Examining AMD’s Driver Progress Since Launch Drivers: R9 290X & HD 7970

Introduction


AMD and Nvidia both talk fairly big when it comes to driver updates. With every driver iteration that is released we hear the usual technical (or should that be marketing?) talk about improved performance in this, that and the other. After a lot of thinking I decided I wanted to investigate further. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how much progress AMD and Nvidia actually make with their drivers over the duration of a product’s life cycle? We’ll be starting this two piece series with AMD and in particular I want to look at the last two flagship single GPUs of each generation. I’ll be putting the XFX AMD HD 7970 Double Dissipation 3GB graphics card on the test bench along with the XFX AMD R9 290X Double Dissipation 4GB graphics card: that’s the flagship single GPUs of the HD 7000 and R9 2xx series. I will be benchmarking both graphics cards on an identical test system at stock clocks under two different scenarios. Scenario 1 is using the AMD driver package that they launched with and scenario 2 is using the most recent AMD driver package made available. In this way we are able to see the driver progress that AMD’s HD 7970 and R9 290X have made since they were both launched.

AMD’s HD 7970

 

AMD’s HD 7970 was launched on December 22nd 2011 and used AMD Catalyst driver package version 11.12 RC11, this was a special beta driver release for the AMD HD 7970 as official support wasn’t added until Catalyst 12.2 WHQL was released. AMD’s R9 290X launched on October 24th 2013 and used AMD Catalyst driver package version 13.11 Beta 6. The most recent driver package release from AMD (at the time of writing this article) is Catalyst 14.7 RC1. Of course AMD’s HD 7970 has had a significant amount more time on the market, nearly 3 years, whereas the R9 290X has had less than 1 year. It is also worth noting both the R9 290X and HD 7970 are built on virtually identically 28nm GCN architecture so many of the largest optimisations had already been made for the GCN architecture before the R9 290X was even released. That’s a long-winded way of saying we will see dramatically more progress with the HD 7970 than the R9 290X. However, either way it will be really interesting to see what the results show, so let’s get on with some testing!

AMD’s R9 290X

Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X (Tri-X) OC 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


When the AMD R9 280X launched the first R9 280X we tested was Sapphire’s Vapor-X model. In our review we noted that the while the performance was good and the temperatures were reasonable, the acoustic performance was far from impressive. Here we are 6 months later and Sapphire have revised their R9-280X Vapor-X to include their renowned Tri-X triple fan cooling solution which boasts better cooling performance and quieter operation as well as fantastic aesthetics. We aren’t 100% sure if the old model is going to be discontinued or not, because it is certainly confusing having two R9 280X Vapor-X models in our opinion so discontinuing the older model would make sense. There are some key differences between the old and new models though, such as the new model has a faster GPU core clock speed, a triple fan cooler, is a lot bigger, is more expensive and, strangely, has a lower memory clock speed. Sapphire’s R9 280X Vapor-X Tri-X sits just below the Toxic model (which we reviewed here) as it has  (almost) the same cooling solution but isn’t overclocked as high, hasn’t been speed binned to the same extent and doesn’t have a backplate. Sapphire’s new R9 280X Vapor-X Tri-X currently fetches around $359 meaning it is directly priced up against high performance GTX 770s like EVGA’s SuperClocked ACX GTX 770 and most of the 4GB GTX 770s which cost on average about $30-50 more than the 2GB variants. Does Sapphire’s Tri-X cooler give the R9 280X Vapor-X a new lease of life? Let’s find out!

Specifications Analysis

Sapphire’s new R9 280X Vapor-X comes with a hefty overclock of 1100MHz on the boost clock. It’s also a bit pricier than the baseline R9 280Xs at the moment holding about a $30 premium.

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging predominantly markets this as a Vapor-X graphics card, Tri-X is a secondary element suggesting Sapphire doesn’t want to get its segmentations mixed up.

The back details some features of the product in more detail like Sapphire’s Vapor-X and Tri-X cooling technologies.

Included are two dual molex to 8 pin PCIe adapters, a 1.8m HDMI 1.4 cable and a CrossFireX bridge.

