Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different as we bring you the SLI review of the latest budget pleaser from NVIDIA, the GeFoce GTX 950.
The NVIDIA GTX 950 is the newest card to be released based on the Maxwell architecture and aimed to bring solid 1080p performance for under £150. Sub vendors went completely nuts with this card and produced some simply great options that have put the squeeze on AMD in the budget gaming segment.
Now we don’t really ever consider low-end options for SLI for cost effectiveness reasons, but some consumers may only have £150 now and £150 next month and want to play straight away.
Because I had the choice of three different cards, the smart move would be to test the two most powerful options, the Inno3D iChill GTX 950 and MSI Gaming GTX 950. These both can be purchased for under £140 each through a wide range of retailers and work extremely well together. However, a matching set would give the best possible performance as the computer wouldn’t need to throttle one card to match the others performance.
That’s enough of an introduction, let’s find out how well this compact duo performs in the real world.
Gigabyte revealed their brand new XTREME GAMING series with the announcement of the new GB-N950XTREME-2GD graphics card built around the Nvidia GTX 950 GPU. The new series is designed to deliver extreme gaming experience for dedicated enthusiasts with great overclocking performance and rock-solid durability.
The GB-N950XTREME-2GD comes with an impressive overclock. The base clock has been pumped up to 1203MHz from 1016MHz and the Boost clock has been pushed from 1190MHz to 1405MHz. The 2GB DDR5 memory has also been overclocked to 7GHz.
The card comes with one Dual-Link DVI-I, one HDMI and three DisplayPort connectors. It supports the latest DirectX 12 and only requires a single 8-pin power connector. The card promises some great performance and 4K gaming in 45 fps in Heroes of the Storm, 58 fps in Dota2 and 186 fps in League of Legends, an easy 65% or more improvement over the popular GTX 750Ti graphics card.
Gigabyte built the GB-N950XTREME-2GD with their WINDFORCE 2X cooling system with pure direct-touch copper heat pipes and the 3D-Active fans that only are powered up when needed. The built-in LED will show when the card is running,but the fans are parked as well as allowing you to set your colour of choice. The card also features a sturdy backplate to help with the cooling and increase the overall structural integrity of the card.
The GTX 950 XTREME GAMING graphics card would make a great card for the casual MOBA gamer and it is the first of many gamer-focused products that Gigabyte will be rolling out this year.
With all of the hype surrounding the GTX 900 series recently, it has been hard to imagine what the lower end of the graphics card market would hold for the refined Maxwell architecture. We originally saw Maxwell in the mighty GTX 750Ti, but it was only when the GTX 900 series was released that we received the Maxwell that we know today. Our reviews and news have focused heavily on the GTX 980Ti and Titan X graphics cards, so information on the GTX 950 has been scarce to say the least; that is about to change. In today’s review, there is not one, not two but three GTX 950’s in for punishment; the ASUS STRIX GTX 950 2GB, Inno3D iChill AIRBOSS ULTRA GTX 950 2GB and the MSI GAMING GTX 950 2GB.
The GTX 950 is hot off the manufacturing line and features some lack-luster, but pokey specifications; knowing NVIDIA, less is more and we should see a stormer of a graphics card here regardless. Most of the options will feature 2GB of VRAM due to the product placement, but we will see some 4GB models which should make for a very capable SLI configuration for not a great deal of money. So with a price tag of around £120 depending on the manufacturer, performance isn’t going to be outstanding compared to the bigger options. However, the estimated performance and price tag makes this an extremely attractive option for 1080p and online gamers. Personally, I feel that this GTX 950 will be the final piece in the puzzle for NVIDIA; it will then have a great graphics option at almost every price point.
Now just because the GTX 950 is aimed at the lower price market, do not assume that you are not getting the full NVIDIA treatment. As with almost every NVIDIA GPU you will get the following:
GPU Boost 2.0
The GM206 GPU core makes its second appearance here since the GTX 960 options; however, it seems to have had a shave to bring the performance down. Would this be enough or will we see another Titan X and GTX 980Ti scenario here, let’s find out shall we.
What’s better than getting a relative good graphics cards cheap? Easy, getting some of the money back after you purchased it. That is exactly what you can do now as EVGA offers European customers a €25 cashback on GeForce GTX 960 cars in July.
