Zotac Announces PCI-E x1 GeForce GT 710 Graphics Card

Some time ago, NVIDIA unveiled the GT 710 graphics card designed for HTPCs and relatively basic usage scenarios. The company claimed that you could experience performance gains up to 10 times better than integrated graphics solutions. Of course, it’s not suited to demanding applications which is reflected in the price point and form factor. The GT 710 doesn’t require any dedicated power connectors and utilizes the PCI Express format instead. Up to this point, custom GT 710 cards from manufacturers including Inno3D, EVGA and others have employed the PCI-E x16 interface. Zotac’s latest model bucks the trend and opts for the x1 interface.

The GPU is passively cooled and supports D-Sub, HDMI and DVI-D. Furthermore, it’s capable of driving displays up to 2560×1600 and opts for a WDDM 2.0 compliant driver. Technically, the Zotac version is clocked at 954MHz and includes 1GB DDR3L memory at 1600MHz. The PCI-E interface means you can use the card in expansions slots which traditionally remain free. This allows you to keep the x16 slots full with fibre-channel cards, enterprise HBAs and more. Clearly, the GT 710’s gaming credentials are fairly basic but they are a better option than many iGPUs. Saying that, I wouldn’t recommend it and there’s greater value when purchasing a higher performing product. The Zotac GT 710 might be useful if you’re watching videos and want to install a dedicated card.

Are you a fan of low power cards like the GT 710 or feel they are pointless due to the good performance levels on APUs?

Rajintek Announces Morpheus II Core Edition VGA Cooler

Rajintek is a hardware company which currently specializes in affordable solutions aimed towards budget-conscience users. Their products offer astounding value and compete against higher tier solution with a much greater price point. For example, The Triton all-in-one liquid cooler gained a cult following due to the changeable dyes, clear tubing and transparent block. The unique design looks phenomenal and is more stylish that the huge quantity of re-branded Asetek units on the market. Today, the company unveiled the Morpheus II Core Edition VGA cooler. This is the successor to the Morpheus Core Edition launched in 2014 and features enhanced GPU support including the Radeon R9 Fury series, R9 390, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti and more!

In a similar vein to the Triton, the core branding relates to a lack of fans bundled with the unit. This is a fantastic idea if you already own high performance fans such as Noctua NF-F12s and want to save a bit of money on the VGA cooler itself. In terms of dimensions, the heatsink measures a total of 254mm x 98mm x 44mm and weighs 512g. The dense, monolithic, aluminium fin stack dissipates heat from a nickle-plated copper GPU block. There’s also six 6mm thick heat-pipes making two passes through the dense fin stack. This supports cooling for up to 18 memory chips, an in-line MOSFET heatsink and smaller MOSFETs. The package comes with thermal pads, thermal paste and mounting equipment to quickly attach this aftermarket heatsink.

Unfortunately, Rajintek didn’t disclose any information regarding the price point or when the product will hit retail channels. Although, given the company’s history, I would expect it to remain very affordable. In the modern era, vendors opt for impressive cooling solutions and I’m not entirely sure how widespread the product’s appeal will be.

Do you think custom VGA coolers like the Morpheus II Core still have a place in the current market?

Image courtesy of modcrash.

Is This Photo of The GTX 1080 Genuine?

NVIDIA’s upcoming architecture codenamed Pascal is rumoured to launch in June and apparently invites have already been sent out to members of the press for an early briefing on its unique features. The new range is built on the 16nm manufacturing process and could utilize the latest iteration of high bandwidth memory. Although, the mid tier options might opt for GDDR5X to cut costs and maintain a lower price point. Of course, there’s always leaks whenever a new architecture is being readied from either graphics company. However, NVIDIA has kept the information extremely secret and there’s not much to go on when trying to work out the specification across various products. Some time ago, a leaked image supposedly showcased the new cooler shroud and GTX 1000 branding. This looked fairly credible given the environmental setting and high quality of workmanship.

Today, a brand new image has arrived courtesy of Chinese website Baidu which apparently shows the GTX 1080 in full for the first time:

The cooler opts for a dynamic appearance with sharp edges compared to the older reference design. It also corresponds with the previous leak which suggests both images are credible. On the other hand, it’s important to adopt a cynical approach just in case someone made the effort of modding the stock cooler to foil people around the globe. Honestly, this is very unlikely and it’s probably the final design for the GTX 1080. Sadly, it’s impossible to tell if the GPU contains a stylish backplate. Although, this should be revealed soon if the release date reports are correct. Whatever the case, it looks like NVIDIA has tweaked the cooler design and opted for the GTX 1000 series name. I’m not so sure this is a clever move as the 1080 might cause some confusion.

Do you think the image discussed in the article is genuine?

AMD Releases Graphics BIOS Update for R9 Nano & Fury X

When it comes to updating your BIOS, most users would be probably thinking about their motherboards. However, graphics card also have their own video BIOS which interfaces with the system BIOS and the graphics card hardware. A new VBIOS can add support for UEFI, speed and power profiles as well as improve stability. Today, AMD released an updated BIOS for their R9 Nano and R9 Fury X graphics cards.

According to AMD, the new BIOS is meant to improve UEFI BIOS support. Normally, you would see AMD’s AiB partners release new updates for their specific card models. However, in the case of the Nano and Fury X, these are reference designed Fiji based cards. We may see the Fury cards, which are all custom, get their own BIOS updates soon.

