Two overclocked flagship video cards go head to head one last time
Over the past year, the GeForce GTX 680 and the Radeon HD 7970 have served as the respective flagship GPUs for each of their camps, and even though both cards seem a bit like well-aged cheese by now, they are still fast. There have also been quite a few driver updates since these cards were released, so we've decided to pit two of the overclocked versions against one another in a battle royale to settle this feud once and for all. Fighters, touch circuit boards and come out of your PCI Express corners. It's time to get it on!
Note: This article originally appeared in the March issue of the magazine.
We're closing in on Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico's Battle of Puebla fought on May 5, 1862, a victory against overwhelming odds and an important step towards Mexican independence from European rulers. These days, it's a popular holiday for getting drunk, dancing and making loud noises, but maybe that's just me. I think I'm gonna play it low-key this year instead, and take the opportunity to update our Best of the Best hardware with a couple new entries: the EVGA GeForce GTX Titan and AMD's Radeon HD 7850.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has started talking about its upcoming Radeon HD 8000M GPUs, codenamed "Solar System," which it plans to fully detail next month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. There will be at least four laptops at CES running the new GPUs, which are said to support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.3, and OpenCL 2.1 programming interfaces.
Advanced Micro Devices is apparently trying to flex its Radeon brand everywhere it can. In addition to video cards and system memory, both of which are markets currently served by the Radeon brand, it's rumored that AMD is getting ready to launch a line of Radeon solid state drives (SSDs). If this works out, perhaps one day you could build an entire PC with nothing but Radeon parts.
Summer might be coming to an end in the coming weeks, but the GPU price wars between AMD and Nvidia are just starting to heat up. To wit, AMD rolled out a series of price reductions in July for its Radeon HD 7970, 7950, and 7870 graphics cards, and now that Nvidia has made Kepler affordable with its GeForce GTX 660 Ti part, AMD is once again responding in kind with another round of cuts.
By far the most common question we get asked here at Maximum PC is: “should I upgrade”? The answer to this one is never easy, however AMD just dropped word that should make anyone on the hunt for a new GPU sit up and take notice. The price of the 7000 series parts are about to see another price cut, and they are finally starting to make a pretty compelling price vs. performance case for themselves vs. Nvidia.
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?
When it comes to picking a video card these days the number of choices is pretty overwhelming. If on the other hand you are mortally allergic to the sound of fans, your list suddenly shrinks to a pretty pathetic set of offerings. Sapphire saw an opening, and was showing off a passively cooled Radeon HD 7770 at this year’s Computex.
Another day, another new graphics driver. But rather than being yet another beta driver, the AMD Catalyst 12.4 driver is fully WHQL certified and brings a bevy of useful new features to the virtual table, including Radeon HD 7000 series support for Windows XP, openSuse 12.1 and the just-released Ubuntu 12.04.
My first X79 build, back in November 2011, was pretty modest. Well, as modest as a PC with a 1,000-dollar processor can be. It performed well in CPU-intensive benchmarks, but it had only a single GTX 580, so it did about a third as well as top-tier systems in graphics tests.
Back when I built that PC, the Core i7-3960X was the only Sandy Bridge-E CPU available to us, and the GTX 580 was the fastest single-GPU card on the market. Well, this time I’m going to build a Sandy Bridge-E system with the new quad-core Core i7-3820 and the new fastest single-GPU videocard on the market: AMD’s Radeon HD 7970.
Wait, just kidding. I’m not going to use a 7970. I’m going to use three of ‘em!