The exact period of purchase must be between the 6th of July and 2nd of August 2015 to be eligible and the end-user is required to register their new graphics card and follow the steps of the cashback claim process online at eu.evga.com. As always with these cashback programs, you need to purchase the unit from participating partners and the list is quite long. Among them are prominent players such as CaseKing, Scan Computers, dabs, Webhallen, and many more.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 comes as either a 2GB or 4GB version and it is equipped with the pretty amazing ACX 2.0+ cooler.
It features a memory MOSFET cooling plate (MMCP) that reduces MOSFET temperatures by up to 11°C and optimised Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) that additionally reduce GPU temperature by 5°C. The fans are optimised for the perfect airflow and run on double ball bearings with an extreme low power motor. More air with less power. The fans turn off completely if the card is below 60 degrees and the graphics card also features a dual BIOS with quick-switch.
Gigabyte has just announced its low-end GTX 960 model, the GeForce GTX 960 ITX, boasting a Windforce 2x cooling solution. This looks to be dedicated to people who use their PCs mostly for office and multimedia activities, though the card can also be used for some casual games that don’t require a powerhouses rig just start it.
The card features a reasonable 2GB of GDDR5, a 128-bit memory interface and a core base clock of 1127 MHz, going to up to 1178 MHz in boost mode. By the looks of it, Gigabyte plans on rolling out a OC version of the card with a base clock of 1152 MHz and boost clock of 1203 MHz. Taking into account the latter and the GeForce GTX 960 ITX already on the market, I’m fairly certain that Gigabyte will roll out a 4GB model soon enough, should 2GB be not enough for what you have in mind.
Taking a look at the Windforce 2x, the cooling solution looks to be promising in keeping the ‘little monster’ cool under full load. The blades are specially designed with triangle shapes at the edge and special 3D stripe curves to efficiently enhance and keep the card cool. In addition to that, the pure copper heat pipe direct touch (HDT) helps in keeping the card cool at an extremely low noise level, so you don’t have to worry about it buzzing your ears off when you put it to the ultimate test.
There is no official confirmation of any price for it, but EXPReview puts it at ¥1499, which is roughly £155.
Acer has announced its new Iconia Tab 10 tablet recently, a device that comes with top performance at an acceptable price tag as it seems from the specs and recommended price set by the company.
Two versions of the Iconia Tab 10 have apparently surfaced on the market, one with a 10.1-inch WUXGA display, 2GB of RAM, 32 GB flash storage, the MediaTek MT8217 SoC and a 1.5 GHz Quad-Core Cortex-A7. The latter device is the more pricier version, coming with a price tag of $249.
The cheaper version is set at $199 and comes with a 1280 x 800 screen, 1 GB of RAM, 16GB flash storage, a 1.7 GHz SoC compared to the latter and a smaller battery, namely 5700 mAh, compared to the 5910 mAh from the first version.
Both models are said to support only Wi-Fi connectivity, so users wanting to see a 3G/4G version of the tablet would be extremely disappointed. Also, in terms of colour options, the tablets come in black and white choices.
Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 has been out for just over a week and has given us amazing performance capabilities given its such a small power requirement and it has impressed us here at eTeknix with the ability to run passively; could this mid-range graphics card set the pace for future sub $200 cards? Even though it’s not very powerful, the GTX 960 series has proven that high resolutions are almost possible at this price point.
Today we have the Gainward Phantom GLH (Goes Like Hell) Edition GeForce GTX 960 2GB; a bit of a mouthful if I must say so myself. Gainward aren’t renowned for breaking overclocking world records, but they know a thing or two about producing high quality, super quiet cooling solutions with a quirky difference. Gainward has worked their magic by cherry picking specific cards that can handle and maintain their intense factory overclocks. NVIDIA has aimed this card at the core gaming market, hoping for those who admitted to using older technology during Steams survey will want to upgrade to the new Maxwell architecture thanks to its low price.
This particular Gainward Phantom is perched at around $21o. For a card that promises epic performance through cherry picked components, lets see if its worth the extra 5% premium.
Gainward follows the same style of packaging as others in the NVIDIA range; plain and simple box with a key image of the graphics card. Along the bottom, we see the Phantom logo with its slogan. The only difference with this box is the Goes Like Hell (GLH) logo in the top right. Inside the box, we have bundled a twin molex to 6-pin PCIe power connection, VGA to DVI adapter and Gainwards driver install and quick start guide.
