Graphics Card Buying Guide Spring 2015

Introduction


Graphic outputs are the most important output of the computer no matter what someone tells you about how an Intel i7-5960x is the best CPU there is, you still require a graphical output to see the magic. When purchasing your computers, it is most likely that the graphics options are the most scrutinised part of all the components; however, choosing the right graphics card for you can be daunting with so many to choose from. Graphics cards come from two major manufacturers, AMD and NVIDIA; both are extremely good at what they do and can offer the consumer amazing graphical performance. From there, each manufacturer then has vendors; some cover both parties such as Gigabyte, others only cover one such as Sapphire for AMD and Zotac for NVIDIA. When considering graphics cards to choose from, you have to consider the following hardware factors:

  • System case size
    • It’s all well and good buying a Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 because you have the money, but when you find it won’t fit in your Shuttle PC case; jokes on you for not measuring
  • Processor
    • This factor only really comes into play when considering high power graphics cards and pairing with older generations of processors. The likes of an AMD Phenom X3 710 won’t give you the full benefit of an AMD R9 295×2 graphics card like an Intel i7 processor could.
  • Screen sizes, quantity and resolutions
    • You tend to find a lot of people will buy the highest powered graphics card and pair it with a standard 23″ 1080p monitor. That’s OK for achieving constantly high FPS, but pointless considering the cards power. The same goes for users who buy a low-powered graphics card and wonders why they can’t play Crisis on 3 screens.
  • Power Supply
    • This is where things get confusing for a lot of people. Imagine you just went into a local computer shop and bought a 600w power supply for £15, 9/10 times that 600w is only a burst value; meaning it cannot sustain 600w for more than a few seconds. This is one area of your computer that you should never do on the budget end, a general rule of thumb is £10 per 100w, but with components becoming cheaper; prices are falling.

OverclockersUK is one of the largest specialised computer component resellers in the UK, they are highly regarded in the computer enthusiast world and can offer some of the best deals in the UK, EU and sometimes the world. This buying guide will use the pricing and product range displayed on the OCUK website without offers and shipping. For the purpose of this buying guide, I will be concentrating on the consumer-grade discrete desktop single graphics cards; the offerings from integrated processor graphics will not be covered in great detail.

So let us do all of the legwork for you and show you what is best to buy at what budget.

This guide is updated quarterly/immediately after major releases. Last updated: 06/05/2015

Oculus Shipment Date Revealed

The most talked and hyped Virtual Reality (VR) headset has now been given a shipment date. Oculus has confirmed that pre-orders will open later this year and will begin shipping in early 2016.

The model that consumers will be able to buy will be based on the newest Cresent Bay prototype with enhanced “presence, immersion and comfort.” It will also feature and improved tracking system that takes advantage of both seated and standing users with updated ergonomics and a tweaked design. The company will share more details regarding pricing, hardware, software, input and unannounced featured games in the near future, starting with technical specifications next week.

“Speaking at a panel during SXSW in March, Oculus founder Palmer Luckeyexplained that the tentative launch of the Oculus Rift in late 2015 was made them before they “made a lot of changes to [Oculus’] roadmap.” The vague release window was also mirrored by Facebook CFO Dave Wehner during Facebook’s Q1 2015 earnings call.”

I can’t wait for this to be released, I’ve tried on a set at every show I’ve been to and loved every second of it; next year can’t come quick enough. Are you looking forward to the VR generation? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to IGN for providing us with this information.

Valve Announced That Its SteamVR Headset Will Be Free for Developers

Since Valve and HTC teamed up to make their VR headset, nobody but them could toy around with it. Now it seems that Valve and HTC are planning to offer the development kit for the HTC Vive for free to developers.

Valve’s Dough Lombardi has stated that the dev kits will be free in the early stages of the hardware’s life cycle and that developers of every size will be able to sign up for the kits very soon. The dev kits are said to start shipping this spring, having a retail release expected at the end of the year.

The move seems a bit awkward, but it does make sense from two perspectives. One is that it will prevent curious consumers from purchasing the dev kit for recreational purposes and the other could indicate that Valve and HTC will not hint at a retail price for the VR headset based on its development kit price. However, it remains to be seen how many dev kits will actually ship and how many developers will receive the VR headset.

In the end, this is great news for existing virtual reality developers since they could get their hands on the HTC Vive without any additional cost. This might also mean that a lot of games or demos might be popping up by the end of the year that have support for the VR headset.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

Apple Spring Event: The Apple Watch Is Here

Tim Cook returns to the stage for the final part of the presentation and what most have been waiting for, the Apple Watch: “The most personal device we have ever created. It’s not just with you, it’s on you.”

