A new generation of GPUs from Nvidia and AMD has hit the streets. Both camps are offering incredible performance and the widest array of features ever before seen in graphics cards. But, inevitably, each side brings its own unique strengths and weaknesses. What better way to determine the performance champ than by letting this season’s new crop of cards duke it out in the various price categories?
We’re not sure why this card isn’t faster than it is. In many ways, it’s two HD 6870s built onto one chip, but overall throughput may be hobbled by having only 32 ROPs and a 256-bit memory interface. Overall performance is nowhere near double an HD 6870, and the card beats the GTX 570 in only five of 12 benchmarks.
AMD shipped its first DirectX 11 GPU, the Radeon HD 5870, in late 2009. Despite supporting Microsoft’s latest 3D API, the new GPU was built on an architectural foundation based on the earlier Radeon HD 4000 series. AMD is now launching its second-generation DX11 product, code-named Northern Islands, but these new processors are based on an architecture that’s a from-the-ground-up new design.
The company also approaching this launch a little differently: Instead of pushing out a new, high-end product, AMD is launching two GPUs—collectively code-named Barts—that will be aimed squarely at the midrange market, where cards sell for less than $250. AMD will ship a new high-end product later this year, but the bread-and-butter of the gaming market is in cheaper cards.
As we explained in our introduction to AMD’s brand-new Radeon HD series, which you can read here, the Radeon HD 6850 is based on an entirely new GPU architecture optimized for DirectX 11 games. But don’t be confused by AMD’s branding: The Radeon HD 6850 will replace the Radeon HD 5830, not the Radeon HD 5850 and certainly not the company’s top-shelf GPU, the Radeon HD 5870.
Without any fanfare or ballyhooing, XFX this week expanded its power supply lineup with its new Pro Series with "EasyRail Technology." What exactly is EasyRail Technology, you ask?
From what we gather, it's XFX's fancy way of saying the Pro Series utilizes a single, beefy +12V rail rather than spreading the available amperage out across multiple +12V rails.
The Pro Series is available in 650W, 750W, and 850W models, each of which is 80 PLUS Bronze certified, which means they run at 85 percent efficiency with a 50 percent load. They also look to be CrossFire and SLI certified with support for up to 3-way multi-GPU configurations, depending on the videocard, and sport fixed cables.
We've only spotted these in the UK for around $106 (650W), $115 (750W) and $130 (850W). No word on when these will ship Stateside.
We found it a little suspicious yesterday when we heard Nvidia was selling its own branded GeForce GTX 450 and 460 videocards in Best Buy, putting the GPU maker in direct competition with its add-in board (AIB) partners. Some of you brought up that 3dfx took a similar approach, and we all know what happened to them.
In today's episode of As the GPU World Turns, XFX has apparently been shown the door.
"I was told today that XFX is no longer an approved Nvidia partner," HardOCP founder Kyle Bennett writes.
He didn't go into any further detail, only bringing up that this has been a rumored development since January of this year. XFX, you might recall, jumped ship as an exclusive Nvidia partner in late 2008 and has been selling both ATI (AMD) and Nvidia cards ever since, at least until Fermi. Like BFG, XFX was left out of the Fermi party for reasons unknown.
You have to give AMD credit for trying to make lemonade out of lemons.
The Radeon HD 5830 is the odd duck of AMD’s 5000-series GPUs. The card itself is as long as the high-end HD 5870, and consumes more power at idle than the Radeon HD 5850. But that’s what you’d expect of a card built on a “salvaged” chip.
Salvaged chips are produced by taking chips that fail to pass muster as the highest-end part and selling them as lower-end parts. This can be seen in the Radeon HD 5830, which has 1,120 stream processors active, as opposed to 1,440 for the HD 5850 or 1,600 for the 5870.
Unlike AMD’s lower-end HD 5770, which uses the Juniper GPU, with 1.05 billion transistors and 800 stream processors, the 5830 sports the same 2.15-billion-transistor GPU as the 5870/5850, with more functional units disabled.
We’ve never been major advocates of GPU overclocking, as the minor gains you achieve often don’t justify the added heat and instability. But there’s a clear difference between Billy Joe doing a maximum overclock on his GPU and a vendor overclocking the part at the factory.
So when XFX offered up its XXX Edition of the already-fast Radeon HD 5870, we were naturally curious. XFX pushes the HD 5870 to 875MHz (3 percent over the stock 850MHz) and juices the memory to 1,300MHz (8.3 percent over the stock 1,200MHz). At first blush, a 3 percent core overclock seems minimal. Given that the card costs about $430, versus about $405 for the stock XFX variant, is it worth the extra jingle?
To find out, we compared the performance of the XXX Edition to a standard XFX Radeon HD 5870, which is a stock card in every respect. Save for clock speeds, the two cards are identical: memory (1GB), ports (two DVI, one DisplayPort, one HDMI), and the reference cooling system. Because of the speed bumps to the XXX Edition’s core and memory clocks, its system idle power usage varies from the stock card, reaching 148W versus 141W.
Call it a cry for attention or brilliant marketing, but either way, registered XFX customers received an email yesterday afternoon alerting them to a supposed security breach at XFX's facilities resulting in a stolen 5970 Black Edition Limited videocard, which hasn't actually been released yet.
Dear XFX Customers,
In light of recent events, we have come to suspect that one of our 5970 Black Edition Limited cards may have been compromised. In our current inventory check of this limited run of 1,000 individually serialized pieces, #68 has been unaccounted for. Due to evidence of a security breach in our facility, we believe it to have been illegally obtained as the product has yet been released per the embargo date. Please be aware that the person responsible will be subject to persecution by law. If any news can be provided to lead us to the apprehension of the suspect, or you can provide us with any information, please report it to security at xfxforce dot com. Please do not attempt to buy, trade, or barter for this unit. We thank you for your cooperation and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
In small print at the bottom, XFX discloses that this is a Gamertainment campaign, though otherwise the email looks legit. So is the videocard, which will feature 4GB of memory instead of 2GB found on reference 5970 parts. The limited run card will come with six mini-DisplayPort connectors and support Eyefinity 6.
XFX has put together a couple of related YouTube videos, which you can view here and here. Check them out and then hit the jump and tell us what you think of this kind of marketing campaign.