Videocards http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/42/ en AMD Radeon R9 290 Benchmarks http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290_benchmarks <!--paging_filter--><h3>AMD's Radeon R9 290: A Mid-range Monster</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290_flatangle_rgb_24in_small.png" alt="Radeon R9 290" title="Radeon R9 290" width="250" height="167" style="float: right;" />Today <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/amd">AMD</a> is launching the <strong>Radeon R9 290</strong>, which is the second card in its all-new Hawaii series of GPUs designed to take on <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia">Nvidia's</a> GK110-based super GPUs. This particular card is extremely similar to its big brother, the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_benchmarks">R9 290X</a>, but has slightly lower clock speeds and fewer stream processors, allowing it to come in at a slightly lower price point of <strong>$400</strong>. Though it was originally designed to take on the formerly $400 GTX 770, AMD is now positioning it to compete with the GTX 780 due to Nvidia's recent price drops on both cards to $500 and $329, respectively. Read on to see how it handles the heat, both literally and figuratively.</p> <h3>Little Hawaii</h3> <p>As the second, lower-priced Hawaii board you might assume this card has been neutered more than a made-for-TV version of The Big Lebowski, but you would be wrong. Thankfully, AMD has left almost everything from the R9 290X intact, choosing to only reduce its texture units from 176 to 160, its Stream Processors from 2,816 to 2,560, and its maximum clock speed from 1,000MHz to 947MHz. It still has the same 4GB of memory, the same 512-bit memory bus, and is otherwise the exact same GPU. It also has the same PowerTune hardware and software that lets you dictate maximum fan speeds and core temps. Before we jump in, let's take a look at the specs for the Hawaii cards along with their Nvidia counterparts:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/specs_take_2_0.jpg" alt="Radeon Specs" title="Radeon Specs" width="462" height="472" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>*We are putting an asterick next to the AMD cards' TDP because it's not a quoted spec but "standard board power."</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As the spec chart shows, this card is almost exactly the same as the R9 290X, just like the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/geforce_gtx_780_benchmarks">GTX 780</a> and <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/nvidia_geforce_titan_%E2%80%93_benchmarks2013">GTX Titan</a> in that you have two cards with the same die but one is a bit less powerful. The two cards are the same physical size at 11 inches, both require a six-pin and an eight-pin power connector, and both cards draw a bit over 300 watts too. AMD listed the TDP for the 290X as 250w, but it hedged that answer and never gave it as an official number, but rather an estimate. It didn't reply to our emails asking for the TDP of the R9 290, so we'll just put 250w there with an asterick.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><img src="/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290_flatangle_rgb_24in_small_1.png" alt="R9 290" title="R9 290" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The R9 290 is exactly the same size as the R9 290X at 11 inches, and it also features the same 250w-ish TDP. </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">PowerTune, TrueAudio, and XDMA</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Like it's larger, more-powerful sibling, the R9 290 comes with all the baked in features that define the top-tier of this generation of GPUs, namely revamped PowerTune controls, TrueAudio technology, and XDNA Crossfire. TrueAudio and XDMA Crossfire are exclusive to the R9 290/X series of cards, though the current iteration of PowerTune is found on all Rx based cards, and TrueAudio is also found on the $140 R7 260X board.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/powertune_1.jpg" alt="PowerTune" title="PowerTune" width="600" height="701" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The new PowerTune controls let you set maximum limits for fan speeds and temperature. We preferred the sliders though, as we found that moving the reticle in the map caused unpredictable results. </strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Briefly, AMD has changed the PowerTune interface found in the Catalyst Control Center to give you an easier way to control clock, memory, and fan speeds. It also now has a slider that lets you dictate the maximum fan speed and maximum temperature, just like Nvidia is doing with its GPU Boost 2.0 technology found in its 700-series GPUs. You can tell the software to force the card to run at 90C, for example, and it'll throttle the clock speeds in order to maintain those temperatures. Additionally, if you're sensitive to acoustics, you can also set a limit on the fan speed while letting the other settings run at maximum value as well. It's also provided a "2-dimensional heat map" which we found confusing. We also found in testing that moving some of the sliders too far would cause the entire system to hard lock and then experience trouble rebooting, so tread carefully here.<strong> By default the fan on the R9 290 runs at a maximum speed of 47%</strong>.<strong><br /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>TrueAudio</strong> is also found on the R9 290, and whether or not it'll make a big difference in the life of an average gamer remains to be seen as no games that use it have been released yet. Gordon wrote an extremely in-depth article about it however, so <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/everything_you_wanted_know_about_amd%E2%80%99s_new_trueaudio_technology_2013">head on over</a> to it and you'll have all your questions answered.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finally, <strong>XDMA </strong>is a new technology appearing for the first time in the Radeon R9 290 series of cards. It eschews the ribbon cable we've grown so un-fond of over all these years and instead uses hardware built into the GPUs and also lets the cards communicate over the PCI-Express bus. Though AMD had seemingly wrangled its frame pacing issues with its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_delivers_frame_pacing_fix_driver_update135">recent fix</a>, it's software-based and still available for R9 280X cards and lower. For the R9 290 series though, those changes are built into the drivers and handled through XDMA. The previous GPUs based on Tahiti and lower will still have to use the ribbon cable as there's no exclusive hardware built into the GPUs to handle that transaction, but this is not surprising. It is also reasonable to assume that going forward all new GPUs will use XDMA.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The main reason for XDMA is to handle the increased traffic resulting from the proliferation of multiple displays as well as 4k panels. If AMD continued using the old ribbon cable there simply wouldn't be enough bandwidth to drive the displays at 60Hz, so XDMA was both a necessity to prepare for the future as well as a great way to allow for smoother CrossFire at super-high resolutions. AMD claims there is no performance penalty at all to this configuration, but unfortunatley there's not really any way to run Apples to Apples testing since the Crossfire connectors are removed on the cards (though the electrical contacts are still intact). We also don't have a second R9 290X or R9 290 card to test Crossfire currently, but we hope to get a second card in soon.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/xdma.jpg" alt="XDMA" title="XDMA" width="650" height="362" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Only the R9 and R9 290X get the built-in XDMA engine for CrossFire over the PCIe bus. Hopefully it'll come to all of AMD's new cards in the future.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Hit the next page for what really matters - benchmarks, power, heat, and overclocking, and our final thoughts.</em></p> <h3 style="text-align: left;"> <hr /></h3> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Testing the R9 290</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Testing the R9 290 was a straight-forward affair as we had already tested the R9 290X, and this new card doesn't have any new features though it does have one semi-notable feature removed, which is the Uber and Quiet modes. The physical switch is still there on the edge of the PCB, and it still lets you toggle between two BIOSes, but it has no effect on fan speed. On the R9 290X the switch would adjust the maximum fan speed from 40 percent in Quiet mode to 55 percent in Uber mode. The R9 290 still has dual BIOSes, and one is write-protected while the other isn't.&nbsp; Otherwise there's nothing new that needs testing on this card that doesn't exist on the R9 290X, so let's get it on.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">To start off, let’s have a look at how things compare at 2560x1600:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u302/r9290_2560_1.jpg" alt="2560 Benchmarks" title="2560 Benchmarks" width="321" height="492" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves /> <w:TrackFormatting /> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF /> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> 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<w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" QFormat="true" Name="Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Closing" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Signature" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Default Paragraph Font" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Message Header" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Salutation" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Date" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Heading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Block Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Hyperlink" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="FollowedHyperlink" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Document Map" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Plain Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="E-mail Signature" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Top of Form" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Bottom of Form" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal (Web)" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Acronym" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Address" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Cite" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Code" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Definition" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Keyboard" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Preformatted" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Sample" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Typewriter" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Variable" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal Table" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="annotation subject" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="No List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Contemporary" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Elegant" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Professional" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Balloon Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="Table Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Theme" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Placeholder Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Revision" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="41" Name="Plain Table 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="42" Name="Plain Table 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="43" Name="Plain Table 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="44" Name="Plain Table 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="45" Name="Plain Table 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="40" Name="Grid Table Light" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 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{mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 2560x1600 with 4X AA except for the 3DMark tests.</span></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">At 2560x1600 the R9 290 trades blows with the more-expensive GTX 780, making it the better alternative considering it costs $100 less. The two cards were more or less equal throughout testing, though the GTX 780 was noticeably faster in Far Cry 3, which is odd considering this is an AMD title. The GTX 780 also held the upper hand in Unigine Valley, Metro, 3DMark, and Battlefield 3, with the other tests going to the R9 290. Of course, one area where the GTX 780 is a clear winner is in watts consumed and overall noise, as it was much quieter and also sucked less juice from the wall socket as well. This is nothing new, as the R9 cards run ridiculously hot, and though the R9 290 isn't annoyingly loud, it's certainly louder than the GTX 780. It also ran about 10C hotter than the GTX 780 as well. If the cards were evenly priced, we'd say the Nvidia card gets the nod due to its acoustics and power consumption, but given the $100 price disparity between the two we have to say the AMD card is the better value. Heat and power consumption don't matter that much on the desktop, and the R9 290 card is rock stable, so given its price advantage it takes the win in this category.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Now, let's look at how the R9 290 stacks up to all the cards in this class at 2560x1600.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9_group_bench.jpg" alt="R9 Group Benchmarks" title="R9 Group Benchmarks" width="524" height="492" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 2560x1600 with 4X AA except for the 3DMark tests.</span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can see from this chart the R9 290X is faster than the R9 290 by quite a bit in many tests, and also beats the GTX Titan in several tests as well. None of this is new information, but when we ran the R9 290X tests before we didn't have enough time to test with Nvidia's latest 331.65 driver, so this chart represents the current leader board in the GPU world. It's all the fastest cards, tested with the latest drivers. You can see the R9 290X and Titan trading blows, which is a situation Nvidia hopes to correct with its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_announces_gtx_780_ti_launch_date_price_shield_update_and_780770_price_cuts_2013">GTX 780 Ti</a> launch later this week.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We also received some requests for a few benchmarks showing what this card can do at <strong>1080p</strong> going up against the less expensive GeForce GTX 770, so here they are:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>1080p Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/1080p_benchmarks_0.jpg" alt="1080p Benchmarks" title="1080p Benchmarks" width="326" height="428" /></p> <address style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 1920x1080 with 4X AA.</span></em></address> <p style="text-align: left;">Not much explanation is needed here as this card is the clear winner over the GTX 770 at 1080p. It is absolutly perfect at this resolution as it hits that silky-smooth 60fps target in most of the games we use for testing. Metro: Last Light barely runs at 30fps, but that's not too surprising as it can punish even the burliest GPU, and it's heavy use of PhysX favors Nvidia cards. Overall though, this card crushes it at 1080p, but costs $70 more than the GTX 770 so it's a trade-off for sure.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">4k Benchmarks</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Both Nvidia and AMD are pushing 4k big time with their latest GPUs, so naturally we've run some tests at this resolution. Games at 4K look absolutely amazing, but boy oh boy do you need some serious firepower to run any of the latest games at full detail. In fact, they are so demanding at this 3840x2160 resolution that we have to disable AA otherwise it is simply unplayable, even on these premium GPUs. As an aside, it's interesting to see what they can do at 4K but it's also not terribly relevant right now due to the cost of the panels. The panel we used in the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/dream_machine_2013">Dream Machine</a> cost $3,500, and the Sharp panel we used for these tests (which we believe is the exact same unit) costs $5,300, so we seriously doubt even hardcore gamers are running these bad boys yet. It is simply too bleeding edge, unless you can run dual or three-way Titans or R9 290X cards. We never though we'd say it, but that's even too rich for our blood. Regardless, here are the numbers:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4K Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/4k_r9_290.jpg" alt="R9 290 4K" title="R9 290 4K" width="333" height="428" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 3840x2160 with AA disabled.</span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">In our 4k tests there is not a clear winner as it's five wins for AMD, and four wins for Nvidia, though, once again, the fact that the R9 290 costs $100 less than the GTX 780 gives it an advantage considering their performance parity. The R9 290 is the clear winner is Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider (all AMD games, by the way), Battlefield 3, and Hitman, whereas the GTX 780 is only significantly faster in Metro: Last Light, which is an Nvidia title with physics that are not friendly to AMD's cards at all. All in all though, it's an impressive showing for a $400 GPU.</p> <h3>Power, Heat, and Overclocking</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Just like its big brother R9 290X the R9 290 ran hot, made a little bit of noise, and wasn’t able to be overclocked beyond its base "max" clock of 947MHz. AMD lists its clock speed as “up to 947MHz” and in testing that is how it goes, spinning up to 947MHz when it can, then backing off that clock a bit when temperatures get too extreme. Once it has achieved that delicate balance, it continues to throttle clock speeds up and down by 50Mhz or so under load always staying around 93 or 94C the entire time. Yes, it’s very hot, especially compared to Nvidia’s cards, which typically never get hotter than 83C or so overclocked, but the R9 290 was totally, 100 percent stable throughout testing. Once again we looped Heaven 4.0 over the weekend, and our test bed had no issues whatsoever. The R9 290 sat there at about 94C the entire weekend, and never crashed. Overclocking though, is out of the question. The card already runs hot enough to make the GPU throttle in stock trim, so it's not possible to push the card any further at its stock settings. We could have pushed the fan beyond 47 percent, sure, but it gets very loud very quickly, even at 50 percent, so we don't imagine most users will want to run this GPU at that noise level.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The stock cooling mechanism AMD built for this card does a good job of exhausting heat however, even though it looks a bit plain, especially in comparison to the sleek coolers on the GTX 780/Titan. When the card is hovering over 90C you can still put your hand one half-inch away from it and feel almost no heat whatsoever, so it seems to exhaust well and run totally fine despite its sky-high temperatures. We know it's weird seeing a card run at 94C, and it takes some getting used to. AMD has assured us that is how the card is designed, so it should be able to run at those temps for its entire life without issues. We certainly had no issues in testing, and it was always stable, so we have to give it a passing grade. Just like with the super-hot R9 290X we cannot wait to see what aftermarket cooling mechanisms do for this card's heat output and overclocking potential. Just like how you can overclock a GTX 780 to match a Titan, we're sure the R9 290 could be pumped up to match the 290X with enough cooling. We will have to wait and see if those cards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, Sapphire, XFX, and others ever materialize, but we believe they will, and we're excited to check them out when they do arrive, hopefully before the holidays.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;"><strong>Final Thoughts</strong></h3> <p style="text-align: left;">When AMD launched the R9 290X last week it was an assault on Nvidia's single-GPU dominance in the premium video card space, and it was a shot that certainly hit its target. The R9 290X exceeded the GTX 780's performance while costing $100 less, so that is a clear-cut victory for AMD. Undaunted, Nvidia responded by dropping the GTX 780's price down to $500, essentially wiping out the R9 290X's advantage in that matchup. The Titan is still threatened by the R9 290X though, but Nvidia doesn't seem to bothered by it, so for now it's leaving the Titan alone. Now that we have the R9 290 though, the GTX 780 is once again under some serious pressure from AMD because the 290 is just as fast, and once again, costs $100 less. If you have $400 burning a hole in your pocket, the R9 290 is clearly the fastest GPU at that price point. We didn't test it against the GTX 770 simply because that is a card we test at 1080p, and the R9 290 is a 2560x1600 card, but it would certainly be faster than the GTX 770 as well since it can beat a GTX 780 in many tests.