At any given time, we have one GPU in our inventory that holds the title of “loudest card in the office.” The current title-holder is the PowerColor Radeon HD 7970 Vortex, which sounds like a jet engine. That’s just how the Radeon 7970 GHz cards are; their boosted clock speeds drum up a lot of heat, making them much louder than their Nvidia counterparts. Given this pedigree, imagine our surprise when we fired up the Asus Radeon R9 280X, which rocks the exact same Tahiti XT chip used in the 7970 GE boards. As we leaned in close to our test bed expecting to hear that oh-so-familiar fan noise, we were greeted instead with a barely audible whirring sound. It’s truly miraculous what AMD and Asus have done with this formerly unruly chip, making it whisper-quiet and also surprisingly affordable at $310, which is roughly half what it used to cost.
Note: This review was originally featured in the Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine
The analytical folks at Jon Peddie Research (JPR) say there's evidence to show the graphics market may have bottomed out and is now slowly recovering, though cautioned it's still a bit premature to make any concrete determination. That said, graphics shipments increased 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, which is the second quarter in a row that shipments have been up sequentially.
New graphics card from Nvidia wields a full GK110 GPU
What do you get if you take a GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card and give it a shot of adrenaline? You end up with Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan Black, a new graphics card with full CUDA support and double precision floating-point compute performance. In other words, it comes out swinging with a fully equipped 28nm GK110 GPU without any arbitrary restrictions. Intrigued? Let's have a look at some other specs.
Where have all the Radeon R9 290X graphics cards gone?
Back in December of last year, we noticed that AMD's Radeon R9 290X graphics card was hard to find, which we (and the rest of the web) ultimately surmised was due to the virtual coin mining craze. With the rapid rise in value of Bitcoins, miners who were late to the party started looking at Litecoin mining in hopes of making some easy money. Since AMD's cards do a better job at mining these virtual gold nuggets, the 290X became a hot commodity. Fast forward to today and the card is still in short supply, but is mining still to blame?
Radeon R7 265 pairs 2GB of GDDR5 memory with a 256-bit bus
AMD is relentless in its assault on the graphics card market, especially the budget and mid-range tiers as represented by the Radeon R7 Series. Today AMD added to the heap by announcing the Radeon R7 265, the highest-end model in the R7 Series and a seemingly tantalizing option at $149 MSRP. As things are starting to get a little crowded in this segment, AMD is dropping the price of the Radeon R7 260X to $119.
AMD today formally introduced the Radeon R7 250X, an affordable graphics card aimed at gamers looking to play their titles at Full HD 1080p. Some vendors already had the new SKU listed as early as last week, though it should be a lot easier to find starting today and going forward. It's a $99 card, give or take a few dollars depending on what AMD's hardware partners do with the reference design -- the chip designer says custom cooled designs are ready to launch.
It looks like AMD is fleshing out its graphics card line with a new part. A look around the web reveals several references to an AMD Radeon R7 250X graphics card from a variety of third-party partners, including one from Diamond Multimedia that's available to purchase for around $100 street. Looking at the specs, the Radeon R7 250X slides neatly in between AMD's Radeon R7 250 and R7 260X video cards.
A potential candidate for a home brewed Steam Machine
It appears Powercolor is getting ready to launch a passively cooled version of AMD's Radeon R9 270 graphics card. Powercolor has yet to formally introduce what it's calling the R9 270 SCS3 edition, but if you look around the web, you'll discover some overseas retailers listing the SKU, including one that managed to get its hands on a press photo of the upcoming card.
Several months ago, AMD Product Manager Deveon Nekechuck boldly claimed that the Radeon R9 290X would be able to "ridicule" Nvidia's GeForce Titan graphics card when running Battlefield 4 with Mantle, AMD's new graphics API. It's worth noting that the R9 290 sports a smaller 438 square mm die compared to the Titan's 550 square mm GK110. Unfortunately for us and everyone else wanting to put that claim to the test, the Mantle patch for Battlefield 4 might be delayed once again.
Last month, we took a look at EVGA’s GTX 780, which sported a new, fancy-britches “ACX” cooler. This month, it’s Asus’s turn with its own redesigned and totally non-reference GTX 780. At first glance, this GPU’s most notable attribute is its redesigned cooler, which despite many changes still bears the DirectCU II moniker we’ve seen on previous models. The new design uses five direct contact (DC) copper heat pipes, one of which is a plump 10mm, along with a primary “hybrid” fan that has two sets of fan blades to blow air in two directions at once. The cooler takes up two PCIe slots, and has an aluminum backplate wrapped around it to help support the cooler and dissipate heat across the top of the card. Our favorite feature of this cooler is that it can be detached from the card with just four screws, making it easy to clean before company comes over.
Note: This review was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.