140mm of GPU cooling Shaman from Thermalright

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 29, 2011 - 02:36 PM |

The Thermalright Shaman is a large VGA cooler designed to tame the latest generation of GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA.  With 8 heatpipes and a 140mm PWM controlled fan, this is not for tight cases since it will add a fair amount of height to your card.  Tweaknew tested it out on a GTX470 and found that not only does it deliver on its promise of cooling the hottest graphics cards it also does so quietly.

"Thermalright has continued their success with the Shaman. This oversized aftermarket cooler has taken the performance charts by storm and easily claimed the top spot in our VGA testing and it is evident that Thermalright's Shaman is aimed directly at power hungry that produce equal amounts of heat."

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Source: Tweaknews

Lightning Strikes Twice!! MSI Launches N580GTX Lightning and R6970 Lightning

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 28, 2011 - 02:25 PM |

Lightning Strikes Twice!! MSI Launches N580GTX Lightning and R6970 Lightning Up to 1GHz Core Clock Overclocking Potential on GTX580 with Power4 Architecture and Twin Frozr III ! City of Industry, CA – March 25, 2011 – MSI, the leading global graphic card and motherboard manufacturer, today unveiled its two flagship cards: the N580GTX Lightning and the R6970 Lightning. These cards are specifically designed to handle the extreme overclocking which eager gamers and media outlets around the world have been waiting for. Industry-leading Power4 architecture and Twin Frozr III dual-fan cooling with innovative Propeller Blade technology brings together a solid power supply with advanced cooling technology. This results in huge boosts to overclocking potential and stability, enabling the air-cooled N580GTX Lightning to break the 1GHz core clock barrier with ease. The Lightning series of graphic cards is designed to offer the ultimate in overclocking capabilities and is the superior choice for overclocking enthusiasts seeking to set new world records!

Industry-leading Power4 Architecture for Overclocking Reliability
The MSI N580GTX/R6970 Lightning graphic cards inherit the impressive Power4 architecture from previous Lightning cards along with improved components and design in four areas. The PWM module is twice as large as before and provides double the amount of current to the GPU. Memory has its own independent power supply using an 8-pin connector for minimum interference to greatly increase overclocking potential. The next-generation Proadlizer capacitor increases signal stability by leaps and bounds while CopperMOS, the industry's best MOSFET, provides the GPU with a large and stable power supply. Combined, these features provide ordinary users as well as extreme overclocking enthusiasts with a more stable operating environment and the best performance out there.

Twin Frozr III and Propeller Blade Technology Takes Cooling to the Next Level
The all new Twin Frozr III cooling design utilizes the innovative Propeller Blade technology to double the amount of airflow compared to conventional fans. The airflow also covers a large surface to remove heat quickly and effectively, and when you add in twin 9cm PWM fans, SuperPipe technology, and the Form-in-one heatsink, the result is GPU operating temperatures 21°C /26°C lower than the reference board when the N580GTX/R6970 Lightning are operating under full loads. Fan noise is also 5dB/11dB lower in addition to having much higher overclocking potential.

Overclocking Potential Unleashed with GPU/Memory/PLL(VDDCI)1 Triple Overvoltage
The MSI N580GTX/R6970 Lightning graphic cards come with the latest version of MSI's exclusive Afterburner V2.1.0 overclocking utility. The utility not only adjusts GPU and memory clock but also manage the GPU/Memory/PLL(VDDCI) voltages to maximize overclocking potential. Thanks to Triple Overvoltage, the overclocking potential of N580GTX Lightning is 30%2 higher than the reference board and offers enthusiasts ultimate performance.

King of Extreme Overclocking
For hardware enthusiasts, the MSI N580GTX/R6970 Lightning graphic cards come with exclusive extreme overclocking features. Apart from V-Check Points and V-Switch for monitoring and adjusting the GPU/Memory/PLL(VDDCI) voltages in real time, Dual Bios and XtremeCool3 switches help to effectively prevent potential problems stemming from liquid nitrogen cooling. PWM Clock Tuner also helps to increase overclocking potential. All of these come together to make the N580GTX/R6950 Lightning the ultimate graphic cards for extreme overclocking.

Carefully Selected Materials
The MSI N580GTX/R6970 Lightning graphic cards use top-quality Military Class II components including All Solid Cap for overclocking and full-speed operation, SFC for 10% higher efficiency, and 30% increase in maximum current, as well as Hi-c Cap with Tantalum core which boasts 8 times the lifetime of conventional solid capacitors. These high-quality components not only increase the graphic cards' overall service life but also enhance GPU stability.