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Overall, the R9 290 is another excellent GPU from AMD with a tremendous price-to-performance ratio that Nvidia simlply cannot match at this time. It definitely runs hotter and makes a bit more noise than it's next of kin on the green team, but for $100 we would bet most consumers would be willing to put on some headphones. Plus it's almost winter, so the heat will probably come in handy for a lot of folks. On a serious note though, we did not find the heat or noise created by this card to be a problem, so don't let it scare you off.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">From here we wait for two events to occur - the GTX 780 Ti launch later this week, which Nvidia is hoping will allow it to once again wrest control of the trophy for "fastest single GPU" since the R9 290X has muddied the waters a bit and put its Titan in peril, at least when it comes to gaming. Also, it's possible that the R9 290 launch will cause Nvidia to lower the price on the GTX 780 even further to be more competitive. As always we will have to wait and see what happens.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finally, there are still unknowns in both camps at this time. AMD has its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_r9_290x_will_be_much_faster_titan_battlefield_4">Mantle</a> API and <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/everything_you_wanted_know_about_amd%E2%80%99s_new_trueaudio_technology_2013">TrueAudio</a>, both of which are untested at this time. Nvidia has <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_announces_nvidia_g-sync_gamestream_and_much_more">G-Sync monitors</a>, ShadowPlay, its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidias_geforce_gtx_holiday_bundles_feature_free_games_and_shield_discounts2013">Holiday Game Bundle</a>, GameStream/Shield, and of course, better acoustics and lower overall temps due to Kepler's efficiency. We've yet to test frame pacing using AMD's new XDMA setup, but reports indicate it's finally as good if not better than Nvidia's SLI at this time. Regardless, both AMD and Nvidia have very unique and exclusive features at this time, making the choice between one camp or the other more difficult than it's ever been.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">All in all, we can't remember a time when competition has been as white hot and fierce between AMD and Nvidia as it is right now. AMD has really come out swinging for the fences with its Hawaii GPUs, which have already resulted in both price drops and a new GPU on the way in the form of the GTX 780 Ti. Whether or not today's launch of the R9 290 results in even more price cuts or GPU offspring remains to be seen, but one thing is certain -- it's an awesome time to be in the GPU market.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290_benchmarks#comments amd r9 290 radeon Video cards Reviews Videocards Tue, 05 Nov 2013 06:17:58 +0000 Josh Norem 26610 at http://www.maximumpc.com Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_review2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-size: 1.17em;">4K and SLI tested on Nvidia's high-end Maxwell card</span></h3> <p>Sometimes things don't go according to plan. Both AMD and Nvidia were supposed to have shifted to 20-nanometer parts by now. In theory, that's supposed to get you lower temperatures, higher clock speeds and quieter operation. Due to circumstances largely out of its control, Nvidia has had to go ahead with a 28nm high-end Maxwell part instead, dubbed GM204. This is not a direct successor to the GTX 780, which has more transistors, texture mapping units, and things like that. The 980 is actually the next step beyond the GTX 680, aka GK104, which was launched in March 2012.</p> <p>Despite that, our testing indicates that the GTX 980 can still be meaningfully faster than the GTX 780 and 780 Ti (and AMD’s Radeon R9 290 and 290X, for that matter, though there are a of couple games better optimized for Radeon hardware). When 20nm processes become available sometime next year, we’ll probably see the actual successor to the GTX 780. But right now, the GTX 980 is here, and comes in at $500. That seems high at first, but recall that the GTX 680, 580, and 480 all launched at this price. And keep in mind that it’s a faster card than the 780 and 780 Ti, which currently cost more. (As we wrote this, AMD announced that it was dropping the base price of the R9 290X from $500 to $450, so that war rages on.) The GTX 970 at $329 may be a better deal, but we have not yet obtained one of those for testing.</p> <p>In other news, Nvidia told us that they were dropping the price of the GTX 760 to $219, and the GTX 780 Ti, 780 and 770 are being officially discontinued. So if you need a second one of those for SLI, now is a good time.</p> <p>Let's take a look at the specs:</p> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td></td> <td>GTX 980</td> <td>GTX 970</td> <td>GTX 680</td> <td>GTX 780</td> <td>GTX 780 Ti</td> <td>R9 290X</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Generation</td> <td>GM204</td> <td>GM204&nbsp;</td> <td>GK104&nbsp;</td> <td>GK104&nbsp;</td> <td class="item-dark">GK110</td> <td>&nbsp;Hawaii</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Core Clock (MHz)</td> <td>&nbsp;1126</td> <td>&nbsp;1050</td> <td>&nbsp;1006</td> <td>&nbsp;863</td> <td>876</td> <td>&nbsp;"up to" 1GHz</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Boost Clock (MHz)</td> <td>&nbsp;1216</td> <td>&nbsp;1178</td> <td>&nbsp;1058</td> <td>&nbsp;900</td> <td class="item-dark">928</td> <td>&nbsp;N/A</td> </tr> <tr> <td>VRAM Clock (MHz)</td> <td>&nbsp;7000</td> <td>&nbsp;7000</td> <td>&nbsp;6000</td> <td>&nbsp;6000</td> <td>7000</td> <td>&nbsp;5000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>VRAM Amount</td> <td>&nbsp;4GB</td> <td>&nbsp;4GB</td> <td>&nbsp;2GB/4GB</td> <td>&nbsp;3GB/6GB</td> <td>3GB</td> <td>&nbsp;4GB</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bus</td> <td>&nbsp;256-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;256-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;256-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;384-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;384-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;512-bit</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ROPs</td> <td>&nbsp;64</td> <td>&nbsp;64</td> <td>&nbsp;32</td> <td>&nbsp;48</td> <td>48</td> <td>&nbsp;64</td> </tr> <tr> <td>TMUs</td> <td>&nbsp;128</td> <td>&nbsp;104</td> <td>&nbsp;128</td> <td>&nbsp;192</td> <td>240</td> <td>&nbsp;176</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Shaders</td> <td>&nbsp;2048</td> <td>&nbsp;1664</td> <td>&nbsp;1536</td> <td>&nbsp;2304</td> <td>2880</td> <td>&nbsp;2816</td> </tr> <tr> <td>SMs</td> <td>&nbsp;16</td> <td>&nbsp;13</td> <td>&nbsp;8</td> <td>&nbsp;12</td> <td>&nbsp;15</td> <td>&nbsp;N/A</td> </tr> <tr> <td>TDP (watts)</td> <td>&nbsp;165</td> <td>&nbsp;145</td> <td>&nbsp;195</td> <td>&nbsp;250</td> <td>&nbsp;250</td> <td>&nbsp;290</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Launch Price</td> <td>&nbsp;$549</td> <td>&nbsp;$329</td> <td>&nbsp;$499</td> <td>&nbsp;$649</td> <td>&nbsp;$699</td> <td>&nbsp;$549</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p>On paper, the 980 and 970 don't look like much of a jump from the 680. In fact, the 980 has only 128 shaders (aka "CUDA cores") per streaming multi-processor (SM). Performance tends to increase with a higher number of shaders per SM, so how did the 980 GTX perform so well in our benches, despite having a worse ratio than all the other cards? Well, Nvidia claims that they've improved the performance of each CUDA core by 40%. Provided that this calculation is accurate, the GTX 980 effectively has about as many CUDA cores as a 780 Ti. Add the GTX 980's bigger clock speeds, and performance should be higher.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/7g0a0209_620.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>You probably also noticed the unusually low price for the GTX 970. The GTX 670 launched at $400 in May 2012, and the GTX 570 launched at $350 in December 2010. These earlier two cards were also had more similar specs compared to their bigger brothers. For example, the GTX 570 had 480 CUDA cores, while the 580 had 512 cores. This is a difference of just 6.25%, although the memory bus was reduced from 384-bits to 320-bits. In contrast, the 970 gets nearly 20% fewer CUDA cores than the 980, though its memory bus remains unchanged. As we said, we haven't gotten a 970 in yet, but, based on its specs, we doubt that we can compensate with overclocking, as we've been able to do in the past with the GTX 670 and 760, and the Radeon R9 290.</p> <p>Nvidia also says that the official boost clock on these new Maxwell cards is not set in stone. We witnessed our cards boosting up to 1,253MHz for extended periods of time (i.e., 20 seconds here, 30 seconds there). When the cards hit their thermal limit of 80 degrees Celsius, they would fall down as low as 1,165Mhz, but we never saw them throttle below the official base clock of 1,126MHz. In SLI, we also noted that the upper card would go up to 84 C. According to Nvidia, these cards have an upper boundary of 95 C, at which point they will throttle below the base clock to avoid going up in smoke. We were not inclined to test that theory, for now.</p> <h4 style="text-align: right;"><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_review2014?page=0,1" target="_blank">Next Page: Voxels, new anti-aliasing, and VR</a></h4> <hr /> <p>The company also says that its delta color compression algorithms have improved bandwidth requirements by about 25 percent on average (it varies from game to game). This extra headroom provides more space for increased frame rates. Since DCC directly affects pixels, this effect should scale with your resolution, becoming increasingly helpful as you crank your res higher.</p> <p>You can also combine these gains with Nvidia’s new Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA). This technique rotates a pixel’s sampling points from one frame to the next, so that two of these points can simulate the visual results of four sampling points whose locations remain static. The effect starts to shimmer at about 20FPS, whereupon it’s automatically disabled. But when running well, Nvidia claims that it can be 30 percent faster, on average, than the visually equivalent level of Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA). Like TXAA (Temporal Anti-Aliasing), this technique won’t be available on AMD cards (or if it is, it will be built by AMD from the ground up and called something else).</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/7g0a0238_resize.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>Unfortunately, MFAA was not available in the version 344.07 beta drivers given to us for testing, but Nvidia said it would be in the driver after this one. This means that the package will not be complete on launch day. Support will trickle down to the older Kepler cards later on. Nvidia hasn’t been specific about timelines of specific cards, but it sounded like the 750 and 750 Ti (also technically Maxwell cards), will not be invited to this party.</p> <p>Another major upgrade is Voxel Global Illumination, or VXGI. Nvidia positions this as the next step beyond ambient occlusion. With VXGI, light bounces off of surfaces to illuminate nooks and crannies that would otherwise not be lit realistically, in real time. Ordinarily, light does not bounce around in a 3D game engine like it does in meatspace. It simply hits a surface, illuminates it, and that’s the end. Sometimes the lighting effect is just painted onto the texture. So there’s a lot more calculation going on with VXGI.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/maxwell_die_620.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>But Nvidia has not made specific performance claims because the effect is highly scalable. A developer can choose how many cones of light they want to use, and the degree of bounced light resolution (you can go for diffused/blurry spots of light, or a reflection that’s nearly a mirror image of the bounced surface), and they balance this result against a performance target. Since this is something that has to be coded into the game engine, we won’t see that effect right away by forcing it in the drivers, like Nvidia users can with ambient occlusion.</p> <p>Next is Dynamic Super Resolution (in the 344.11 drivers released today, so we'll be giving this one a peek soon). This tech combines super-sampling with a custom filter. Super sampling takes a higher resolution that your monitor can display and squishes it down. This is a popular form of anti-aliasing, but the performance hit is pretty steep. The 13-tap Gaussian filter that the card lays on top can further smooth out jaggies. It's a post-process effect that's thankfully very light, and you can also scale DSR down from 3840x2160 to 2560x1440. It's our understanding that this effect is only available to owners of the 980 and 970, at least for now, but we'll be checking on that ASAP.</p> <p>Nvidia is also investing more deeply into VR headsets with an initiative called VR Direct. Their main bullet point is a reduction in average latency from 50ms to 25ms, using a combination of code optimization, MFAA, and another new feature called Auto Asynchronous Warp (AAW). This displays frames at 60fps even when performance drops below that. Since each eye is getting an independently rendered scene, your PC effectively needs to maintain 120FPS otherwise, which isn’t going to be common with more demanding games. AAW takes care of the difference. However, we haven’t had the opportunity to test the GTX 980 with VR-enabled games yet.</p> <p>Speaking of which, Nvidia is also introducing another new feature called Auto Stereo. As its name implies, it forces stereoscopic rendering in games that were not built with VR headsets in mind. We look forward to testing VR Direct at a later date.</p> <p>Lastly, we also noticed that GeForce Experience can now record at this resolution. It was previously limited to 2560x1600.</p> <p>Until we get our hands on MFAA and DSR, we have some general benchmarks to tide you over. We tested the GTX 980 in two-way SLI and by itself, at 2560x1600 and 3820x2160. We compared it to roughly equivalent cards that we've also run in solo and two-way configs.</p> <h4 style="text-align: right;"><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_review2014?page=0,2" target="_blank">Next Page: SLI Benchmarks!</a></h4> <hr /> <p>Here's the system that we've been using for all of our recent GPU benchmarks:</p> <div class="spec-table orange" style="text-align: center;"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td><strong>Part</strong></td> <td><strong>Component</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">CPU</td> <td class="item-dark">Intel Core i7-3960X (at stock clock speeds; 3.3GHz base, 3.9GHz turbo)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU Cooler</td> <td>Corsair Hydro Series H100</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Mobo</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus Rampage IV Extreme</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>4x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X, 2133MHz CL9</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Supply</td> <td>Thermaltake Toughpower Grand (1,050 watts)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>SSD</td> <td>1TB Crucial M550</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>Windows 8.1 Update 1</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Case</td> <td>NZXT Phantom 530&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;"><span style="text-align: center;">Now, let’s take a look at our results at 2560x1600 with 4xMSAA. For reference, this is twice as many pixels as 1920x1080. So gamers playing at 1080p on a similar PC can expect roughly twice the framerate, if they use the same graphical settings. We customarily use the highest preset provided by the game itself; for example, <em>Hitman: Absolution</em> is benchmarked with the “Ultra” setting. 3DMark runs the Firestrike test at 1080p, however. We also enable TressFX in Tomb Raider, and PhysX in Metro: Last Light.</span></p> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td></td> <td>GTX 980</td> <td>GTX 680</td> <td>GTX 780</td> <td>GTX 780 Ti</td> <td>R9 290X</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Tomb Raider</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>33</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;19</td> <td>25</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;27</td> <td>&nbsp;26</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Metro: Last Light</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>46</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;21</td> <td>&nbsp;22</td> <td>&nbsp;32</td> <td>&nbsp;30</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins</td> <td>&nbsp;75</td> <td>&nbsp;51</td> <td>&nbsp;65</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>78</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;65</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Hitman: Absolution</td> <td>&nbsp;42</td> <td>&nbsp;27</td> <td>&nbsp;40</td> <td>&nbsp;45</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>50</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Valley</td> <td>&nbsp;45</td> <td>&nbsp;30</td> <td>&nbsp;43</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>48</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;41</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Heaven</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>39</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;64</td> <td>&nbsp;35</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>39</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;34</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Firestrike</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>11,490</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;6,719</td> <td>&nbsp;8,482</td> <td>&nbsp;9,976</td> <td>9,837</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p>(best scores <strong>bolded</strong><strong>)</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">To synthesize the results into a few sentences, we would say that the 980 is doing very well for its price. It’s not leapfrogging over the 780 and 780 Ti, but Nvidia indicates that it’s not supposed to anyway. It dominates the GTX 680, but that card is also two years old and discontinued, so the difference is not unexpected or likely to change buying habits. The R9 290X, meanwhile, is hitting $430, while the not-much-slower 290 can be had for as little as $340. And you can pick up a 780 Ti for $560. So the GTX 980's price at launch is going to be a bit of a hurdle for Nvidia.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">Performance in Metro: Last Light has also vastly improved. (We run that benchmark with “Advanced PhysX” enabled, indicating that Nvidia has made some optimizations there. Further testing is needed.) Loyal Radeon fans will probably not be swayed to switch camps, at least on the basis of pure performance. Hitman in particular does not appear to favor the Green Team.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">We were fortunate enough to obtain a second GTX 980, so we decided to set them up in SLI, at the same resolution of 2560x1600. Here, the differences are more distinct. We’ve honed the comparison down to the most competitive cards that we have SLI/CF benchmarks for. (Unfortunately, we do not have a second GTX 680 in hand at this time. But judging by its single-card performance, it's very unlikely to suddenly pull ahead.) For this special occasion, we brought in the Radeon R9 295X2, which has two 290X GPUs on one card and has been retailing lately for about a thousand bucks.</p> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td></td> <td>GTX 980</td> <td>GTX 780</td> <td>GTX 780 Ti</td> <td>R9 295X2</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Tomb Raider</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>66</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;45</td> <td>&nbsp;56</td> <td>&nbsp;50</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Metro: Last Light</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>70</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;52</td> <td>&nbsp;53</td> <td>&nbsp;48</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins</td> <td>&nbsp;131</td> <td>&nbsp;122</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>143</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;90</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Hitman: Absolution</td> <td>&nbsp;77</td> <td>&nbsp;74</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>79</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;79</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Valley</td> <td>&nbsp;80</td> <td>&nbsp;72</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>87</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;41</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Heaven</td> <td>&nbsp;73</td> <td>&nbsp;60</td> <td><strong>&nbsp;77</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;65</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3DMark Firestrike</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>17,490</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;14,336</td> <td>&nbsp;16,830</td> <td>&nbsp;15,656</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p>(best scores <strong>bolded</strong>)</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">While a solo 980 GTX is already a respectable competitor for the price, its success is more pronounced when we add a second card—as is the gap between it and the 780 Ti. It still continues to best the GTX 780, getting us over 60 FPS in each game with all visual effects cranked up. That's an ideal threshold. It also looks like Nvidia's claim of 40 percent improved CUDA core performance may not be happening consistently. Future driver releases should reveal if this is a matter of software optimization, or if it's a limitation in hardware. Or just a random cosmic anomaly.