Retailers and manufacturers are always happy to give consumers purchasing options: Spend an extra $30 and get buying insurance, another $50 and you get an extended warranty, spend untold thousands on a car to add Bluetooth, and in the case of video cards, an extra $20 and you get a “faster” card in the form of a pre-OC or “SuperClock.”

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We’ve explained overclocking as it pertains to GPUs in the past, but never looked specifically at pre-overclocked or SuperClocked cards. The realistic intent of higher-clocked GPUs is to enable users who are either too busy/lazy to overclock, would prefer to have an expert do it for them, or who are legitimately unaware of or afraid of overclocking. Some of the high-end overclocking cards are binned-out with hotter chips (chips that can overclock higher), but not all SuperClocked and pre-overclocked cards are like this. Many of the available options are just overclocked versions of the stock card.

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We remarked upon the GTX 750 / 750 Ti reveal that passive cards were a distinct possibility, given the low TDP and ability of the cards to operate solely on motherboard PCI-e power. Hovering at a 55W TDP, nVidia’s GM107-powered GTX 750 doesn’t draw any power from the PSU and has a lower thermal footprint than any of its higher-powered brethren. With the right heatsink design, it’s always been an ideal candidate for a passively-cooled, silent, low-profile HTPC video card.

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ZOTAC announced its “GTX 750 ZONE” passively-cooled solution just a few weeks ago. Standard GTX 750 specs apply, the one exception being that Zotac has nixed the active fan in favor of a larger aluminum and copper heatsink with no active components. Thermals are always a concern when operating a passively-cooled device, and with GPUs, thermals will directly impact the throttling and performance (FPS) output in games.

We benchmarked Zotac’s passive GTX 750 Zone video card for temperatures and framerate (FPS) in Metro, GRID, Battlefield 4, Titanfall, Watch_Dogs, and FurMark. These results can be extrapolated upon for a wider-spectrum understanding of the GPU’s worth for gaming.

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First, a note: We've got a full review of this card coming within the next week, so stay tuned to the social pages for benchmark performance (twitter / facebook / YouTube).

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ZOTAC announced today the availability of a new GeForce GTX 750 video card in their graphics lineup. The new "GTX 750 ZONE Edition" video card is cooled entirely passively, strictly using an aluminum heatsink and copper coldplate (with copper heatpipes) for all dissipation. Fans are not outfitted on the GTX 750 ZONE card at all. Judging from the press shots, it looks like two ~6mm copper heatpipes and an aluminum sink are mounted to the board. The ZONE is a dual-slot 750.

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No -- this isn't Maxwell news, though I do have some comments on that below. GPU manufacturer nVidia announced today the unveiling of its new "Shield Tablet," an addition to the existing Shield family. NVidia calls its new tablet "the first tablet for gamers," shipping with LTE and wireless PC game streaming, 720p Twitch broadcast, and GRID integration.

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The Shield Tablet fills very similar use case markets as the Shield intends to, though it adds a few features for more non-gaming implementations. One of these includes a graphics-accelerated painting and tinkering application (Dabbler) that shows pigment and paint mixing in real time, along with bleeding and light source adjustment.

Ultimately, though, the new Shield Tablet is targeted at "mobile gamers" who'd like a toy on the go. And I am still of the opinion that tablets are primarily just that -- toys. Let's look at the specs.

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Cars have always been a beacon for visual FX presentations. This is evidenced by nVidia's obsession with real-time ray-tracing in every demonstration the company has ever fronted; and AMD isn't much better off -- their multi-GPU solutions almost always have some vehicle showcase. Cars are somewhat easy to grasp as a visual marvel for just about any onlooker, especially investors and non-gamers, so it makes sense.

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Published in Game Benchmarks

AMD updated its Catalyst Control Center and GPU drivers fresh on the release of Watch_Dogs (which we benchmarked), but quickly pulled the 14.6 download due to instability and other unpublicized reasons. The company has now posted its 14.7 beta drivers publicly for download on Windows 7 and 8.1. Windows 8 is not supported.

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AMD is slated for a new GPU release in August, Chinese leak-monger VR-Zone reported. Somewhat similar to nVidia's GTX 750 / 750 Ti launch, it appears that AMD plans to plant its impending 28nm " Tonga" GPU in a rebuild of the R9 280 and R9 280X video cards.

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Nvidia is well-known for their high-quality, relatively quiet, and well-performing Titan reference cooler that, frankly, looks fantastic. This is in contrast to AMD’s most recent stock coolers, which employ a plastic shroud and sound like vacuums fighting. And while for some other components we try to avoid stock cooling, people using small, restrictive airflow cases, or using multiple GPUs (without watercooling) often can get better results by using stock cooling due to how it pushes air out the back instead of dumping it in the case simply to be recirculated.

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In late January, nVidia filed a patent for their “TubroFan” design, a new fan concept to be used on GPUs that certainly looks promising.

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Despite rumors by some media outlets that the Titan Z had been 'canceled,' our recent discussion with nVidia proved that the card's release was still on-target for 2Q14. We first spotted the Titan Z at nVidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC), hosted annually in San Jose. The specs have remained the same: It's a dual-GPU video card hosting 2xGK110 Kepler GPUs, 5760 CUDA cores in total, and emphasizing 8TFLOPS of raw COMPUTE power. The Titan Z houses two banks of 7Gbps 6GB GDDR5, meaning each GPU will have access to 6GB of RAM on-card. MSRP was set as $3000 when first announced.

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With the much anticipated release of Watch Dogs, nVidia is ensuring that users are getting the best-looking game they possibly can by releasing their newest 337.88 driver. The driver, by the way, is up for download here. It is no secret that nVidia has been working with developers, such as Ubisoft, to provide more realistic effects in games through their GameWorks program. Technology like TXAA, PhysX, and HBAO+ are some. But the partnership between Ubisoft and nVidia also leads to nVidia having ample time to optimize their drivers. In fact, nVidia claims that these drivers will boost framerates up to 75% in certain configurations and games, and although I am skeptical of this and will wait until our own benchmarks to draw conclusions, it is promising to see nVidia putting effort into their drivers like this.

Update: We’ve benchmarked Watch_Dogs on multiple GPUs and two CPUs. See the results here. nvidia-sli-watch-dogs

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