Other accessories include some documentation and a driver install CD.

Powercolor R9 280X TurboDuo 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


We seem to have been inundated with AMD graphics card of late and the trend isn’t stopping today as we have another AMD graphics card in the office. Today we have a rather swanky looking solution from the guys over at Powercolor as we are putting their R9 280X TurboDuo overclocked graphics card on the test system. The first and most obvious feature about this graphics card is the rather epic looking cooling solution. It boasts a pair of 90mm cooling fans, three large 8mm heat pipes and a massive aluminium heatsink. That’s all enclosed in a rather beautiful looking red and black metal shroud and topped off with a solid metal backplate for good measure. In terms of clock speeds Powercolor haven’t been too adventurous opting for a up to 1030MHz clock speed which is up from the stock R9 280X speed of of up to 1000MHz. This means it is the lowest clocked Radeon R9 280X graphics card we’ve tested, though that doesn’t mean it can’t be pushed a bit further with some overclocking. Powercolor have also left the memory at the default 1500MHz actual, 6GHz effective.

Powercolor’s packaging comes with the usual textured plastic emblem with the product branding which is in this case TurboDuo. It also points out the UEFI compatibility, 4K support and support for up to 4 displays out of the box. Of course if you have an MST Hub then you can support up to six by splitting one of the DisplayPort connections.

The rear of the box has more details about the design and features of the graphics card. You can check more of those out on its product page here.

Powercolor’s accessory package includes a 6 to 8 pin power cable adapter, CrossFire bridge, DVI to VGA adapter, mini DisplayPort to full size DisplayPort adapter, quick installation guide and driver CD.

HIS R9 280X iPower IceQ X² Turbo Boost 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Another day and another AMD R9 280X review. Today we’ve got another custom cooled and overclocked graphics card but this time we’ve got a graphics card vendor that we haven’t taken a look at for ages – HIS Digital. This is the first HIS Digital graphics card I’ve ever looked at some I am quite excited to see what it can offer. Despite the fact this is an AMD R9 280X we won’t recap all the monotonous information about the R9 280X GPU that you’ve probably already heard a million times by now, if you want to read more about the R9 280X you can do so here. We want to focus specifically on this HIS card which is the “HIS R9 280X iPower IceQ X² Turbo Boost” – yes quite a mouthful.

Firstly let’s quickly break down that really long name into what it all means. “iPower” is HIS’ way of saying an improved VRM and power delivery system. This graphics card has a 9 phase VRM, versus 8 phases on the reference design, uses DirectFET MOSFETs compared to your bog standard MOSFETs on the reference design and it has a pair of 8 pins instead of the 6+8 pin reference design meaning there is more power to be delivered to the GPU. Secondly, the “IceQ X²” part means this is using HIS’ IceQ X² cooling solution that features a pair of 89mm fans, two 8mm heat pipes and three 6mm heat pipes. That’s all encased in a large aluminium shroud which features the IceQ X² and Turbo branding on it. Thirdly and finally the “Turbo Boost” part is predictably an overclock. AMD’s reference R9 280X comes with a 850MHz core and 1000MHz boost, aka “up to 1GHz” while the HIS version comes with a 1000MHz core clock and 1050MHz boost clock. You can see those clocks below, the core is up 5% on reference and the memory is identical to reference.

The packaging comes with HIS’ usual frost/ice theme and a tonne of marketing stuff. Included with our sample was just a CrossFire X bridge and DVI-I to VGA adapter but we are informed the retail version also comes with an install CD, multilingual user guide, quick installation guide and HIS Power Up label.

The back of the box has more of those key features but we recommend checking out the product page if you’re interested in knowing more.