</p> <h4 style="text-align: right;"><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_review2014?page=0,3" target="_blank">Next Page: 4K benchmarks and conclusion</a></h4> <hr /> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">So, what happens when we scale up to 3840x2160, also known as “4K”? Here we have almost twice as many pixels as 2560x1600, and four times as many as 1080p. Can the GTX 980’s 256-bit bus really handle this much bandwidth?</p> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td></td> <td>GTX 980</td> <td>GTX 680</td> <td>GTX 780</td> <td>GTX 780 Ti</td> <td>R9 290X</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Tomb Raider</td> <td>&nbsp;16</td> <td>&nbsp;8.7*</td> <td>&nbsp;26</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;<strong>28</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;28</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Metro: Last Light</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>36</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;12</td> <td>&nbsp;18</td> <td>&nbsp;19</td> <td>&nbsp;18</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins</td> <td>&nbsp;35</td> <td>&nbsp;25</td> <td>&nbsp;33</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>38</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;38</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Hitman: Absolution</td> <td>&nbsp;20</td> <td>&nbsp;15</td> <td>&nbsp;20</td> <td>&nbsp;24</td> <td><strong>&nbsp;28</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Valley</td> <td>&nbsp;19</td> <td>&nbsp;15</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>30</strong></td> <td><strong>&nbsp;30</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;26</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Heaven</td> <td>&nbsp;19</td> <td>&nbsp;11</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>23</strong></td> <td><strong>&nbsp;23</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;18</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p>(best scores <strong>bolded</strong>)</p> <p>*TressFX disabled</p> <p>The 980 is still scaling well, but the 384-bit 780 and 780 Ti are clearly scaling better, as is the 512-bit 290X. (<strong>Update:</strong>&nbsp;We've re-checked our test results for Hitman: Absolution, and the AMD cards weren't doing nearly as well as we originally thought, though they're still the best option for that particular game. The Batman tests have been re-done as well.) We had to disable TressFX when benchmarking the 680, because the test would crash otherwise, and it was operating at less than 1FPS anyway. At 4K, that card basically meets its match, and almost its maker.</p> <p>Here's 4K SLI/Crossfire. All tests are still conducted at 4xMSAA, which is total overkill at 4K, but we want to see just how hard we can push these cards. (Ironically, we have most of the SLI results for the 290X here, but not for 2560x1600. That's a paddlin'.)</p> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td></td> <td>GTX 980</td> <td>GTX 780</td> <td>GTX 780 Ti</td> <td>R9 290X</td> <td>R9 295X2</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Tomb Raider</td> <td>&nbsp;33</td> <td>&nbsp;41</td> <td>&nbsp;44</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;52</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>53</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Metro: Last Light</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>43</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;21</td> <td>&nbsp;27</td> <td>&nbsp;29</td> <td>&nbsp;26</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>68</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;60</td> <td>&nbsp;65</td> <td>&nbsp;67</td> <td>&nbsp;66</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Hitman: Absolution</td> <td>&nbsp;42</td> <td>&nbsp;40</td> <td>&nbsp;44</td> <td><strong>&nbsp;53</strong></td> <td><strong>&nbsp;</strong><strong>50</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Valley</td> <td>&nbsp;39</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>43</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;40</td> <td>&nbsp;24</td> <td>&nbsp;19</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Heaven</td> <td>&nbsp;34</td> <td>&nbsp;33</td> <td>&nbsp;<strong>44</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;17</td> <td>&nbsp;34</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p>(best scores <strong>bolded</strong>)</p> <p>It does appear that the raw memory bandwidth of the 780, 780 Ti, and 290X come in handy at this resolution, despite the optimizations of Maxwell CUDA cores. That Metro: Last Light score remains pretty interesting. It's the only one we run with PhysX enabled (to balance out using TressFX in Tomb Raider). It really does look like Maxwell is much better at PhysX than any other GPU before it. That tech isn't quite common enough to change the game. But if the difference is as good as our testing indicates, more developers may pick it up.</p> <p>Even a blisteringly fast card can be brought down by high noise levels or prodigious heat. Thankfully, this reference cooler is up to the task. Keep in mind that this card draws up to 165 watts, and its cooler is designed to handle cards that go up to 250W. But even with the fan spinning up to nearly 3,000rpm, it’s not unpleasant. With the case side panels on, you can still hear the fan going like crazy, but we didn’t find it distracting. These acoustics only happened in SLI, by the way. Without the primary card sucking in hot air from the card right below it, its fan behaved much more quietly. The GTX 980’s cooling is nothing like the reference design of the Radeon R9 290 or 290X.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/key_visual_620.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>With a TDP of just 165W, a respectable 650-watt power supply should have no trouble powering two 980 GTXs. Meanwhile, the 290-watt R9 290X really needs a nice 850-watt unit to have some breathing room, and even more power would not be unwelcome.</p> <p>Since MFAA and DSR were not available in the driver that was supplied for testing, there’s more story for us to tell over the coming weeks. (<strong>Update</strong>: DSR settings are actually in this driver, just not in the location that we were expecting.) And we still need to do some testing with VR. But as it stands right now, the GTX 980 is another impressive showing for Nvidia. Its 4K scaling isn't as good as we'd like, especially since Maxwell is currently the only tech that will have Dynamic Super Resolution. If you want to play at that level, it looks like the 290 and 290X are better choices, price-wise, while the overall performance crown at 4K still belongs to the 780 and 780 Ti. But considering the price difference between the 980 and the 780, its similar performance is commendable.</p> <p>For 2560x1600 or lower resolutions, the 980 GTX emerges as a compelling option, but we're not convinced that it's over $100 better than a 290X. Then again, you have MFAA, DSR, and VR Direct, (and the overall GeForce Experience package that's a bit slicker than AMD's Gaming Evolved) which might work some people, or for Nvidia loyalists who've been waiting for an upgrade from their 680 that's not quite as expensive as the 780 or 780 Ti.</p> <p><a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/09/19/nvidia-gtx-980-tested-sli-4k-and-single-gpu-benchmarks-and-impressions/" target="_blank">Our amigo Wes Fenlon over at PC Gamer has a write-up of his own</a>, so go check it out.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_review2014#comments 4k 980 GTX benchmarks comparison geforce gpu nvidia performance Review sli Video Card Videocards Fri, 19 Sep 2014 03:04:15 +0000 Tom McNamara 28564 at http://www.maximumpc.com MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming OC Review http://www.maximumpc.com/msi_radeon_r9_270_gaming_oc_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>No surprises here, just a solid 1080p card</h3> <p><a title="msi" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/msi" target="_blank">MSI</a> is offering two flavors of its midrange Radeon R9 270 GPU, formerly known as the <a title="7870 GHz" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/radeon_hd_7870_ghz_edition" target="_blank">Radeon HD 7870 GHz edition</a>. There is a standard model and one with an “X” after its name. The difference between the two is the X model has slightly higher core and boost clocks, but otherwise the two cards are the same and are both based on AMD’s Pitcairn GCN core, which is a 28nm part that debuted in 2013.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/r9_270x_gaming_2gd5v303_3d1_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/r9_270x_gaming_2gd5v303_3d1_small.jpg" alt="Don’t bother with the R9 270X—the non-X version shown here is just fine. " title="MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming OC" width="620" height="487" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Don’t bother with the R9 270X—the non-X version shown here is just fine. </strong></p> <p>The card in front of you is the MSI R9 270 Gaming model, which is a stock R9 270 with a mild overclock, hence the word “Gaming” in its moniker. It has an MSRP of $180, while the X version is roughly $20 more, though street prices are higher due to the mining craze and short supply. For those who are prone to guffawing at a card that is merely rebadged and price-dropped, this is par for the course and actually good news for gamers. That’s because both Nvidia and AMD refine their manufacturing processes over time, so by the time a GPU gets a rebadge, it’s often able to run at higher clocks with better efficiency for a much lower price. The bottom line is that this card once had a $350 price tag and now costs less than $200, so there’s very little to complain about.</p> <p>To rehash the specs, this is a card with a base clock of 900MHz and a boost clock of 975MHz, which is 50MHz higher than the reference board. It has 2GB of GDDR5 memory that runs at 5.6GHz, and 1,280 stream processors. Since this is not new silicon, the card does not offer support for TrueAudio, but as it’s a Graphics Core Next (GCN) card, it does support AMD’s new Mantle API (at press time, BF4 was not optimized for Mantle with the R9 270, but AMD said it’s “being investigated”). As a midrange GPU, the R9 270 has a low-ish TDP of 150w, and therefore requires only a single six-pin PCIe connector for power—an advantage over the 270X, which requires two six-pin connectors. Interestingly, the R9 270 doesn’t have a direct competitor from Nvidia since it costs just a bit over $200, so it sits right in between the $250 GTX 760 and the $150 GTX 650 Ti (the Ti Boost is out of stock everywhere, but costs around $175). The GTX 660 is about the same price, but that card is ancient, so we compared it to the more-expensive GTX 760.</p> <p>Overall, we had a pleasant testing experience with the MSI R9 270 card. It was quiet and cool—never getting hotter than <br />60 C—and was totally stable. It ran the grueling new Star Swarm demo over a weekend with nary a hiccup, and we were also able to overclock it to 1,140MHz boost clock, which netted a 10 percent bump in performance. Basically, we found its performance exactly in line with its price, in that it was a bit slower than the more-expensive GTX 760 in all the games we test aside from Tomb Raider, which is an AMD game.</p> <p>In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the MSI R9 270 Gaming OC and we have no problem recommending it. However, we’d still go with the GTX 760 just because it is quite a bit faster in many games, and only costs $30 more. If Mantle support is important to you, though, feel free to pull the trigger.</p> <p><strong>$220 (street),</strong> <a href="http://www.msi.com/index.php">www.msi.com</a></p> <p><span style="font-style: italic;">Note: This review was originally featured in the April 2014 issue of the&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="maximum pc mag" href="https://w1.buysub.com/pubs/IM/MAX/MAX-subscribe.jsp?cds_page_id=63027&amp;cds_mag_code=MAX&amp;id=1366314265949&amp;lsid=31081444255021801&amp;vid=1&amp;cds_response_key=IHTH31ANN" target="_blank">magazine</a><span style="font-style: italic;">.</span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/msi_radeon_r9_270_gaming_oc_review#comments april issues 2014 graphics card Hardware maximum pc msi radeon r9 270 oc Review videocard Reviews Videocards Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:39:42 +0000 Josh Norem 28096 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD Unleashes the Dual-GPU Radeon R9 295X2 http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_unleashes_dual-gpu_radeon_r9_295x2 <!--paging_filter--><h3>AMD's $1,500, 500w TDP monster GPU arrives</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/radeon_r9fan_watercooler_product_shot_birdseye_5in300dpi_4c_small.jpg" alt="R9 295X2" title="R9 295X2" width="250" height="189" style="float: right;" />Today AMD is pulling the wraps, or the briefcase as it were, off its new flagship GPU - the massively badass Radeon R9 295X2. Packing two fully-loaded R9 290X GPUs, this air-and-water cooled $1,500 GPU is the new "fastest single GPU" on the planet, and sets new records for both benchmark performance as well as sticker price.</p> <h3>Project Hydra</h3> <p>When we first heard whispers about a dual-Hawaii card coming out of AMD's Skunk Works, we figured a few things had to happen to make this card a reality. We thought perhaps it would tone down its R9 290X core a bit to keep temperatures somewhat below "thermonuclear," because just one R9 290X GPU needs a cooler the size of Montana to keep it from getting so hot it begins to throttle. Since one of these GPUs runs hotter than Russell Crowe, we figured if AMD had the cajones to put two of them on a PCB it would either need to be liquid-cooled, or severely underclocked so as to not overwhelm whatever massive cooler it had designed. As it turns out, we were sort of wrong, and sort of right, and we couldn't have asked for anything more with the final card we now know as the Radeon R9 295X2.</p> <p>Instead of making compromises, lowering clock speeds, or both, AMD said "F that" and went all-in, shoving two *overclocked* R9 290X GPUs into a massive 12-inch shroud that is cooled by both liquid and air, then slapping the highest MSRP we've ever seen on a retail GPU in our hardware-watching lives, at least until the GTX Titan Z arrives at some point in the future.</p> <p><img src="/files/u302/radeon_r9fan.jpg" width="650" height="490" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Radeon R9 295X2 is over 12 inches long. Insert "that's what she said" joke here.</em></p> <h3>GPU Specs</h3> <p>Since we've already covered the Radeon R9 290X in the past, this rundown of the specs will be quick and dirty. Okay, so you take one R9 290X GPU, then take another one, and put them on the same card. There you have it! The only difference between these GPUs and stand-alone R9 290X GPUs is that most of them would hit a boost clock of 1,000MHz if given enough thermal headroom, whereas the GPUs on the R9 295X2 are designed to hit a slightly faster 1,018MHz. Not only that, but due to the increased cooling performance made possible by the Asetek-designed apparatus, you can actually overclock these GPUs as well, which was not possible on a reference R9 290X. Otherwise, specs are exactly double compared to the R9 290X, so there are 5,632 Stream Processors, 12.4 billion transistors, 8GB of RAM total, dual 512-bit memory bus, a 500w TDP, and 11.5Tflops of compute performance. If you're the type who doesn't like reading, and wants to look at a chart, we feel you. Here is a spec chart provided by AMD:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9295x2_specs.jpg" alt="R9 295X2 Specs" title="R9 295X2 Specs" width="557" height="538" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Hybrid Cooling</h3> <p>Since the Hawaii core at the heart of the R9 295X2 runs hotter than the surface of the sun, AMD had to enlist the expertise of Asetek to build a custom closed-loop liquid cooling mechanism to keep the GPUs colder than Gwyneth Paltrow's heart. Each GPU gets its own water block to dissipate heat, with liquid entering the system via one tube, swishing around a bit, then squirting over to the second GPU via a connecting tube underneath the shroud. Once it makes its rounds in the second water block it is sent back to the radiator where it's cooled by a 120mm fan. Here's a picture of the whole shebang:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/amdrad_r9_watercooler.jpg" width="650" height="434" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Asetek cooler is maintenance-free and uses Kool Aid inside. Not really.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Compared to the Titan Z</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">The Radeon R9 295X2 is a natural competitor to the GTX Titan Z, but just because both of them sport two of each company's current flagship GPUs, AMD with its R9 290X and Nvidia with its Titan Black. Since the Radeon card costs half the price of a Titan Z they will exist in separate worlds, with the Radeon strictly for gaming and mining, and with the Titan Z for gamers/developers. Also, we still have not seen official specs for the Titan Z, and Nvidia doesn't have it listed on its website, so some of this comparison is pure speculation. That said, let's speculate via this handy chart comparing the two cards:</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9295x2_titanz.jpg" width="339" height="430" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">*The Titan Z's compute ability is unknown, so this is a guess based on 2X Titan Black.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Two Interesting Tidbits</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Before we get to the benchmarks, there are two unique attributes of this card we want to point out. The first is that the R9 295X2 has a glowing red logo on its side and a red LED-lit center fan; a first for an AMD GPU. Those who have been green with envy (heh) over Nvidia's glowing GeForce logo will surely appreciate this edition. AMD says it was added as part of the card's "no compromise" design. A second part of that design philosophy extends to the dual eight-pin power connectors, which must each provide 28A of power to the card. This means you can't just run one cable with two eight-pin PCIe connectors on it to the GPU, so you'll essentially need an SLI/CrossFire capable PSU to run this bad boy. It is, after all, a CrossFire GPU.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/fan.jpg" width="400" height="383" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>AMD brings the bling with a glowing logo and LED fan.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ok, enough jibber jabber. Hit the next page for benchmarks and our final thoughts.</p> <hr /> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Benchmarks</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">We tested the R9 295X2 on our standard GPU test bench, which is a high-end machine running an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard, Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition CPU, 16GB of DDR3/1600 memory, a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050 PSU, and Windows 8 Enterprise. We did not have two GTX 780 Ti cards to use for testing, so we compared it to a dual R9 290X cards in CrossFire running at 4K resolution to get things started.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3840x2160 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/crossfire_comparison.jpg" width="341" height="422" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Overall, there's not much surprise here, except for the fact that this is the first single-GPU card we've tested that is actually playable at 4K resolution. Also what you can't experience by looking at this benchmark chart is how loud the R9 290X cards are when run under load in tandem. They make some noise, whereas the R9 295X2 is very, very quiet. There is still a tiny bit of fan noise under load but it's night-and-day compared to a stock R9 290X</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Next we compared the R9 295X2 to the GTX 780 Ti, also at 3840x2160.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3840x2160 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/780ti-comparison.jpg" width="342" height="393" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Compared to the single-GPU competition, well, there is no competition. The R9 295X2 lays the smack down plain and simple, which is to be expected given its numerous advantages.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Next up, the R9 295X2 versus <strong>GTX 780 SLI</strong>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3840x2160 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img src="/files/u302/sli_4k.jpg" width="343" height="436" /></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The Radeon R9 295X2 is still holding its own against two GTX 780 GPUs. It's a shame we don't have a second GTX 780 Ti though, because it would most likely eat the Radeon's lunch, for less money out the door too. Of course, you have two cards and a lot more heat and noise, but that's the price you pay for extreme performance with this particular config.