In addition to the UEFI support, some users are reporting that overclocking stability has improved. The Fury X was not particularly well-liked due to its lacklustre overclocking abilities, something this BIOS may fix. This also suggests that the Radeon Pro Duo may also overclock better than the original Fury X.

To update your relevant graphics card, you can download the new BIOS from AMD’s website here. AMD has chosen to release the updates as .roms which will make for a more complicated flashing process. The usual cautions of flashing your BIOS apply of course.

XFX Radeon Pro Duo Pictured & Priced!

In just under 10 days, users will finally be able to purchase their very own dual Fiji GPU. From launch, the Radeon Pro Duo would come out to a lofty $1,499 USD but given exchange rates, those in Spain will have to shell out 1696 EUR. In addition to some local pricing information, we’re also getting treated to some very nice pictures and more detailed physical specifications for the top end Radeon.

First off, confirmation has been given about the clockspeed of the dual-Fijis as 1000Mhz. This slightly lower than the FuryX which runs at 1050Mhz but the removal of PCIe latency should offset this. Memory stays the same at the standard 500Mhz though overclocking that shouldn’t be hard. Exact dimensions are 28.1 x 11.6 x 4.2 cm (length, width, height), with a 120mm as well. No word yet on the length of the tubing.

The biggest surprise is the display output which AMD told us was 4 DisplayPorts. We’re finding out now that it’s actually only 3 DisplayPort 1.2 and 1 HDMI 1.4a. Perhaps AMD misspoke display ports for DisplayPorts. Either way, it remains to be seen how well the card will sell given the hefty price tag and how close Pascal and Polaris are. Even with a strong showing from the next-gen card, though, the Radeon Pro Duo may remain the fastest single card solution.

AMD Radeon R9 490X And 490 Reportedly Set For June Release

AMD’s upcoming graphics architecture, codenamed ‘Polaris’ will be the company’s first product utilizing the 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. During CES 2016, AMD showcased the greatly improved performance per watt compared to the current 28nm NVIDIA GTX 950. As a result, the upcoming R9 490X and R9 490 will not be another rebranding exercise and should offer significant performance gains. It’s still unclear how AMD will position these products in comparison to the Fury X, Fury and Nano line-up. In theory, the 490X and 490 could be faster than the Fury X which becomes a product designed to compete with the 480. Personally, I’m really not sure, and it’s clear that AMD is really pushing the benefits of performance per watt with Polaris 10. To me that showcases their focus and suggests the main advantages will revolve around TDP.

According to Hardware Battle, and discovered by VideoCardz, the 490X and 490 will apparently launch in June. It looks increasingly likely that AMD will unveil their latest range at Computex. Shortly after that, the products should be with retailers in a swift manner. Hardware Battle is a reliable source and known to have good connections with AMD. While this doesn’t prove that the information is correct, it corresponds with earlier suggestions that AMD was planning the launch during Q2 2016.

On another note, the performance numbers Polaris is capable of should provide an indication of the improvements we can expect on NVIDIA’s GTX 1000 series. Whatever the case, this is an exciting time for the graphics card world, even though the huge strides forward will occur during the next architecture. It’s still unclear when NVIDIA will launch their consumer HBM2 graphics cards. Rumors suggest consumer Pascal might not happen until next year.

Personally, I’m just excited to see the industry move away from 28nm graphics cards to instigate a brand new era of hardware advancements.

What Can We Expect From NVIDIA GTC 2016

With NVIDIA’s GPU Tech Conference due to start in 2 days time, we give our thoughts as to what to expect.

Do you think we will see a new graphics card launching from NVIDIA at the event?

Check the video below for our thoughts and opinions.

Do you think a new Pascal based card is likely to be announced?

Leaked Images Show Nvidia GTX 1000 Shroud

The latest graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia are on their way, and that means one thing, someone has them! The new cards are no doubt undergoing a lot of development, testing and manufacturing in various parts of the world, so leaked information is always inevitable. The latest batch of images show us what appears to be a new shroud design for the 1000 series of cards from Nvidia, namely their GTX 1070 and 1080 designs.

The revised NVTTM cooling solution design features a similar design to the current crop of cards,  but with a much more aggressive and angular design. Of course, we’ve seen many leaks in the past and for the most part these days, they’re often right on the money. However, after the whole Nintendo NX controller fiasco, we have to advice you all to take these images with one more pinch of salt than usual.

That being said, we’re about two months away from Computex, and only a week away from Nvidia GTC, so it makes sense that some cards would be getting produced, at least in terms of visual design, to be featured at these shows. Nvidia are going to want to show off something at their own event and Computex, it just makes sense.

You can see the metal housing in the images, as well as CNC machines and cutting fluid. Could this be an Nvidia production line, or just part of an elaborate hoax? My gut instinct is saying these are real, but with any luck, we won’t have much longer to find out the truth.

Are you looking forwards to the 1000 series of cards from Nvidia? Let us know in the comments section below.

NVIDIA Pascal Rumoured to Struggle with Asynchronous Compute

NVIDIA’s new Pascal GPU micro-architecture – billed as 10x faster than the previous Maxwell iteration, and set for release in retail graphics cards later this year – is rumoured to be having problems when dealing with Asynchronous Compute code in video games.