Club3D R9 280X royalKing 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Most gamers today still overwhelmingly game on single monitor systems, whether that be at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (FHD) or 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) – the two most popular “high end” gaming resolutions. Of course gamers using 1080p displays are still the most common but both 5760 x 1080 and 2560 x 1440 are gaining more traction with gamers as “only” 1080p starts to become dated (and is often put to shame but high resolution tablets and ultrabooks). 2560 x 1440 is growing in popularity a lot thanks to the affordability of the South Korean WQHD panels and the fact 1440p panels use the same aspect ratio (16:9) as 1080p panels, so are a “direct” upgrade. It just makes sense that most gamers will choose 1440p panels as their next upgrades instead of WXQHD (2560 x 1600) displays which never really took off, just like its predecessor WUXGA (1920 x 1200) didn’t, maybe due to the less popular 16:10 aspect ratio. What relevance does this have to today’s review you may be thinking? Well today we have a GPU that aims to hit the sweet spot of performance and pricing for 2560 x 1440 and 5760 x 1080 gaming resolutions. We’ve managed to get Club3D’s R9 280X royalKing 3GB graphics card in for review. Club 3D’s R9 280X royalKing is based on AMD’s $299 3GB R9 280X GPU, which is essentially a rebranded HD 7970. Offering a hefty amount of GPU horsepower and 3GB of frame buffer it is designed for “more-than-1080p” gaming.

Club 3D’s R9 280X royalKing offers up a 10% core overclock compared to the stock AMD R9 280X design, meaning 1100MHz instead of 1000MHz while, memory retains the stock 6GHz clock speed but the main talking point is of course the core overclock. There is always a danger with the R9 280X that if AMD vendors do not implement proper cooling solutions the noise and temperatures can easily get out of hand, especially when you start adding factory overclocks. Club3D will be hoping to tame both the noise and temperatures with their popular “CoolStream” cooling solution, something that will be necessary with a 10% overclock added to an already hot-running GPU.

The packaging of Club3D’s R9 280X royalKing is quick to point out the CoolStream cooling solution and support for Eyefinity 6 which now only requires a single MST hub thanks to AMD’s recent modifications to the way it’s Eyefinity technology works.

The back of the box details more about the key features of the product, you can see more of those on the product page right here.

Included with the graphics card is a driver CD, quick installation guide and CrossFire cable. Club3D are not messing around with any power supply adapters so make sure you’ve got an 8 pin and 6 pin for this graphics card on your PSU. They also do not include any overclock software on the CD itself but you can download Club3D’s royalFlush GPU overclocking utility from their website here.

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280X Toxic Edition 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


When it comes to overclocked graphics card with ridiculous speed Sapphire’s Toxic series is one of the most renowned in the “AMD world”. Today we have Sapphire’s Toxic R9 280X which comes with a massive out of the box overclock of 15% – taking it from 1GHz core to 1.15GHz core, on the memory we see a more modest increase of 100MHz (6.67%). The Sapphire Toxic R9 280X features the respected Tri-X triple fan cooler with a huge 10mm heat pipe and a dense aluminium heatsink. From what I’ve heard and read about this graphics card already the main selling point of this GPU is its ability to offer near-GTX 780 levels of performance for a substantially lower price.

This graphics card from Sapphire showcases the versatility of AMD’s Tahiti family of GPUs which have formed the basis of the HD 7950, HD 7970, HD 7970 GHz Edition and now the R9 280X. This isn’t the first R9 280X we’ve taken for a spin: you can check our review of the Sapphire Vapor-X OC R9 280X here and our review of the XFX Double Dissipation R9 280X here. That said the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition really is in a whole different class to your average R9 280X which has a 50-100MHz overclock, or runs at stock speeds.

Sapphire’s packaging points out most of the key features we have already mentioned such as the Tri-X cooling and Toxic design. There’s also 3GB of GDDR5 capable of Eyefinity and 4K gaming that’s worth pointing out. Sapphire also have dual BIOSes on this card for UEFI and conventional BIOS motherboards.

The back details some more of those key features along with Sapphire’s tagline for the Toxic R9 280X which is “Mad and Dangerous”.

Included in the box is some documentation, a driver CD and a Sapphire sticker.

In terms of physical accessories we have a mini DisplayPort to full size DisplayPort adapter, a HDMI cable, a Crossfire bridge and two dual molex to single 8 pin power supply adapters.

