An "essential update for all GeForce GTX users," Nvidia says
This has been a good week for gamers. Intel, AMD, and now Nvidia have all released new graphics drivers, the latter of which is saying its GeForce 327.27 WHQL-certified drivers represent an "essential update" no matter which GeForce GTX GPU you own, as it delivers maximum stability and gets you ready for upcoming games like Batman: Arkham Origins. It's also the first WHQL-certified updated from Nvidia since July.
Heads up all you Radeon HD graphics card owners, AMD has released a new batch of WHQL certified Catalyst drivers, version 13.9. These are the first logo certified drivers for Windows 8.1, which Microsoft is planning to make available to download on October 18th (free for existing Windows 8 owners, $120 and up for the full retail version). Catalyst 13.9 supports both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors of Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. Here's what else you need to know.
Sometime in the near future, AMD will hold a press event to spill the beans on its next generation Radeon graphics card series. In the meantime, we're left to speculate what the Sunnyvale chip designer has up its sleeve, and much of the speculation has pointed to a die shrink to 20nm. As it turns out, however, AMD has no such plans to pursue 20nm GPUs in the immediate future.
We don’t pay too much attention to the sub-$200 GPU market, but this month both AMD and Nvidia announced new boards at around the $150 mark that offer features previously only found on more expensive GPUs, including multi-GPU support and GPU clock boosting (for Nvidia). These new features suddenly made these budget boards very interesting, especially when dual-card setups are taken into consideration. Naturally, we pitted the new cards against one another in a Sweet-Spot showdown.
Note: This feature was originally featured in the June 2013 issue of the magazine.
Before you go spending a grand or more on Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan graphics card, you should take a close look at MSI's new GeForce GTX 780 Lightning. This is one hell of a beastly card with MSI's "Triple Force Architecture", dual BIOSes, overclocked specifications, and a 20-phase (16+3+1) power design in case you want to goose clockspeeds even further. It also features MSI's Military Class 4 components.
Add "GeForce GTX Titan Ultra" to your holiday wish list (just in case)
Nvidia hasn't said whether or not more video cards are on tap for 2013, but would anyone really be surprised if there were? You shouldn't be. The holiday shopping season is still several months away and rumor has it Nvidia may end the year with a bang by launching a high-end model such as the GeForce GTX 790. The GTX 790 could end up being a Titan Ultra card or it could be a graphics card with dual GK110 GPUs.
Breathe a sigh of relief, Radeon 7000 Series owners
You may have heard that AMD graphics cards based on the company's first generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture -- namely, Radeon HD 7000 Series and OEM 8000 Series -- aren't compatible with Microsoft's upcoming DirectX 11.2 API. Well, you heard right, and unfortunately the current crop of HD 7000/8000 graphics will miss out on DX11.2 features when it launches with Windows 8.1, however there's good reason not to hang your head.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist is now available to purchase for PC (and the usual crop of consoles), and if you've already grabbed your copy or plan to pick it up, you might want to check out the latest beta drivers for your graphics card. It doesn't matter whether you roll with AMD or Nvidia, both GPU makers released new beta drivers aimed, in part, at optimizing performance for Blacklist.
Wouldn't it be awesome if there were do-overs in everyday life like there are in some sports? That's pretty much what EVGA is offering through a line of graphics cards that now feature "Double BIOS," the marketing name for what's essentially a secondary BIOS in case you screw something up. It's also there to support experimentation with custom BIOSes, and should something go wrong, BIOS recovery is a flip of the switch away.
According to newly released data by Jon Peddie Research (JPR), AMD was the big winner in the GPU sweepstakes in the second quarter of 2013, at least in terms of market share growth. AMD bumped up its share of the GPU market to 21.9 percent, a gain of 10.9 percent sequentially, while Intel grew a more modest 6.2 percent sequentially for a 62 percent stranglehold on the market.