“Broadly speaking, Pascal will be an improved version of Maxwell, especially about FP64 performances, but not about Asynchronous Compute performances,” according to Bits and Chips. “NVIDIA will bet on raw power, instead of Asynchronous Compute abilities.”

“This means that Pascal cards will be highly dependent on driver optimizations and games developers kindness,” Bits and Chips adds. “So, GamesWorks optimizations will play a fundamental role in company strategy. Is it for this reason that NVIDIA has made publicly available some GamesWorks codes?”

This report has not been independently verified, but if it is true, it could spell bad news for NVIDIA, especially since, despite fears to the contrary, its Maxwell architecture was capable of processing Async Compute, and AMD’s Radeon graphics cards currently leading all DirectX 12 benchmarks

We shouldn’t have to wait too long before we find out, though, with WCCFTech reporting that NVIDIA’s flagship Pascal graphics card, the “GTX 1080”, will be unveiled at GTC 2016, which takes place in Silicon Valley, California, from 4th-7th April.

AMD Release Radeon Crimson 16.3.2 WHQL Driver With Oculus Rift Support

With the Oculus Rift launching now, both AMD and Nvidia have released new drivers to ensure compatibility with the VR headset. Nvidia has released their GeForce driver 364.72 and AMD has responded with their first WHQL driver since the end of 2015, Radeon Crimson 16.3.2. This is the third driver to be released in March and just 10 days since the last one. In addition to Oculus Rift support and WHQL status, there are also a number of other fixes.

First off, fellow VR headset HTC Vive is also getting supported with the new driver. To power these VR headsets, the Radeon Pro Duo is also being supported after launching earlier in the month. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Hitman are also getting updated Crossfire profiles for DX11. Some notables fixes are to FFXIV and XCOM2 and the Fury series will no longer suffer corruption after long idle times.

In terms of known issues, the list remains as long as before, with most of them relating to Crossfire bugs. The AMD Gaming Evolved in-game overlay will still crash some games when enabled. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved shortly in a future update. This continues AMD’s streak of quick driver releases with several a month. You can find the full release notes here.

Valve Has VR Plans for Older Graphics Cards

Are you preparing your PC for the new advent of virtual reality? Well, don’t ditch that GTX 680 just yet. Alex Vlachos, a programmer for Valve, revealed during his GDC 2016 talk in San Francisco last week that the company is looking to lower its minimum spec for HTC Vive VR headset.

“As long as the GPU can hit 45 HZ we want for people to be able to run VR,” Vlachos told UploadVR, following his presentation, entitled Advanced VR Rendering. “We’ve said the recommended spec is a 970, same as Oculus, but we do want lesser GPUs to work. We’re trying to reduce the cost [of VR].”

“I can run Aperture [Valve’s Portal-themed VR demo] on a 680 without dropping frames at a lower quality, and, for me, that’s enough of a proof of concept,” Vlachos said during his talk. “Most art we’re seeing in VR isn’t as dense as that. So we should be pretty good to go…everything should be able to support that low-end hardware. But we need the right safety nets in place.”

The VR market is heating up this year, with pre-orders of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR going strong, and the imminent release of the Microsoft HoloLens later this month.

OCUK Offers Free SSD with ASUS GTX 970 Graphics Cards

Who doesn’t like to get free stuff? And especially when it is something as sweet as a solid state drive. That is what you currently can get, at least if you purchase one of the participating ASUS GTX 970 graphics cards at Overclockers UK.

For a limited time, and as long as stock lasts – as always – you can get a Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB solid state drive for free on top of the Nvidia based GTX 970 graphics card that your purchasing. It isn’t just some cheap SSD either as it comes from Kingston’s HyperX division. The 7mm slim 2.5-inch SSD delivers a solid performance, and for free, who can complain. You still get the bundled game Tom Clancy’s The Division on top too, making this a very good deal for a well-performing graphics card.

Speaking of the graphics card, the first of the two participating ASUS graphics cards are the GTX 970 DirectCU II OC Strix with 4GB GDDR5 memory, a core clock of 1141MHz, and a boost clock up to 1253MHz. The second card is the GeForce GTX 970 Turbo OC which also comes with 4GB GDDR5 memory, but a slower clock speed. The Turbo OC has a core clock of 1088MHz and a boost clock of 1228MHz.

Which of the two cards you pick for your setup is based on optical preference, amount you want to spend, and probably more things too – but it is safe to say that both are great graphics cards where you get a lot of bang for the buck, especially considering the extras you get in this deal. The DirectCU II OC Strix will set you back £299.99 while the Turbo OC will cost a little less and set you back £275.99.

Will you be picking up one of these deals? And if, which of the two cards will you go for. Let us know in the comments.

AMD Unveils Radeon Pro Duo 3DMark Performance – Capsaicin

Being the fastest single-card graphics card to date, we all know that AMD’s new Radeon Pro Duo is fast. Just how fast though is the dual-Fiji giant we don’t yet know though the 16TFOPs number and similar performance to 2 FuryX’s do give a rough estimate. To shed some light on the card, we do have some internal benchmarks of 3DMark AMD has run with their latest and great graphics card.

Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of March 7, 2016 on the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, AMD Radeon R9 295X2 and Nvidia’s Titan Z, all dual GPU cards, on a test system comprising Intel i7 5960X CPU, 16GB memory, Nvidia driver 361.91, AMD driver 15.301 and Windows 10 using 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark test to simulate GPU performance. PC Manufacturers may vary configurations, yielding different results. At 1080p, 1440p, and 2160P, AMD Radeon R9 295X2 scored 16717, 9250, and 5121, respectively; Titan Z scored 14945, 7740, and 4099, respectively; and AMD Radeon Pro Duo scored 20150, 11466, and 6211, respectively, outperforming both AMD Radeon R9 295X2 and Titan Z.

According to AMD, the Radeon Pro Duo is undoubtedly the fastest card, at least according to 3dMark Firestrike. At Standard (1080p), the Pro Duo manages to have 134% of the Titan Z’s performance, a card that Nvidia priced at $2999 at launch. The lead only grows at Extreme and Ultra with 148% and 152% respectively.

Against the R9 295X2, the Pro Duo still manages a decent lead, with about a decent 120% lead across all settings. While lower than the 140% you might expect from a pure hardware standpoint, the 4GB of HBM1 and the limits of GCN do play a role. It does mean there won’t be any surprises fo users running 2 Fury or FuryX’s in CFX as they won’t have anything to worry about. The biggest question is if the card is worth the premium over running your own CFX solution, a question many dual-GPUs cards have faced.

 

Colorful Launches Two New GTX 950 Graphics Cards

The GeForce GTX 950 series is a nice mid-way product both in terms of performance and price. As such it is a go to card for a lot of people, especially MOBA gamers that don’t require the horsepower that comes from the flagship cards. Colorful just launched two new cards based around just that GPU, the Colorful 950-2GD5 and the iGame 950-2GD5 Ymir-U graphics cards. Both of these cards feature the second-generation Maxwell GPU from NVIDIA that brings a high efficiency per watt and thereby a lower power bill and a need for less wattage from your power supply.

The Colorful iGame 950-2GD5 Ymir-U is the latest member of the iGame family and comes with features that usually are found on high-end cards. The iGame features include high-performance GDDR5 memory, Silver Plating Technology for improved stability compared to regular PCBs together with the iGame Pure-Power Inductance (IPP) assuring stable power delivery, low operating temperatures, and reduced electromagnetic interference.

To further aid in performance, the custom iGame cooler features Bio-Shark design fans for 30% more cooling efficiency in tandem with the sand-blasted cooling module. The iGame 950 2GD5 Ymir-U also feature a semi-passive cooling solution that won’t start up until the temperatures reach 60 degrees. The final extra touch in this edition is the hardware overclock button located on the rear of the card and allowing the user to gain higher clock speeds instantly and without any expert knowledge.

The Colorful 950-2GD5 graphics card is basically the same card, but without the bells and whistles. It’s a basic GM206-based graphics card for mid-range and MOBA gaming. The card still features the shark fin fans that are rated for maximum cooling for up to 30,000 hours and the same cooling design.

 

Colorful didn’t reveal any pricing or availability at this time, but I’m sure they’ll follow up with that shortly.

AMD May Launch Radeon Polaris in June – Sneak Peak at Capsaicin

Prepare your wallets for summer 2016 because both AMD and Nvidia are going to release their new GPUs then. Yesterday, we got the first hint about Nvidia’s GTX 1080 which is reportedly launching May 27th. For AMD, the details for Polaris have always been a bit vague, with only mid-2016 being the only hint. Today, a new rumour has popped up with the suggestion that AMD will launch Polaris in June 2016. Furthermore, AMD will be providing a sneak peak of Polaris at Capsaicin next week.

A June launch puts Polaris right into the area of Computex and E3, perfect events to showcase the new GPUs. Launching at the same time as Nvidia also avoids certain issues as AMD has gotten into trouble both launching before and after Nvidia so maybe launching at the same time will be the key. Set to be on the 14nmLPP process, AMD has a good chance to snag some marketshare away from Nvidia.

Next week, we may get a few more details from AMD about what Polaris will look like in the sneak peak. One can only hope the sneak peak will be more than just a picture or another demo but something more substantive. On March 14th, AMD’s Capsaicin webcast from GDC will likely reveal FuryX2 as well as showcase some of their VR developments. With AMD having hit their worst marketshare yet recently, they have started their come back and can only up. Hopefully, Polaris will deliver what is needed.

SK Hynix Details HBM2 Production Timeline

For the upcoming graphics generation, both Nvidia and AMD are set to use HBM2 for their upcoming Pascal and Polaris graphics cards. While Samsung has already revealed that they have kicked off mass production for HBM2, we’re getting word on competitor SK Hynix’s plans for the new memory technology. According to Golem.de, the 4GB modules will start mass production in Q2 while the 8GB variants in Q3.

With HBM2, the maximum capacity per stack jumps from 1GB in HBM1 to 8GB with HBM2. This will allow GPUs to have up to 32GB of VRAM using the 8GB modules in the Fiji/Fury configuration, 16GB using the 4GB modules and 8GB using the lowest 2GB stacks. Each stack also doubles the bandwidth from 128GBps to 256GBps. Due tot he bandwidth increase all coming from a 1Ghz clock rate boost, we can expect latency to be severely reduced.

Given that SK Hynix along with AMD were the pioneers for HBM1, it is surprising that Samsung was the first one to reach mass production for the 4GB modules. On the other hand, SK Hynix may still have locked in the 2GB stacks first, the ones more likely to be used for consumer GPUs. With 4 stacks, this will allow for 8GB of VRAM, plenty for 4K and VR GPUs, while 2 stacks will do fine with 4GB for mainstream cards. Hopefully, this means that HBM2 cards will arrive sooner rather than later.

Don’t Drill Your Graphics Card or Receive This Expensive Lesson

We have all done something stupid at one point or another, but some people’s actions make ours look pale in comparison. Such a case showed up this week where the victim of stupidity was nothing less than a Zotac GeForce GTX 980Ti Amp graphics card. At this point, you might want to either get the tissue box for your tears and put away the drink so you don’t risk spitting it all over from laughing; because one of those two things are bound to happen.

A user named Zanderlinde had purchased a Zotac GTX 980 Ti AMP! graphics card for his new rig, but having a custom built case, the giant heatsink on the card became an issue and he decided to get an aftermarket cooling solution instead to help that issue. So far everything is like it should be, right? But here we go.

Zanderlinde got himself a Corsair HG10 GPU cooler for his graphics card and tried to mount that to his card, only to find out that it didn’t fit properly, one of the mounting holes didn’t align properly. Being a DIY man, as he calls himself, he attempted to fix this issue; sadly he did so in the worst possible way. Instead of trying to modify the mounting bracket or create a new one himself to fix this issue, he took his power drill and made a new hole in his $1000 CAD graphics card. Yes, you read that right, he drilled another hole in the PCB of a Nvidia GTX 980 Ti graphics card.

Motherboard and graphics card PCBs are usually multi-layered and even tho you can’t see any visible connections where you drill, there might be more between the layers and it looks like Zanderlinde drilled through multiple of those. Now at this point, the card wasn’t fully destroyed yet, but it was before he was done with his stupid ideas. Realising that he might have cut some internal connection within the PCB, he got the idea to solder it up to reestablish the connection. To simulate this before actually doing it, he put a screwdriver through the hole in order to bridge the cap. Oh boy, and yes you already guessed right what happened next. Smoke started to rise from the card.

Before the last stupid attempt, parts could have been salvaged from the card, but now everything is more or less fried. To finish the card off completely, he went ahead and broke it in two. But he admits to his stupidity and called himself out for it, so there is a chance that he learned from his expensive lesson and will ask for help first before attempting something as stupid as this again.

AMD to Showcase VR and Gaming Innovations at GDC Capsaicin Webcast

With GDC just a week away, everyone is getting ready for major announcements from AMD and Nvidia. AMD however, will also be hosting their separate live streamed event at Ruby Skye in San Fransisco. Named after Capsaicin, a chemical behind a spicy pepper’s kick, AMD will be showcasing their latest innovations in Virtual Reality and Gaming. This means we may get a product reveal or too from the event as well as maybe some more.

Given the recent focus on VR, it is very likely that FuryX2 Gemini will finally be launched since the VR HMD are finally ready. This falls right in line with what has revealed about FuryX2 being ready already and the VR focus of the live stream.

In addition to that, we may finally get some more information about Polaris, though a launch may still be a long way away. March is still too early for Polaris to launch given the mid-2016 remarks but more demo units, especially higher end Polaris wouldn’t be out of the question.

Finally, we can expect AMD to showcase their LiquidVR solution in partnership with the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. That will likely come along with their other gaming and VR oriented solutions and DX12. The event will be streamed on AMD’s investor relations page so be sure to check it out when the time comes.

Nvidia GeForce 364.47 Drivers May Cause Massive Issues

After the release of Nvidia’s GeForce 364.47 driver, some users are reporting a host of issues, most notably BSODs. During the installation, some users are experiencing a black screen and a failed installation, then a crash. The system then fails to properly boot Windows afterwards. Despite the WHQL certification, it seems that this bug managed to sneak past Nvidia’s bug testing.

According to the latest user reports, it seems that booting into safe mood and manually removing all of the driver files solves the issue. For those who haven’t updated, using Display Driver Uninstaller to uninstall the driver, then manually deleting all the driver files before installing 364.47 seems to prevent the issue from popping up. Some users are also reporting that multi-monitor systems are also running into the issues more often so running a single display to install seems prudent.

These issues have popped up in recent months after a good period of stable drivers. Perhaps Nvidia should reconsider how they test their drivers in the future. Hopefully, this issue will be fixed quickly before less tech savvy users run into the issue. The driver has improvements and fixes for Tom Clancy’s The Division, Hitman, Need for Speed, Ashes of the Singularity, and Rise of the Tomb Raider so if you don’t play any of these, it may do well to skip the update for now. This is one more example why device drivers should never be automatically updated.

AMD’s Upcoming Flagship Radeon R9 Fury X2 Pictured

During E3 last year, AMD displayed their revised graphics card line-up which revolved around the latest Fiji architecture and slightly tweaked 300 series GPUs. The Fury X was designed to compete with NVIDIA’s GTX 980Ti and finally offer a true alternative to the current top-end solutions. Sadly, even with the revolutionary HBM and smaller form factor, the graphics card just fell short during performance benchmarks. On another note, the Fury X has a very similar price point to a custom cooled 980Ti judging by the current market. The low yields of HBM and controversy surrounding the Cooler Master AIO patent dispute made the Fury X’s launch fairly turbulent.