The N580GTX/R6970 Lightning includes several new exclusive features such as Power4 architecture, Twin Frozr III Thermal Design, Triple Overvoltage by Afterburner as well as the latest Military Class II components, which make them the new kings in the graphics card world. The design of the graphics card represents MSI's unceasing commitment to delivering new breakthroughs and providing consumers with product features and overclocking potential that exceed their expectations. For more information about the N580GTX Lighting and R6970 Lightning, please visit http://event.msi.com/vga/lightning/

Source: MSI

The GTX590 is a more efficient way to a GTX570 SLI

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 24, 2011 - 12:38 PM |

Take a look at the reviews of the brand new GTX590, for instance the testing done at [H]ard|OCP and how it compares to what Ryan saw in his benchmarking; do you see the pattern emerging?  The GTX 590 performs right alongside a pair of SLI'd GTX 570s, providing almost the exact same performance, even though they are technically the same GPUs found in the GTX 580.  Look to the power consumption charts and you will see why, the GPUs are downclocked enough to bring the power draw down below the SLI'd GTX 570s.  That seems to be exactly what this card is, a slightly more expensive but quieter and more efficient way to have the performance of two GTX 570s including the benefits of multimonitor support.  Unfortunately what it is not is the fastest single slot graphics card on the planet, that throne still belongs to the HD 6990.


"Today NVIDIA is launching the GeForce GTX 590 with dual-GPUs on a single video card. We are going to take this beast and compare it to not only Radeon HD 6990 but also GeForce GTX 580 SLI and GeForce GTX 570 SLI. This video card is pleasant to the ears, but does it have the muscle to make it a competitive buy? "

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Video Perspective: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 and AMD Radeon HD 6990

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 24, 2011 - 09:21 AM |

If you haven't yet read our full review of the GeForce GTX 590 and how it stacks up against the Radeon HD 6990, then you need to do so immediately.  After that, take a look at the video we made yesterday comparing the two solutions that are competing of your $700.

Manufacturer: NVIDIA

1024 CUDA cores on a card

The "Top Secret" GTX 590 turns out to be both better and worse than the Radeon HD 6990 4GB depending on some vary particular use cases. In realm of $700 graphics cards, this is definitely something you want to pay attention to. But I am getting ahead of myself; let's first dive into the design on the GTX 590 and see what's under the hood.The High-End Battle Commences

Just a couple of weeks ago AMD released the Radeon HD 6990 4GB card, the first high-end dual-GPU graphics card we have seen released in quite a while it seems.  Before that, the Radeon HD 5970 had been sitting on the throne as the fastest single card for even longer - the GeForce GTX 295 was NVIDIA's last attempt at the crown.  Even before we got our hands on the HD 6990 though, we were told by various NVIDIA personnel to "wait what we have in store."  Well, we have done so and today we are here to review and discuss NVIDIA's entry into the dual-GPU realm for 2011, the GeForce GTX 590 3GB.

The "Top Secret" GTX 590 turns out to be both better and worse than the Radeon HD 6990 4GB depending on some vary particular use cases.  In realm of $700 graphics cards, this is definitely something you want to pay attention to.  But I am getting ahead of myself; let's first dive into the design on the GTX 590 and see what's under the hood.

Note: If you would like to check out our video comparison between the GeForce GTX 590 and the Radeon HD 6990 before moving on, please do!

Manufacturer: MSI

From the HD 5770 HAWK to Now

MSI hits the scene with their own version of the AMD HD 6950. This features the Twin Frozr II cooling solution and has a price point slightly above where most reference HD 6950s sit. When combined with MSI's Afterburner software, this card becomes an interesting tool in a gamer's arsenal. We find out how it runs when combined with the Catalyst 11.4 Preview Driver, which delivers some significant improvements in performance for the Cayman family of chips.Last year I reviewed the MSI HD 5770 HAWK video card, and I came away impressed by the engineering that MSI brought to the table.  The card was quiet, it was efficient, it didn’t build up any significant levels of heat, and it was pretty affordable as compared to a bone stock HD 5770 based on the reference design.  The board could also overclock.  It was a budget enthusiast board that wouldn’t empty the pocket, but still give a lot of DX11 bang for the buck.