There is plenty of options for different faces and configurations, traditional faces, different colors and all with rich details. You can add many details to the face like day, date, world clock, stopwatch, or next meeting. “It brings a new personal dimension to timekeeping that’s never been done before.”

The Apple Watch comes with built-in speaker and microphone so you can send and receive calls directly from it, something most boys have been dreaming of since they were 5-years old. Press the side button, bring up friends, connect Apple Watch to Apple Watch. You can sketch on you watch and it will appear in real time on the other watch. You can tap to digitally to tap your friend, and the Apple Watch tracks daily movement. It can keep track on how long you’ve exercised and if you’ve been sitting for too long. “It’s like having a coach on your wrist.”

Apple Watch also comes with Apple pay, allows you to organise your photos or control your music. You can interface with Siri by just using your voice. Notifications from your phone are also on your watch and the social media is of course also connected just like daily news. Everything directly on your wrist. Apple Pay appears to be self-contained in the watch including haptic feedback when a transaction is done.

There are thousands of new apps for the Watch including Uber for the thousands of people using the service. You can check in to your flight with Apple Watch, get notification on the watch when you get near your hotel, unlock the hotel door with watch instead of a keycard and so much more. You can have Shazam with lyrics on the Apple Watch and Unlock a garage door, just to name some of the presented features.

Apple also released iOS 8.2 today which will be needed to pair the Watch with an iPhone. A thing that has been on everybody’s mind is the battery time. Cook promises all-day battery life with 18 hours of charge. The charging connector is magnetic and will automatically click into place.

Apple always tries to use the best materials and the aluminium used is special, Cook says. The new alloy used is 60% stronger than standard alloys, but just as light. “Each case is machined, buffed and then textured with microscopic zirconia beads.”

The Apple Watch will be available as different models and pre-orders will begin on April 10th. The Watch sport starts at $349, the stainless steel model will cost between $549 and $1049 while the Apple Watch Edition will cost you $10.000. You’ll really have to want it to pay that kind of money. Availability is set for April 24th in many countries, but you can preview it from the 10th in Apple retail stores.

Thanks to Mashable for providing us with this information

Apple Spring Event Started out in an Unusual Matter

Today’s Apple Spring Event is anything but the usual Apple event and one that showed differences right from the start. Tim Cook entered the stage wearing a cardigan, something that surprised many. But this isn’t about what anyone is wearing but rather the new technology. The Apple Watch event didn’t start out with much information about the watch.

At first we got some numbers on how Apple is performing as a business, which isn’t really relevant to most of use. Next, we got more information about Apple TV, the black lunchbox-sized set-top box. Richard Plepler, the CEO of HBO got on stage and announced Apple as exclusive partner for HBONow. Apple TV is now the official device of Game of Thrones, something that might give people a reason to actually buy this box.

HBONow will cost $14.99 a month in April with the first month free, double the price of Netflix. To firmly stamp in Apple as the official partner, the new Game of Thrones trailer is played – really not the typical Apple Event. Tim Cook returned to the stage after and revealed that the price of Apple TV will be lowered from $99 to $69, most likely a direct response to Fire TV.

Thanks to Mashable for providing us with this information.

FCC To Give Small Carriers A Chance

The Anti-trust division justice Departments tells FCC that that they need to make sure that smaller wireless carrier companies, Sprint and T- Mobile, need to get access to low-frequency spectrum during the auction to ensure that the competition is maintained.

Currently, FCC is drafting the rules for spectrum auctions of the spectrum that TV broadcasters are giving up, making way for wireless broadband companies to take it instead. This is particular for spectrum below 1 GHz. usually at 600 MHz. This has a higher value as it the wireless carrier can travel long distances and even penetrate through buildings. Justice Department however requests that FCC should include a rule to address this issue by providing a cap. Large wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon already have a substantial amount of 700MHz frequency spectrum which allowed them to build their 4G LTE networks.

The Department said in a filling to the FCC,”The Department concludes that rules that ensure the smaller nationwide networks, which currently lack substantial low-frequency spectrum, have an opportunity to acquire such spectrum could improve the competitive dynamic among nationwide carriers and benefit consumers. The more concentrated a wireless market is, the more likely a carrier will find it profitable to acquire spectrum with the aim of raising competitors’ costs. This could take the shape, for example, of pursuing spectrum in order to prevent its use by a competitor, independent of how efficiently the carrier uses the spectrum.”

Larry Krevor, Vice President for Government Affairs, Spring said,”The Justice Department is absolutely right. Ensuring that all carriers, large and small, have access to the low-band spectrum would improve competition and benefit consumers. We are hopeful that the FCC will adopt policies which recognize the importance of low-band spectrum to wireless competition and the American economy as a whole.”
AT&T and Verizon on the other hand argued that any limitation during the auction will limit their participation.

Source: CNET