Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 Graphics Performance Analysis

Introduction


Ashes of the Singularity is a futuristic real-time strategy game offering frenetic contests on a large-scale. The huge amount of units scattered across a number of varied environments creates an enthralling experience built around complex strategic decisions. Throughout the game, you will explore unique planets and engage in enthralling air battles. This bitter war revolves around an invaluable resource known as Turinium between the human race and masterful artificial intelligence. If you’re into the RTS genre, Ashes of the Singularity should provide hours of entertainment. While the game itself is worthy of widespread media attention, the engine’s support for DirectX 12 and asynchronous compute has become a hot topic among hardware enthusiasts.

DirectX 12 is a low-level API with reduced CPU overheads and has the potential to revolutionise the way games are optimised for numerous hardware configurations. In contrast to this, DirectX 11 isn’t that efficient and many mainstream titles suffered from poor scaling which didn’t properly utilise the potential of current graphics technology. On another note, DirectX 12 allows users to pair GPUs from competing vendors and utilise multi graphics solutions without relying on driver profiles. It’s theoretically possible to achieve widespread optimization and leverage extra performance using the latest version of DirectX 12.

Of course, Vulkan is another alternative which works on various operating systems and adopts an open-source ideology. Although, the focus will likely remain on DirectX 12 for the foreseeable future unless there’s a sudden reluctance from users to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though the adoption rate is impressive, there’s a large number of PC gamers currently using Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Therefore, it seems prudent for developers to continue with DirectX 11 and offer a DirectX 12 render as an optional extra. Arguably, the real gains from DirectX 12 will occur when its predecessor is disregarded completely. This will probably take a considerable amount of time which suggests the first DirectX 12 games might have reduced performance benefits compared to later titles.

Asynchronous compute allows graphics cards to simultaneously calculate multiple workloads and reach extra performance figures. AMD’s GCN architecture has extensive support for this technology. In contrast to this, there’s a heated debate questioning if NVIDIA products can even utilise asynchronous compute in an effective manner. Technically, AMD GCN graphics cards contain 2-8 asynchronous compute cores with 8 queues per core which varies on the model to provide single cycle latencies. Maxwell revolves around two pipelines, one designed for high-priority workloads and another with 31 queues. Most importantly, NVIDIA cards can only “switch contexts at draw call boundaries”. This means the switching process is slower and gives AMD and a major advantage. NVIDIA has dismissed the early performance numbers from Ashes of the Singularity due to its current development phase. Finally, the game’s release has exited the beta stage which allows us to determine the performance numbers after optimizations were completed.

FreshTech Solutions Stealth Gaming PC Review

Introduction


FreshTech Solutions has a fantastic repertoire of custom PC builds to suit various budgets and specific requirements. In addition to pre-configured machines, the company’s flexible service allows you to customize a gaming PC from scratch and select from a huge array of industry-leading components. Each integral feature from storage to water cooling functionality is divided into easily manageable categories. However, today we are looking at a pre-configured model entitled, Stealth, which utilizes Intel’s latest mainstream architecture and a host of other top-tier hardware.

This high-end configuration contains an Intel Core i7 6700K, 16GB Corsair DDR 2666MHz RAM, Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 motherboard and the NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti. The core specification is accompanied by a 240GB SSD boot drive, 2TB mechanical data disk, Corsair 80 Plus Bronze 600W power supply and aesthetically-pleasing In Win 503 chassis. The company has also decided to offer a promotion and upgrade the default CPU cooler to the Corsair H80i GT for a limited time. Overall, I expect the system to excel in gaming benchmarks at commonly used resolutions and provide a superb desktop experience.

Specifications

  • Name: FreshTech Solutions Stealth Gaming PC
  • Case: In Win 503 Gaming Case with Glass front and Side Window
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 6700k Skylake @4.4Ghz (10% overclock)
  • CPU Cooler – Corsair H80i GT Liquid CPU Cooler
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX600 80 Plus Bronze Certified 600W Power Supply
  • System Memory: 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2666MHz Performance RAM
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 5 LGA 1151
  • Main Boot Drive: 240GB Kingston V300 SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 2TB Seagate Barracuda SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 7200RPM
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 980 TI 6GB With Assassins Creed Syndicate or Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Game
  • Optical DriveSamsung 24x SATA DVD Writer
  • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 1 Year Collect and Return Warranty
  • Price: £1336.00

Packing and Accessories

The FreshTech Solutions Stealth is protected by an extremely large external box which cushions the main chassis’ packaging and includes precautionary handling instructions. Additionally, the side handles make it easy to carry while the durable tape ensures the box retains its structural integrity.

