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.
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.
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.
The GTX 660 is the first 28nm Kepler board based on a new GPU dubbed GK106, and the final 6-series card to support high-performance features like GPU Boost and SLI. Compared to the GTX 660 Ti, the GTX 660 offers the same 2GB of DDR5 memory, the same 192-bit memory interface, and the same number of ROP units, but loses two SMX units compared to the GTX 660 Ti, giving it just 960 CUDA cores compared to 1,344 in the previous cards (and the 1,536 in the GTX 680). At $230 it’s our new favorite GPU in the price-to-performance category.
Nearly every player invested in the GPU market experienced a "good, if not great quarter" in Q2 as overall graphics shipments rose 2.5 percent sequentially and 5.5 percent year-over-year, according to data released today by Jon Peddie Research. Intel enjoyed the biggest gains in both desktop (13.6 percent) and notebook (3.8 percent), which isn't surprising now that CPUs with integrated graphics are the norm and not the exception.
Graphics professionals need big-league processing power, and AMD aims to scratch that itch with its FirePro line of GPUs. Earlier this week, the company announced the launch of the FirePro W600, the first of the line to incorporate AMD's 28nm and GCN technology. Hopefully you didn't run out and buy one immediately, because today AMD showed off that card's big brother, the FirePro W9000, and it's a memory-filled beast. And hey, did we just see the first Radeon 7990, too?
Windows 8 Release Preview up and running? Check. Nvidia GeForce graphics card? Check. Appropriate GPU drivers for Windows 8? You can check that one off as well, assuming you're running Windows 8 with a GeForce graphics card. If so, Nvidia's new GeForce R302 preview driver is just for you. Bear in mind that it's to be used only with the Win 8 Release Preview build, so if you're rocking an earlier version, these aren't the drivers for you.
The driver team at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are no longer under pressure to churn out Catalyst driver suites month after month, and will instead drop new updates on gamers "when it makes sense," the Sunnyvale chip designer announced in a blog post today. AMD says its goal is to make sure Catalyst releases provide a "substantial benefit" to gamers, and that means moving away from a rapid release schedule.
MSI tells us they've beefed up some of their top-shelf GT70 gaming laptops with Nvidia's discrete GeForce GTX 675 graphics, touting it as the fastest single-unit laptop GPU on the planet. AMD might have something to say about that with its Radeon HD 7970M chip, but either way, you're looking at a GPU that's head and shoulders above what your Ultrabook-toting friends are wielding.