Then on the other hand we had the MSI HD 5870 Lightning.  This was a card that had a lot of promise.  This particular card had a custom PCB design with high end power circuitry, quality components, and the TwinFrozr fan design.  All of this came to naught.  The board would not overclock any further than the reference HD 5870 that we had seen for some months before, and in fact the board appeared to pull a little bit more power at the same speeds as a reference board.  This was almost the exact polar opposite of the HD 5770 HAWK.

The product I am looking at today is an interesting hybrid from MSI.  MSI has taken the stock HD 6950 reference PCB, populated it with slightly higher rated components (though not up to their “Military Class” standards), and put on the Twin Frozr II cooling solution.  This is more in line with the reference version of the HD 6950, but the addition of better cooling and advanced fan profiles gives it a boost above the reference, without going into the stratified air of producing another “Lightning” type of product.  This has allowed MSI to get a differentiated product out in fairly short order, and still give consumers something extra to potentially make their buying decision on.

Manufacturer: AMD

What all that extra power gets you

Just a couple of weeks back AMD released the new Radeon HD 6990 4GB graphics card to world and it was easily crowned the king of the GPU world. With performance that beat out AMD's own Radeon HD 5970 and walked past the single GPU based GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB from NVIDIA, the HD 6990 offered the most performance in the smallest space you could buy - and for a hefty $699 MSRP.The Leftovers

Just a couple of weeks back AMD released the new Radeon HD 6990 4GB graphics card to world and it was easily crowned the king of the GPU world.  With performance that beat out AMD's own Radeon HD 5970 and walked past the single GPU based GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB from NVIDIA, the HD 6990 offered the most performance in the smallest space you could buy - and for a hefty $699 MSRP.  (Note that they are selling for more than that as of today...)

One of the interesting features of the card was a unique hardware switch on the top of the card that is used to switch between standard clock rates of 830 MHz and a 375 watt power rating and a higher voltage, higher clock rate along with the ability to breach the 375 watt limit set by the PCI Express standard. 

Along with the move from 830 MHz core clock to a 880 MHz core clock (which by itself wouldn't really be notable), the HD 6990 cards move from a voltage of 1.175v stock to a slightly improved 1.2v for additional overclocking headroom.  In conjunction with this, the PowerTune implementation (which uses hardware to limit maximum power consumption levels) gets tweaked to allow for more power consumption.  This is good news for overclockers again.

Here is my quote from the original HD 6990 story:

When you move that BIOS switch on the HD 6990 from the standard setting to the overclocked setting, you aren't just changing the clock speed of the GPU but you are also changing the default settings for PowerTune.  Instead of a target load power consumption of about 375 watts, the overclocked card will be able to target as high as 450 watts using some updated and improved circuitry on the board.  It is worth nothing though that AMD is forced to make this 450 watt option an "overclocked" setting because it does exceeded the power draw of the PCI Express slot and associated connectors and would cause a fit for vendors attempt to selling systems using the HD 6990 to consumers.  Enthusiasts that buy this card themselves though will have that option and we are glad that AMD continues to support readers like ours by enabling this type of thing.

Unfortunately, because of some time constraints, we didn't get to play around with this overclocked setting originally but today, we rectify that situation. 

In our story today you will see a collection of benchmarks, all run at the 2560x1600 resolution that actually stresses the HD 6990, comparing the default 830/1200 speeds to the automatically overclocked settings of 880/1250 that result from flipping that overclocking switch.  Though I realize that not many users have 30-in displays with 2560x1600 screens, the higher pixel count should also represent performance scaling and changes on multi-display Eyefinity configurations. 

After those tests, you will see our experiences with additional overclocking attempts through AMD's Overdrive software in the Catalyst Control Center.

Our testing configuration was the same as all of our recent GPU articles:

  • Testing Configuration
  • ASUS P6X58D Premium Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7-965 @ 3.33 GHz Processor
  • 3 x 2GB Corsair DDR3-1333 MHz Memory
  • Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB HDD
  • Corsair Professional Series 1200w PSU



ASUS Launches GTX550 Ti DirectCU Range of Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 15, 2011 - 05:38 PM |

Fremont, CA (March 15, 2010) - ASUS, the world’s number #1 motherboard manufacturer and leading innovator in graphics cards, is proud to introduce NVIDIA’s latest technology, the GTX550 Ti Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) that features superior DirectX 11 performance in its class and solid tessellation performance. The ASUS GTX550 Ti offers cutting edge DirectX 11 game performance by providing the graphics horsepower and video bandwidth needed to experience games in high resolution. This same power allows users to enjoy ultra sharp high-definition Blu-ray movies as well as eye-popping stereoscopic 3D* performance in games and movies.

