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.
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.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) promised performance gains of up to 15 percent with its Catalyst 12.11 driver, which the company announced in conjunction with its "Never Settle" game bundles. Our own evaluation of the driver update using a Radeon HD 7970 yielded mostly minor framerate bumps compared to Catalyst 12.8, though performance did improve in the majority of games and benchmarks we tested it with. If you're interested in grabbing the new driver package, it's now available to download, albeit in beta form.
Nvidia's relationship with the open source Linux community is sometimes strained, such as when Linus Torvalds flipped Nvidia the bird and dropped f-bombs at the GPU maker in frustration over the lack of Linux support. It is what it is, and slowly but surely, things are improving. Proof of that can be found in Nvidia's new 304.51 display driver for Linux, which addresses a whole bunch of issues and adds support for several graphics cards.
The $250 price point is where the hardcore and the serious gamer part ways. It’s not that hardcore gamers aren’t serious—it’s that they sometimes lose perspective, willing to throw vast, silly sums of money at shiny high-end GPUs. Serious gamers know that a good $250 graphics card will buy you high frame rates on standard, 1080p displays without requiring a second mortgage.
XFX’s “Ghost” fan shrouds are easy on the eyes, but they don’t vary much from card to card
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.
Yesterday we told you about a pair of Radeon HD 8000 series graphics cards set to storm the market at competitive price points, with the Radeon HD 8870 expected to rival Nvidia's GeForce GTX 680 for $279, and the 8850 taking on the GTX 670 for $199 (both are expected MSRPs). What about the high end? Fear not, AMD is working on an enthusiast grade 8000 series part, as well.
The never ending GPU wars between Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia means there's always something newer, better, and faster right around the corner. Neither player likes to tip their hand ahead of schedule, but the Internet is the ultimate tattletale, and right now it's telling us what to expect from AMD's upcoming Radeon HD 8870 and 8850 parts. If the source is to believed, that is.
Talk about a buyer's market if you're a gamer. It's great to time to go videocard shopping, both because there are new GPUs landing on store shelves, and also due to the fact that prices are coming down. Perhaps looking to steal some thunder from Nvidia's Kepler-based GeForce GTX 660 and GTX 650 launch, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is reportedly reducing the price of its Radeon HD 7000 series.