Gainward keeps things plain and simple, utilising their own PCB to be able to sit nicely under the Phantom cooler. This cooling solution is one of the most unusual on the market, hiding its twin 92mm PWM fans inside the cooling shroud with the rather slim radiator sitting on top.
This particular Phantom cooler is the newest variant in the series and has a cool party trick.
That’s right, the Phantom cooler has the ability to remove the fans.
This feature gives you the ability to clean the fans after a period of time, but you could also choose to run completely passively, albeit running the risk of extremely high temperatures unless you have very good airflow in your case.
At the far end of the card, it’s in keeping with Gainwards’ style, plain, simple and to the point; not even a glimpse of the heat pipes.
Along the top of the card, things get a little more interesting, showing you the single 6-pin power connection, ample for the 120w TDP. You also see the two slots which the fans are situated with groves to allows for better air flow.
On the back of the card, you have a very typical PCB with rear mounted RAM chips. It’s a shame Gainward didn’t give the card a backplate; it really would have finished it off well. You can see that the PCB is around 1/5th shorter than the cooling shroud, allowing for improved airflow.
Things are kept simple at the outputs end of the card, twin DVI ports, a single DisplayPort and a HDMI port capable of 4k resolution. I wonder if this card, with its intense overclocks; can produce a good 4k score in our tests.
Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different, as we have 2 GeForce GTX 960’s ready for some testing. The first is the Asus STRIX GeForce GTX 960 (check out our review of that here) and the second is the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GeForce GTX 960 (check out our review of that here). When striving for the best results, it is favourable to test 2 of the same models to allow for no variation in any clock speeds or variations in any integrated components. Fortunately, as these cards are both non-reference, we have some headroom for overclocking, which is sometimes not present in reference models.
In their dedicated reviews, you can see that both of these graphics cards are more than capable of running most feature games and benchmarking software at playable levels at 1440p. When tested at 4K resolution, both of these cards struggled and failed to wow us, so it will be interesting to see how these cards stack up against their single scores. This setup might be the favourable choice for some, as it is more budget friendly than splashing the cash on a pair of GTX 970’s or GTX 980’s, so let’s find out if it’s worth it!
We inserted both GTX 960 graphics cards onto our Core i7 5820K and X99-based test system, ensuring adequate spacing and that both have access to sufficient PCI-e bandwidth for SLI operation.
Due to both of these graphics cards having ample cooling capabilities in their own right, position isn’t really an issue. In this test, we have placed the Gigabyte G1 Gaming graphics card in the traditional ‘Hot Spot’ due to its far more substantial cooling solution.
As we saw in the dedicated reviews, thermal throttling isn’t an issue here. In fact, both of these cards have a passive running feature which allows for passive running under 65°c. It will be very interesting to see if these cards can run passively together, possibly even while playing slightly more demanding games.
Both of the graphics cards we have here are non-reference, they have a higher base clock as standard compared to a reference design card. We will have to match these cards clock speeds of both core and memory to try to closely match them and to give the best results.
Nvidia has released the GeForce GTX 960 and the graphics card manufacturers are getting their new cards ready. EVGA is one of them, and they have announced the new EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ graphics card.
The new EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooler brings new features as well. A Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 11°C, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by an additional 5°C. ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized Swept fan blades, double ball bearings, and an extreme low power motor.
dBi (dB Noise Inverter) – EVGA’s ACX 2.0+ fan turns off below 60C, generating 0dB of noise.
MMCP (Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate) – Full-size cooling plate makes direct contact with memory and MOSFETS, reducing memory up to 9°C and MOSFET up to 11°C.
QSD (Quick Switch Dual BIOS) – Multiple integrated BIOSes allow you to switch to the secondary with the flick of a switch.
OPT (Optimized Power Target) – The power target is precisely tuned for the perfect balance of thermal, power and performance, offering 33% more power over reference.
SHP (Straight Heat Pipes) – Triple 8mm straight heat pipes offer 6% better heat dissipation than bent heat pipes with reduced thermal resistance.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ GPU has 1024 CUDA Cores and 2GB GDDR5 memory, the GPU runs at 1279 MHz with a boost up to 1342MHz while the memory is running at 7010MHz. The card provides three DisplayPort 1.2, one HDMI 2.0, and one Dual-link DVI port. It also comes with the convenient quick-switch dual BIOS.
