Includes several new and improved 3D Vision profiles
Itching to try out some new graphics drivers? You're in luck, provided you own Nvidia hardware and don't mind tempting fate by installing beta code. That's because Nvidia has made available its new GeForce 334.67 beta drivers, which introduce a variety of new SLI and 3D Vision profiles. Nvidia also baked in the obligatory performance and system stability tweaks that typically accompany each new driver release.
Nvidia already owns the single-GPU performance crown, having plucked it back from the competition with the release of the GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card two months ago after AMD snatched it from atop the GeForce GTX Titan's head. Now that it's back where Nvidia feels it rightfully belongs, the GPU maker has no plans of letting it go any time soon and will defend its crown with the upcoming launch of the GeForce GTX Titan Black Edition and dual-GPU GeForce GTX 790 video cards.
Last month, we took a look at EVGA’s GTX 780, which sported a new, fancy-britches “ACX” cooler. This month, it’s Asus’s turn with its own redesigned and totally non-reference GTX 780. At first glance, this GPU’s most notable attribute is its redesigned cooler, which despite many changes still bears the DirectCU II moniker we’ve seen on previous models. The new design uses five direct contact (DC) copper heat pipes, one of which is a plump 10mm, along with a primary “hybrid” fan that has two sets of fan blades to blow air in two directions at once. The cooler takes up two PCIe slots, and has an aluminum backplate wrapped around it to help support the cooler and dissipate heat across the top of the card. Our favorite feature of this cooler is that it can be detached from the card with just four screws, making it easy to clean before company comes over.
Note: This review was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.
AMD has proven itself to be quite the resilient company over the years. No matter how bad the financial situation looks at times, the Sunnyvale chip designer always manages to find a way to stay afloat, and it's not always through desktop and/or laptop processors. AMD's graphics division has been a saving grace of sorts, and by landing a lucrative contract to supply Apple's new Mac Pro systems with FirePro parts, it could end up with a significant share of the professional graphics market.
Every power user has a set of go-to programs and utilities that he or she carries around on a USB thumb drive. One that should be included is GPU-Z, a lightweight utility that takes up all of 1.3MB or 1.4MB of space (depending on whether you want the standard version or the one with an Asus ROG skin). Even though it has a teeny-tiny footprint, it can tell an awful lot about your graphics card, which can come in handy when troubleshooting. The newest update -- version 0.7.5 -- released today adds support for 12 more discrete GPUs and an additional integrated GPU.
It's starting to get a little bit easier to find AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics cards in stock, but before you pounce on one, you may want to hold off and see what XFX is cooking up. The enthusiast brand is supposedly working on a custom cooled Radeon R9 290X that's both quieter and much chillier than AMD's reference design, the latter of which means there's less chance of the card throttling down its clockspeed.
Things you need to know to become a PC hardware expert
Knowledge is power, and when it comes to PCs that’s especially true, because only by knowing how your components’ specs actually affect performance can you get the maximum power you need for the type of computing you do—and avoid being seduced by features that sound impressive on the box but won’t do squat to improve your experience. Knowing your stuff has other benefits, too. An in-depth understanding of what makes all your parts tick enables you to better troubleshoot problems, upgrade in ways that make sense, and converse with other nerds in your own secret language. Turn the page to begin your crash course in PC spec-speak.
Note: This article was originally featured in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
Official support for AMD Radeon R9 and R7 Series graphics cards
It's time to retire that beta driver you've been running your AMD Radeon R9 or R7 Series graphics card on and step up to AMD's newly minted Catalyst 13.12 WHQL-certified driver. The new Catalyst software is available now and in addition to official support for the Sunnyvale chip designer's latest graphics cards, it also resolves over a dozen issues, adds new Enduro Technology profiles, and more.
Last month Nvidia launched the GeForce GTX 770, and showed us the “stock” board with a GTX Titan cooler. At the time, Nvidia said its add-in board partners would be offering versions that were overclocked and custom-cooled, but we didn't know that was all that would be available. As it turns out, spotting a GTX 770 with the Titan cooler is about as rare as seeing GordonMahUng at an Apple store, so kiss your Titan-cooled GTX 770 dreams goodbye for now. The good news is that you're now forced to choose from a flurry of premium-looking cards including these two sweet overclocked and super-chilledboards from Asus and Gigabyte. Both boards feature loads of custom hardware, specialized fans, overclocking software, and totally silent operation. Sounds like the perfect ingredients for a matchup to us!
Note: This article was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine.
This month, we build an affordable AMD-based gaming rig to find out just how good (or bad) a CPU/GPU combo can be
The Mission We've put together some spendy systems recently. Hey, there’s a reason this mag is called Maximum PC. However, it’s caused a few readers to wonder if we drive gold-plated Humvees to work. As if! We have chauffeurs for that kind of thing. The fact is, we like the challenge of building to a rig’s optimum potential, at any price. So this month, we turn the tables and go full-on budget build.
Note: This article was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine.