The latest graphics rumor making the rounds for the past month was that Nvidia would be releasing a single-PCB version of its dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocard, however it was unclear what other changes the design alteration would result in. At least until now.
According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, the slimmer, single-PCB GTX 295 looks to be more about cutting costs than adding performance. Following in ATI's footsteps, Nvidia will place both GPUs on a single circuit board, which should help the company save a bit on manufacturing.
However, only the memory is said to getting a small boost, with Nvidia increasing the reference design's frequency from 1000MHz on the dual-PCB version to 1100MHz on the single-PCB. Both the core and shaders clockspeeds will remain the same at 576MHz and 1242MHz, respectively, and despite shelving the second PCB, it will still be a dual-slot card. It will also be half an inch longer, Fudzilla says, measuring a full eleven inches.
If the rumor holds true, look for the revised card to show up by the middle of May with no change to its price point.
More and more custom cooling solutions are starting to appear for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285 videocards, with one of the more intriguing options belonging to MSI. The company has taken traditional heatpipe designs, fattened them up, and slapped them on its N285GTX SuperPipe OC graphics card.
"Today, MSI is pleased to announce the N285GTX SuperPipe graphics card, which not only brings to bear the powerful NVIDIA GPU - GeForce GTX 285, but, via the revolutionary ‘SuperPipe’ and Twin Frozr thermal design, offers a high performance and thermal efficiency graphics card," MSI wrote in a press release.
The aptly named SuperPipes consiste of 8mm thick heatpipes, which are up to 60 percent thicker than traditional heatpipes. According to MSI, the wider design leads to 90 percent better cooling performance. The N285GTX has been outfitted with five heatpipes in all, two of which are SuperPipes, on an all-metal heatsink with dual fans.
Before someone asks, the answer is 'yes,' we don't doubt the Atlas Folder can handle Crysis. But despite outfitting his server with 23 -- TWENTY EFFING THREE! -- gual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Jason Farqué, who goes by the username Atlas Folding, has a more important goal in mind:
"The reason that my father in enrolled in [a clinical trial] is the same as the reason I run my folding farm. To fight back, to do something," Farqué wrote on his blog. "To help science overcoming Huntington's Disease so that people as yet unborn wont' have as hard a time as he and others do. Because my father wants the human race to succeed, to get better, to overcome our bodies' inherent frailties by using our minds."
Farqué's father suffers from Huntington's Disease, and if Stanford's Folding@Home distributed computing project leads to a cure, then it will be hard to imagine a better use for such a gluttony of high powered videocards. Among the setup are 9 MSI-brand 295s, 14 EVGA-brand 295s, and and a single GTX 260 and 9800GT thrown in for good measure.
And if you think that's impressive, Farqué has been mulling a similar setup with Nvidia's 300 series once it launches.
Check out a video of the super Folding server here, a Maximum PC forum post on how Farqué handled the configuration here, and see how you can both help the cause and lead Maximum PC to victory in this year's Chimp Challenge here.
Nvidia today announced the GeForce GTX 275 GPU, which the company claims is the highest performing GPU in the $230 to $250 price tier. As the name suggests, the GTX 275 nestles in between the GTX 260 and GTX 285, fleshing out the company's mid-range graphics line.
Build around the GT200 architecture, the GTX 275 sports 240 processor cores racing along at 1,404MHz, 80 texture processing units, and 895MB of GDDR3 video memory clocked at 1,134MHz on a 448-bit bus. The reference design calls for the GPU to run 634MHz. The end result is a videocard that, according to Nvidia, will best ATI's HD 4890 by 10 to 20 percent.
Nvidia also announced its new GeForce Power Pack #3. Included with the new Power Pack are three new PhysX-accelerated apps and two new CUDA-accelerated programs.
The GeForce GTX 275 will be available globally on or before April 14 in both standard and overclocked versions from the usual suspects (Asus, BFG, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, and more).
Word on the web is that Nvidia will release its GTS 250 videocard sometime this week, which is essentially a rebranded 9800 GTX+. Nvidia's latest GeForce drivers -- WHQL 182.08 -- adds support for the upcoming card, while also extending SLI profile support for some newly released games.
Nvidia claims up to double-digit performance gains in handful of games with the new drivers versus 181.22, including up to 11 percent in Left 4 Dead at high resolution with AA, up to 10 percent in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, and up to 10 percent in Race Driver: GRID at high resolution and AA.
The latest release also fixes a bug in Vista 32-bit with dual-GeForce 8600 GT videocards that prevented the Fluid Demo (using PhysX) from running while using hardware acceleration when SLI is enabled. Good thing too, lest anyone second guess investing in two 8600 GT cards.
Nvidia has said on more than one occasion that it wants to simplify its product line to make it easier for consumers who might not know the difference between, say, an 8800 GTS 256MB, 8800 GTS 512MB, and 8800 GTS 640MB, and why the 512MB trumps them both. Then there's the 9800GTX+, which is a supercharged 9800 GTX, which is really a supercharged G92-based 8800 GTS, which is confusing as all get-out.