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finally, let's have a look at the Radeon R9 295X2 versus the GTX 780 Ti at<strong> 2560x1600 with 4XAA enabled</strong>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 4XAA Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/2560_benches1.jpg" width="340" height="377" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Another smackdown - what a surprise.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Final Thoughts</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">It's not often in the GPU game that we have such a one-sided battle, but we certainly do have just that with the powerful R9 295X2. This card kicks all kinds of ass, no doubt about it. It's easily the fastest single-card GPU we've ever tested, and by a healthy margin too. Of course, we don't have dual GTX 780 Ti cards to test it against, so that's unfortunate. Regardless, that would still not change the Radeon's "single card champion" status, which it now claims, unquestionably. Not only is it fast, but it's very quiet and cool too, which are words we never thought we'd say about a fire-breathing Hawaii card, but AMD has certainly done its homework on this one and it delivers on all promises.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Without getting too hyperbolic, in many ways this is essentially the perfect GPU. It offers record-breaking performance, only takes up two-slots, is cool and quiet, and it overclocks. Of course, the one chink in its armor is its $1,500 price tag, which seems insanely high in a market where $1,000 used to be the upper echelon. However, compared to the $3,000 GTX Titan Z the Radeon is actually a bargain, which is another sentence we never thought we'd write, but here we are. Naturally, Nvidia won't take too kind to this type of aggression, so all it has to do now is release a gamer-oriented dual-GPU card such as the mythical GTX 790, hopefully with two GTX 780 Ti cores onboard, and price it at $1,500 and it'll be game, set, match Nvidia. Right after the R9 290X came out and stole the GTX 780's thunder, Nvidia pounced immediately with the GTX 780 Ti to reclaim the "fastest single card" crown, so we expect them to respond to the R9 295X2, and to respond with vigor.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_unleashes_dual-gpu_radeon_r9_295x2#comments Hardware project hydra r9 295x2 radeon Gaming Videocards Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:20:20 +0000 josh norem 27585 at http://www.maximumpc.com Nvidia Takes on Mantle with Enhanced DX11 Driver http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_takes_mantle_enhanced_dx11_driver_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Nvidia releases enhanced DX11 drivers</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/geforcegtx_titan_3qtr1a_medium.jpg" alt="GeForce" title="GeForce" width="250" height="188" style="float: right;" />Today Nvidia is releasing an all-new driver for customers of its Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell GPUs that it claims offers significant performance gains in DirectX11 titles. It told us this driver is reminiscent of its "Detonator" drivers from back in the day, and it's claiming the driver can provide "<strong>up to 64 percent faster single GPU performance</strong>" as well as "up to 71 percent faster SLI performance."</p> <h3>The Driver</h3> <p>The <a href="http://www.geforce.com/drivers/results/74636">driver</a> is labeled 337.50 Beta and it's an "optimized DX driver." Interestingly, no details were given by <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia">Nvidia</a> on what specifically was optimized or different from previous drivers, which is a departure for Team Green. Usually big updates like this include a white paper of some sorts, but for this particular update it just provided general terms like "Dramatic Improvements." This is clearly a driver aimed at AMD's Mantle though, as the majority of the presentation we received from Nvidia pointed out how a DX11 GeForce card and this new driver is faster than AMD cards running Mantle. It then provided these specific numbers comparing a GeForce 780 Ti vs. an R9 290X on Mantle:</p> <p>StarSwarm - 16% faster</p> <p>Battlefield 4 - 12% faster</p> <p>Thief - 7% faster</p> <p>In other words, Nvidia is saying, "We don't need a custom Nvidia-specific API, we can optimize DX11, which a lot of games already support," unlike Mantle which is only supported in StarSwarm, Thief, and Battlefield 4 currently. Here's one of the slides Nvidia offered to us:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/bf4_337.jpg" alt="BF4 337 Drivers" title="BF4 337 Drivers" width="650" height="414" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to being faster than AMD's Mantle API, Nvidia is also claiming that its driver improves SLI performance. Since a CPU can easily bottleneck a multi-GPU setup this makes sense, but let's look at the numbers Nvidia has provided.</p> <p>As you recall, earlier Nvidia claimed "up to 71 percent faster SLI performance." In the accompanying chart, it showed one game receiving that level of improvement, and that game is Total War: Rome 2. On the other end of the spectrum is Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which received around 15-20 percent improvement. Here is that slide:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/sli_337_driver.jpg" width="650" height="410" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, none of those games are in our testing suite. In anticipation of this, and taking pains to hit AMD where it hurts, it also presented a slide showing multi-GPU scaling in Thief, which is now AMD's poster child for Mantle and TrueAudio support. Here is that slide:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/thief_gpus.jpg" width="650" height="404" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">But that's not all. Nvidia also pointed out that this driver is just plain faster in many titles, including the same ones it pointed to before, such as CoD: BLOPS2, Sleeping Dogs, Alien vs. Predator, Total War: Rome 2, and finally Sniper Elite v2.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">None of these games are in our testing suite, so hit the next page to see how the new driver fared on two different test systems, and on dual GTX 780 cards in SLI.</p> <hr /> <h3>Benchmarks</h3> <p>To begin, we tested an Nvidia GTX 780 reference card on our standard video card test bench, which consists of an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard,<strong> Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition 3.3GHz CPU</strong>, 16GB of DDR3/1600 memory, and Windows 8 Enterprise. We tested using the current 335.23 driver as well as the 337.50 beta driver. Here are the results:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/780_benches.jpg" width="308" height="127" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Tests done with a single GTX 780 reference board at 2560x1600. Best scores are bolded.<br /></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can see, not much difference at all between drivers in this config and on these games. Since we weren't sure we'd ever see a difference, we moved to a different setup that consisted of the following: A&nbsp; Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 motherboard, a slower and easier to bottleneck <strong>Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz CPU</strong>, GeForce GTX 780 Ti, and 8GB of RAM. Here are those results:</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/780ti_337.jpg" width="309" height="155" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Tests done with a single GTX 780 Ti reference board at 1920x1080. Best scores are bolded.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Once again, we didn't see much of a difference between the old driver and the new one, except for on two games -- Battlefield 4, and Thief. That is odd, because what is special about these two titles, aside from being AMD's flagship titles for Mantle support? Obviously Nvidia is very interested in hitting AMD where it hurts, and whatever they have done has worked, at least in this particular configuration.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finishing up, we also tested a two-card SLI configuration at <strong>4K resolution</strong> using dual GTX 780 cards on the <strong>Intel Core i7-3960X</strong> machine. Here are those results:</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/4k_337.jpg" width="345" height="210" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Test done with two GTX 780 cards in SLI at 3840x2160. Best scores are bolded.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">And once again, we didn't see much of a difference using two GPUs at 4K res, but this was also with a hefty CPU. We did see a massive boost in Hitman: Absolution though, which is also an AMD-sponsored title.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Final Thoughts</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">In the wake of Mantle's release nobody was really clamoring for Nvidia to respond since people consider its drivers to be generally very good, but we're glad to see that it has. Unfortunately, in our tests the result is very similar to what we've seen with Mantle in that it can offer a boost but only on very specific configurations and in certain games. In other words, anyone hoping these drivers would instantly give them a 20 to 50 percent boost in every game they play is in for a rude awakening, because that's not what we saw. Admittedly our testing didn't run a gamut of 20+ games, but all this dropped when we were in the final push for our June issue, so our time with the new driver was very limited. That said, based on what we did see we expected more, especially with lofty claims of "up to 64% faster single GPU performance." We didn't see anything close to that, and as always your mileage with this new driver will vary depending on the game you play and the specs of your PC. It is heartening to see Nvidia achieving somewhat dramatic improvements in certain games with no changes to hardware though.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The driver is supposed to be out by the time you read this, and <a href="http://www.geforce.com/drivers/results/74636">here</a> is the 64-bit Win7/Win8 driver. You can download other flavors <a href="http://www.geforce.com/drivers">here</a> and <a href="http://www.guru3d.com/files_details/geforce_337_50_beta_download.html">here</a>. Please let us know in the comments if you're seeing what we're seeing, or if you're gaming experience has been transformed by the 337.50 beta driver.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_takes_mantle_enhanced_dx11_driver_2014#comments 337.50 driver nvidia Games Gaming Videocards Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:42:01 +0000 josh norem 27575 at http://www.maximumpc.com Asus Radeon R9 280X DC2 TOP Review http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_radeon_r9_280x_dc2_top_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>The new 1080p king</h3> <p>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 <strong>Asus Radeon R9 280X</strong>, 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.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="img-float-right" href="/files/u152332/asus-radeon-r9-280x-directcu-ii-top-1000x716_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/asus-radeon-r9-280x-directcu-ii-top-1000x716_small.jpg" alt="The R9 280X is a heck of a lot more quiet and affordable than the original HD 7970 GE. " title="Asus Radeon R9 280X DC2 TOP" width="620" height="444" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The R9 280X is a heck of a lot more quiet and affordable than the original HD 7970 GE. </strong></p> <p>Like the previous Asus boards we’ve reviewed, this is a DirectCU II card, so it has a fancy custom PCB, high-end components for improved stability, longevity, and overclocking, as well as a hulking two-slot cooler we’ve seen before (and loved). This is a 28nm Tahiti card, with 2,048 stream processors, a 384-bit-wide memory bus, and 3GB of GDDR5 memory. This card will be competing with the more expensive Nvidia GTX 770, which costs $400 as we went to press, with no indication that Nvidia will lower its price. Perhaps after reviews of this card appear, Nvidia will rethink that proposition.</p> <p>This is a TOP card, which means it’s overclocked, but not by much at 1,070MHz, only 70MHz higher than stock. Asus also has a super-premium version of this card named the Matrix Platinum, which has a three-slot cooler and a much higher price tag. One interesting note is that, unlike the flagship R9 290X cards with their new dies that don’t require a CrossFire bridge, this card still requires a bridge in multicard configs. Thankfully, Asus threw a bridge connector into the box along with a driver CD. The card measures 11 inches long and includes two DVI connectors, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort connector.</p> <p>When we ran the R9 280X through our gauntlet of PC benchmarks, two things immediately surprised us. The first was just how quiet the card was, as it is barely audible at any time, even under heavy load. The second was that it was trading blows with the GTX 770, which costs $90 more. Sure, the GK104 and Tahiti chips have always been comparable, so this is expected, we suppose, but given this card’s low pricing (by comparison), it was hard to wrap our heads around the fact that it’s punching above its weight class. It also handily spanked the $250 GTX 760, giving it the best price-to-performance ratio in its price segment.</p> <p>In the end, this is the go-to card for ultra settings at 1080p, no question. It smokes the more expensive GTX 770 and also spanks the GTX 760, as it should. If the performance delta isn’t enough to sway you, there’s word that the Never Settle Forever game bundle will be coming to the 200-series cards soon, too, making this card almost irresistible. The only fly in the ointment is the Asus GPU Tweak software, which looks and feels antiquated, and is difficult to examine at a glance. Thankfully, third-party options are available, making this only a minor blemish on an otherwise perfect GPU.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>$310,</strong> <a href="http://www.asus.com/">www.asus.com </a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_radeon_r9_280x_dc2_top_review#comments 2013 Asus Radeon R9 280X DC2 TOP gpu graphics card Hardware Holiday issues 2013 maximum pc Review Video Card Reviews Videocards Thu, 27 Feb 2014 21:46:28 +0000 Josh Norem 27311 at http://www.maximumpc.com Nvidia GTX 750 Ti Benchmarks http://www.maximumpc.com/GTX_750ti_Benchmarks_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Nvidia Unveils the Maxell-powered GTX 750 Ti</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/nvidia_geforce_gtx_750_class_f.jpg" alt="GTX 750 Ti" title="GTX 750 Ti" width="250" height="194" style="float: right;" />Today Nvidia is pulling the wraps off its all-new Maxwell architecture, which has one defining feature -- it's twice as efficient as Kepler. Instead of launching with a high-end $500 GPU like it's done in the past though, this time it's going the opposite direction by launching at the entry level with the promise that it will eventually release 200w+ TDP cards based on Maxwell. For now this is the new low-power king at the <strong>$150</strong> price point with its rock-bottom <strong>TDP of just 60w</strong> and the ability to pull all the juice it needs from a PCIe connector, no six-pin power connector required. Let's take a look at what Maxwell is all about, and how the card fares against its rival from the red team.</p> <h3>Maxwell Debuts</h3> <p>Right off the bat let's clear up two things about <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/maxwell">Maxwell</a>. First, it is using the same 28nm process that Nvidia used for Kepler instead of 22nm like everyone thought. Second, though there has been a lot of discussion online (and even from us) about how Maxwell would be the first GPU to have an embedded ARM CPU, that is not happening on the desktop cards as far as we can tell, so we were wrong about that, along with everyone else. It now appears that all that talk about Maxwell having an integrated ARM core was simply wrong, or maybe it was just the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/ces_2014_nvidia_announces_super_chip_tegra_k1_cpu">next-gen Tegra part named K1</a>, which has a Kepler core and an ARM CPU.</p> <p>Now that we know what Maxwell isn't, let's talk about what it is, which is a radically redesigned architecture that makes Kepler look like a fire breathing dragon. The chip inside the GTX 750 Ti is named GM107, and according to <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia">Nvidia</a> it was designed, "for use in power-limited environments like notebooks and small form factor PCs." Nvidia is targeting very small Steam Machines with the GTX 750 Ti as well. Nvidia notes that the first-generation Maxwell products will be focused on low power operation, with "higher performing second generation Maxwell GPUs addressing the enthusiast graphics segments at a later date."</p> <p>Nvidia claims as it transitioned Kepler into a mobile part it had to make a lot of changes to the architecture to save power, and that all that knowledge went into Maxwell. It has completely revamped the structure of the chip with specific attention paid to the arrangement and management of the CUDA cores. The SMX design from <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/kepler">Kepler</a> is gone, replaced by a new structure named SM for Streaming Multiprocessor. According to Nvidia, the improvements are mainly in "control logic partitioning, workload balancing, clock-gating granularity, compiler-based scheduling, and number of instructions issued per clock cycle" as well as other enhancements. These changes allow Nvidia to use more SM units in general but each of them have fewer CUDA cores (more on this in a bit). The result is that a chip like GM107 ships with five SMs compared to two in the GK107 chip used in the GTX 650 it replaces.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/comparison.png" alt="GM107" title="GM107" width="570" height="355" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The GM107 compared to Kepler's GK107 - more power, with less power. </em></p> <p>One other big change in Maxwell has a fat 2MB of L2 cache compared to just 256KB in GK107. Nvidia says the extra cache reduces the amount of requests sent to the graphics card memory, which conserves energy. Overall, the GM107 contains a single Graphics Processing Cluster (GPC), which includes five SM units for a total of 640 CUDA cores, and two 64-bit memory controllers for a 128-bit bus.</p> <h3>Maxwell SMs</h3> <p>The biggest change in Maxwell is of course the redesigned Streaming Multiprocessor units. Intead of having 192 CUDA cores per unit with one piece of control logic for all of them, the new design has each SM partitioned into four distinct processing blocks with each one having its own control logic. Each partitioned block hosts 32 CUDA cores, so with four blocks per unit the total CUDA cores is 128 per block, and Nvidia claims this approach allows for 35 percent more performance per CUDA core on workloads that are limited by shader performance. Pairs of these blocks share texture filtering units and cache, thereby saving space and power. Overall, the smaller blocks deliver 90 percent of a Kepler SMX unit while taking up much less space, allowing Nvidia to put more of them on the GPU. Since each block's control logic has to only deal with 32 CUDA cores instead of 192 in Kepler, it makes their job simpler and more efficient. As we noted previously, it has placed five of them in the GM107 compared with just two in the previous chip, allowing it to utilize 1.7 times more CUDA cores and thus over 200 percent more shader performance. It basically boils down to less cores being used equals less power consumed, but since the design is more efficient performance is also improved.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/gm107.jpg" alt="GM107 Block" title="GM107 Block" width="600" height="457" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Maxwell's SM units feature four "processing blocks" per unit, with four partitions of 32 CUDA cores each.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Continue reading for a closer look at the card, benchmarks, and closing thoughts.<em><br /></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <hr /> <p><em><br /></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>The GTX 750 Ti</h3> <p>To recap briefly, the GPU at the heart of this card goes by the call-sign GM107 and it is a full implementation with 640 CUDA cores, dual 64-bit memory controllers for a 128-bit wide bus, and 1GB or 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 5.4GHz. The 750 Ti includes the same GPU Boost 2.0 technology found in the GTX 700 series of cards, so it'll automatically overclock itself under load despite having surprisingly high stock clocks of 1,020MHz base clock and a 1,085MHz boost clock. Nvidia says the card can easily do 1,250MHz as well. Nvidia's add-in-board partners will also be offering the usual overclocked versions of the card too. The card slides in right above the GTX 650 in Nvidia's product stack, replacing the GTX 650 Ti, and is one notch below the GTX 660.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/nvidia_geforce_gtx_750_class_3qtr_small.jpg" alt="GTX 750 Ti" title="GTX 750 Ti" width="600" height="422" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Despite its entry-level nature, the GTX 750 Ti supports ShadowPlay and G-Sync.