Asus has been coming on strong in graphics cards for several years now, though it never offers quite the variety of versions as companies like XFX and EVGA. Typically, Taiwan-based Asus will ship a reference card under its main brand, and then a custom-built, high-end card under its DirectCU brand. At a later date, the company might ship a super-high-end card using the company’s Matrix or Mars sub-brands. Price differences between Asus’s high-end and standard versions are wider, too, so it’s a little easier to figure out which card really is the premium version.
AMD’S MARKETING pitch for the new Radeon 7800‑series GPUs suggests that “serious gaming starts here.” Built on AMD’s Graphics Core Next, the 7800 series, previously code-named “Pitcairn,” offers impressive performance for less than the price of AMD’s 7900 series. Let’s take a quick look at key features, as compared to the Radeon HD 6870 and 6950 GPUs, AMD’s previous players in the midrange.
The 7870 has 1,280 stream processors—more than the 6870, but fewer than the 1,408 in the Radeon HD 6950. The 7870’s 1,000MHz stock clock speed is 11 percent higher than the 900MHz of the 6870, and twice the 6950’s 500MHz clock. In the Black Edition HD 7870, XFX boosts the core clock an additional 5 percent to 1,050MHz. The 7870 ships with the same 2GB of 256-bit GDDR5 as the 6950—double the 1GB of the 6870.
The Black Edition ships with XFX’s semi-custom dual-fan cooling solution. As with past cards in this class, the HD 7870 requires two 6-pin power connectors. One disappointment: XFX is continuing its policy of leaving out monitor adapter connectors, so if you don’t have a DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort connector on your monitor, then you’ll need to shell out a little extra for one. It’s mostly not a problem for single-display users, but people with multiple monitors may need to acquire adapters.
ASUS HAS GOTTEN a lot of mileage out of its beefy DirectCU II GPU-cooling technology. It has brought some serious overclocking chops to the GeForce GTX 580 in the form of Asus’s Matrix-branded edition, for example. The DirectCU II versions of the GeForce GTX 560 Ti and the Radeon HD 6870 also sport serious overclocks, and those cards perform well in their respective classes. What’s even better is that the company doesn’t charge much of a price premium for its best cooling tech on cards below the Matrix GTX 580.
We’re scratching our heads, however, over Asus’s decision to offer this GTX 570 card in a three-slot configuration similar to its Matrix GTX 580, but running at Nvidia’s reference clock speeds. The beefy cooler delivers plenty of DIY overclocking potential, but you must assume all the risk. Since we review cards based on out-of-the-box performance, we had to benchmark this one with its 742MHz core clock and 3,800MHz (effective) memory clock.
One good thing the new cooler does provide is fewer decibels. This card isn’t whisper-quiet under load, but it generates much less noise than many of the cards in its class—particularly the Radeon HD 6970, which can get fairly loud under heavy loads.
Now that the Nvidia GTX 680 has (finally) hit the streets, manufacturers are tripping over themselves to release cards that somehow stand out from the pack. A lot of the time, that means a custom cooling system; last week alone we saw new GTX 680s from Palit and Gainward covered in fans and heatsinks, respectively. Now, EVGA is getting in on the fun with the EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Hydro Copper, a card that comes equipped with a preinstalled waterblock and a big ole factory overclock.
When is a GTX 560 Ti not really a GTX 560 Ti? When it’s almost a GTX 570.
Nvidia’s latest GPU, the GTX 560 Ti 448 is really a GTX 580 (originally dubbed the GF110) with two functional blocks disabled, reducing its CUDA Core count from 512 to 448. The GTX 570 is a GF110 with one functional block disabled, endowing it with 480 CUDA Cores. The original GTX 560 Ti is a completely different chip, with different power requirements, but all 384 of its cores are fully functional.
Graphics card vendors have been busy with the onslaught of new PC titles heading into the holiday, forcing AMD to release its second out of cycle performance driver in less than 2 weeks. Catalyst 11.11b includes Crossfire performance scaling for Skyrim, similar multi-gpu support for Assassin’s Creed Revelations, along with DirectX 11 tweaks for Batman Arkham City.
Nvidia’s latest GPU release, the GF110, is essentially a re-engineered version of the original Fermi chip, with the addition of a few tweaks. By re-spinning the original, the full potential of Fermi is now realized, with all 512 compute cores active. (The original GeForce GTX 480 had the same number of compute cores, but 32 of them were deactivated.) Besides that, the GF110 features other enhancements, like improved FP16 texture performance, which boosts the frame rate in scenes using high dynamic range (HDR) rendering. The new chip also clocks higher; reference cards run at 772MHz core and 1,000MHz memory.
The first feature-reduced version of the GTX 580 arrives, rendering the GTX 480 obsolete and body-slamming the Radeon HD 5870.
This is the silly season for PR presents. Technology writers and product reviewers receive boxes in the mail, sometimes elaborately giftwrapped, from public relations people in the industry. Usually, what we find inside are fruit, chocolate, calendars with generic photographs and assorted pastries. So when we got a gift box from Nvidia, we naturally thought it was one of the usual holiday PR gimmicks.
We were wrong. When we got around to opening the box, we found this:
This is the follow-up to the GeForce GTX 580. Unsurprisingly, it’s called the GTX 570. As with the earlier GTX 470, it’s a cut-down version of the mother chip, offering 480 compute cores instead of the GTX 580’s 512 cores. Other features have been scaled back as well.
We gave the GTX 570 a spin with out full battery of benchmarks. Hit the jump to find out more!
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580 is what the original should have been: quieter, full-featured, faster and more efficient.
When Nvidia launched the GTX 480 -- code-named the GF100 -- early this year, the new GPU proved to be something of a mixed bag. It was undeniably fast, but also crippled – every GTX 480 GPU shipped with a full functional unit disabled. Whether that was because of yield or power issues wasn’t clear. Power clearly was a problem – Nvidia’s flagship ran hot and loud.
Given the competition, Nvidia had to get Fermi out the door. Even before the original Fermi left the building, Nvidia’s engineers were heads-down, respinning and reengineering the GF100. The result is the GF110. The new GPU is, as Emperor Palpatine might put it, “fully operational”, with all functional units now enabled.
Hit the jump for a detailed analysis of the GTX 580.