AMD also announced a dual graphics card solution entitled, the R9 Fury X2. This was described as the fastest graphics card on the market, featuring 512 texture mapping units, 128 render output units, 128 GCN compute units, 8192 stream processors and a memory bandwidth of 1 Terabyte per second. Rather surprisingly, the graphics card still hasn’t been released, even though a great deal of time has passed. Furthermore, AMD is working on the Polaris range which should launch sometime later this year. Either Polaris is less powerful than we imagined, or AMD has encountered some major problems with the Fury X2 which made them delay it.

Yesterday, AMD’s corporate vice president, Roy Taylor posted a picture on social media channels of the Tiki PC. Here we can see the Fury X2 on show, which appears to adopt a traditional form factor we come to expect from GDDR5 based products. The GPU resembles two Nano cards positioned together and it will be interesting to see the thermal performance on AMD’s reference cooler design. Hopefully, this latest tease suggests the Fury X2 is launching soon, and ready to become the fastest graphics card on the market. I really think AMD has to move quickly and find a suitable price because Pascal is arguably coming in the new few months and could dethrone the Fury X2.

AMD’s Market Share Predicted to Reach Lowest Point in Q1 2016

AMD’s current market position is quite precarious despite making gains in the graphics segment during the last quarter. The root cause of this revolves around the lack of competitive products in the CPU sector, and poor uptake of AMD’s latest graphics architecture. To be clear, The Fury line-up is worthy of praise, and offers great performance but this doesn’t seem to be impacting on AMD’s market share. Perhaps this is down to cost, low yield of HBM or other factors. Unfortunately, the situation doesn’t look like improving any time soon and according to DigiTimes, the company’s market share could hit a new low in the first quarter of 2016. Their sources claimed:

“Demand for standalone graphics cards has already been sluggish given a weak PC market, and the market for standalone grahics cards continues to decline. In the already-shrinking market, AMD’s rival Nvidia has eaten away at its market share.”

“In the PC processor market, AMD’s gap behind Intel has widened. And it remains uncertain whetrher AMD’s next-generation Zen architecture can help the company make a comeback.”

“In the standalone GPU segment, AMD will have to ensure that the launch of its Polaris architecture will be on schedule. Any delays of the launch or performance issues could interrupt its way to recovery.”

While this news is fairly concerning, it’s not unexpected because AMD is preparing for the release of both Zen and Polaris. Once they have updated the CPU and GPU range, there should be significant improvements in the overall market percentage. This is easier said than done, but the upcoming months are essential for AMD’s long-term future. I just hope they can produce something which really shakes up the market, and encourages consumers to purchase their products. Sadly, the company’s financials are pretty abysmal right now although I do expect to see a fightback from AMD in the next few months.

Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury Graphics Card Review

Introduction


The initial unveiling of AMD’s Fury X was eagerly anticipated due to the advent of high bandwidth memory, and potential to revolutionize the size to performance ratio of modern graphics cards. This new form of stackable video RAM provided a glimpse into the future and departure from the current GDDR5 standard. Although, this isn’t going to happen overnight as production costs and sourcing HBM on a mass scale has to be taken into consideration. On another note, JEDEC recently announced GDD5X with memory speeds up to 14 Gbps which helps to enhance non-HBM GPUs while catering to the lower-mid range market. The Fury X and Fury utilizes the first iteration of high bandwidth memory which features a maximum capacity of 4GB.

There’s some discussion regarding the effect of this limitation at high resolutions but I personally haven’t seen it cause a noticeable bottleneck. If anything, the Fury range is capable of outperforming the 980 Ti during 4K benchmarks while it tends to linger behind at lower resolutions. AMD’s flagship opts for a closed-loop liquid cooler to reduce temperatures and minimize operating noise. In theory, you can argue this level of cooling prowess was required to tame the GPU’s core. However, there are some air-cooled variants which allow us to directly compare between each form of heat dissipation.

Clearly, the Fury X’s water cooling apparatus adds a premium and isn’t suitable for certain chassis configurations. To be fair, most modern case layouts can accommodate a CLC graphics card without any problems, but there’s also concerns regarding reliability and the possibility of leaks. That’s why air-cooled alternatives which drop the X branding offer great performance at a more enticing price point. For example, the Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury is around £60 cheaper than the XFX R9 Fury X. This particular card has a factory overclocked core of 1050MHz, and astounding cooling solution. The question is, how does it compare to the Fury X and GTX 980 Ti? Let’s find out!

Specifications:

Packing and Accessories

The Sapphire Nitro OC R9 Fury comes in a visually appealing box which outlines the Tri-X cooling system, factory overclocked core, and extremely fast memory. I’m really fond of the striking robot front cover and small cut out which provides a sneak peek at the GPU’s colour scheme.

On the opposite side, there’s a detailed description of the R9 Fury range and award-winning Tri-X cooling. Furthermore, the packaging outlines information regarding LiquidVR, FreeSync, and other essential AMD features. This is displayed in an easy-to-read manner and helps inform the buyer about the graphics card’s functionality.

In terms of accessories, Sapphire includes a user’s guide, driver disk, Select Club registration code, and relatively thick HDMI cable.