It gets better. Meet the GeForce GTS 250, the videocard formerly known as the 9800 GTX+. The rebranded videocard still uses the 55nm G92b GPU, however in a more mature yielding chip in GTS 250 trim. Available in both 512MB and 1GB configurations, the latter includes a new board design noticeably smaller than the 9800 GTX+ by about an inch and a half.
Other specs include a 738MHz core clockspeed, 1100MHz memory clockspeed, 256-bit memory interface for a 70.4 GB/s of total memory bandwidth, 16 ROPs, 64 texture filtring units, and 128 processor cores. The GTS 250 carries a TDP of 150 watts, and according to Anandtech's testing, both idle and load power consumption runs about 30W less than the 9800 GTX+.
The 512MB and 1GB versions will run $130 and $150 respectively, with widespread availability expected next week.
In what the company claims is a first (and as far as we can tell, they're right), Palit Microsystems has released a GeForce GTX 285 videocard outfitted with 2GB of memory. Every other GTX 285 currently ships with 1GB.
Whether or not the additional memory buffer proves a worthwhile investment remains to be seen, but it's worth noting the GTX 285 is Nvidia's fastest single-GPU solution available, second in speed only to the dual-GPU GTX 295. We've often seen graphics partners outfit lower end cards with additional memory, which is almost always of dubious value, but that isn't the case here.
Palit also lays claim to offering the first custom designed GTX 285. Deviating from the reference heatsink/fan assembly, Palit has outfitted its GTX 285 series with two PWM fans and four heat pipes.
"Conceived for two GPUs, the two PWM fans are able to provide sufficient air flow to cool GPU on the graphics quietly," Palit wrote in a press release. "The PWM fan created for both fans can adjust the fan speed depending on the GPU's temperature."
Palit also offers the GTX 285 in a more standard 1GB configuration. No word yet on pricing or availability for either model.
Nvidia this week released new WHQL GeForce drivers for GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, and 200-series owners. The new drivers, version 182.06, promise around a 10 percent performance increase in Fallout 3 at high resolution with AA, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Half Life 2 at high resolution with AA, the insanely entertaining Left 4 Dead at high resolution with AA, and Race Driver: GRID, also at high resolution with AA.
In addition to double-digit performance boosts, Nvidia says its new drivers include full support for OpenGL 3.0 on GeForce 8, 9, and 200 series GPUs and automatically installs the new PhysX software (version 9.090203. The drivers also fix a bug in Vista 32-bit where GeForce 9800 GTX/GX2/GT/GTX+ and 8800 GTS/GT/GS owners experienced a system hang when switching between performance states.
Maker’s Mark is of course the name of a fine Kentucky bourbon whiskey, but the phrase also applies to the stamp that skilled artisans apply to their creations. When you’ve finished building your custom PC, we’d encourage you to stamp it with your own maker’s mark; after all, the one-of-a-kind creation you’ll have wrought will have nothing in common with the mass-produced rigs that mainstream manufacturers churn out by the millions.
That’s one of the most exciting aspects of our hobby. Automobile buffs can tune and customize their factory-built cars and trucks, but computer geeks like us get to build something new and unique almost entirely from whole cloth. And it’s so easy that you have to wonder why anyone would buy a preassembled PC in the first place.
Thanks to the relatively open architecture that IBM stumbled into oh so many years ago (and has likely regretted ever since), we can rebuild and retune our creations again and again, boosting their performance and postponing their obsolescence. We do hit a wall every now and again. Intel’s new Core i7 CPU is a good example. Because the new processor features an onboard memory controller—a first for Intel, although AMD’s procs have had the technology for years—the company had to design a new socket architecture to accommodate the additional pins. That blocks the upgrade path for anyone using an LGA775 motherboard.
Intel has AMD on the run in the CPU front, but AMD is poking Nvidia in the behind in the graphics processor market. The result: ever more powerful, ever less expensive videocards. The two companies have shipped so many new parts that we expect things will stabilize over the next quarter or so, so now’s the time to find a great deal whether you’re building a new rig or retrofitting an old one. And if you’ve never experienced the joy and pride of building your own PC, click through to read our in-depth, hands-on guide.
Nvidia’s promise last September to revamp and rebrand its product line by the end of 2008 sounded like a great idea, but has anyone else noticed any meaningful changes? The 200 series has helped somewhat. The larger number indicates the faster card, but that's the only pattern I have been able to figure out. Well if esoteric GeForce branding trivia is a hobby of yours, then you’re in luck.
Leaked documents from Santa Clara based Nvidia suggest that GeForce 9800 GTX+ will be officially renamed to the GeForce GTS 250 during cEBIT in March. The 250 will still be made using the new 55 nm process and will clock in at the same frequencies as before. A similar fate awaits the 8800 GT which will be renamed to the GeForce 240. OEM partners were reassured in the memo by revealing that both cards can easily be converted simply by changing the VBIOS and packaging materials. It is still unclear what will happen to existing parts already in the supply chain, or if any other products are being considered for future rebranding.
Nvidia is clearly focusing its marketing resources towards the mainstream and entry-level markets. This is clearly the area they expect to be the most active during the economic crunch. As for their rebranding efforts, has Nvidia made this any easier for you to understand?