XFX R9 280X Double Dissipation Black Edition OC 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


AMD’s R9 280X was released a couple of weeks ago and for anyone who has followed AMD graphics cards since 2011 the R9 280X is a very familiar card – in effect it is just a HD 7970 rebranded with a reduced price. On launch day we had a review of the R9 280X to bring you and today we’ve got another R9 280X to look at, this time courtesy of XFX. The XFX R9 280X uses XFX’s new Double Dissipation cooling solution with dual 100mm fans but it is also a Black Edition OC card which means the default clock has been raised from 1000MHz on the core to 1100MHz and from 1500/6000MHz to 1650/6600MHz on the memory. The new cooling solution opts for a sleek black aesthetic which contrasts with the sharp silver design of previous Double Dissipation coolers from XFX.

On the packaging XFX is keen to point out the three big features of this graphics card. Two of them are related to the cooling solution, the fact it uses the Double Dissipation cooling and that this is done with a pair of 100mm fans. The last part is interesting for overclockers and that is XFX have unlocked the voltage. This means overclocking should go further than normal, I have heard that the R9 280X is capable of around 1250MHz+ with voltage increases so we will be keen to test if that really is the case.

The back of the box gives a quick summary of the key features about the product.

Included is a bunch of documentation and marketing material as well as some driver CDs.

Accessories are basic and we’ve got a couple of power supply adapters, a CrossFire bridge and a warranty card with all your serial and part numbers on in case you need to claim your warranty for whatever reason.

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280X Vapor-X OC 3GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


AMD’s new series of graphics cards, the RX 2XX series, is split up into the R9 Enthusiast class and the R7 mainstream class. Both segmentations feature impressive levels of value for money and top end performance at each price point but today we are looking at one of the higher end models. We have with us the Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280X Vapor-X OC Graphics card in this review but we’ve also reviewed the AMD R7 260X and AMD R9 270X for today’s launch. While this is a Sapphire branded card we are using this as an opportunity to to also look at AMD’s Radeon R9 280X as AMD were not able to provide us with a reference design. The reference design of course is identical to Sapphire’s model other than the cooler is different and Sapphire have added a mild factory overclock taking the clock speed up from 1GHz to 1.07GHz, and the memory from 6GHz to 6.2GHz.

The Radeon R9 280X card we received from Sapphire and AMD is simply an OEM graphics card so it comes with nothing other than the card which is pictured above. Below you can see a GPU-Z screenshot of the new AMD graphics card which reveals those overclocks I mentioned earlier. A couple of other things to point out are that this card supports Direct X 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and AMD’s new “Mantle” technology.

Looking at the AMD R9 280X more broadly it should have the following specifications:

Of course for those who don’t know, the AMD Radeon R9 280X is based on an optimised version of the AMD HD 7970 GPU. It features increased clock speeds and uses a more refined 28nm process as well as a redesigned cooling solution for the reference cards. The main advantage is that AMD is shipping the new R9 280X with a price of $299 compared to the HD 7970 which when it first shipped had an MSRP of $549. With the R9 280X, AMD hopes to take on Nvidia by offering a card that is faster than the GTX 760 and on par with the GTX 770 but costs $299 instead of the $249 of the GTX 760 or $399 of the GTX 770. Of course Nvidia will undoubtedly respond with price cuts but as things stand the R9 280X is seeking to be the GTX 770 killer by offering equivalent performance for a staggering $100 less. Let us proceed with this review and see if the R9 280X delivers.

ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum Graphics Card Pictured

VideoCardz have managed to get some exclusive pictures of the upcoming ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum graphics card. It’s no surprise that ASUS have the Matrix Platinum variant of the R9 280X ready so early on because the R9 280X is simply a rehashed version of the HD 7970 GPU with a higher core clock from the production line. As a result the ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum uses an identical PCB to the ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum that it is based on.

The card uses a 20 phase VRM solution with TweakIT,  ProbeIT, a 100% fan switch and a dual BIOS. The card will ship with an 1100MHz core clock and 6GHz on the memory.