Once opened, you need to carefully lift out the In Win 503 box and cut the top seal. After removing the flaps, we can see the durable foam supports and air padding to stop the system from moving around during transit.

Perhaps most importantly, the main components are protected by a high-quality piece of foam and air padding which can withstand sudden impact. Furthermore, the air wrapping surrounds the hard drive cages which is vital given the mechanical disk’s moving parts. On another note, the foam stops the graphics card from being dislodged and breaking the primary PCI-E slot. Attentive touches like these are essential and ensures the system arrives safely.

In terms of accessories, the system is bundled with a UK power cable, component documentation, RAM packaging, spare fittings and comprehensive setup guide. The package contains all the extras you need to perform manual upgrades in the future. Similarly, the FreshTech Solutions guide directs you to their customer service hotline in case of any technical queries or installation problems.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

ASUS Z170I PRO GAMING (LGA 1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


The capabilities of ITX motherboards have progressed at an exponential rate and easily provides the overclocking prowess, connectivity and stability required without making too many concessions compared to their ATX counterparts. Furthermore, the huge popularity of small form-factor LAN cases like the BitFenix Prodigy have made ITX systems a more viable proposition. However. feature-laden ITX motherboards traditionally incur a significant price increase as consumers pay for the convenience of more compact PCB designs.

ASUS has bucked this market trend and launched the aesthetically pleasing Z170i PRO GAMING motherboard around the £130 mark. This is an alluring price, given the SupremeFX audio, excellent software package and intuitive UEFI BIOS. Additionally, the 1151 chipset allows for large frequency overclocks and massive DDR4 memory speeds. When the single PCIe x16 slot is populated with a premium graphics card, you should be able to create a stunning portable gaming system which ekes out every inch of performance. Size isn’t a contributing factor during synthetic benchmarks and I expect the Z170I PRO GAMING to be quite competitive when compared against its ATX-based larger brother.

Packing and Accessories

The Z170I PRO GAMING packaging coincides with a World of Warships promotion and includes an exclusive invite code and 15-day premium account. From a visual standpoint, the box’s red and black theme fits with ASUS’ PRO GAMING branding.

On the rear, there is a brief synopsis of the motherboard’s flagship components, back I/O and main specification. The clear diagrams explain each notable feature in a clear and concise manner.

The Z170I PRO GAMING includes an I/O Shield, Cable Labels, user guide, driver disk, M.2 mounting hardware and WiFi antennas.

There is also an LGA1155 CPU holder and ample supply of SATA cables. The CPU holder is an ingenious tool which ensures the end-user avoids prolonged contact with the CPU. This reduces the chance of pin damage and offers a virtually foolproof installation procedure.

EVGA Offers Free Shroud Upgrade for existing Hybrid Card owners

EVGA launches the Hybrid Faceoff Program and offers their existing Hybrid Card customers a free upgrade in the form of a new and improved shroud for their cards. For a limited time, and while supply lasts, all EVGA customers who have one of the three participating cards are eligible for this upgrade.

The free does have one small hitch, you will have to pay for shipping and handling. But the new shroud in itself is free of charge. The offer applies to customers who have purchased an EVGA GeForce Titan X Hybrid, GTX 980 Ti Hybrid, or a GTX 980 Hybrid graphics card.

The new shroud will give the cards a fresher look and lighter look. EVGA removed the X-shaped design and opted for a more simple approach. The new shroud also updates the look with an LED, allowing you to light it up and show off your fancy hardware with pride.

The trade-in should be very simple and you only need to head over to the EVGA mini-site and log in with your EVGA account, fill in a few details and you should be good to go.

I like the new EVGA Hybrid shroud design quite a bit more than the old one. It looks more like a Nvidia card and generally just lighter. Would you opt for the new shroud if you had one of these cards or do you like the old versions better? Let us know.

EVGA Launches GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW ACX 2.0+

After having released the fastest GTX 980 Ti with their K|NGP|N edition, EVGA introduced the GeForce GTX 980 Ti FTW to take the second place. The EVGA GTX 980 Ti FTW is using Nvidia’s top-end consumer chips to deliver an amazing result when coupled with EVGA’s technologies.

The card is powered by two 8-Pin power inputs and has a 8+2 phase power design as well as the dual BIOS feature for two settings or a backup. EVGA equipped this card with their acclaimed ACX 2.0+ cooling technology and also added a good-looking backplate that helps with the cards structural strength as well as cooling. Users of this card will get 2816 NVIDIA CUDA Cores at their disposal next to the 6GB GDDR5 memory, more than enough for most tasks.

The EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooling technology comes with a memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) that can reduce the MOSFET temperatures up to 13%, and it also has optimised Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) that additionally reduce GPU temperature by 5 degrees. One of the best features is the silent mode where the fans won’t spin up until they’re actually needed, providing you with a 0dB operation. It also uses optimised swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor that delivers more air flow with less power.

Key Features:

  • Fastest EVGA GTX 980 Ti Next to K|NGP|N and Classified – 1291MHz Boost Clock with room for more.
  • 8+2 Power Phase Design allows for robust overclocking with an additional 25W of power headroom.
  • EVGA ACX 2.0+ Cooling offers dramatically lower GPU temperatures and saves power, allowing for more power to be allocated for overclocking.
  • Double Ball Bearing Fans offer 400% longer lifespan than traditional sleeved bearing fans.
  • dB Noise Inverter turns the fans off below 60C, generating 0dB of noise.
  • Pre-installed Backplate included.
  • Built with 6GB of high-performance GDDR5 memory for the best image quality and 4K gaming performance.

MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti Lightning Pictured

MSI’s hotly-anticipated GTX 980 Ti Lightning has been unveiled by VideoCardz and features a triple slot, Tri-Frozr cooler for improved thermals. The Lightning is MSI’s flagship overclocking card and built on a 12+3 power phase to leverage the extra power required for improved clock speeds. Additionally, there is a dual-BIOS, three power connectors (8+8+6 pin) and a 10-layer PCB. Coupled with the Military Class 4 components, and 5 SuperPipes, the MSI 980 Ti Lightning is an absolute beast and probably the fastest GPU on the planet.In terms of its default setup, the 980 Ti Lightning utilizes a base clock of 1203MHz and boost reaching 1303 MHz. The 6GB of GDDR5 runs at a speed of 1774Mhz which equates to an effective 7010MHz.

This technical picture illustrates the staggering build quality throughout.
MSI have also included a gorgeous backplate which strengthens the card, and protects against GPU sag. In theory, it could also help with operating temperatures but the effect will be fairly minimal. Compared to previous Lightning editions, the backplate is fairly understated and lacks any vivid, yellow highlights.A closer look at the GPU’s components emphasizes how overbuilt the power regulation is. With LN2, the card really should shine above the competition.As you can see, the nickel plated heatsink is extremely robust and uses 5 thick heatpipes.The rear IO supports HDMI 2.0, DVI-I and 3 Display Port 1.2 configurations. This provides a better scope of options than the Fury X which is limited to HDMI 1.4 and doesn’t have any DVI connectivity.Are you looking forward to the MSI Lightning 980 Ti?

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

GeForce GTX 980 Ti Owners Won’t Be Able to Reserve a Windows 10 Upgrade

If you wanted to upgrade before reserving a Windows 10 Upgrade, you might want to reconsider. Apparently, GeForce GTX 980 Ti owners are not able to reserve a copy of Microsoft’s latest operating system because the company seems to believe the OS ‘won’t work’ with NVIDIA’s latest graphics card.

The funny situation was reported by PCWorld, where they tried to reserve an upgrade with a rig featuring the GTX 980 Ti, but found out they couldn’t. Digging deeper, they found out from their Check your PC option that the graphics card was deemed to be not compatible with Windows 10, which is quite awkward due to the fact that the 980 Ti is one of the cards that supports DirectX 12.1 and has support for the OS with NVIDIA’s 353.30 driver.

It seems that Microsoft has not updated its compatibility database and an NVIDIA employee apparently told through a tweet that 980 Ti owners would have a great experience with the card and Microsoft’s Windows 10.

So what is there to do? Well, Microsoft may be able to fix this problem easily by adding support for it in the database or they could just ignore it and let 980 Ti users update to Windows 10 after it gets released. So what do you think it’s going to be? Do you have a 980 Ti? Have you been able to reserve a Windows 10 Upgrade? Let us know!

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

EVGA Announces Their GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified ACX 2.0+ Graphics Card

Whether you are looking for an upgrade to your gaming rig or want to build a new one, it’s important to know what’s available on the market. EVGA knows this and hopes to offer everything you need to improve your gaming experience. That’s why they just revealed their own GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified graphics solution.

The card comes with 6GB of GDDR5 memory and 2816 NVIDIA CUDA Cores, so it will undoubtedly have your back in the latest and upcoming game titles. In addition, the 384-bit memory width, 7010 MHz memory clock and 336.5 GB/s bandwidth specs just speak for themselves in terms of performance. The Maxwell GPU clocks look promising too, having the base clock at 1140 MHz and boost clock going for up to 1228 MHz. But the best part about it? It can go to up to 4-way SLI, so even if you’re an extreme gamer, you can get everything you need out of this baby.

