While most of us were sitting around watching football and ringing in the New Year over the holiday weekend, our friends over at VR-Zone were getting their geek on by modding and benchmarking AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards. They started with a single HD 7970 board, of which they quickly modded with a special BIOS that allowed them to bump up the core voltage from 1.15V to 1.25V.
Every PC gamer who doesn't have an aversion to AMD would love to own a dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990 when it ships in March 2012, but not everyone can afford (or justify) an $849 investment on a graphics card. By that same token, $549 for a Radeon HD 7970 is also beyond some people's budgets, which is why AMD will also release a Radeon HD 7950 based on its Tahiti Pro chipset. Two questions come to mind: How much and when will it launch?
On hindsight, one of the wisest decisions AMD ever made was acquiring ATI Technologies, a costly and controversial move at the time, but one in which the Santa Clara chip designer has been kicking ass with ever since. This point is underscored with AMD's Radeon HD 7000 series (see our Radeon HD 7970 preview here), a killer GPU family that will culminate with the Radeon HD 7990, a monster of a card with two 7970 GPUs and 6GB of total graphics memory.
We knew this was coming. We saw all the signs: The rumors. The price drops on existing videocards. The tweaked versions of old standbys masquerading as “new” GPUs. But more than anything, it’s been too long since we’ve had something fresh to sink our teeth into. And as has been the case in each of the last several big product launches, AMD is serving the first course.
A slide leaked on Orb-Hardware reveals some pretty gnarly specifications for AMD's upcoming Radeon HD 7970 card. If the slide is accurate -- and Orb-Hardware thinks it is, though admits it's a "little bit old" -- the Radeon HD 7970 will come with a core clockspeed of 925MHz and a whole bunch of onboard memory (3GB of GDDR5 to be exact).
AMD this week rolled out a couple of new Catalyst driver packages to play with, one of them a finished build (Catalyst 11.12 WHQL) and the other a preview driver with support for AMD HD3D technology in conjunction with CrossFireX configurations and a new Stereo 3D mode over HDMI 1.4a (Catalyst 12.1). Release notes highlights after the break.
EVGA this week rolled out a new version of its Precision overclocking software. Now in version 2.1.1, EVGA's Precision utility comes with an integrated GPU Voltage Tuner, and it's now capable of auto-detecting GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards. EVGA said it updated some spelling in Precision v2.1.1 and beefed up the on-screen display (OSD), too.
AMD has released another performance driver (yes, again) for its Catalyst 11.11 package. And once again, improved performance in Elder Scrolls: Skyrim takes center stage. New in Catalyst 11.11c is better CrossFireX performance scaling for AMD Radeon HD 5000/6000 series cards in Skyrim, 2-7 percent better performance in single GPU configurations, and a resolved corruption issue when enabling MSAA on Radeon HD 6970 cards.
MSI's been bitten by the overclocking bug and is hoping you have as well. The company's N560GTX-448 Twin Frozr III Power Edition graphics card is packed with almost as many overclocking amenities as it is syllables, including a Triple Overvoltagle architecture and 6+1 phase PWM design for greater stability when pushing clockspeeds beyond their rated specs.
Fancy yourself an adventurous gamer? We're not talking about would-be Zak McKrackens or former knights of Daventry (King's Quest fans will get the latter reference), but those gamers who aren't afraid to install beta drivers and potentially buggy code, all in the pursuit of better framerates and improved performance all around. If that sounds like you, and you own an Nvidia graphics card, you should check this out.