PNY on Monday announced it was working with Asetek to "deliver liquid-cooled, high-end graphics cards that far outperform equivalent air cooled models," but stopped well short of providing any real details, like which cards would get the Asetek treatment and for how much. It looks like PNY was just waiting for the right moment, that moment being the E3 Expo that's now taking place, and has answered all the questions we had.
PNY builds videocards. Asetek develops all-in-one liquid cooling solutions. Together, the two hope to "deliver liquid-cooled, high-end graphics cards that far outperform equivalent air cooled models," not just in cooling performance, but also in noise control. PNY graphics cards powered by Asetek's sealed water cooler already attached will make up the videocard maker's extreme performance line, and give consumers a maintenance free liquid cooled solution that's just as easy to instal as an air cooled graphics card.
AMD originally intended its Radeon HD 6750 and 6770 graphics cards for the OEM market, meaning they'd show up in pre-built systems from the likes of Dell, HP, and others. More recently, the chip maker confirmed these parts would also show up in the retail market, and it took all of 2 seconds for that to happen. MSI just announced three new videocards based on the HD 6700 architecture, including the R6770-MD1GD5, R6750-MD1GD5, and R6750-MD512D5.
AMD on Wednesday rolled out new Catalyst drivers for Radeon HD 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, and 6000 series graphics cards, and Radeon 3000 and 4000 series chipsets. The new Catalyst 11.4 suite adds a handful of new features, such as new task-based Display Management controls, easier Eyefinity setup, and a new Catalyst update notification system that lets AMD graphics card owners know when updated drivers are available.
So what if Nvidia and AMD make unlikely bed fellows, and who cares that the two are currently duking it out in the discrete graphics market? Certainly not Joe Gamer, the unbiased enthusiast who only wants to build the best gaming machine his budget will allow. Unfortunately for Joe, his decisions have always been partially dictated by artificial compatibility constraints, and the decision to roll with multiple Nvidia or AMD graphics cards depends on his choice of platform. Not anymore, folks!
AMD appears to be attacking the entry-level and mainstream graphics card market with a vengeance. The chip maker last week rolled out is ultra-affordable Radeon HD 6450 priced at $59, which coincided with the launch of Nvidia's budget-oriented GeForce GT 520. Now AMD is following up that launch with the release of two more sub-$100 videocards, the Radeon HD 6570 and 6670.
We all know competition is great for consumers, but AMD appears to be jonesing for an all an all-out war with Nvidia over the title “World’s Fastest Graphics Card”. Both companies recently released dual GPU masterpieces, but both AMD and Nvidia are laying claim to crown, and AMD’s Public Relations Manager Dave Erskine is asking them to prove it. With reference to the AMD Radeon HD 6990 Erskine claims it was “designed to be a game-changer”, and they can back this up with benchmarks.
Graphics cards have gotten faster and added more features. So we have to ask the question: is it really worth adding a second GPU to your system? Will you get enough of a performance boost to justify the extra power draw and added cost? The answer is more complex than a simple yes or no. It all depends on what games you’re running, how much you dial up features like anti-aliasing, whether you’ve dived into the world of stereoscopic 3D and what monitor you’re running.
Perhaps the most important factor in the decision is display resolution. If you’re running a 1680x1050, 22-inch display, a single midrange or high end card will get the job done. Adding a second GPU is overkill. If you’ve got a 30-inch, 2560x1600 display and want to crank up the AA and postprocessing features, then that second GPU can be a big help.
Just the other day when the naming scheme for the new Nvidia Fermi cards was announced, we speculated that supply would be very low at launch. As such prices could be high. Now we’re hearing that is likely the case. Sources in the graphics manufacturing market have indicated that the new GTX 470 and 480 will be in very short supply at launch. In fact, the cards may only be available through select companies close to Nvidia. This may mean that only companies that do not sell AMD parts will have access to the GF100 cores at launch.
As for price, Nvidia is said to be aiming for numbers well above AMD’s current line. The GTX 470 may retail for $499, and the GTX 480 could go for an eye-popping $680 at launch. For perspective, AMD’s Radeon HD 5970 dual GPU card tops out at only $599 MSRP.
The real bummer here is that high priced Nvidia cards would probably give AMD no reason to cut prices. Even if the Fermi cards are substantially faster, very few people will be dropping almost $700 on a GPU. Sure, these are new flagship parts, but is the price justified? If you’ve been waiting for Fermi, are you still in? Is it better to go AMD, or wait for lower end Fermi cards?
Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offered some interesting thoughts on the PC industry in a recent BBC interview. He said that people are no longer wowed by their computers. Huang chalked this up to a maturity in PC hardware. He explained that people have been doing things the same way for so long, that the platform has lost some of its luster.
So is there hope? Huang seemed to think so, imagining a future of gesture-based input and intuitive smart computer systems. The Nvidia CEO focused unsurprisingly on playing up the GPU as a way to reach this more interesting PC future. "These kinds of capabilities are certainly within the next generation, because we have created a processor for the GPU that makes it possible to do parallel processing so much faster on a PC," said Huang.
Nvidia’s expansion into areas beyond their traditional graphics card business, combined with multiple delays of their new Fermi GPUs, led some to speculate the graphics giant was through with PCs. But Huang took the opportunity to make it clear that PC gaming will continue to be Nvidia’s focus.