188 years ago, on 9/21, the construction of the Rideau Canal began in Canada. That has absolutely nothing to do with this weekend sales round-up. It is also a pure coincidence that two of our sales items are only $188 – I promise. This week, we feature a GTX 760 for $188, a 10-button laser gaming mouse for $35, an i5-4690 at only $188, and a 27” G-Sync monitor for $600.
NVidia’s GPUs bring all the manufacturers to the yard. The release of GM204 first saw our review of the reference GTX 980 – presently the objective best video card we’ve ever tested – followed-up shortly by coverage of ZOTAC’s new Amp! Overclocking GPU lineup. While at the Game24 unveil event, we managed to catch up with MSI to discuss its SKUs for the GTX 970 and GTX 980 series.
MSI brought their GTX 970 4G “Gaming” video card along, equipped with an updated Twin Frozr cooler using dual 100mm push fans and a somewhat standard heatpipe / heatsink design. Let’s get into the specs.
Following-up on our GTX 980 benchmark and review that went live yesterday, board manufacturers now have their own variations on the new Maxwell cards up for sale. Most of the manufacturers have altered the design in some way: a cooler overhaul, pre-overclocks, heavier-duty capacitors, and additional pins for power are a few of the common changes. Zotac has done all of these with their “Amp! Omega” GTX 970 GPU we got hands-on with.
Zotac’s new GTX 980 and GTX 970 both ship in standard (unmodified GPU specs + aftermarket cooler), Omega, and Extreme editions. The Omega and Extreme GPUs host a suite of OC-tuned hardware features and a slightly boosted clockrate.
It’s been a months-long journey of GTX 800, then GTX 900 rumors, broken embargoes, questions, and anticipation. The GTX 750 Ti saw the debut of NVidia’s Maxwell architecture almost 7 months ago, making for one of the first times the company has ever unveiled a low-end product before its architecture flagship. Then things went silent. Time passed, and as mobile 800-series GPUs began shipping, we still hadn’t heard about what would eventually become the GTX 900 series.
Then a box showed up.
“The World’s Most Advanced GPU” was written on the hefty black and green box, a few phone calls were made, and we knew it was time.
NVidia’s 900 series is rumored for an October launch, but AMD is ramping into more GPUs in the interim. AMD has another graphics card up its sleeves that they’ve been keeping tight-lipped about. The NDA on AMD’s R9 285 expired last week while we were returning home from PAX. VisionTek was quick to send us their press release to us detailing their custom-cooled R9 285. The R9 285 is an interesting card that is focused on improving performance and power efficiency compared to AMD’s R9 280 and nVidia’s GTX 760.
VisionTek prices their R9 285 at $250, which is exactly what AMD’s MSRP is for the card.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.