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.

url.jpg

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.

blue.jpg

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

models.PNG

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.

Nvidia-GTX-1080-EVGA-FTW-Catches-Fire-840x473.jpg

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.

nvidia-2015-bandaid.png

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

MSI Is Turning Thirty Years Old with Thirty Giveaways

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 1, 2016 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: msi, giveaway, giveaways, pc gaming

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, MSI is having a massive giveaway. Each day, from today (November 1st) to November 30th, you are able to answer a trivia question to be entered in that day's drawing. Being that it's MSI, they are also requiring that you capitalize every letter of your answer. I'm not joking; that really is in their How to Enter process. You also need to follow MSI and HyperX on Twitter to enter but, although the form is through Facebook, it looks like you do not need a Facebook account. I could be wrong about that last part, though.

msi-2016-30th-landing-page_102016_03.jpg

Also, winning a prize does not exclude you from winning future prizes. Don't bother trying to game the system, like waiting to enter until the “good prizes” but not the “great prizes” that will get too many entries, etc. Try every day if you can, even if you already won previously.

The prize for today is the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING 4G from MSI, but they vary wildly from day to day. Even though NVIDIA is a partner in this giveaway, along with HyperX and Intel, there are even some AMD cards scattered throughout the month. I mean, it makes sense: MSI sells AMD cards. Their contest page claims that the total prize pool is up to $14,000 USD.

Check out the contest page for more details, and enter at the button below the list of prizes.

Source: MSI

DX12 Multi-GPU scaling up and running on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 1, 2016 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: video, rx 480, readon, nvidia, multi-gpu, gtx 1060, geforce, dx12, deus ex: mankind divided, amd

Last week a new update was pushed out to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided that made DX12 a part of the main line build and also integrated early support for multi-GPU support under DX12. I wanted to quickly see what kind of scaling it provided as we still have very few proof points on the benefit of running more than one graphics card with games utilizing the DX12 API.

As it turns out, the current build and driver combination only shows scaling on the AMD side of things. NVIDIA still doesn't have DX12 multi-GPU support enabled at this point for this title.

  • Test System
  • Core i7-5960X
  • X99 MB + 16GB DDR4
  • AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB
    • Driver: 16.10.2
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
    • Driver: 375.63

mankind1080-avg.png

Not only do we see great scaling in terms of average frame rates, but using PresentMon for frame time measurment we also see that the frame pacing is consistent and provides the user with a smooth gaming experience.

mankind1080-plot.png

PowerColor's Devil Box, a laptop dock with space for a GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 31, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: powercolor, devil box, external gpu

Thunderbolt 3, when properly implemented, provides enough bandwidth to make external GPUs possible.  The rather large Devil Box dock offers all the connectivity generally found in a docking station but can also handle even the most recently released GPUs.  Overclockers Club tested out the effectiveness of the Devil Box with an RX 480, comparing the performance of the card when installed internally and externally.  As you would reasonably expect the performance is slower over Thunderbolt, by a fair margin in most cases but not as much in the DX12 Ashes of the Singularity.  Drop by to see the full review and ponder if adding an external desktop GPU to your laptop is interesting enough for to you invest in.

2.jpg

"If you are using a laptop, you get single connection to everything you need via Thunderbolt 3. External storage, connecting USB peripherals, Gigabit LAN connectivity, display output, and charging all through one cable. Pricing will come in at $375 US for just the Devil Box enclosure and included Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps cable. Add in the cost of a good, solid $200 GPU and you fast approach $600."

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

Graphics Cards

 

EVGA Overheating VRM Issue with GeForce ACX Coolers

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 30, 2016 - 03:09 AM |
Tagged: fail, evga

About a week ago, EVGA acknowledged an issue with their brand of custom-cooled GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 FTW cards. This came after the German branch of Tom's Hardware measured, back on October 6th, very high temperatures on the voltage regulator modules (VRMs), which was caused by these components not being able to adequately remove heat. To remedy the situation, EVGA offers cooling pads for all affected customers, which these customers could install under backplate and under the heatsink fins.

evga-2016-VRMtemps.jpg

Image Credit: EVGA

Over the last day or so, users have been reporting that their cards are breaking, and even allegedly catching fire. According to GamersNexus and their source, Buildzoid of Actually Hardcore Overclocking, VRMs, if they fail, will just burn out without warning. The user in question claims that they were just playing Shadow Warrior 2 when their computer just shut down, with a sparkle and magic smoke. Taking the card out, they noticed a scorch mark on the PCB, right in the middle of the VRMs.