</em></p> <p>The big "talking point" of this card is its lack of six-pin PCIe power connector, though the back of the board has solder points for such a connector in case an add-in-board partner wants to put one there, but the reference design is completely bereft of a connector. This translates to the ability to stick it into any PC on the market with a PCI Express slot. Nvidia points out in the press materials this card is meant to be wedged into almost any PC out there, including small form factor boxes, Steam Machines, and even older desktops that are using integrated graphics. The card's TDP is a mere 60w, which is easily the lowest of any GTX card we've ever seen. Nvidia's minimum power supply requirement for this card is just 300w, and it notes that the PCIe slot delivers 75w, so this card isn't even using all of the power the slot can provide. In general, the GTX 750 Ti's mission in life is to replace integrated graphics on older PCs, so it'll slide right into the millions of Dell, HP, and Lenovo desktops that ship with integrated graphics and provide very good 1080p gaming at a decent price.</p> <p>It's also an entry-level GTX card from Nvidia, so you get access to everything in the ecosystem including Gamestream for your Shield, GeForce Experience, Shadowplay, G-sync, and the GPU's ability to overclock care of GPU Boost 2.0. It does not support SLI, however. Its connectors include two dual-link DVI connectors and one HDMI connector, and like most GPUs it is a dual-slot card. Here are the full specs straight from the green horse's mouth:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/specs_750.jpg" alt="GTX 750 Ti Specs" title="GTX 750 Ti Specs" width="601" height="716" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Full specs of the GTX 750 Ti</em></p> <h3>1080p Benchmarks</h3> <p>Before we show you the benchmarks, let us be clear about one thing, which is we only had time to test it against its direct competitor, which is the AMD R7 260X. In Nvidia's briefing documents this is/was the card they are/were targeting, and we use the past tense because last Thursday AMD announced the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_announces_radeon_r7_265_graphics_card_hits_retail_late_february_149">R7 265</a> in an offensive maneuver to fend off the attack from this very GPU. While doing so, AMD also dropped the price on the R7 260X down to just $120. Nvidia is also launching a non-Ti version of the GTX 750 with the same name for the exact same price of $120. It ships with the same clock speeds as the GTX 750 Ti but has less shader performance due to less CUDA cores via one less SM unit, and a slightly lower memory clock (5GHz vs. 5.4GHz on the Ti). We do not have the GTX 750 nor do we have the R7 265 for review, so we compared the GTX 750 Ti to its closest competitor. We are rounding up all these cards however for a mega-shootout in an upcoming issue, so stay tuned. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are the numbers:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>1080p Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/benchmarks_gtx_750_ti_0.jpg" alt="GTX 750 Ti Benchmarks" title="GTX 750 Ti Benchmarks" width="373" height="556" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.3GHz Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage Extreme IV motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 memory and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050w PSU. The OS is Windows 8 64-bit Enterprise. All games run at 1920x1080 with maximum settings and 4X AA except for 3DMark.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Final Thoughts</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Looking at the benchmark chart there's one piece of information that is missing which puts these numbers in a whole new light. The AMD R7 260X has a TDP of 115w, and the Maxwell card is just 60w. We know that "energy efficiency" isn't the most titillating spec or feature here at Maximum PC, but we give this card big props for being able to hold its own against a card with double the power rating. That is impressive. However, since AMD has launched a new GPU specifically to attack this card, and we don't have that card to benchmark yet (the R7 265), this battle is far from over. Also, the AMD card has a TDP of 150 watts, so it's more than double that of the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Given their differences in power consumption it's almost fair to say these cards aren't even playing in the same league as Nvidia is targeting PCs without any PCIe power connectors, and AMD is targeting value-conscious gamers that are looking to upgrade from a much older 1080p GPU.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Now, as a reader of Maximum PC you might not be too stoked on a card designed for "low power environments," and we feel you. This is how Nvidia is handling it right now though, as the $100-$150 is the lion's share of the GPU market globally. Plus, it already has a handle on the high-end of the market with the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_780_ti_benchmarks">GTX 780 Ti</a>, and the all-new <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_ready_rumble_geforce_gtx_titan_black_graphics_card_2014">Titan Black</a>. Also, AMD's <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_still_hard_find">pricing and supply issues</a> are only strengthening its hand as well in both the high-end and the mid-range too. That leaves just one area for it to really sock it to AMD, and it's chosen the low-power route. It's tantalizing to consider what a flagship GM110 GPU might be capable of though, but sadly we won't see it until probably Q4 based on an estimate we have pulled from our nether regions.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">All in all, the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti certainly delivers on the promise of being more efficient than Kepler, which is good news for gamers who like quiet machines and bad news for AMD and its power-hungry GCN architecture. Whether or not that will factor into peoples' purchasing decisions remains to be seen but Nvidia clearly has the performance-per-watt lead with Maxwell, and we can't wait to see it introduce more powerful GPUs using the same architecture. Also, it's worth noting that despite its power-sipping status we were able to overclock the card all the way up to 1,272MHz on stock voltage, and under load it ran at 67 C.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The GTX 750 Ti 2GB version will sell for $150, with the GTX 750 (we assume also with 2GB) selling for $120. Retailers will also be selling 1GB versions of the GTX 750 Ti for $140 later this month.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/GTX_750ti_Benchmarks_2014#comments gtx 750 gtx 750ti nvidia Gaming Videocards Tue, 18 Feb 2014 14:37:32 +0000 josh norem 27264 at http://www.maximumpc.com MSI N780 Lightning Review http://www.maximumpc.com/msi_n780_lightning_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Too exotic (and expensive) for mere mortals</h3> <p>Back in October, we took a look at the MSI GTX 770 Lightning, which was a bit like a hot rod that had been given a little too much go-go juice. It was fast, and provided a plethora of performance options for horsepower junkies, but it was simply unstable, even at stock clocks. Undaunted, MSI followed it up by sending us an even bigger, badder board in the same series, the <strong>GTX 780 Lightning</strong>. Like the other Lightning cards, this is the cream of the crop from MSI in terms of board design, cooling, features, and clock speeds. In other words, if you are looking for the fastest non-Titan board MSI offers, this is it. Unfortunately for MSI, though this board was quite stable overall, we didn’t see enough of a performance advantage over other GTX 780 cards to justify its outrageous $750 sticker price.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/gtx_780_lightningv296_3d_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/gtx_780_lightningv296_3d_small.jpg" alt="MSI includes a separate utility just for the card’s fans, letting you control the outer ones separate from the inner fan." title="MSI N780 Lightning" width="620" height="492" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>MSI includes a separate utility just for the card’s fans, letting you control the outer ones separate from the inner fan.</strong></p> <p>To its credit, MSI has made this card pretty damned awesome and worthy of the Lightning moniker by infusing it with all kinds of badassery. For starters, it has a color-sensitive Lightning logo that changes shade (green, yellow, or red) depending on GPU load. Twin rows of blue LEDs flicker on the top of the backplate, showing GPU activity, and there’s also a GPU Reactor PCB on top of the card with blue LEDs, and it supposedly helps overclocking by allowing up to 300 percent more power to surge into the card. The reactor is easily removable though, in case it causes clearance issues. The card also uses twin BIOS chips for overclockers, and a redonk three-fin setup dubbed Tri-Frozr with PWM and its own separate fan-control software. Of course, it has “military-class” everything, including a custom PCB with 16 phase power, and hardware leads for directly monitoring voltages straight off the card.</p> <p>To test the card, we spent about a week overclocking it so we could take it to the maximum level of performance. We ended up with a power-target setting of 109 percent, GPU offset of 135MHz, and a small memory overclock of 220MHz. This gave us a boost clock that cycled between 1,254MHz and 1,267MHz, which was stable. Whenever it ran at 1,280MHz for any period of time, it would hard lock, so this is as high as we could take it. Overall, that’s an excellent result, but not any better than what we achieved with the less expensive Asus and EVGA boards. Under load, the 780 Lightning ran at 76 C, which is also excellent and very quiet, but nothing unusual for these high-end boards.</p> <p>Looking at the benchmark chart, you can see why we’re puzzled by this card’s price tag. It performed exactly the same in our testing as the other top-tier GTX 780 boards, yet costs $90 more than the EVGA card and $40 more than the Asus board. Now, if you’re looking to do competition-level overclocking, we imagine the Lightning is the board you want, but for people who just want an air-cooled GPU that is quiet and overclocks well, it’s tough to recommend this board given its exorbitant price tag.</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;$750,</strong> <a href="http://www.msi.com/language/">www.msi.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/msi_n780_lightning_review#comments 2013 December issues 203 graphics card Hardware maximum pc MSI N780 Lightning Review December 2013 Reviews Videocards Tue, 11 Feb 2014 09:20:06 +0000 Josh Norem 27235 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD Radeon R9 290X: Press Board vs. Retail Board http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_press_board_vs_retail_board <!--paging_filter--><h3>Are retail R9 290X boards slower than press samples, and does the AMD driver update fix it?</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/1267368_10152221457797388_247640069_o_small.jpg" alt="R9 290x" title="R9 290x" width="250" height="167" style="float: right;" />Last month <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/amd"><strong>AMD</strong> </a>launched the Radeon <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_benchmarks"><strong>R9 290X</strong> GPU</a>, and overall it went very well for AMD as the card was heralded for its incredible price-to-performance ratio compared to <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia">Nvidia's</a> top silicon. Shortly after the launch however, a few media outlets got ahold of some retail boards and found them to be much slower than the cards sent to them by AMD. Naturally, people suspected foul play, but AMD insisted it was just a driver issue, in that retail boards and press boards were using different fan speeds, thus delivering different levels of performance. It quickly issued a new driver with Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2 and we decided to test and see what the problem was, how the press board differed from the retail board, and whether AMD's latest drive resolved the issue.</p> <h3>So what is the issue?</h3> <p>When the Radeon R9 290X launched, we learned that AMD's Hawaii GPUs handle clock speeds a bit different than cards that have come before it. Instead of shipping with a guaranteed base clock speed, the Hawaii cards instead have a "maximum clock speed" that they can reach if they are running cool enough. You can also dictate what the card's maximum temperature is through the AMD PowerTune software, and once the card reaches that temperature it begins to throttle in order to stay below that threshold. On the Radeon R9 290X, by default it will run at 1,000MHz if it's nice and cool, but once it gets up to 94C it will begin to throttle since by default its max temp is 95C. So, at 94C it will begin to throttle, and will drop down to 940MHz, or 850MHz, or even lower if it's really stressed out. It's impossible to accurately predict with 100 percent certainty how an individual card will throttle, as all cards will behave slightly differently due to environmental factors as well as differences between individual chips, which is why people were curious about how other cards "in the wild" would behave.</p> <p>In our tests, we found the R9 290X would throttle a tiny bit to around 900MHz or so once it reached 94C, which isn't too far off the mark. When the card throttles by 50-100MHz, performance isn't affected much. However, other media outlets were reporting that it throttled much more than that, even going as low as 727MHz and staying there for awhile. Nvidia also made this claim with a scary PowerPoint presentation prepared for the launch of the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_780_ti_benchmarks">GTX 780 Ti</a>. Tom's Hardware said the retail boards it purchased were <a href="http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-r9-290-driver-fix,3666.html">slower</a> than the less expensive R9 290 boards.&nbsp;</p> <p>This caused AMD to release a statement to <a href="http://techreport.com/news/25609/updated-retail-radeon-r9-290x-cards-may-be-slower-than-press-samples">The Tech Report</a>, stating, <em>"A media outlet has uniquely reported instances of AMD Radeon R9 290X boards purchased in retail that have exhibited an uncharacteristic level of performance variance as compared to press samples issued by AMD. We’re working to secure the board(s) in question for further analysis.&nbsp; Boards purchased by other media outlets have not exhibited similar characteristics that we’re aware of. In the meantime, we’ve identified areas where variability can be minimized and are working on a driver update which will minimize this variance.&nbsp; We will provide an update shortly." </em></p> <p>Shortly thereafter, AMD released a new driver named <a href="http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/latest-catalyst-windows-beta.aspx">Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2</a> that promised to normalize fan speeds across all Radeons R9 290X GPUs.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Retail versus press boards</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/photo.jpg" width="600" height="448" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Our retail test board - a still shrink wrapped PowerColor R9 290X Overclocked.</strong></p> <p>Amidst all this hoopla we scored ourselves a retail board made by <a title="powercolor" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Powercolor" target="_blank">Powercolor</a> (a third party sent us the board for testing). The card was still wrapped in plastic and had never been touched by human hands. To begin our tests, we ran all of our benchmarks with both the press sample Radeon R9 290X and the PowerColor using the original driver we used for testing -- Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9. Here are the benchmark results:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Radeon R9 290X benchmarks at </strong><strong><strong>2560x1600 </strong>with the "original" Beta 9 driver</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9_290x_beta9.jpg" alt="R9 290X Beta 9" title="R9 290X Beta 9" width="310" height="652" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded. </em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can see, just looking at this chart indicates there's a problem, as the press board is clearly faster than the retail card using the same driver. This was the same behavior indicated by reports from other media outlets, and Nvidia as well. However, by leaving the driver the same and swapping out the GPUs we were able to track down the source of the problem...</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Click the next page to read our analysis on the problem.</em></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The fan on the press board is set to run at a maximum of 40 percent under load, which in its default "quiet" mode is <strong>2,125rpm.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The fan on the retail board is set to run at a maximum of 40 percent under load, which in its default "quiet mode is <strong>2,025rpm.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">We also independently verified the fan speeds using a digital tachometer. It required us to place a reflective sticker on the GPU's blower fan, and then a laser tracks how many times it sends back a signal during a short interval.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We also noticed on <a href="http://www.legitreviews.com/amd-radeon-r9-290x-press-sample-versus-retail_129583/3">Legitreviews</a> that Editor Nathan Kirsch recognized that his press board and a retail board were running different versions of the card's BIOS. We checked and sure enough our cards were also running different versions of what appears to be the same BIOS. The press board's BIOS was numbered "015.039.000.007" while the PowerColor board's BIOS was numbered "015.039.000.006," which appears to be one revision older.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">When we asked AMD About the different BIOSes, it just said, "the variance was due to fan speeds, which we can control through the driver."&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Here is that driver, which is the "Beta 9.2" driver designed to "minimize the variance."</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Benchmarks at&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-weight: bold;">2560x 1600&nbsp;</span><strong>with the Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2 "fix" driver</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9_290x_beta_9_2.jpg" alt="R9 290X Beta 9.2" title="R9 290X Beta 9.2" width="340" height="718" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can see, with the Beta 9.2 driver installed, the retail board achieves performance parity with our press board.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">When we reached out to AMD and asked them to tell us specifically what caused the variance in fan speed between the retail boards and our press board, we received the following response. <strong>"The variance in production was larger than what we saw before launch." </strong>Apparently AMD set all the fans to run at "40 percent" and figured this would translate into the same fan speed for all GPUs. However, according to AMD, because of the way PowerTune<strong> </strong>fine-tunes voltages, fan speeds, and clock speeds, that 40 percent setting still leaves enough room for there to be differences in fan speeds, which translates to perfomance differences.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">To corrrect this situation, AMD issued the new driver (13.11 Beta 9.2 and all versions beyond that) which normalized all GPU fans at 2,200rpm in Quiet Mode on the R9 290X. <strong>For the one retail board we have tested, the resolution totally worked. </strong></p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Why does the variance only favor AMD?</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">The most curious aspect of this whole fiasco is that AMD says it's being caused by "variance," which it didn't see in pre-production. Now, variance would normally imply that you'd see some boards that are faster than the press board, and some that are slower, but in this case all of the retail boards tested by the media have been the same speed or slower than the press boards. In fact, we can't recall a single website that has found a retail board that is faster than one of the press review units. This does not appear to us as "variance" but more like AMD cherry-picking review samples. To be fair, we are certain Nvidia tests every GPU it sends to media as well, but we don't believe it tests a dozen cards and then sends the best one to a particular media outlet. We don't know if AMD did that for the R9 290X or not but it certainly appears that the review cards are as good as it gets.</p> <p>To its credit, AMD is addressing these issues, or at least acknowledging them. In its latest statement to the <a href="http://techreport.com/news/25733/amd-issues-statement-on-r9-290x-speed-variability-press-samples">Tech Report</a>, it wrote, "These changes [in PowerTune] will also result in some degree of run-to-run test variability based on environmental and operational conditions in un-controlled test environments."