Thanks to EVGA for providing us with this information
Today we welcome the highly anticipated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 to the table. The GeForce GTX 960 is the 3rd iteration in the GTX 900 series. Based on the newest, most powerful NVIDIA Maxwell architecture to date, it hopes to bring 1440p and up gaming to those on a tighter budget. Nvidia has held information of this card close to their chest, but have given us a tantalising taste with their recent statement of it being an “Overclockers Dream”, supposedly reaching very high core clocks; insane capability for a midrange card. NVIDIA states that this card is aimed at the core gamers, with Steam users feedback outlining that 66% of users still game with the equivalent of a GTX 660 or below; that’s around the same performance as a Radeon 7850 for those in the Red corner. NVIDIA are keeping the same features that we’ve previously seen on the GTX 970/GTX 980 which were introduced with Maxwell such as MFAA (Multi-Framed Sampled Anti-Aliasing), allowing high detailed gaming at higher resolutions, perfect for 4k. With Maxwell, also brought much lower power requirements, lower operating temperatures, noise and electric bills.
The version we have here today is the Asus STRIX GeForce GTX 960. This particular model, STRIX being the ancient Roman word for owl, is Asus’ newest variation, incorporates the DirectCU II cooling style, but with more features and improved aesthetics. This particular model boasts 30% cooler operation with an impressive 0 decibel operation. This card comes with an awe inspiring overclock, with 2 presets of ‘Gaming’ and ‘Overclock’ modes for you to choose from. Nvidia has waited 4 months to release this graphics card, but has it been worth the wait?
The packaging style follows suit for the STRIX brand, incorporating the mechanical Owl as an eerie backdrop. Follow suit for the DirectCU II cooler advertisement, Asus display a slightly exploded view of the cooler housing and internals. Along the bottom of the box, the core features of the card are displayed. Contents include Asus’ SpeedSetup manual, driver disc and a DVI to VGA adapter.
The cooler shroud has its very distinctive Owl shape, keeping the colour theme very plain and simple with mere red highlights to break up the black. Asus make no attempt at hiding those distinctive 10mm cooling pipes at the base of the card. This model boasts an impressive passive feature while keeping the graphics card up to 30% cooler compared to reference design. The passive feature remains active for temperatures below 65°c, to allow for zero noise interference for light gaming sessions and general use.
Along the bottom, we get a better look at those behemoth cooling pipes and can get a sneak peek into the heatsink where all the magic happens to help it shave up to 30% cooling capability off the reference cards.
At the end of the card, its a very economic, the shroud ends just shy of the heatsink to allow for improved airflow around the fins.
Looking down onto the top of the card, you get a better feel for the size of it. With the cooling shroud and heatsink hanging around a 1/5th over the end of the card, you know this will stay nice and cool, even under intense gaming sessions. Equipped with a single 6-pin power connection and a single SLI connection, there is little distraction away from the STRIX logo.
The 6-pin power connection has an integrated LED to provide a visual representation for an incomplete setup. Red for incomplete and white for satisfactory installation of the power cable.
The back of the card retains the plain and simple look to the card, brushed metal with just a laser-etched Asus logo, very understated. The metal backplate provides extra protection to the PCB which helps lower the temperature. A bit of thought has gone into the logo placements, both upside down, so when mounted, they will be the correct way up; shame about the sticker placement though.
For such a small card, it doesn’t fall short of outputs. three full-sized DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x HDMI 2.0 and 1x DVI-i. It gives you the feeling that this can handle a multi-monitor setup with ease; the HDMI 2.0 port can handle 4k resolutions at 60Hz.
ASUS announced its latest addition to the multiple-award-winning Zenbook Ultrabook series, the NX500, stated to come in a new sleek and elegant all-aluminium chassis and with state-of-the-art components. In addition to the latter, the NX500 is said to pack the new ASUS VisualMaster display technology and the world’s first 15.6-inch 4K UHD touchscreen, using 3M QDEF technology in order to deliver vivid and natural colour.
In terms of performance, the Zenbook NX500 boasts Intel’s Core i7 Quad-Core CPU and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 850M graphics, featuring 2 GB of GDDR5 video memory. ASUS also provides customers with the ability to choose between one 512 GB PCI Express x4 SSD or up to two SATA 3 SSDs, configurable as a RAID 0 array, when it comes to the NX500’s disk space capabilities. Other aspects of the NX500 include three USB 3.0 ports, next-generation Broadcom dual-band three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi and integrated Bluetooth 4.0.