The card uses the same dual 80mm fans, backplate and triple slot cooling solution as the original ASUS HD 7970 Matrix Platinum.

ASUS is expected to launch the R9 280X Matrix Platinum alongside the AMD R9 280X when the official launch date arrives. If you believe the latest rumours circulating then these are coming on October 8th.

Images courtesy of VideoCardz

AMD Announce Catalyst 13.8 Beta Driver, Fixes Frame Latency Issues

The AMD CrossFireX micro-stuttering/frame pacing issue has been in the “tech press” for quite sometime since being revealed by websites like PC Perspective and Tech Report. AMD promised a driver fix for it a few months back and have stuck to their promises and their time frame. Just yesterday AMD announced the 13.8 catalyst beta driver which for the first time fixes issues with frame latency. The 13.8 beta driver adds something called “frame pacing” for all HD 7000 series graphics cards. This allows frames to be delivered in a more constant way to prevent micro stutter.

Below you can see an example of  the improvements that have come from the new driver while above shows the original problem. Note that both the above and below graphs are from PC Perspective and we strongly encourage you to check out this article by them which explores the frame latency issue in more depth and how well the new driver works.

The new fix isn’t going to make everyone happy though as there is still much work to be done. Firstly this new frame pacing setting, which is enabled now by default for all CrossFire X set-ups, only works with the Direct X 10 and Direct X 11 APIs – so now Direct X 9 support aka Skyrim. Next is that it only works on resolutions up to 2560 by 1600 and as far as we know there is now frame pacing support for Eyefinity just yet.

Other improvements of the Catalyst 13.8 beta include full OpenGL 4.3 API support, updated CAP profiles, improved performance in Metro Last Light by about 7% and a new gadget that shows statistics for AMD Enduro such as which apps are running on the integrated graphics and which on the dedicated graphics.

Images courtesy of PC Perspective

Extreme Windows Blog Shows Off Triple 4K Gaming System

With 4K monitors now popping up sparingly across the market it was only a matter of time before someone went to town and made an Eyefinity 4K display set up. Someone over on the Extreme Windows Blog and has done exactly that. The system is monstrously expensive at $17,000  thanks to three Sharp PN-K321 4K Monitors, three Radeon HD 7970s…and the rest of the system.

Combined the system produced a mammoth 11520 by 2160 Eyefinity display with the help of an array of display adapters to get the correct configuration. With 1.5 billion pixels its no wonder that at least CrossFire HD 7970s are required to play most games at 60FPS with medium settings.

It is almost certain that AMD and Microsoft collaborated strongly with this venture-cum-publicity-stunt as it required some special custom drivers. Without these custom drivers the games were limited to 8FPS.

There is no doubt that this is a totally ridiculous set up that no one will use for many years to come but its nice to see that a single current generation graphics cards is capable of powering three 4K monitors even if it can only deliver 30 FPS at medium settings.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OEZ9qBxYiw[/youtube]

Images courtesy of the Extreme Windows Blog

Club 3D Announce ’13Series Graphics Cards With UK Availability

Club 3D have just revealed a new series of graphics cards. The ’13Series of graphics from Club3D is a new product line designed to target a much cheaper and more mainstream price point. These cards all use the premium CoolStream VGA cooler design, except the HD 7790 which uses a rather more modest VGA cooler.

Since Club3D recently made a move recently to be an exclusive AMD-only partner, it comes as no surprise that the ’13Series of graphics cards is comprised of entirely AMD GPUs. The ’13Series includes the following graphics cards:

The new ’13Series is part of Club3D’s “black label/”white label” product segmentation strategy. These new ’13 series cards are part of the white label segment while Club3D’s PokerSeries cards are part of the black label segment. The white label segment is going to be aggressively priced and aimed at value for money, while the black label segment is going to be more feature packed and designed for the more premium market.

Availability should start immediately and UK customers should be able to find these popping up soon across a wide variety of retailers such as Amazon, Ballicom International, Kikatek, LambdaTek and so on.

