Jon Peddie Research (JPR) released GPU shipment statistics for the third quarter of 2012, and while the numbers were all over the map, it was mostly good news for Nvidia (more on that in a moment). Discrete GPU shipments held steady at 34.3 million units, up 4.5 percent sequentially but down 5.2 percent compared to the same quarter one year ago. There was also a 4.5 percent dip in overall graphics shipments in Q3 compared to last year, JPR says.
MSI’s GTX 660 is an all-around great card that includes a healthy dollop of overclocking and a side of Frozr to keep it cool. Its base clock speed is a decent 53MHz over stock at 1,033Mhz, and when running at full load we saw its boost clock speed rise 130MHz over stock to 1,110MHz, which is also higher than the stock boost-clock spec. The Twin Frozr III cooler sports three copper heat pipes, aluminum fins, and dual 8cm fans housed in a metal-alloy shroud to direct the airflow. Like the other GTX 660 cards, it uses just a single 6-pin power connector, but unlike the others it sports an extra-long 9-inch PCB (Gigabyte’s board is just 7.5 inches but the cooler is actually 9 inches long).
Gigabyte’s GTX 660 is similar to MSI’s board in that it’s overclocked and has a cooler with a silly name—Windforce. The board is clocked at the same base and boost clock speeds as the MSI card, too, running at 1,033MHz and 1,098MHz, respectively. The cooler features four copper heat pipes, aluminum fins, and two large 10cm fans breathing down on the whole shebang. Even though the board sports a smallish 7.5-inch PCB, the cooling apparatus is so large that it’s 2-inches longer than the PCB and extends the length of the card to 9.5 inches. With a cooler this large you expect it to perform quite well, and it does. It kept the card absolutely silent even when the board was being tortured in the Lab, and allowed it to run at a moderately cool 63 C under full load.
Hello, gorgeous. That’s what we said when we first laid eyes on Nvidia’s reference design for the GeForce GTX 690, which combines two full 28nm GK104 GPUs into one PCB and covers them with the best-looking cooling shroud we’ve seen on any videocard. Our in-depth analysis of the reference card can be found in our August 2012 issue, but we can’t verdictize a reference card. If you’re wondering how this Asus GTX 690 differs from the reference card Nvidia sent us, wonder no more: It’s exactly the same, except the edges of the PCB are a slightly different color.
Nvidia today formally introduced its K20 GPU family, supposedly the highest performing and most efficient accelerators ever built. If you recall, these new GPUs were featured in Titan, the world's fastest supercomputer that was unveiled by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) a couple of weeks ago.
PC gaming is alive and well, as evidenced by strong Kepler GPU sales that helped steer Nvidia towards record revenue of $1.20 billion for the third quarter of its fiscal 2013 period ended October 28, 2012. That's a gain of 15.3 percent compared to the previous quarter, and a 12.9 percent improvement versus last year, Nvidia said, adding that its energy efficient Kepler GPU architecture continued to make excellent headway in the market place.
Much to the chagrin of Acer, Microsoft is making a run at hardware with its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets, and those might be only the first of many more products to come. Microsoft's dancing a fine line with hardware in trying to set the bar for Windows 8 devices without completely ticking off its OEM partners, but it's also taken a big step towards an Apple-like business model. If Microsoft decides to go further, a major acquisition starts to make sense, and two names that have been thrown out there are Nokia and Nvidia.
This small gaming PC isn't as wee as our Wee Ass-Kicking Machine, but it kicks more ass
Way back in December 2010, we built an awesome Mini-ITX gaming rig dubbed the Wee Ass-Kicking Machine. It featured a Core i7-870 CPU, a GeForce GTX 460 GPU, 4GB of DDR3, a 1TB hard drive, and a 120GB SSD—all crammed into a Silverstone SG07 chassis not much larger than a shoebox. The total cost? Around $1,600 (at the time).
It’s, uh, been a while since then, though, and I thought it was high time we built another Mini-ITX gaming rig. This one’s not quite as small, but it’s got a lot more oomph. We’re using the BitFenix Prodigy, which has room for a full-size ATX PSU, scads of hard drives, and even a 240mm radiator (if you swing that way), while still being small enough to be lugged around by its convenient carrying handles.
Every GPU generation has its flagship videocards: the ones with the top-of-the-line GPU with all cores enabled, loaded for bear. In this generation, those cards are Nvidia’s GTX 680 (with a full GK104 GPU inside) and AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 (with a full Tahiti GPU). These cards are monstrously fast, but they’re also expensive and tricky to manufacture. Not all parts come off the line fully functional. So a few months after each flagship GPU launch, the vendors come out with a slightly stripped-down version that uses binned top-end GPUs with a few parts disabled, or lower clock speeds. AMD’s Radeon HD 7950, for example, uses the same GPU as the 7970, but with 28 GCN units instead of 32, and with an 800MHz reference clock instead of 925MHz. The cheaper, lower-powered video cards appeal both to gamers with shallower pockets and also to vendors, who clock those stripped-down, less expensive GPUs right back up to within spitting distance of their full-powered peers. Thus we arrive at the Asus GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU II TOP, a factory-overclocked GTX 670 with a custom cooling solution.
The DirectCU II cooler’s three direct-contact heat pipes keep the GPU cool.
If you fancy yourself an Nvidia fan, you might be feeling left out of the online water cooler chatter and wondering what the flip is going on with all the recent AMD graphics card leaks, including the mid-range 8870 and 8850 parts, and high-end 8970. Lest anyone think we're playing favorites, we're just the messenger (so don't shoot!), and you'll be happy to know that we have some info on Nvidia's upcoming GeForce GTX 650 Ti hardware.