The NX500 also comes with the SonicMaster Premium audio solution, featuring the ICEpower and Bang & Olufsen technology. The sound solution is said to deliver a deep bass, rich and crystal-clear vocals, having a wide frequency range and high volume levels. Together with the MaxxAudio Master by Waves, recipient of a Technical GRAMMY award, it brings professional-level sound processing and an enhanced listening experience to the NX500.
The VisualMaster display technology is said to provide the NX500 with incredible clarity, accuracy and vibrant lifelike colour, delivering stunning detailed images to the 4K UHD 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen display. The 3M QDEF technology is also said to use quantum dots in order to provide an ultra-wide colour gamut of 100% NTSC, 108% Adobe RGB and 146% sRGB, while having a wide viewing angle of 178-degrees.
ASUS’ Zenbook NX500 is said to boast a new refined slim shape, having it carved from a single block of aluminium and featuring tapered slim edges. The keyboard is also said to be a work of art, having it as a one-piece frameless construction, featuring chicklet design and backlighting controlled by an ambient-light sensor.
Having already checked out the AMD R9 280X and AMD R9 270X for today’s launch it is now time to take a look at something from the mainstream R7 series and in particular we have the R7 260X with us in this review. The AMD R7 260X is another of AMD’s “new” graphics cards that is actually based on a rehashed card from the HD 7000 series. In particular the R7 260X we have here today is AMD’s $139.99 offering based on the HD 7790. In fact it is more or less identical to the HD 7790 which came to market at about $150 when it was released but can now be had for as low as $115. That said the R7 260X does bring some improvements such as 2GB of GDDR5 as standard (instead of that being a more expensive luxury like it was on the HD 7790) and higher clock speeds.
Those higher clock speeds are quite substantial with a boost from 1000MHz to 1100MHz on the core and 6000MHz to 6500MHz on the memory – that’s roughly 10% on both. That sees an increase in TFLOPS from 1.79 to 1.97. API support is also updated – going from DX 11.1 and OpenGL 4.2 to DX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and Mantle API support is also introduced. As mentioned previously the memory is now a standard 2GB configuration as opposed to the either 1GB or 2GB on the HD 7790. This has come at a power cost according to what AMD say, the TDP has been uprated from 85W to 115W but will that show up in testing?
The R7 260X uses the same Bonaire GPU as the HD 7790 did with 896 GCN cores. Despite the seemingly “mediocre” specifications it’s worth noting that the R7 260X is still a great card. The R7 260X is more powerful than an AMD Radeon HD 5870 – the flagship of three generations ago (and a graphics card that I still run inside my own personal rig). However, let’s not dwell on the past and let’s see how well the R7 260X stacks up against the current market offerings.
Another week goes by, and Nvidia launch another graphics card, as we’ve seen recently with the GTX 780 and 770. Today however sees the more wallet friendly GTX 760 which is said on the grapevine to be the last Nvidia GPU launch for 2013, but as we know with rumours, it’s just a matter of seeing what the future holds.
When Nvidia launch a card, they sometimes provide reference samples, but for the most part, they rely on their partners to manufacture their own creations and sometimes that may mean us getting a sample with a unique cooling solution or pre-overclocked speeds, or in today’s case from KFA2; we get the benefit of both.
It’s been a while since we’ve worked with KFA2, but after discussing through the launch with them, we find the GTX 760 EX OC landing in our offices, offering us a pre-overclocked GPU and a custom cooler design that we originally saw on the GTX 660 when that launched. Based on the overclock speeds that KFA2 have managed to secure on this card, we hold high hopes that we should see performance very close to that of the GTX 770, but of course there is only way to find that out, and that means throwing the card on our test bench and seeing what it can do.
Of course, we have a few other things to take care of first, consisting of taking a look at the packaging on offer, before delving into the design and aesthetics of the card. Once this is out of the way, we will look at how KFA2 have pushed this card beyond stock figures, before jumping into the performance straight out of the box.
Also, wanting to squeeze the very best performance from the card, we will be overclocking it even further than what KFA2 have, and if previous 700 series GK104 counterparts are anything to go by, we should see some really high numbers here today, so lets get straight into it and see what magic treatment KFA2 have given the GTX 760 graphics card.
