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.
AMD has proven itself to be quite the resilient company over the years. No matter how bad the financial situation looks at times, the Sunnyvale chip designer always manages to find a way to stay afloat, and it's not always through desktop and/or laptop processors. AMD's graphics division has been a saving grace of sorts, and by landing a lucrative contract to supply Apple's new Mac Pro systems with FirePro parts, it could end up with a significant share of the professional graphics market.
Every power user has a set of go-to programs and utilities that he or she carries around on a USB thumb drive. One that should be included is GPU-Z, a lightweight utility that takes up all of 1.3MB or 1.4MB of space (depending on whether you want the standard version or the one with an Asus ROG skin). Even though it has a teeny-tiny footprint, it can tell an awful lot about your graphics card, which can come in handy when troubleshooting. The newest update -- version 0.7.5 -- released today adds support for 12 more discrete GPUs and an additional integrated GPU.
It's starting to get a little bit easier to find AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics cards in stock, but before you pounce on one, you may want to hold off and see what XFX is cooking up. The enthusiast brand is supposedly working on a custom cooled Radeon R9 290X that's both quieter and much chillier than AMD's reference design, the latter of which means there's less chance of the card throttling down its clockspeed.
Less than a week after teasing a shot of a liquid cooled AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics card on its Facebook page, Powercolor has gone and introduced a retail version to market. The Powercolor LCS R9 290X uses an EK water block, the same as identified in the Facebook photo, and comes factory overclocked to 1060MHz for the core, up 60MHz over AMD's reference blueprint.
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.