain about it with recent drivers, but Allyn and I have noticed weird snowy flickers for several months now. (Allyn actually took slow motion video of one occurrence back in May.) I guess we'll see if this is the same issue.

You can pick up 375.76 Hotfix from NVIDIA's CustHelp.

Source: NVIDIA