The box is typical of what we expect from KFA2 with some extreme branding. We find the main features being highlighted and the model name taking prominence to the right. The EX OC sticker indicates to us that this card is clocked past Nvidia standard speeds. Inside is a dual Molex to 8-pin PCI-Express connector, a dual Molex to 6-pin PCI-Express connector, VGA to DVI adapter, driver installation disc and a brief user guide.
While the GTX 780 and 770 were both released recently, there has been more focus from brands on the 770 counterpart as it offers much better value for money when looking at a price vs performance argument than pretty much any other card on the market from both AMD or Nvidia, and with that we’ve had a lot more GTX 770’s come through our door, than we have 780.
As we start plowing through these cards, we also found a chance to start working with a brand that is fairly new to us, and perhaps doesn’t have the biggest presence in the UK market, unlike other key manufacturer’s and this is Gainward. Today we find their GTX 770 Phantom OC landing with us which is said to offer all of the benefits of a GTX 770 with an increased clock speed thanks to the overclock and their patented Phantom cooling solutions which provides extreme silence and extreme cooling with a unique design behind it too.
With a slightly higher price point than a reference GTX 770, we’re here to find out if the extra £30 is worth spending, and if the overclock really does help push performance while remaining cool and quiet at the same time. We will be comparing this directly to a reference GTX 770 among other key cards that are currently on the market.
Before we get straight into the performance though, there are a few things we need to look at which includes the packaging and what Gainward bundle in with the card, before we take a detailed look at the card itself and its Phantom cooling solution. Once we’ve covered the design aspect, then we can get down to the nitty gritty and look at the specs in comparison to a stock card, and then find out if the performance increase really makes a difference while focusing on the performance of the cooler as well.
Of course, in natural eTeknix fashion, we will see if the overclock can be pushed even further by manually increasing the clock speed and memory speeds on the card, but lets start by taking a look at what the GTX 770 Phantom comes in and exactly what’s included.
The box itself is nice and includes a panel that flaps open to reveal a first view of the card. There are a few spelling errors on the packaging and some words are split between two lines, but this is no real problem to be honest. Inside we find a quick install guide, driver installation CD, twin 6-pin PCI-Express to single 8-pin PCI-Express power adapter, DVI to VGA adapter and a welcome addition; a HDMI to DVI adapter.
With the release of the GTX 770 and the recent launch of the GTX 780, NVIDIA made on fundamental change to their cards over the GTX 690 and Titan. This change is one that may seem simple, but it is one that has a major role in the graphics market and for each of NVIDIA’s partners. This change is the grant to change the PCB layout and most importantly the cooling on the cards. When the GTX Titan was released, NVIDIA put a halt on any non reference designs and in effect the only alteration partners could make was to put a sticker with their name on the card.
The is not the case with the 700 series however, whilst the GTX 770 and GTX 780 used the exact same cooler as seen on Titan, manufacturers are now allowed to deviate from the reference design and put their own mark on their cards to set them apart from the competition. In Gigabyte’s case, the cooler of choice is WindForce and for a number of years now this has been at the forefront of their marketing campaigns.
With the release of the 770, Gigabyte are keen to show off the latest revision of their well known cooler, which now features a metal housing rather than the older plastic design. On top of this, Gigabyte have given the GK104 core the overclock treatment to take the 770 to the next level and let it stretch its legs a bit more.
When it comes to looking at this card, there is little more than the card in a box to look at as this is a review sample, meaning that Gigabyte have omitted the usual gubbins and accessories that we would normally see as part of a graphics card bundle.
Last week we saw the release of NVIDIA’s latest graphics range – namely the 700 series and its top model, the GTX 780. In many respects the GTX 780 brings a whole new level of performance to a greater audience and as I showed, there is only a small difference between the 780 and Titan on a single screen.
Working through the new 700 series line-up, NVIDIA are now lifting the lid on their next card, the GTX 770. Like the GTX 780, the GTX 770 has had many rumours surrounding its release and like the 780, these are all related to specifications, performance and most of all the GK104 core and a GTX 680. Like the GTX 780 I first of all want to put one of these rumours to rest and state the reason why. The one that I am referring to is the speculation that GTX680 owners would be able to turn their card into a GTX 770 through a BIOS update. Simply put this CANNOT be done. Whilst both cards share the same GK104 GPU core, there are a number of factors that lead to this impossibility. Like the 780 to Titan comparison, the GTX 770 has a slightly different revision of the GK104 core with varying number s of CUDA cores and texture units, however the most significant factor for the inability to ‘convert’ the GTX680 lies with the on-board memory.