</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Regarding the question of why the variance only favors AMD, it wrote, "Reasonably we would expect the variability to occur both above and below the performance of the press samples, however it appears that most reported performances are biased towards the low side."</p> <p>AMD concludes its statement by saying, "We are actively investigating these reports and we will update when we have completed our investigation."</p> <p style="text-align: left;">At this point, it seems unlikely we will ever get to the bottom of this situation because the average website can't go out and buy a dozen GPUs to test. We also looked online to see if we could get a larger sample of boards and the R9 290X was sold out at every major online retailer. Whether the cards are sold out because AMD sent very few to the channel or if they are just super popular, we're not sure, but we don't recommend the R9 290X as the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290_benchmarks">R9 290</a> is a much better deal since it delivers performance that is very close to its big brother for $150 less. In fact, nothing in this story changes or reflects our feelings on the R9 290X. It's a great card, but AMD made the R9 290's performance a bit too close to it in our opinion, making the 290X irrelevant.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">That said, if AMD conducts an "investigation," we are very curious to see what it comes up with in terms of an answer. What is abundantly clear is that AMD's first attempt at marketing its GPUs using only the maximum clock speed isn't working out so well very far, so perhaps it'll rethink this approach in the future.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We're also getting very close to the release of R9 290X boards with <a href="http://videocardz.com/48361/msi-radeon-r9-290x-gaming-revealed">custom PCBs</a> and cooling solutions, so we are very curious to see how those bad boys measure up to the press boards as well.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_press_board_vs_retail_board#comments 290x amd difference performance press radeon retail News Videocards Mon, 09 Dec 2013 23:38:33 +0000 josh norem 26767 at http://www.maximumpc.com Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti Benchmarks http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_780_ti_benchmarks <!--paging_filter--><h3>Return of the King</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/nvidia_geforce_gtx_780ti_stylized_4338_custom.jpg" alt="GTX 780 Ti" title="GTX 780 Ti" width="250" height="166" style="float: right;" />With the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia"><strong>Nvidia</strong></a> has snatched the single-GPU performance crown back from the clutches of the recently launched Radeon R9 290X, and not just by a small margin either, but by a landslide. By dethroning the R9 290X Nvidia has also taken the GTX Titan to the woodshed as well, as the GTX 780 Ti is far and away the fastest single GPU we have ever tested. Read on to see how it fares against the GTX 780, the R9 290X, and the former champ, the GTX Titan.</p> <h3>The Real Big Kepler</h3> <p>Back when the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/nvidia_geforce_titan_%E2%80%93_benchmarks2013">GTX Titan launched</a> we all proclaimed it to be "<a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/evga_geforce_gtx_titan_review">Big Kepler</a>," or the full implementation of the Kepler architecture instead of the half-Kepler GK104 we got with the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/evga_geforce_gtx_680_review">GTX 680</a>. Of course, we all loved the GTX 680 at the time, but it was roughly half the size of the GK110 chip Nvidia had deployed to supercomputers worldwide. When Nvidia finally got around to stuffing the GK110 into a gaming GPU named Titan, we all rejoiced since we had finally acquired the real-deal Holyfield Big Kepler GPU.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/nvidia_geforce_gtx_780ti_top_small.jpg" alt="780 Ti" title="780 Ti" width="650" height="313" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>It's hard to notice in this image, but the cooling shroud has a darker, smoked appearance to match the darker lettering. </strong></p> <p>However, even the Titan wasn't a full GK110 part, as it had one of its SMX units disabled. This begged the question - would Nvidia ever release a Titan Ultra with all SMX units intact? With the GTX 780 Ti we finally have that card. Not only does it have all 15 SMX units enabled, this bad mutha also has the fastest memory available on an Nvidia GPU with its 3GB of 7GHz GDDR5 RAM. Previously, this speed of memory was only found on the mid-range GTX 770. The bottom line is Nvidia is pulling out all the stops with the GTX 780 Ti in an effort to shame the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_benchmarks">R9 290X</a>, and once again establish itself as the king of the single-GPU space. It should be noted that the GTX 780 Ti does not offer Double Precision compute performance like the GTX Titan, so CUDA developers will still prefer that card. The GTX 780 Ti is made for gamers, not scientists. We should also point out that the GTX 780 Ti supports quad-SLI, just like the GTX Titan, and the GTX 780 does not.</p> <h3>GTX 780 Ti Specs</h3> <p>Let's have a look at the specs of the GTX 780 Ti along with its closest competitors.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/780_ti_specs_2.jpg" alt="GTX 780 Ti Specs" title="GTX 780 Ti Specs" width="467" height="594" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>*The R9 290X's TDP isn't a quoted spec from AMD but rather one with air quotes around it. We believe it to be a bit higher than 250w. </strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">On paper it's clear the GTX 780 Ti has a higher specification than either of its competitors, not to mention the obvious GTX 780. Although its memory bus isn't as wide as the R9 290X's, it has faster memory, so it's able to achieve higher overall memory bandwidth. The R9 290X is capable of pushing 320GB/s thanks to its slower 5GHz memory but wider 512-bit channel, while the GTX 780's faster 7GHz memory can squeeze 336GB/s through its narrower 384-bit bus. The GTX 780 Ti has more processing cores as well, and thanks to Kepler's higher level of efficiency compared to AMD's GCN architecture, is able to sustain much higher clock rates at all times as well. All that adds up to one ass-kicking GPU, as we'll see shortly. Like the GTX 780 the card measures 10.5 inches in length, and requires a six-pin and an eight-pin power connector. TDP is unchanged at 250w.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">What's New Compared to the GTX 780</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/shadow_0.jpg" alt="GTX 780 Ti " title="GTX 780 Ti " width="550" height="312" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Since this board carries the GTX 780 moniker, let's look at how it is different from the GTX 780, because remember, this card costs $200 more than the original GTX 780 now that Nvidia has <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_announces_gtx_780_ti_launch_date_price_shield_update_and_780770_price_cuts_2013">lowered its price</a>. First up, it has 25 percent more CUDA cores, going from 2,304 to 2,880, which is quite a jump. Second, it has faster GDDR5 memory, which has been bumped up a full 1GHz to 7GHz. Third, it has a new feature Nvidia calls Max OC that simply balances the power going to the card from its three sources: the six-pin and eight-pin rails, and the PCI Express bus. Nvidia claims the board usually does this on its own quite well, but when overclocking all bets are off and not enough power from one source could limit the overclock. It claims this situation is rectified on the GTX 780 Ti, so you should be able to overclock this board higher than you could a GTX Titan or GTX 780. Finally, though it's not a new feature, this card also supports GPU Boost 2.0, like the other cards in the 700 series. However, with the arrival of the variable clock rate Radeon R9 290X, Nvidia is pointing out that it guarantees a base level of performance on all its 700 series cards, regardless of operating conditions. This is in contrast to the new Hawaii boards from AMD, which state a "max clock speed" but not what the actual average clock speed is under load as it tends to be a bit lower. We'll have more on that a bit later.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">G-Sync</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">One of the most interesting features Nvidia has announced recently for its Kepler GPUs is <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_announces_nvidia_g-sync_gamestream_and_much_more">G-Sync</a>, which is technology built into upcoming LCDs that enable it to work hand-in-hand with the Kepler GPU to sync refresh rate and frames coming out of the GPU. It's essentially the end of V-sync as we know it, and since most hardcore gamers never use V-sync we couldn't be more thrilled about this technology. By syncing the monitor's refresh rate with the actual framerate coming out of the GPU, tearing and sheering is totally eliminated, resulting in a much smoother visual experience on-screen. There are some caveats, of course. First, we have not tested or witnessed G-Sync in action in our own lab, and have only seen an Nvidia-prepared demo of the tech, but what we've seen so far looks very good, and we have no reason to doubt it won't fulfill its promises once it lands in the lab.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><img src="/files/u302/gsync-monitor-key-visual_small.jpg" alt="Nvidia G-Sync" title="Nvidia G-Sync" width="650" height="426" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>In order to experience Nvidia's G-Sync technology you'll need a G-Sync LCD. The first one from Asus is a $400 24" model.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">However, since we haven't seen it yet as the monitors are not yet available, we'll have to wait to deliver a verdict on this particular piece of gear. Second, in order to acquire this technology you will have to first acquire a G-Sync display, or buy an actual PCB and mod your monitor somehow. We're not sure how that would work, and what monitors will allow it, so again, we'll have to wait and see. We don't believe most gamers will want to buy a new LCD just to get this technology, however. Still, kudos to Nvidia for taking on a problem that has existed for as long as we can remember. If it really is as good as John Carmack and Tim Sweeney say it is, it could revolutionize the gaming industry. We'll have to wait and see.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">ShadowPlay</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/shadowplay_0.jpg" alt="ShadowPlay" title="ShadowPlay" width="650" height="358" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>ShadowPlay is more efficient than FRAPs, and doesn't consume your entire hard drive either.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">We covered this technology at the GTX Titan launch, and back then it was "coming soon." Now that it's finally out, though still in beta, this is technology exclusive to Nvidia that should factor into one's purchasing decision. Since we've already covered it, in brief it lets you capture gaming footage with almost no performance penalty, according to Nvidia. Once captured the onboard H.264 encoder built into the Kepler architecture compresses it to reduce file size, and it works in the background always recording what you last did in the game, hence its name. We have been playing with it in the lab, so expect a writeup on our experience with it shortly.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;"><em>Hit the second page for a discussion of heat, power, overclocking, benchmarks, and our final thoughts.</em></h4> <h4 style="text-align: left;"> <hr /></h4> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Heat, Power, and Overclocking</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">We'll cover the R9 290X "Golden Sample" controversy below, but for now let's focus on the GTX 780 Ti. Like all Kepler cards it runs very cool, and very quiet. Even with its extra cores and faster RAM it is typical to see it hit about 82C under load, and at that temperature it was barely audible in testing. This is the exact same experience we had with the GTX 780 before it, and the GTX Titan as well. These cards run very quiet, and never get too hot. And now that the R9 290X is out, the Nvidia cards seem downright chilly by comparison.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As far as overclocking is concerned, we've always had a very easy time overclocking Kepler boards, and the GTX 780 Ti was no different. Though Nvidia claims this board overclocks better than the GTX 780 and GTX Titan thanks to its load-balancing tech, we didn't experience that. Instead we achieved results which were just a tad bit lower than what we experienced with boards like the Asus GTX 780 DC2 and EVGA GTX 780 ACX. Overall we were able to hit 1,225MHz boost clock with a 250MHz memory overclock, which is pretty damn good. When overclocked the board hit 85C and had its fan spinning at 67 percent, though it was quieter than the R9 290X fan at 49 percent. Keep in mind we were unable to overclock the Radeon R9 290X since out of the box in its default "quiet" mode it hits 94C quite easily, leaving no headroom for overclocking. Sure, the R9 290X is already running at or around 1,000MHz during normal operation, which is higher than the stated Boost clock for the GTX 780 Ti, but in reality the R9 290X's typical clock speed is more around 950MHz or so. Nvidia would say it's actually around 800MHz, but more on that later.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>2560x1600 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Our default resolution for cards of this stature is 2560x1600 with 4XAA enabled, and all details fully maxed out. We play with everything turned up as high as possible, because, well, this is Maximum PC you are reading. Let's examine the numbers:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/780ti_benches_final_0.jpg" alt="2560x1600 Benchmarks" title="2560x1600 Benchmarks" width="466" height="648" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at max everything at 2560x1600 with 4X AA except for the 3DMark tests.</span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Now then, with the numbers in front of us we can begin to explore the complicated question of where these three cards stand in the current leader boards. We are just kidding, of course, because one look at this chart and one thing is immediately clear. The GTX 780 Ti kicks the crap out of everything, by a lot. We're used to seeing a few frames per second difference between one card and another when comparing cards of the same generation, but the GTX 780 Ti is just in a league all by itself. Nothing else even comes close, not even the mighty Titan, which costs $300 more. Of course, the R9 290X costs $150 less, so there's that to consider, but the end result from these tests is one simple statement -- Nvidia makes the fastest single GPU in the world, period. Unless AMD has a new piece of silicon that is even faster than Hawaii up its sleeve, which would be pretty amazing if it were true, it will be handing the fastest GPU crown back to Nvidia for the time being. We imagine Nvidia will hold onto this title for awhile now too, as AMD can't push the R9 290X any further than it already has. We suppose a water-cooled R9 290X or super-air-cooled version could boost performance a bit, but the best AMD could hope for would be to match Nvidia's card. We doubt it will be able to beat it any time soon.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">4K Benchmarks</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">With a card this powerful, you can certainly run most of the latest games at 4K resolution. And if you have the type of cash to spring for a $700 GPU, you might have the $5k or so required to land one of these sexy LCDs on your desk. Our hats are off to you, rich PC gamer, as gaming in 4K is truly breathtaking. Okay, here are the numbers:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3840x2160 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/780ti_4k_0.jpg" alt="4k Benchmarks" title="4k Benchmarks" width="415" height="603" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 3840x2160 with max everything, AA turned off. We do not have scores for the GTX 780 with Batman as we ran out of time to test it, but will update this chart ASAP.</span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">At 4K the GTX 780 performs quite well but not as well as the more expensive Titan, and it also performed slightly worse in Battlefield 3 than the R9 290X. That said, the reviews of the R9 290X and the R9 290 generally showed the AMD cards performing better than their Nvidia counterparts at 4K. As we stated in our review of the R9 290X, AMD sent us a 4K panel in order to highlight this advantage it had over Nvidia, presumably due to their card having higher memory bandwidth and more memory too. However, with the GTX 780 Ti that advantage has largely been wiped out. However, it's worth keeping in mind that the $550 R9 290X performed quite well at 4K against its more expensive competition from Nvidia, so in a way it still holds a slight advantage, at least at this resolution. That's not worth very much in the real world though, as we can't imagine many people are gaming at 4K yet. It's just too expensive at this time, though it's amazing that a single GPU can run the latest games at decent frame rates at this resolution. We are truly living in an amazing time given all the GPU power at our disposal.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">A Final Note on Heat, Noise, and Performance</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">A lot of ink has been spilled this week, at least digitally, on the heat, noise, and power consumption of the card that dethroned the GTX 780, the Radeon R9 290X. The reason for all the hub bub is two fold. First, AMD doesn't state a base clock for this GPU like it has done with previous cards. Instead, it states a "maximum clock speed" that the card could reach given enough thermal headroom. Once it reaches the thermal limit, which is exactly 94C on the R9 290X, it begins to throttle the clock speeds a bit to keep temperatures in check. When clock speeds go down, so does performance. Now, if clock speeds just go down a tiny bit, like 50MHz, performance won't suffer that much. However, Nvidia claims that when the R9 290X is set to its default "quiet" mode that clock speeds can go as low as 700MHz, and then stay in that neighborhood until the card cools down, resulting in reduced overall performance.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">In our testing we did not experience a radical decline in clock speeds on the R9 290X. Sure, it fluctuates but generally stays above 900MHz. We even ran some tests to see how much our R9 290X press board would fluctuate, so we let the card get up to 94C and then ran Heaven 4.0 and recorded a score of 33.4 frames per second (we know the chart above shows 36fps). We then let the R9 290X run overnight, which was approximately 16 hours, in order to ensure the card was hot as Hades. We then ran the Heaven 4.0 test again, and the score was 33.6 frames per second, so it did not change over time despite being as hot as possible. We also examined the bar graph showing clock speed changes over that time period, and though there were small dips, it was still pretty consistent. These tests were performed with the card in its stock mode, which is "quiet" as the fan never goes above 40 percent. It's in this mode that you will see the most clock speed fluctuation, as in "Uber" mode with the fan running at about 50 percent, there is very little fluctuation since the card's temps are more under control.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u302/graph_temps_clocks_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u302/graph_temps_clocks_2_0.jpg" width="500" height="265" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>This screenshot was taken after Heaven 4.0 had been running on the R9 290X for 16 hours. In this image you can see the GPU clock speed over time, the fan set to 40 percent (Quiet mode) and the temp of 94C. That is the R9 290X's standard operating temperature under load. Click the image to see it in full-resolution.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Here's the rub: Even though the card provided to us by AMD didn't exhibit drastic clock speed fluctuation, other news outlets are reporting that retail boards acquired through e-tailers are showing major fluctuations. This would indicate that the board provided to the press were "golden samples," or boards tested or configured to not exhibit the same behavior seen in retail boards. This is obviously a problem, for several reasons. The boards we receive should be *exactly* the same as retail boards, period. But in this instance something is amiss, either with the press boards or with the retail boards, at least according to sites like the <a href="http://techreport.com/news/25609/updated-retail-radeon-r9-290x-cards-may-be-slower-than-press-samples">Tech Report</a> and <a href="http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-r9-290-review-benchmark,3659-2.html">Tom's Hardware</a>. AMD says the problem lies with the retail boards, and it's working on a driver fix that will "minimize this variance" according to the statement provided to the Tech Report. For what it's worth, <a href="http://www.sweclockers.com/artikel/17845-snabbtest-radeon-r9-290x-i-blasvader-for-golden-samples-sweclockers-undersoker">a site in Sweden</a> also obtained retail R9 290X boards and found the benchmark scores to be identical to those of the press board. We will be obtaining a retail R9 290X and will post our test results soon.