Regardless of how gloriously pyrotechnic this issue became, the consensus is that the thermal pads will still fix the issue. If you're not comfortable adding them yourself, then you should contact EVGA support.

Source: GamersNexus

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.10.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 30, 2016 - 12:08 AM |
Tagged: titanfall 2, graphics drivers, amd

If you are experiencing crashes in Titanfall 2, and you are using an AMD graphics card, then you will probably be interested in AMD's Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.10.3. According to its release notes, that is the only issue this hotfix driver addresses.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

Also, being a hotfix driver, you might have issues with clean installs of Windows 10 Anniversary Update, because I'm not sure if it's signed by Microsoft. It might be, but that's obviously a fairly narrow subset of hardware and software that I cannot test on a single machine. If that's the case, though, then you can temporarily disable Secure Boot... or just wait until AMD releases a signed driver.

I should note that, while we're posting this a couple of days late, like our news about NVIDIA's driver, AMD was able to release this the day before Titanfall 2 launched. Our readers, at least I hope, found out about the update before now, rather than suffering through some crashes when a fix was already available. Sorry that I didn't get a post up sooner, though; AMD did their part.

Source: AMD

Some GTX 1070s Could Use a VBIOS Update

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 29, 2016 - 11:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 1070, vbios

So apparently I completely missed this news for over a week. It's probably something that our readers would like to know, though, because it affects the stability of GTX 1070 cards. Video RAM chips are purchased from a variety of vendors, and they should ideally be interchangeable. It turns out that, while NVIDIA seems to ship their cards with Samsung memory, some partners have switched to Micron GDDR5 modules.

nvidia-2016-gtx1070vbiosissue-gpuz1080.png

According to DigitalTrends, the original VBIOS installed in graphics cards cannot provide enough voltage for Micron quick enough, so it would improperly store data. This reminds me when I had a 7900 GT, which apparently had issues with the voltage regulators feeding the VRAM, leading to interesting failures when the card got hot, like random red, green, and blue dots scattered across the screen, even during POST.

Anywho, AIB vendors have been releasing updated VBIOSes through their websites. DigitalTrends listed EVGA, Gainward, and Palit, but progress has been made since then. I've found updates at ASUS that were released a couple of days ago, which claim to fix Micron memory stability, but it looks like Gigabyte and MSI are still MIA. The best idea is to run GPU-Z and, if Micron produces your GDDR5 memory, check your vendor's website for a new VBIOS.

It's a pain, but this sort of issue goes beyond driver updates.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 375.70 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 29, 2016 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Yesterday, which was a Friday, NVIDIA released updated graphics drivers for Titanfall 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, Skyrim Special Edition, Obduction, and Dishonored 2. While it kind-of missed Skyrim Special Edition by a day-and-a-bit, the GeForce 375.70 drivers seem stable enough in my testing, although a couple of issues that were introduced in 375.57 are still ongoing. I've been using them with a GeForce GTX 1080 (and a secondary GTX 670) for a little over a day, and I haven't yet seen an issue.

nvidia-geforce.png

As for the known bugs, while neither of which affect me, they could be a bother to some. First, Folding@Home is allegedly reporting incorrect results, which NVIDIA is currently investigating. Second, and probably more severe, is that certain animated GIFs have quite severe artifacting. It's almost like, for the first handful of seconds, instead of seeing the frame difference over the first frame, you see it over a black frame. This can be worked around by disabling hardware acceleration (or using a different browser -- Firefox seems okay) until NVIDIA can release another driver. The good news is that it's already been fixed internally, they just couldn't ship it with 375.70.

Feel free to download 375.70 at NVIDIA's website (or GeForce Experience)... or wait for a later release if GIFV support in certain applications (like Google Chrome) or donating resources to Folding@Home are important to you. One of the “Game Ready” titles for this driver (Dishonored 2) won't be released until mid-November, though, so it might be a little while.

Source: NVIDIA