One of NVIDIA’s major shouting points with the GTX770 is the inclusion of memory that runs at a whopping 7Gbps at stock, these are no overclocked ICs either, they are entirely new, so unless you have the ability to unsolder and resolder the ICs on to a GTX 680 as well as change the PCB layout slightly, there is no possibility of changing your card from one to the other.
Whilst there have been a few new cards come to the market over the last month or so from both NVIDIA and AMD, there’s always the time available in each manufacturers R&D departments for them to tweak, tune and create new products to bring to market. Normally these come in the form of overclocked cards or those with slightly better coolers, but its very rare to see the release of a card that has been taken back to the drawing board a little more than usual.
In the current climate, there is a growing market for smaller, more compact systems, but at the same time ones that have power – lots of it. Consequently, cases like Bitfenix’ Prodigy have become highly sought after due to their small frame, yet high level of flexibility when it comes to fitting large graphics cards, in fact they’ll take any dual slot card that can be thrown at them, still with room to spare. This however pushes slightly smaller and more compact case out of the market, due to their limiting compatibility with longer cards and thus this leads to a lower spec card having to be used as generally they are smaller then their bigger and more powerful brothers.
With compact cases and limited graphics options available, lets bring forward Asus’ latest weapon to the market in the form of the GTX 670 DirectCU Mini. There’s no guessing required as to what the Mini part of the name means, essentially Asus have chopped or squashed the card, which ever way you prefer to look at it and the result of their efforts is a GTX 670 that packs more punch reference card with its overclock, but is no longer than some entry level cards, measuring a mere 17cm in length – that’s 7.3cm shorter than NVIDIA’s reference GTX 670 designs.
But as you would expect, packing more power into a smaller space poses a nightmare for the cooling department and as a result, Asus have developed a whole new fan design which they’ve called CoolTech. This new fan comprises of two different types of fan, but in a single package, namely the blower and axial fans that are used on graphics cards. This new style of fan generates a far greater cooling effect than a traditional axial fan and also gives a far wider reach than that of a blower fan, thus giving a greater cooling potential.
Inside the box alongside Asus include a quick setup guide, a CD with drivers and GPU Tweak and a twin 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power adaptor.
There are various areas that a graphics card product can be aimed at, and this includes the budget segment, mid-range and high-end, but we also have to look at the offerings that give fantastic performance for a great price, no matter whether they are the best performer or a run-of-the-mill card. The 650 Ti Boost from Nvidia is aimed at that segment, by wanting to offer up 1080p rich quality with high graphical settings, and still letting the user witness admirable frame rates. In Nvidia’s eyes, the 650 series of cards was planned to be the “gateway” for gamers, as it was meant to allow them to experience 1080p gaming for the first time but sadly there was something lacking and is was the raw compute power of the core.
Recently we saw AMD releasing their 7790 “Bonaire” graphics card to rival the original GTX 650 graphics card, but with a refresh offering more performance and some newer Nvidia technology, that we’ve seen lately applied to the GTX Titan, do Nvidia have the card they originally wanted in their 650 series lineup? The specs seem to suggest that it does with 768 CUDA cores, and a 192-bit memory interface, with our particular review today focussing on a 2GB overclock model. The stock 980MHz base clock gives a 5% increase over the original GTX 650 Ti and we see a higher texture fill rate of 62.7 Gigatexels/sec.
The Asus model we are looking at today however, is an OC edition, meaning that we have an even higher clock that surpasses the reference speeds, and includes their patented DirectCU II cooling solution which has given us some amazing results in the past. Lets see if the new GTX 650 Ti can outperform the AMD Radeon HD 7790 and if adding the new technology and improved performance really does make a difference.
Within the box we find the standard array of included accessories with a speed setup guide, VGA/DVI adapter and twin Molex to 6-pin PCI-Express power adapter. No driver CD came bundled with our sample, but this may not reflect the final retail product, but we would always advise to get the latest drivers from the Nvidia website to stay up-to-date.