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">To Nvidia's credit, it specs its boards with a Base Clock that is guaranteed, and performance can only go up from there if you overclock. AMD, at least this time around, is doing the opposite by stating the maximum clock speed the card can achieve in ideal conditions, with performance only dropping from there. How much it drops is an area of debate currently, but just to be clear, in our testing we did not experience the drastic clock speed fluctuations reported in the retail cards, and by Nvidia. Even in our overnight test of the R9 290X we did not see a drop in performance.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Final Thoughts</h3> <p>With the release of the GTX 780 Ti Nvidia lays claim to the fastest single GPU in the world title once again. We haven't seen a card dominate the high-end proceedings like this in a while, probably since the GTX Titan was released actually. Not only is it fast, but like the other Kepler cards it's cool and quiet, two traits that have gained new appreciation this week as gamers consider the new Hawaii cards from AMD. Both of those cards represent very strong price-to-performance ratios, but neither of them run hot, and are noticeably louder than their Nvidia equivalents. We don't think the heat and noise are deal breakers, however.</p> <p>Naturally, the GTX 780 Ti costs significantly more than the R9 290X, so we would expect it to outperform it by the same amount, and it certainly does. Barring some unforeseen new GPU from AMD it seems like Nvidia will remain the uncontested fastest GPU provider for the near future, at least until its new Maxwell cards come online sometime in 2014.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_780_ti_benchmarks#comments 780 ti Build a PC geforce gpu graphics card Hardware kepler nvidia reviews Video Card Reviews Videocards Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:00:50 +0000 josh norem 26648 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD Radeon R9 290X Benchmarks http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_benchmarks <!--paging_filter--><h3>AMD Radeon R9 290X: Killer Performance at an Amazing Price</h3> <h3><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290xstraighton_rgb_24in_small.png" alt="Radeon R9 290X" title="Radeon R9 290X" width="250" height="167" style="float: right;" /></h3> <p>AMD's Hawaii-based flagship GPU has finally arrived to take on Nvidia's super-sized GK110. This is a GPU grudge match that fans of hardcore PC performance have been waiting for, as both companies have been ratcheting up the tension ahead of today's announcement for the past few weeks.</p> <p>The bottom line is this - at just <strong>$549</strong>, the R9 290X represents a very serious threat to Nvidia's single-card GPU dominance. Read on to see how it fares against Nvidia's top-shelf silicon, and what it all means for PC gamers.</p> <h3>AMD's New Flagship</h3> <p>The <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Radeon">Radeon</a> R9 290X is the first GPU from AMD based on its new silicon dubbed <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_gpu14_tech_day_2013_live_blog">Hawaii</a>. This new chip is a tweener model, bigger than the previous flagship die named Tahiti, but not quite as big as <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia">Nvidia's</a> Big Kepler core named GK110. The Hawaii die measures 438mm squared compared to GK110's 551mm, and packs 6.2 billion transistors compared to GK110's 7.1 billion, so it's just a bit smaller than GK110 but larger than Tahiti. AMD recently argued in an interview with <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2013/09/16/exclusive-interview-amds-matt-skynner-talks-new-radeon-cards-next-gen-consoles-7990-criticism/">Forbes </a>magazine that it didn't need a die as big as GK110 to deliver the same performance, and as it turns out, they were right.</p> <p><img src="/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290x_flatangle_rgb_24in.jpg" alt="Radeon R9 290X" title="Radeon R9 290X" width="650" height="539" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>AMD's reference cooler design isn't quite as fancy as Nvidia's flagship design, but it still has a menacing look to it.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>The R9 290X will sit at the top of AMD's product stack for the near future as its flagship 28nm GPU utilizing its GCN architecture. It strikes an imposing figure at 11" long, but only requires one six-pin and one eight-pin power connector instead of dual eight-pins like we've seen on some of the Tahiti boards. AMD isn't saying what the card's TDP is, but did mention to us in an offhand manner that it's in the neighborhood of 250W, but it certainly seems based on our testing it's a bit higher than that. Hawaii will be offered in two SKUs - the R9 290X you see here today, and the R9 290 model that is still to come, so hopefully we'll have more info on that board in the coming weeks. For now, let's examine the specs of the card along with its competitors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/newspecs.jpg" alt="R9 290X specs" title="R9 290X specs" width="490" height="560" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As you can see, on paper this is one hell of a competitive offering from AMD, and the surprisingly low price of $549 is the clearest sign yet that AMD is dead set on hitting Nvidia where it hurts, in price-to-performance. Nvidia has been fortunate to remain unchallenged in the upper stratosphere of pricing for all of 2013, dual-Tahiti cards excluded, but it appears those days are now over. Nvidia will certainly have to respond with price cuts for either its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/geforce_gtx_780_benchmarks">GTX 780</a>, <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/nvidia_unleashes_titan2013">GTX Titan</a>, or both. We'll update this post when and if that happens.</p> <h3>"Up to 1GHz"</h3> <p>When AMD first shared the specs of the R9 290X with us, the clock speed section read "up to 1GHz," and we figured it was just a matter of this information coming before the release of the card when AMD was still finalizing the details of the card. We've seen clock speeds change at the very last minute in the past, from both AMD and Nvidia, so this is nothing new. What we now understand after testing the card is that the clock speed really is "up to 1GHz" thanks to the new power settings AMD has granted the board, which is known as PowerTune. Basically the card will run at the highest clock speed that it can given its operating temperature, all the way up to 1,000MHz. If it gets too hot, which just so happens to be exactly at 94C, it will lower its clock speed dynamically in order to maintain that temperature. It's very similar to what Nvidia is doing with its GPU Boost 2.0, and lets you control variables including clock speed, maximum temperature, and maximum fan speed. You can tweak all these variables in a semi-confusing matrix, shown in the photo below.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/powertune.jpg" alt="PowerTune" title="PowerTune" width="599" height="675" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>This is the interface for AMD's PowerTune utility. You'll also be able to use 3rd party overclocking tools as well.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;"><strong>Dual Bios and Uber and Quiet Mode</strong></h3> <p style="text-align: left;">The R9 290X ships with a teeny, tiny switch atop its PCB that lets you switch the card from Uber to Quiet mode. In Quiet mode, which its set to by default and is what we recommend, the fan will never spin faster than 40 percent, which keeps the card relatively quiet. It's not "whisper quiet," but is certainly more quiet than the HD 7970 GHz edition we have on hand, that is for damn sure. AMD has made tremendous strides in keeping the R9 290X quiet, and to quote Gordon during testing, "It's like it's not even an AMD card." In Uber mode the fan spins up to 55 percent, and you can definitely hear it. However, the primary benefit to this mode is that the extra cooling afforded by the additional fan speed lets the GPU operate at 1,000MHz all the time. However, in our testing we found almost no difference whatsoever between peformance in the two modes, and even in the AMD-supplied benchmarks there was very little difference. Therefore, our recommendation is to just run the card in quiet mode at all times. Your ears will thank you, and you won't notice a significant performance loss running in this mode at all. Also, one annoyance is that in order to switch the card you have to shut the system down and hit the switch while it's off, then make sure to hit the "default" button in the Catalyst Control Center to make sure the changes have been applied. It's too klunky to really be useful, and seems like a feature AMD tacked on at the last minute. Calling it "Uber" is just silly too since it provides a barely noticeable performance increase.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290xstraighton_rgb_24in_0.jpg" alt="Bios switch" title="Bios switch" width="436" height="262" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Dual Bios switch on the R9 290X toggles between Uber and Quiet modes.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">That about covers the basics, so hit page two to see how it performs!</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">The Benchmarks</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can imagine we were pretty stoked to benchmark this card. After all the build up we could not wait to see if it was actually going to be competitive with, or possibly dethrone, the GK110 GPUs from Nvidia. We strapped the R9 290X to our Core i7 test machine, installed Catalyst 13.11 Beta 5 drivers, and began our testing at our standard settings, which are at 2560x1600 with all settings at maximum, and 4XAA.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/2560benches.jpg" alt="Radeon R9 290X Benchmarks" title="Radeon R9 290X Benchmarks" width="482" height="679" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can see from the chart, any question we had as to whether or not this card could compete with the GTX 780 evaporated as soon as we started testing. It trades blows quite well with the GTX 780, and was faster in 3DMark, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider, and Battlefield 3. In several other tests, it was just a handful of frames slower, and came extremely close to topping the almost twice-as-expensive GTX Titan in a few tests as well, which is impressive. It doesn't hand the GTX 780 a crushing defeat, but it lands several hard punches, and is very close in performance, and when you consider it costs $100 less, it then becomes an obvious win for AMD. It is clearly the fastest card at the $550 price point, no question.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;"><strong>4K Benchmarks</strong></h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Both AMD and Nvidia have really been stressing how 4K is the future and that its new GPUs are more than ready for this kind of action. We concur, it is the next level for hardware junkies, and offers an amazing level of detail that is simply not possible using our current 2560x1600 displays in the lab. To test this card and the Nvidia equivalents we used the new 32" 4K panel from Sharp (PN-K321), which runs at 3840x2160 and is functionally the exact same display we used for Dream Machine 2013. In the interest of full disclosure, AMD sent us the panel for testing, but we examined it thoroughly to make sure it wasn't a "cheater" panel, as if that is even possible. Also, astute readers will notice we swapped motherboards for the 4K tests, and this was due to our original test platform experiencing a malfunction on one of its PCIe slots. Without further ado, here are the benchmarks.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4K Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/4kbenches.jpg" alt="4k Benchmarks" title="4k Benchmarks" width="378" height="541" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition run on an Asus Rampage IV Extreme board. We used 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8.&nbsp; All games were run at 3840x2160 with AA disabled.<br /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Having a look at the benchmark chart it's easy to see why AMD is stressing 4K peformance with this card - because it beat the GTX 780 in Unigine Valley, Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider, and Battlefield 3. Of course, the R9 290X still loses in most tests to the GTX Titan, but it did match it in Crysis 3, Tomb Raider, and even beat it by two frames per second in Battlefield 3. We know those are all AMD-badged titles, so perhaps this isn't a surprise, but again when you examine the price disparity between the cards it is clear AMD has a real winner on its hands with the R9 290X. It is just as fast, and faster in a lot of games, than its competitors from the Green Team, so well done AMD.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Power, heat, noise, and overclocking</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">It's all been quite positive up until now, so here's a little bit of bad news. This card runs hot, as in it sat at 94C the entire time we were testing with everything set to default settings. As hardware testers used to seeing around 80C on a GPU this was quite a surprise to us, as we've never seen a card run this hot before. Even on the Nvidia cards if we set their fans to 20% or so they would never get hotter than 85C or so typically. To AMD's credit, even though the R9 290X ran hot it was 100 percent stable throughout testing, and never rebooted, shut down, showed on-screen artifacts, or exhibited any sign of overheating whatsoever. We even left it running Heaven 4.0 over a 3-day period only to come back and find it purring right along, pegged at 94C, with the GPU's clock speed fluctuating around 925MHz or so. The air around the card was also quite cool, so the reference cooler AMD has built does a very good job of exhausting air out the back of the card.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290xsxxtraighton_rgb_24in.jpg" alt="Radeon R9 290X" title="Radeon R9 290X" width="579" height="249" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The R9 290X ran at 94C during testing, but was totally stable and didn't overheat at all (surprisingly).</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Also, we asked AMD about these temps since we were iniitally concerned we had missed a setting somewhere, and it assured us the card was designed to run at 95C until the cows come home, and was in no danger of overheating or exhibiting any weird behavior. As crazy as it sounds, AMD is right. This card is happy to run at those temps all day long. There's just one problem with this situation - since the card was already running at max temperature in stock trim, we couldn't overclock it at all. In order to do that we'd need some headroom on the temperature side of things, and that just wasn't happening. We could have turned up the fan sped, but it gets very audible very fast, as in going from 40 percent to 47 percent changes it from semi-quiet to very audible. We talked to AMD about this and it told us that when water blocks are available that will offer at least 20C or so of headroom, which will grant the user some overclocking ability. We also expect add-in-board manufacturers to come to market with custom coolers, which could accomplish this goal as well, however AMD told us the card will only be available with the reference cooler initially.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Final Thoughts</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Based on everything we heard about this card before its release, we were fairly certain it would be competitive with the GTX 780 and possibly the GTX Titan, but we weren't sure just how competitive it would be. Now that we have those numbers, we can say it's obviously extremely competitive with both of those cards, and with its support for AMD's new Mantle API as well as its TrueAudio support, it's a contender for sure with exclusive features not available from Nvidia at this time. Of course, the same can be said for Nvidia too, with its new G-Sync technology, PhysX, generally excellent drivers, GeForce Eperience and ShadowPlay, TXAA, and so forth. However, what Nvidia can't provide (at this time at least) is a similar price as the R9 290X. Its GTX 780 is $100 more expensive, and the GTX Titan is $450 more expensive, which makes both of those cards seem overpriced in comparison. Nvidia recently announced the GTX 780 Ti, but has been tight-lipped about specs and pricing so far, so it will be very interesting to see how it prices this card. If it puts the GTX 780 Ti at $550 to match the R9 290X, that would mean it would have to go even lower with the GTX 780, which would be unprecedented. AMD also still has the R9 290 waiting in the wings as well, which could do some serious damage to the GTX 770 and prompt a total shakeup in Nvidia's lineup.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">All in all, AMD has a winner on its hands with the R9 290X. It's faster than Nvidia's GTX 780 in a lot of our tests, and costs $100 less, making it by far the fastest GPU available at its $550 price point, and the best price-to-performance GPU available on the upper end of the market as well. It's been a long time since we've seen AMD deliver such a decisive victory, and we're certainly glad to see competition ramping up. It'll be interesting to see how Nvidia responds, that much is certain.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_benchmarks#comments amd gpus r9 290x radeon Reviews Videocards Thu, 24 Oct 2013 02:10:10 +0000 Josh Norem 26558 at http://www.maximumpc.com Sweet-Spot Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce 650 Ti Boost vs Sapphire 7790 OC 2GB http://www.maximumpc.com/sweet-spot_GPU_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>AMD’s Bonaire takes on Nvidia’s Boosted 650 Ti</h3> <p>It wasn't long ago when <a title="AMD" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/amd" target="_blank">AMD</a> announced an all-new GPU dubbed the HD 7790 1GB based on new silicon named "Bonaire" that, at $150, was designed to slot in between its HD 7770 and the more-expensive HD 7850. Not surprisingly, <a title="nvidia" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Nvidia" target="_blank">Nvidia</a> then announced a revamped “Boost” version of its GTX 650 Ti, with added support for dual-card SLI, higher clock speeds, and a 2GB frame buffer, countering AMD’s effort and shoring up what both companies refer to as the "GPU sweet spot." This month, AMD counterattacks Nvidia's counterattack with a 2GB version of the HD 7790 from Sapphire, leveling the playing field and raising the stakes by including a super-sweet game bundle. Can Nvidia's revamped 650 Ti Boost dominate the midrange GPU field, or is AMD's silicon the better deal? And how do they measure up to the former champs in this price range? To help settle this feud once and for all, we benchmarked not just the new guys, but all of the cards in this tax bracket.</p> <h4>Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7790 OC 2GB</h4> <p>When Sapphire called and asked if we were interested in checking out its 2GB version of the recently launched HD 7790, we had just one question: Does a bear benchmark in the woods? We had already sampled a reference design card, and the Asus 1GB version (see benchmark chart), so we were very curious to see what difference an extra 1GB of memory would make in our benchmarks. Since we run all the tests at 1080p, it wouldn’t have a chance to shine at higher resolutions; we figured the extra headroom might instead help with antialiasing, but we were wrong, as all cards remained pretty close in scores.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/11210-03_hd7790_oc_2ggddr5_dp_hdmi_2dvi_pcie_c02_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/11210-03_hd7790_oc_2ggddr5_dp_hdmi_2dvi_pcie_c02_small.jpg" alt="Sapphire’s card is the first HD 7790 we’ve seen with 2GB of memory." title="Sapphire’s card " width="620" height="474" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Sapphire’s card is the first HD 7790 we’ve seen with 2GB of memory.</strong></p> <p>Despite its midrange status, this 7790 card has several high-end features, including a fancy aftermarket cooler (as opposed to the reference cooler), a backplate for increased cooling on the board’s caps and VRMs, CrossFire support, and a bundle that includes an HDMI cable, a CrossFire cable, and a copy of BioShock Infinite. This is also the Overclock Edition, so the core clock is goosed 50MHz over stock speeds, and the memory gets a 100MHz nudge, as well. Like other HD 7790 cards, this Bonaire GPU features eight power states (the HD 7970 only uses four) to help it more efficiently use power and remain mostly silent all the time. This card uses much less power than the GTX 650 Ti Boost, which is a bit of a change of fortunes since on the high-end it’s Nvidia that has the TDP advantage.</p> <p>The HD 7790 uses a single 6-pin PCIe connector, takes up two slots like every other video card, and has a semi-low TDP of just 85W. This card’s main neutering has taken place on its memory pipeline, which is skinny at 128 bits, whereas the GTX 650 Ti Boost has a 192-bit memory bus. This 7790 features 896 stream processors, has two DVI ports, an HDMI port, and DisplayPort, and support's AMD EyeFinity multidisplay technology.