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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The Watch Dogs launch has been a worrisome one for PC hardware enthusiasts. We've heard tale of shockingly low framerates and poor optimization since Watch Dogs was leaked ahead of shipment, but without official driver support from AMD and limited support from nVidia, it was too early to call performance. Until this morning.

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At launch, AMD pushed out its 14.6 beta drivers alongside nVidia's 337.88 beta drivers. Each promised performance gains in excess of 25% for specific GPU / Watch Dogs configurations. As we did with Titanfall, I've run Watch Dogs through our full suite of GPUs and two CPUs (for parity) to determine which video cards are best for different use cases of the game. It's never as clear-cut as "buy this card because it performs best," so we've broken-down how different cards perform on various settings.

In this Watch Dogs PC video card & CPU benchmark, we look at the FPS of the GTX 780 Ti, 770, 750 Ti, R9 290X, R9 270X, R7 250X, and HD 7850; to determine whether Watch Dogs is bottlenecked on a CPU level, I also tested an i5-3570K CPU vs. a more modern i7-4770K CPU. The benchmark charts below give a good idea of what video cards are required to produce playable framerates at Ultra/Max, High, and Medium settings.

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

Published in Game Benchmarks

AMD stated yesterday in a press statement that the Radeon R9 280 would see price cuts to $250 from a previous $300+. The cryptocurrency craze caused a severe spike in retail prices of AMD cards (far exceeding MSRP) for a number of months, but with pressure from AMD and the frenzy dying down, we've seen a return to original MSRP. With prices firmly stabilized, AMD has issued price cuts across the board for several members of its family -- including the R9 280.

Video Card New Price
NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti $720
AMD R9 290X $510
NVIDIA GTX 780 $510
AMD R9 290 $380
NVIDIA GTX 770 $300
AMD R9 280X $290
NVIDIA GTX 760 $255
AMD R9 280 $250
AMD R9 270X $200
AMD R9 270 $170

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