AMD Offers Free Game to Certain CPU and GPU Owners

AMD, as part of its We’re in The Game campaign, is offering a free game to customers that own certain CPUs and GPUs from its range, including its Radeon graphics cards and FX, A10, and A8 processors. All eligible users have to do is visit the AMD website, run the verification tool, and then pick your free game.

Depending on their hardware, users can choose one from the following range games:

  • Far Cry 3
  • Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
  • Dirt 3
  • Saints Row IV
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Guacamelee
  • LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
  • Napoleon – Total War
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth
  • DiRT Rally
  • Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
  • DYAD
  • Space Run

The tastiest picks – like Napoleon Total War, Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth, Far Cry 3, and Saints Row IV – are only available to owners of AMD Radeon graphics cards, ranging from the R9 280 to the R9 Fury X and Nano. A smaller selection is available to owners of AMD FX, A10, and A8 CPUs, plus Radeon R7 and R5 GPUs.

While the selection hardly boasts any new releases, there’s a few gems on offer, especially for no cost.

The full list of eligible AMD CPUs and GPUs, and the respective free games, is available here [PDF].

AMD Baffin, Banks and Weston GPUs Spotted

AMD looks to be preparing things behind the scenes for their Radeon 400 series of GPUs. After a number of AMD GPUs have been spotted shipping out of Hong Kong and India, a number of new GPUs have shipped out of Canada where AMD has their Markham office with the telltale AMD labelling. Of course there is the flagship Polaris part, the Baffin XT but also the yet to be revealed Banks Pro and Weston[XT] and Weston Pro. Both Weston and Banks are northern islands in the Artic, right in line with the Northern Islands lineup for the 400 series.

Carrying the C981 label, Baffin XT is exactly what I suspected it to be, an R9 390X replacement part. This is because it carries a G5 moniker with 4GB of memory, pointing to either GDDR5X or GDDR5. The most likely configuration in my mind is GDDR5X with 256bit bus which should be enough considering AMD’s new delta colour compression techniques. The 4GB VRAM buffer does cast doubt though if it will be a Hawaii class chip, rather it may be a Tonga replacement.

Moving on we have two Weston hips, both based on the C729 die, with one being the XT and the other the Pro variant. The Banks is based off the C728 die instead but all three chips utilize GDDR5(X) and have 2GB’s worth. These 3 actually first appeared back in September 2015 and the C7xx moniker gives it away as either 28nm parts or pre-GCN 4. The 4500Mhz GDDR5 clock gives these cards away as either Oland or Cape Verde, probably making them rebrands for the budget segment. Either way, it looks like AMD will be making some major announcements at GDC next month.

NVIDIA Reports Record Fourth Quarter Revenue Figures

Today, NVIDIA unveiled their latest financial results for the fourth quarter ending January 31st, 2016. The company’s revenue increased by 12% from $1.25 billion last year to $1.40 billion. Additionally, their revenue was also up 7% compared to the previous quarter which showcases the massive growth of late. Revenue for fiscal 2016 was a record $5.01 billion, up 7 percent from $4.68 billion a year earlier. This is absolutely astonishing and NVIDIA’s investments across VR, vehicle technology and graphics is paying dividends.

 

Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer of NVIDIA said about the remarkable results:

“We had another record quarter, capping a record year,”

“Our strategy is to create specialized accelerated computing platforms for large growth markets that demand the 10x boost in performance we offer. Each platform leverages our focused investment in building the world’s most advanced GPU technology.”

“NVIDIA is at the center of four exciting growth opportunities — PC gaming, VR, deep learning, and self-driving cars. We are especially excited about deep learning, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence algorithms that takes advantage of our GPU’s ability to process data simultaneously. “Deep learning is a new computing model that teaches computers to find patterns and make predictions, extracting powerful insights from massive quantities of data. We are working with thousands of companies that are applying the power of deep learning in fields ranging from life sciences and financial services to the Internet of Things,”.

Capital Return
During the fourth quarter, NVIDIA paid $62 million in cash dividends and received 4.3 million shares in connection with an accelerated share repurchase agreement that it had entered into in the quarter. During fiscal 2016, the company returned to shareholders $800 million in quarterly cash dividends and share repurchases. For fiscal 2017, NVIDIA intends to return approximately $1.0 billion to shareholders through ongoing quarterly cash dividends and share repurchases. NVIDIA will pay its next quarterly cash dividend of $0.115 per share on March 23, 2016, to all shareholders of record on March 2, 2016.NVIDIA’s outlook for the first quarter of fiscal 2017 is as follows:
  • Revenue is expected to be $1.26 billion, plus or minus two percent.
  • GAAP and non-GAAP gross margins are expected to be 57.2 percent and 57.5 percent, respectively, plus or minus 50 basis points.
  • GAAP operating expenses are expected to be approximately $500 million. Non-GAAP operating expenses are expected to be approximately $445 million.
  • GAAP and non-GAAP tax rates for the first quarter of fiscal 2017 are both expected to be 19 percent, plus or minus one percent.
  • Capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $35 million to $45 million.

Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2016 Highlights
During the fourth quarter, NVIDIA achieved progress in each of its platforms.

Gaming:

  • Announced the GeForce GTX VR Ready program — in conjunction with PC companies, notebook makers and add-in card providers – to help users discover systems that will provide great virtual reality experiences.
  • Released NVIDIA GameWorks VR, a software development kit for developers of VR software and headsets for gaming.

