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.
Getting wet and wild with AMD's rare Radeon R9 290X
Riddle us this: What's even harder to find than an AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics card? The answer is a liquid cooled version, which doesn't yet exist in retail (to the best of our knowledge). Even if it did, it would probably be as hard to find as every other Radeon R9 290X part, as Litecoin miners have been hording these (and other Radeon) GPUs in hopes of cashing in on the virtual currency craze.
It's not as though Nvidia's reference design for its GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card is for weenies -- after benchmarking the card, we had no choice but to dub it the real Big Kepler -- but if you're big into overclocking, EVGA's decidedly non-reference version looks to be the go-to card. Hardcore overclockers Vince "K|NGP|N" Lucido and Tsemenko "TiN" Illya supposedly helped co-design the card, which EVGA is calling the GeForce GTX 780 Ti Classified K|NGP|N Edition. So, what makes this card so special?
Where have all the the Radeon R9 290X graphics cards gone?
AMD threw down the gauntlet when it introduced its Radeon R9 290X graphics card. Its aggressive price point in relation to performance (bang-for-buck, in other words) impressed us most, and apparently it's a big selling point among Bitcoin miners. If you're not familiar, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that's surging in value and Bitcoin mining is a resource intensive task that involves adding transaction records to Bitcoin's public ledger of past transactions.
A Geforce GTX 780 Ti card with red and gold metal adhesive strips included
Asus has figured out another way to make its GeForce GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II graphics card stand out from the crowd (as if the custom cooling solution wasn't enough). The upcoming card will come bundled with red and gold stickers metal adhesive strips that you can apply to the part for a custom look. Use of the stickers strips is totally optional, of course, and you can leave the black colored heatsink alone if you want. Otherwise, the stickers strips allow you to add semi-custom accents that are a little bit like racing stripes.
Some variance in performance is to be expected, AMD says
Following the launch of AMD's Radeon R9 290X graphics card, a handful of sites noticed that the sample cards sent to the press were performing faster than their retail counterparts. It has been suggested by some that AMD essentially cherry picked the best cards for reviewers, though AMD says there's a valid reason for the performance gap. According to AMD, it has to do with the new PowerTune mechanism in the R9 290 Series.
Just before the holiday weekend in November, MSI posted to its Facebook account a teaser shot showing off a pair of mini ITX gaming products. One was a graphics card and the other a motherboard, but beyond what you could make out in the picture, mum was the word from MSI at the time. Well, MSI is now ready to reveal the full monty. Those of you who guessed the graphics card was a mini ITXGeForce GTX 760, you're awarded 760 geek cred points.
Powercolor today announced that it's given its first R9 Series graphics card the PCS+ treatment, which consists of using in-house materials and a custom cooling design for added performance and stability. The lucky candidate is the Powercolor PCS+ R9 270X. It has 2GB of GDDR5 memory just like the reference design, though Powercolor goosed the GPU to 1060MHz base and up to 1100MHz boost.
MSI is using Facebook correctly. While Facebook feeds have a tendency to be cluttered with pictures of food and political rants, MSI posted a photo of two unreleased mini ITX gaming products. One is a mini ITX motherboard and the other is a pint-sized graphics card. Both sport a red and black color scheme along with MSI's familiar dragon logo, plus some clues to the feature-sets.
To take down a Titan of the GeForce variety, you don't necessarily need a bigger, burlier GPU. Multiple mid-range GPUs can do the trick, according to Asus, which just launched the Mars 760 under its Republic of Gamers (ROG) division. The Mars 760 consists of two GeForce GTX 760 graphics chips bolted onto a single slab of silicon, and though they're mid-range GPUs, Asus says the Mars 760 is faster than the GeForce Titan.