Redefining Mainstream Gaming Performance.

At the heart of the ASUS GTX550 Ti DirectCU are 192 CUDA cores along with a refined design offering substantial increases in performance while running cooler and quieter than previous generation products. This is allows the GTX550 Ti to have an amazing price to performance ratio as well as great performance to watt numbers. Compared to the previous generation GTS 450, the GTX 550 Ti provides on average 28% faster performance and 20% more performance per watt.

Cutting Edge Microsoft DirectX 11 and NVIDIA Technology Support

ASUS’ GTX550 Ti DirectCU also offers support for the latest in immersive gaming technologies such as DirectX 11 and Tessellation. In addition to these cutting edge graphics technologies the GTX550 Ti Direct CU supports NVIDIA 3D Vision™, NVIDIA Surround™, PhysX™ and CUDA™ technologies. ASUS’ GTX550 Ti DirectCU additionally offers amazing scaling and a superior gaming experience by pushing on-screen resolution and image quality to new performance levels with NVIDIA SLI™ technology by combining multiple NVIDIA graphics solutions in an SLI-Certified motherboard such as ASUS’ Award Winning P8P67 Series. Rounding out the experience is support for NVIDIA CUDA allowing for advanced GPGPU or GPU Compute functionality with outstanding performance allowing for a whole other level of usage outside of gaming and multimedia enjoyment.

Product Highlights

Great Overclocking Capabilities for a Superb Performance Experience

 The GTX550 Ti continues in the tradition of recent NVIDIA GPU’s in offering a great overclocking experience for increased frame rate performance. ASUS takes this further with specialized designs and implementations such as the Award Winning Voltage Tweak that allows for on-the-fly adjustment to GPU Core voltage to extend overclocking abilities. ASUS GTX550 Ti DirectCU cards apply award-winning DirectCU cooling with all-copper heat pipes touching the GPU core directly for improved heat transference - running up to 20%* cooler than reference designs under full load. DirectCU has been designed to not only ensure cool operation but quiet operation under load meeting the needs of gamers with a design superior to the reference cards.

Super Alloy Power VRM delivery technology offers the best in high current, high quality and clean power to ensure strong performance and stability when overclocking. Used in chokes, capacitors, and MOSFETs, Super Alloy Power technology boosts graphics card performance by 15%*, lowers operating temperatures by 35°C*, and lengthens lifespan by 2.5 times* when compared to reference designs.

ASUS extends the already high performance of the GTX550 Ti by also releasing a pre-overclocked graphics card in our award winning TOP and ULTIMATE series. ASUS uses specially-selected and qualified TOP GPUs clocked at 975MHz and 1015MHz vs the core clock of 900MHz on reference designs. This ensures users an even better out of the box experience from ASUS.

Smart Doctor with Voltage Tweak!– Superior Controls and Maximum Overclocking

ASUS continues the tradition of offering superior graphics tweaking technology with our Award Winning Smart Doctor and Voltage Tweak technology. Users can easily make adjustments to options such as the fan speeds by adjusting a fixed value or defining fan ramp speeds based on temperature. In addition for users looking for the highest levels of performance Voltage Tweak is offered allowing out of the box adjustment of the GPU core voltage designed to increase overclocking headroom. Enthusiasts can take this even further by using the Overclocking Range Enhancement option for class leading overclocks.

Source: ASUS

The new GTX 550 misses its price point

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 15, 2011 - 11:47 AM |

It is nice to see NVIDIA refreshing its lower end, the GTS 450 never really shone among AMDs lower end cards so the arrival of the GTX 550 seems like a good thing.  Even with such an odd memory configuration, a 192-bit memory interface split into three controllers, two with 256MB of memory available and the third with 512MB, the performance is decent and sits a little slower than what you would expect from a 768MB GTX460 and better than an HD5770 or the older GTS 450.  The problem, as The Tech Report points out, is the price.  At a $149 price point it is not competing with the HD5770 or GTS 450, at that price you can find an HD6850 or a GTX460 with a full 1GB of RAM and both cards are significantly faster than the new GTX 550.

"At $149, is Nvidia's latest DirectX 11 GPU a compelling step up from cheaper solutions? And could it be a nearly-as-good step down from pricier ones like the GeForce GTX 460 1GB and Radeon HD 6850? TR investigates."

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