</p> <p>In our tests, the Sapphire card performed decently but it faces a few hurdles. First, it's not as fast as the more expensive GTX 650 Ti Boost from EVGA, but the difference is just a handful of frames in all the games we test, with a few notable exceptions. In Battlefield 3 and BioShock Infinite, the GTX 650 Ti had a clear advantage, but in the rest of the tests, it was close enough to call it a wash. We also didn't see any real advantage to having a 2GB frame buffer versus the 1GB when compared to the Asus HD 7790, so while we're certainly not opposed to having more RAM just in case, our tests didn’t reveal any measurable difference running tests at 1080p with 4X AA. An even bigger problem for the Sapphire card is the HD 7850, which is an older card but, as our tests show, is clearly faster, by a decent amount across the board, and the HD 7850 is actually less expensive than the Sapphire card, making it a better overall deal when looking at performance alone.</p> <p>We said last month that we think the HD 7790 is a great card for 1080p gaming, and the Sapphire card doesn’t change that, but it does show you can save money by going with a 1GB version. We also love the fact that this card, and all HD 7790s as of press time, include a free copy of BioShock Infinite, which majorly tilts the advantage to AMD in this price category since performance is so close among cards.</p> <p><strong>Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 7790 OC 2GB</strong></p> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="250" height="80" /></div> <p><strong>$170, <a href="http://www.sapphiretech.com " target="_blank">www.sapphiretech.com</a></strong></p> <h4>EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Superclocked</h4> <p>EVGA offers four versions of the GTX 650 Ti Boost, so it sent us its Superclocked double-RAM version, which, at $180, costs $30 more than the stock version (at press time there was a $10 rebate, however). This card looks exactly like Nvidia’s reference design, so the only changes are internal, in the form of a core overclock of 92MHz and twice the frame buffer at 2GB. Like other “Boost” cards, this GPU features a wider 12-bit memory interface than the standard Ti, which features a 128-bit bus. It sports 768 CUDA cores and a 1,137MHz Boost Clock, which is also a new feature, as the standard Ti didn’t overclock at all. The card offers HDMI, DisplayPort, and two DVI outputs, and like all EVGA cards we’ve tested, includes a bare-bones bundle featuring just a VGA-to-DVI connector and a Molex-to-PCIe adapter. One other new feature of the Boost version of the card that deserves mention is the fact that, in addition to overclocking and higher performance, this version of the card now supports dual-card SLI, which is a first for cards in this price range.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/gtx650ti_boost_graphics_card_3qt_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/gtx650ti_boost_graphics_card_3qt_small.jpg" alt="Nvidia’s GTX 650 Ti Boost brings overclocking and SLI to the sub-$200 GPU world." title="Nvidia’s GTX 650" width="620" height="437" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nvidia’s GTX 650 Ti Boost brings overclocking and SLI to the sub-$200 GPU world.</strong></p> <p>On paper, the GTX 650 Ti Boost certainly looks to be a faster card than the AMD HD 7790 due to its wider memory bus and higher clock speeds, and in the real world of Lab testing, we saw those results laid bare. The Nvidia card is faster, but the AMD card isn’t too far behind, and nips at its heels despite having a 55W deficit. The real issue for the GTX 650 Ti Boost is, once again, our little friend the HD 7850 and his $190 buddy the GTX 660. The HD 7850 is faster in some tests and costs less, but the two are very close overall, making it hard to recommend the Nvidia card in that matchup. The GTX 660 is only a smidgen faster despite costing more, so we’re inclined to say save your money and get the Boost when comparing those two cards.</p> <p>Finally, on the software side of things, this card includes a $75 coupon to spend in-game on either Hawken, World of Tanks, or PlanetSide 2. When compared to the inclusion of BioShock Infinite with the AMD card, this offering seems rather weak in comparison, so Nvidia has some catching-up to do. On the hardware side, though, it’s clearly the front-runner at around $170 or so, so it’s a shame its bundle brings it down.</p> <p><strong>EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Superclocked </strong></p> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="250" height="80" /></div> <p><strong>$180, <a href="http://www.evga.com" target="_blank">www.evga.com</a></strong></p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 OC 2GB </td> <td>EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB</td> <td>Asus HD 7790 DirectCU II 1GB</td> <td>XFX Radon HD 7850</td> <td>Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 OC</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Price</td> <td>$170</td> <td>$180</td> <td>$150</td> <td>$160</td> <td>$190</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">3DMark Fire Strike</td> <td class="item-dark">3,708</td> <td>4,132</td> <td>3,745</td> <td>4,567</td> <td><strong>4,589</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Catzilla (Tiger) Beta</td> <td>3,727</td> <td>5,622<strong></strong></td> <td>3,752</td> <td>4,908</td> <td><strong>6,247</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Unigine Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">19</td> <td>26</td> <td>20</td> <td>25</td> <td><strong>29</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Hitman Absolution (fps)</td> <td>27</td> <td>30<br /><strong></strong></td> <td>26</td> <td><strong>37</strong></td> <td>33</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Crysis 3 (fps)</td> <td>15</td> <td><strong>21</strong></td> <td>12</td> <td>20</td> <td>20</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Shogun 2 (fps)</td> <td>43</td> <td>47</td> <td>43</td> <td>52</td> <td><strong>54</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Far Cry 3 (fps)</td> <td>41</td> <td>47</td> <td>42</td> <td>47</td> <td><strong>57</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>BioShock Infinite (fps)</td> <td>35</td> <td>52</td> <td>36</td> <td>47</td> <td><strong>65</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Tomb Raider (fps)</td> <td>17</td> <td>20</td> <td>14</td> <td><strong>22</strong></td> <td>20</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Battlefield 3 (fps)</td> <td>31</td> <td>42</td> <td>32</td> <td><strong>44</strong></td> <td><strong>44</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Core/Memory Clock (MHz)</td> <td>1,050/6,400</td> <td>1,072/6,008</td> <td>1,075/6,400</td> <td>860/4,800</td> <td>980/6,000</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus P9X79 motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8 Ultimate. All tests are run at 1920x1080 with 4X AA except for 3DMark and Catzilla.<br /></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> http://www.maximumpc.com/sweet-spot_GPU_2013#comments EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost feature gpu graphics card Hardware PC gaming Sapphire AMD Radeon HD Video Card Reviews Videocards Features Fri, 04 Oct 2013 22:34:26 +0000 Josh Norem 26382 at http://www.maximumpc.com Best Cheap Graphics Card: Asus Radeon HD 7790 vs. EVGA GTX 650 Ti Boost http://www.maximumpc.com/best_cheap_graphics_card_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Battle of the best cheap graphics cards</h3> <p>We don’t pay too much attention to the sub-$200 GPU market, but with <a title="AMD" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/AMD" target="_blank">AMD</a> and <a title="nvidia" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Nvidia" target="_blank">Nvidia</a> having boards at around the $150 mark that offer features previously only found on more expensive GPUs, including multi-GPU support and GPU clock boosting (for Nvidia). These new features suddenly made these budget boards very interesting, especially when dual-card setups are taken into consideration. Naturally, we pitted the new cards against one another in a Sweet-Spot showdown.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/dsc_3400c_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/dsc_3400c_small_0.jpg" alt="The Asus Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II OC is surprisingly powerful given its tiny size, lack of noise, and solitary 6-pin PCIe connector requirement." title="Asus Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II OC" width="620" height="412" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Asus Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II OC is surprisingly powerful given its tiny size, lack of noise, and solitary 6-pin PCIe connector requirement.</strong></p> <h4>Round 1: Specs</h4> <p>On paper, both 28nm cards are extremely similar, though the Nvidia card has a few small advantages. First, the AMD card is only available in 1GB flavors; the Nvidia card comes in both 1GB and 2GB varieties, and features a wider 192-bit memory interface compared to the 7790’s 128-bit channel. The AMD card offers more stream processors at 896 compared to the 650 Ti Boost’s 768 CUDA cores, though this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. For clock speeds, the Nvidia card can hit a higher speed when boosting, 1,137MHz compared to the AMD card’s 1,075MHz clocks, but 60MHz isn’t anything to write home about. Both cards support dual-GPU configs (previously unheard of at this price), so that’s a draw. The AMD card draws a lot less power, though—just 85W compared to the Nvidia’s semi-high 134W.</p> <p><strong>Winner: Tie</strong></p> <h4>Round 2: Performance</h4> <p>In this category there is a clear winner, and it’s Nvidia in both single- and dual-card configs. In every benchmark test we ran except for one, the Nvidia card either had a small advantage or the two cards were neck-and-neck, but at no time did AMD have the upper hand. The one exception was in Dirt: Showdown, which is known to be an AMD game, just like Batman: Arkham Asylum is an Nvidia title. Overall, though, the balance is clearly in Nvidia’s favor, with it eking out a small advantage in each test, wiping out any advantage AMD hoped it would gain over Nvidia with the launch of this card. To be fair, AMD originally launched this card against the older GTX 650 Ti, and then Nvidia launched the updated Boost version soon after in response, so AMD probably wasn’t prepared for the response from Nvidia on this one.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/gtx650ti_boost_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/gtx650ti_boost_small.jpg" alt="EVGA’s GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost SuperClocked is the alpha-male version of this card, overclocked and stuffed with 2GB of RAM." title="EVGA GTX 650 Ti Boost" width="620" height="437" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>EVGA’s GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost SuperClocked is the alpha-male version of this card, overclocked and stuffed with 2GB of RAM.</strong></p> <p><strong>Winner: EVGA GTX 650 Ti Boost</strong></p> <h4>Round 3:&nbsp; Features</h4> <p>Let’s examine connectivity first. Both cards offer the same number and type of ports: dual-DVI ports, DisplayPort, and an HDMI port. Second, the <a title="asus" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Asus" target="_blank">Asus</a> bundle includes a CrossFireX cable, VGA-to-DVI adapter, and the Asus DirectCU II cooler, which is one of the best available when it comes to silent operation and great temps. The feather in the HD 7790’s cap is the inclusion of a copy of BioShock Infinite—a $60 value and an excellent triple-A title. The EVGA/Nvidia card uses a stock blower-type cooler, which is not sexy, but does the job. The EVGA card also includes a bare-bones bundle that includes a single VGA-to-DVI adapter, driver disk, and a sticker. Both cards ship with superb software, and Nvidia includes $75 worth of in-game money for Hawken, World of Tanks, and PlanetSide 2, which is weak.</p> <p><strong>Winner: Asus HD 7790</strong></p> <h4>Round 4: Heat and Noise</h4> <p>Just as the Nvidia card has a small advantage when it comes to performance, AMD and Asus have the advantage in this category. First off, the TDP for the HD 7790 is a low 85W, which compares to 134W of the Nvidia card, making AMD the clear winner in terms of power draw. Second, we’ve seen the Asus DirectCU II cooler keep an overclocked GTX 680 totally silent, so you can image what a smaller version of the cooler&nbsp; is capable of with a low-TDP card like the HD 7790. The AMD card is also able to more efficiently manage its power states compared to previous cards, helping it stay totally silent all the time. Now, we’re not saying the EVGA card is loud, but it made a bit more noise in testing than the Asus card, and draws more power, making this category a slam-dunk for AMD/Asus.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winner: Asus HD 7790</strong></p> <h4>Round 5: Price and Value</h4> <p>This is another round that is easy to decide, because at press time the Asus card was priced at $149 with the copy of BioShock Infinite, and the EVGA card was priced at $179 on Newegg with the $75 of in-game credits. Obviously, the Nvidia card has a speed advantage, and double the memory, but for gamers who are playing at 1080p, the Asus card is totally adequate, so we think it offers a better value given how close the two cards are in every other aspect. Also, the Nvidia card is priced the same as the more expensive Radeon HD 7850, which offers better performance in every test that we use, making the GeForce card seem kind of expensive in comparison. There is a 1GB version of the 650 Ti Boost that costs $149, which is more compelling than this version, in our opinion.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winner: Asus HD 7790</strong></p> <h3>And the Winner Is…</h3> <p>There is a clear winner at this $150-ish price point, and that’s the <strong>Asus DirectCU II Radeon HD 7790</strong>. The Nvidia card would be extremely competitive at $150, but not at $170, where it’s just a bit too expensive and unable to compete with the Radeon HD 7850. AMD’s inclusion of BioShock Infinite really sweetens the pot, too, making it an amazing deal at $149 since it includes the superbly silent DirectCU II cooler and always-excellent Asus engineering.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/best_cheap_graphics_card_2013#comments $200 2013 amd Asus Radeon HD 7790 budget video card cheap EVGA GTX 650 Ti Boost gpu graphics card Hardware nvidia Videocards Features Tue, 03 Sep 2013 22:07:39 +0000 Josh Norem 26166 at http://www.maximumpc.com Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid GTX 680 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/arctic_cooling_accelero_hybrid_gtx_680_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>A sweet DIY project for hardcore cooling freaks</h3> <p>Back in the olden days of, like, three years ago, GPUs were quite loud and didn’t cool very well, so aftermarket coolers were not necessarily required but were a good idea, and absolutely necessary if you wanted to heavily overclock the card.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/accelleroo_cooler7508_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/accelleroo_cooler7508_small.jpg" alt="We installed the Accelero Hybrid cooler on our GTX 680 card in just over an hour with minimal profanity." title="Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid GTX 680" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>We installed the Accelero Hybrid cooler on our <a title="gtx 680" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/gtx_680" target="_blank">GTX 680</a> card in just over an hour with minimal profanity.</strong></p> <p>Even if you didn’t want to overclock but were a hardcore builder, installing liquid coolers made for a fun weekend project. Those days have mostly ended, now that <a title="nvidia" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Nvidia" target="_blank">Nvidia</a> has gotten its act together with regards to quiet, well-designed coolers (<a title="amd" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/AMD" target="_blank">AMD</a> is getting closer, but isn’t quite there yet for the high-end cards), and modern GPUs overclock quite nicely even with a stock cooler. But that hasn’t stopped Arctic Cooling from developing exotic aftermarket coolers for all of today’s high-end GPUs (Nvidia 600 and AMD 7000 series), so this month we strapped its Hybrid water-and-air cooler to a GTX 680 to see what the fuss was all about. Even though the cooler worked wonderfully, this is not a project for the faint-of-heart, as it would be tough to undo, but the gains it achieved in noise and heat dissipation were quite impressive.</p> <p>The kit includes three separate pieces that must all be joined together: the water block and radiator, the cooling shroud with built-in fan, and the fan for the radiator. First, you must remove the stock cooler from your GPU, then whip out the Accelero Hybrid’s Ikea-like step-by-step instructions, and start assembling the cooler. To do so, you glue some heatsinks to your board’s VRMs, then attach the water block to the shroud, then attach the shroud to the card, then connect power for the fan and the pump. Finally, you connect the included fan to the radiator and then attach the radiator to your case’s exhaust port above the PCIe slots. Installation took us roughly one hour, though that doesn’t count leaving the card overnight for the thermal glue holding the heatsinks to dry. Overall, the instructions were easy to follow, and we had zero issues in testing, too, so we feel that means the instructions did their job, letting us install the cooler without breaking the card.</p> <p>Once we had it up and running, we were astonished by the card’s noise level, or better yet, the lack of noise. It’s so quiet that you could play Crysis 3 in a library, with your case door off. Even when putting your ear next to the card under 100 percent load, you still don’t hear much except for the occasional gurgle of water moving through the tubes, and we had the card overclocked to 1,100MHz from 1,006MHz. The temperatures were also superb, hitting only 60 C under full load overclocked, compared to 85 C with the stock cooler at stock clocks. We can definitely say this cooler works as advertised, runs silent and cool, and didn’t break our GPU, nor was it difficult to assemble.</p> <p>Now, should you buy it? Well, the performance gains we saw from overclocking the card were modest, as they always are. Also, this cooler cost $110 on Newegg as we went to press, which is a pretty penny to pay for an extra four frames per second in Crysis 3, for example. It is quiet, though, and it certainly runs cool, so if you’re having heat and/or noise issues, this is one cooling solution we can wholeheartedly recommend. It definitely kicks ass.</p> <p><strong>$110 (street),</strong> <a href="http://www.arctic.ac/en/">www.arctic.ac</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/arctic_cooling_accelero_hybrid_gtx_680_review#comments June 2013 2013 Accelero Hybrid GTX 680 Air Cooling coolers graphics card cooler Hardware June 2013 Review Reviews Videocards Water Cooling Fri, 23 Aug 2013 20:38:01 +0000 Josh Norem 26076 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD Unveils New Never Settle Bundle http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_unveils_new_never_settle_bundle <!--paging_filter--><p><a class="thickbox" title="Never Settle Forever" href="/files/u154280/amd_never_settle_bundle_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/amd_never_settle_bundle.png" alt="Never Settle Forever" title="Never Settle Forever" width="300" height="165" style="float: right;" /></a></p> <h3>New bundle will let gamers choose which games they want</h3> <p>AMD has announced the Never Settle Forever gaming bundle, which adds the one thing we’ve always wanted to the program — choice. In the past gamers bought a Radeon card and got a bundle of free games regardless of whether or not they already owned them, so this time around buying a Radeon card will let you redeem the game of your choice from predetermined pools, and you can even hold onto the tickets and redeem them for future, unannounced titles as well.</p> <p>The three tiers included are bronze (which is if you purchase a 7700-series cards), silver (for 7800-series cards), and gold( for 7900-series cards). Bronze tier gets you one game of your choosing, while silver snags you two, and gold gets you three.&nbsp;</p> <p>Titles included in AMD’s Bronze tier include Sleeping Dogs, Far Cry 3, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dirt 3, and Dirt Showdown. Silver Tier has the aforementioned titles, but also includes DMC: Devil May Cry, and Hitman Absolution. The last tier, gold, has every game mentioned, plus Saints Row IV which they recently announced today via Twitter and Tomb Raider.</p> <p>The new system works by giving gamers a redemption portal from which they can use their AMD-provided reward codes. The redemption codes will be good until December 31st, 2013.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="/files/u154280/amd_press_packet.png" alt="AMD Never Settle Forever" title="AMD Never Settle Forever" /></p> <p>Interestingly enough, looking at a photo from AMD’s Never Settle Forever press packet, we saw a page that showed Dishonored, Syndicate, and Crysis 3. Could these games also be added to AMD's giveaway lineup in the future?</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_unveils_new_never_settle_bundle#comments AMD Never Settle Forever Hitman Absolution Radeon HD Tomb Raider Games Gaming Videocards Thu, 15 Aug 2013 22:42:28 +0000 Chris Zele 26130 at http://www.maximumpc.com