Is the best offense a good defense, or is the best defense a good offense? We're not sure, though it looks like AMD has decided to run with the latter -- dual-GPU Radeon R9 295X2 graphics cards can now be found on Newegg for around $770, seemingly indicating that AMD has gone on the offensive and slashed the price of its flagship card by about another $200. Bear in mind that when these cards launched earlier this year, they were selling for nearly twice as much at $1,500.
Ever since AMD launched its Hawaii GPU architecture, there have been rumblings that a faster version exists, perhaps locked away in the Sunnyvale chip designer's underground vault for a rainy day. If that's the case, be on the lookout for storm clouds -- word on the web is that AMD will launch a faster Hawaii part next year before it comes out with Fiji. How exactly it will be faster isn't yet known.
If there are any kids within earshot, send them off to play or cover their ears before reading any further, we wouldn't want their little ears being exposed to excited obscenities that may follow. As in, "Holy sh*t, how much RAM!?" Try 24GB of GDDR5 memory, which is how much Nvidia decided to use on its Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerator, the new flagship offering in the Tesla family.
Hybrid thermal solution offers both air and liquid cooling options
Feeling indecisive these days? Don't sweat it -- Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) this week announced its Poseidon GTX 980 graphics card with DirectCU H20, a hybrid cooling solution capable of keeping temps at bay by air or water, dealer's choice. The benefit of having both is that you can cool the card by air today and make the leap to liquid cooling down the line, if that's your longer-term goal.
The barrage of game bundles continues today with AMD announcing that qualifying purchases of Radeon R9 295X2, R9 290X, or R9 290 graphics cards will be score a free copy of Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth. Purchases must be made from a participating retailer or e-tailer between today and either February 28, 2015, or when AMD's supply of download codes is exhausted, whichever comes first. But wait, it gets better.
While still a rumor until we catch wind of an official statement or product, there are multiple reports that AMD is planning to launch a version of its Radeon R9 290X graphics card with a massive 8GB of GDDR5 memory on-board. We've actually already seen this with Sapphire earlier this year, though it appears AMD wants to see more hardware partners offer an 8GB SKU, including MSI, hence the upcoming relaunch.
Graphics card vendors often turn to free game bundles as way to lure players to their wares, and we're all for it -- if vendors want to throw free software at us for upgrading, then so be it! We bring this up because Nvidia has sweet-talked Ubisoft into letting gamers who purchase a qualifying GeForce GTX graphics card receive a free game as part of its "Pick Your Path" promotion.
It's not the size of the graphics card that matters, but the potency of the GPU inside, right? We'll find out when we get our hands on Gigabyte's mini ITX variant of the GeForce GTX 970 (GV-N970IXOC-4GD). Though it's tiny by comparison to a full size GeForce GTX 970 video card, Gigabyte's mini ITX version is actually overclocked to run at a base clockspeed of 1076MHz and a boost clockspeed of 1216MHz.
Taking a trip to 'Hawaii' just got a bit more affordable
Competition is fierce in the graphics card market, and while we've seen AMD and Nvidia duke it out with bundled game offers, it's the price wars that truly get our attention. Speaking of which, Nvidia certainly got AMD's attention when it launched Maxwell during the company's GAME24 event, which saw the release of the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 for $329 and $549, respectively (MSRPs). AMD has just responded by cutting the price of its Radeon R9 290 and 290X Hawaii cards.
MSI may release a slower and less expensive version of the GeForce GTX 970
Nvidia has a winning architecture on its hands with Maxwell, and as we've seen in benchmarks, both the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 are fine graphics cards. As is typically the case, Nvidia's third-party partners have taken to customizing the reference designs with their own cooling solutions and factory overclocks, though interestingly MSI appears to be preparing a Lite Edition of the GeForce GTX 970.