Image courtesy of Club3D

AMD Promises Better Coolers On HD 8000

According to a report by Computerbase.de AMD is preparing better coolers for their HD 8000 series, compared to the HD 7000 series. Apparently,

“The next coolers are better. Although I can not go into detail for the next generation, however, we have some changes made ​​to the cooling system. The cooler the Radeon HD 7900 series was in fact no great shakes.” said Devon Nekechuck, Product Manager for Graphics Desktop at AMD.

The HD 8000 series GPU coolers will be better than their predecessors but not as good as those models offered by AIB partners. AMD does have a tradition of stepping up its game with regards to GPU cooling as they were the first to introduce vapour chamber cooling on their HD 6000 series graphics cards, something Nvidia then introduced on their GTX 500 series cards shortly after. Since then Vapour Chamber has been the standard for both AMD and Nvidia.

AMD stressed that it wouldn’t attempt to make these that attractive because this is more expensive than people think, and it doesn’t want to end up making cards as expensive as Nvidia’s GTX Titan or GTX 780.

AMD was “ not interested in [making] their own reference design attractive – and thus connected: costly – to make ”.

AMD stresses that it wants to maintain strong relations with its AIB partners and allow them to continue to make custom solutions that are significantly more attractive than the reference design. Naturally if AMD or Nvidia ever made cooling solutions that trumped the Direct CU II, Windforce 3X or Twin Frozr coolers then they could jeopardise their AIB partner relationships.

Image courtesy of AMD

Rumour: AMD HD 8970 Pictures And Specifications Emerge

An image has shown up on the notorious 4Chan website showing what is apparently a picture of the AMD HD 8970 graphics card. Alongside the pictures the uploader also added specification information. This states that the GPU is the 28nm Curacao XT architecture with 2304 stream processor, 48 ROPs, 144 TMUs and has 3GB of GDDR5 across a 384 bit memory interface. The graphics card also uses a 250W TDP which is higher than the 210W TDP the HD 7970 came with on launch.

The HD 8970 reportedly comes with a price tag of $549, the same as the HD 7970 at launch. This makes it $100 cheaper than the GTX 780 but we still can’t be sure which card is better so the lower price could be for a valid reason, such as lower performance. On the cooling front the card uses a similar cooling solution to the AMD reference HD 7990 except with two fans not three. The HD 8970 has two CrossFire X connectors for up to 4 way CrossFire X.

We are a bit late to this news, for which I apologise, so we could see details emerge very soon as the E3 2013 Expo (dates 11th – 13th of June) is when the AMD HD 8970 is speculated to be announced. This would make sense as AMD doesn’t want to lose business to Nvidia who got the GTX 700 series out very swiftly. If the E3 reveal is true then we could expect more details as soon as today and over the next few days, if not then the new HD 8000 series graphics cards will almost definitely arrive by the end of 2013 like previously speculatedAlthough what the 28nm GPU on the HD 8970 GPU means is that the 20nm process shift won’t occur until the HD 9000 series despite rumours which told us the HD 8000 series would bring the shift to the 20nm process earlier in an effort to get one over on Nvidia.

Although as always these are based on some rather shady postings on 4Chan that could easily be fake so we shall wait and see as to whether any of these details turn out to be true or not.

Image courtesy of 4Chan

Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 VGA Cooler Review

All In One liquid CPU coolers are becoming increasingly common in the CPU cooler market, yet we haven’t really seen them arrive in the VGA cooler market to date. Arctic were the first company that I know of to start this trend off. Shortly after Arctic released their first AIO liquid cooled VGA cooler, the same principle was used by ASUS in their ARES II graphics card. The Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 VGA Cooler we are looking at today is only intended for a single GPU graphics card. This cooler can best be described as a Corsair H55 for graphics cards as it features an Asetek OEM pump design and a single thickness 120mm radiator with a 120mm fan. In addition it comes with a plastic shroud that has a smaller 80mm frameless fan to cool the VRM area.