Professional Visualization:

  • Rolled out NVIDIA Iray plugins for Autodesk Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max, which enable users of these applications to create designs incorporating real-world lights and materials faster and more easily than before.
  • Released NVIDIA DesignWorks VR, a software development kit for developers of VR software and headsets for enterprise.

Datacenter:

  • Introduced an end-to-end hyperscale datacenter deep learning platform — consisting of two accelerators, the NVIDIA Tesla M40 and NVIDIA Tesla M4 — that lets web-services companies accelerate deep learning workloads.

Revealed new breakthroughs from leading web-services groups using NVIDIA GPUs:

  • Facebook is using the NVIDIA Tesla accelerated computing platform to power Big Sur, its next-generation computing system for machine learning applications.
  • Alibaba’s AliCloud cloud computing business is working with NVIDIA to promote China’s first GPU-accelerated, cloud-based, high performance computing platform.
  • IBM is adding support for NVIDIA GPU accelerators to its Watson cognitive computing platform.
  • Google is open-sourcing its TensorFlow deep-learning framework, which can be accelerated on GPUs.
  • Microsoft’s Computational Network Toolkit was integrated with Azure GPU Lab, enabling neural nets for speech recognition that are up to 10x faster than their predecessors.

Auto:

  • Launched NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, a powerful engine for in-vehicle artificial intelligence.
  • Announced that Volvo will use DRIVE PX 2 to power a fleet of 100 Volvo XC90 SUVs that will appear on the road next year in the car manufacturer’s Drive Me autonomous-car pilot program.

NVIDIA Preparing For GTX 950 SE Release

NVIDIA manufacturers a wide range of graphics cards to suit various budgets, and the majority of media coverage revolves around their flagship products. However, this is a very small niche, and the many customers opt for GPUs at a more affordable price point. Furthermore, this makes sense given the widespread use of monitors with a 1080p or lower resolution. On the other hand, budget GPUs can offer fairly poor performance, and it’s worth spending an extra £50-100 due to the significant leap in frames-per-second. This isn’t always possible due to budget constraints, but I always recommend a mid-tier graphics card to find a good balance between performance and cost.

The latest budget-friendly GPU from NVIDIA is incredibly similar to the GTX 950 with a number of minor cutbacks. To reiterate, unlike the Ti branding, the GTX 950 SE will be a cheaper alternative to the GTX 950. NVIDIA is planning to retire the GTX 750 Ti and requires two SKUs in their new product line-up. The GTX 950 SE features one less streaming multiprocessor which results in a CUDA count of 640.  The TMU count is reduced to 40, and the total ROP amount reaches 32. This particular GPU opts for a 128-bit memory bus and 2GB GDDR5 memory.

According to ExPreview, custom variants of the GTX 950 SE will consume around 70 watts under load. This means vendors could incorporate a single 6-pin PCI-E, or draw power without the need for a PCI-e connector. Apparently the GPU’s core and memory clock speeds are lower than the GTX 950. Clearly, the GPU’s appeal greatly depends on the price gap to the GTX 950. If there’s a minimal difference in the price, but a marked performance change, then I can’t see it selling very well. NVIDIA is planning to launch this latest graphics card sometime in March. If you’re interested in the lower end solutions, we can take a look at a sample and see how it performs!

Geforce 361.91 WHQL Driver Released – Game Ready for Street Fighter V and Hitman Beta

NVIDIA has released the Geforce 361.91 WHQL Driver for its graphics cards, bringing with it Game Ready drivers for Street Fighter V, the beta release of Hitman, ARMA 3, and Monster Hunter Online, plus SLI updates for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and XCOM2.

NVIDIA Geforce 361.91 WHQL Driver changelog [PDF]:

Game Ready

Learn more about how to get the optimal experience for ARMA 3, Street Fighter V, Monster Hunter Online, and HITMAN (Beta).

Application SLI Profiles

Added or updated the following SLI profiles:
– Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – SLI profile changed (with driver code as well) to
make the application scale better
– Bless – SLI set to SLI-Single
– Need for Speed – profile EXEs updated to support trial version of the game
– Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 – SLI profile added
– XCOM 2 – SLI profile added (including necessary code change)

Windows 10 Fixed Issues

– TDR on Illustrator CC 2015 with drivers post Release 353. [1726408]
– [361.75] Enabling NVIDIA Surround after a driver clean install causes NVIDIA
Control Panel to crash. [1724062]
– Windows 10 Open Devices and Printers ejects NVIDIA GPU. [1720849]
– Adobe Illustrator CC 2015 intermittently crashes on exit with NVIDIA drivers post
Release 353. [1711214]
– [SLI, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate] Need SLI profile. [1666227]

Windows 8.1/Windows 8/Windows 7/Windows Vista Fixed Issues

– [Quadro K5200, Quadro M4000] Poor performance observed with Dassault Catia V5
R20, R21, R22. [200170447]
– [361.75] Enabling NVIDIA Surround after a driver clean install causes NVIDIA
Control Panel to crash. [1724062]
– [SLI] Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege shows corruption when Alt+Tab used in fullscreen
mode. [1724562]
– [SLI, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate] Need SLI profile. [1666227]

NVIDIA Geforce 361.91 WHQL Driver can be downloaded here.