EVGA tells that the 14+3 Power Phase on the card will bring improved efficiency, power capacity and lower average operating temperature, while the dual 8-pin Power Inputs deliver increased power capability. When it comes to the cooling solution, EVGA’s ACX 2.0+ cooling technology along with its MOSFET Cooling Plate show a 13% temperature, while the Straight Heat Pipes are said to further decrease the card’s temperature by 5ºC. This all adds up to a 20% temperature reduction compared to other cards. The ACX 2.0+ cooling solution also helps in delivering more airflow while eating up less power with the help of its optimized swept fan blades, double ball bearings and the low power motor.

The card certainly looks great and from what I see, EVGA is really pushing a lot of juice to deliver the necessary performance while also providing the right cooling for the card. More information about the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified ACX 2.0+ can be found over at its website here.

Images courtesy of EVGA

NVIDIA Shows New DirectX 12 Graphics on GTX 980Ti

NVIDIA is really looking forward to bring consumers the best graphics solution in the latest Windows 10 and DirectX 12. According to 4Gamer, the latest Mech Ti video emphasises what the company has in store for its GM200 core in the GTX 980 Ti.

The demo brings new insights on NVIDIA’s Ray Traced Shadows, Sparse Smoke and Screen Space Refections technology, which looks to be very promising. The Ray Traced Shadows looks to deliver extremely sharp shadows, which compensate in performance by blurring the shadow edges a bit, depending on the ray distance. This looks to be heading to a more realistic shadow representation.

The Sparse Smoke technique adds some long anticipated fluid physics calculations as we can clearly see in the demo. This means that the smoke can now easily interact with objects passing through it and also do some lighting calculations to render its density properly. When it comes to processing power, the Volume Tiled Resources now helps take some load off the CPU by skipping a couple of frames and rendering everything based on importance rather than have everything calculated at once.

Lastly, the Screen Space Reflections might not be anything new to DirectX 12. Still, the technique brings a way for reflective surfaces to capture objects from their surroundings through rays and display them in a 2D manner on the actual surface. This reminds us of how Crytek came up with the Realtime Local Reflections way of displaying reflections, which took a similar approach to what NVIDIA wants to show us here.

Thank you 4Gamer for providing us with this information

More Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti Details Leaked

AMD’s new flagship graphics cards with HBM memory are just around the corner and it looks like Nvidia is trying to steal the show a bit. We’ve seen more and more leaks about the upcoming GeForce GTX 980Ti recently which points in the direction of an eminent release date.

The newest information comes from the same Korean tech-publication as the previous “leaks”, only this time we get a GPU-Z screenshot revealing the clock frequencies.

The GeForce GTX 980Ti is clocked at 1000MHz and has a GPU boost frequency of 1076MHz, very close to that of the GTX Titan X. The memory is clocked at the usual 7012MHz GDDR5 speed.

Other previously revealed specifications include 2816 CUDA cores and 176 TMUs. You’ll get 6GB video memory running on a 384-bit memory bus with 336 GB/s bandwidth. The card is powered by a 6-pin and 8-pin power connector and comes with one DVI, one HDMI, and three DisplayPort connectors.

What we don’t know for sure yet are the ROPs that are expected at 96, the TDP and the MSRP.

There are also some 3DMark benchmark results coming from the same direction, both Fire Strike and Cloud Gate. The Fire Strike test clocks in with a score of 14,071 while the Cloud Gate reaches 29,444.

GeForce GTX 980 Ti Is Ready, but We’ll Have to Wait a Little

AMD is getting ready to launch their new 300 series very soon and Nvidia isn’t just standing by on the sidelines to watch, they want to be prepared. According to the latest leaks coming through Sweclockers, who have an impressive track record of being right on the spot with Nvidia rumours, Nvidia already has their new GeForce GTX 980 Ti ready, they just don’t want to release it yet.

The timeframe for the GTX 980 Ti is still set to the end of Q2 or Q3 2015, but with the option to switch it up and release it earlier in case AMD’s new flagship GPUs will kick their butts. I know that many people are waiting for the card, based on comments on our previous articles, but this is also good news. It will give Nvidia time to optimise and tweak the card, give board-partners more time to create better custom PCB and cooler solutions, but also to improve on it in case AMD’s 300 series cards will surpass the leaked performance figures.

The sad side of the news is however that it looks pretty much like the Titan X with half the memory. The GTX 980 Ti will feature the full version of the GM200 core with 3072 CUDA cores, 192 texture units and a 384-bit memory interface for the 6GB VRAM. Where the Titan X is running in at the $999 price tag, the GTX 980 Ti will most likely cost around $699.

Thank you Sweclockers for providing us with this information