Arctic are one of the biggest players in the VGA cooling game as most companies have stopped producing VGA coolers because graphics card vendors are gradually producing better and better in-house VGA coolers that make third party solutions almost extinct. If you have paid attention to the graphics card market recently you will have seen the likes of Inno3D offer this graphics card cooler pre-fitted to some of their products. That said, Arctic seem to be doing well whilst other companies are discontinuing their VGA cooler product lines.

Below you can see the full specifications of this Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970:

Prolimatech MK-26 Multi-VGA Cooler Review

VGA coolers are in my opinion becoming quite niche and almost extinct – particularly when it comes to air VGA coolers. This is because graphics card vendors have come a long way in terms of the cooling solutions they offer – ASUS’ DC2, MSI’s TF2 and EVGA’s ACX to name but a few excellent cooling solutions. As a result it seems almost foolish to spend lots of money, time, effort and voiding your warranty to equip a custom VGA cooler. In terms of water blocks for graphics cards, these are still widespread because water cooling needs water blocks.

However, even with that quite gloomy stance on VGA coolers, air VGA coolers still have their place in the market. For example you may have bought a reference design graphics card and you just aren’t happy with the temperatures or acoustics – or you may have bought at custom cooled one that doesn’t cool the VRM and VRAM well enough or is just too big or long. This is where custom reference solutions like the Prolimatech MK-26 come in to play.

Prolimatech’s MK-26 is one of the most impressive VGA coolers I have ever laid eyes on to date just on the basis of sheer size. It supports two 140 or 120mm fans, has six 6mm heat pipes and an extremely large and dense heatsink stack. I’m expecting great things from the Prolimatech MK-26. You can check out the full specifications below, and now let us move on to the rest of this review.

 

Computex: Powercolor Showcase HD 7970 LCS Graphics Card

Watercooling graphics cards can be a bit of a nightmare, especially installing and fitting the block which is often one of the hardest parts. Furthermore you could go to all that effort and then you might have a rubbish quality GPU that doesn’t even overclock very well. That’s why Powercolor have shown us the LCS HD 7970 which is an AMD HD 7970 that comes pre-fitted with a EK GPU water block and factory overclocked to a hefty 1050MHz, up from 925MHz stock.

Here you can see the Powercolor LCS HD 7970 in ac tion and it literally was as easy as plugging in a couple of tubes and being ready to go. The graphics card also comes with a black backplate to cool components on the rear side of the PCB.

The EK branding is generally quite subtle across most of the graphics card but on the fittings area at the top it is quite clear to see.

Powercolor’s LCS HD 7970 is already out and on the market and costs around $650+.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Image(s) courtesy of eTeknix at Computex

AMD’s Radeon HD 7990 Gets Put Up On Ebay

You would of thought that those select few who have been lucky enough to get their hands on an AMD HD 7990 engineering sample might be wanting to keep their hands on it….well you’d be wrong. Someone based in the USA, going by the eBay username “wowbagger1234” has listed an engineering sample of AMD’s HD 7990 revealing the specifications to the world.

Interestingly the Radeon HD 7990 has the following specifications, some of which were already known and obvious but others that weren’t, according to the eBay engineering sample has:

  • Two Tahiti GPUs
  • Direct X 11.1
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • 950MHz Core Clock
  • 1500MHz Memory Clock (6GHz effective)
  • Two 8 Pins – 375W TDP
  • 2 X 3072MB of GDDR5
  • Dual Link DVI and 4 mini Displayports
  • Eyefinity support

Currently the item is running at $910 USD with $50 USD shipping and has 4 days 18 hours left on the auction. It certainly is a surprise to see the AMD HD 7990 on eBay and expect the price to go a lot higher than that when it finally sells.

Should you win the auction you’ll be one of the first to get your hands on the HD 7990 in the entire world, except all other industry insiders who have also had their own engineering samples. It won’t have a warranty because this isn’t an authorised sale by AMD under the normal terms of purchase. In fact selling engineering samples is very much frowned upon and no doubt AMD will go out of their way to find who’s selling this and give them a slap on the wrists if necessary.

What are your thoughts on this crazy eBay listing?

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