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.
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.
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.
In late January, nVidia filed a patent for their “TubroFan” design, a new fan concept to be used on GPUs that certainly looks promising.
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
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.
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.
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.
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|
AMD announced Monday their upcoming plans for "SkyBridge," due to come out in 2015, and customized AMD/ARM cores ("K12") due in 2016. The 2014 road map AMD laid-out is promising across mobility and x86 applications (more on the latter in a future post). AMD is the first company that is minimizing costs by having a single motherboard for both ARM and x86 architecture, giving more potential reach for consumers and sticking with AMD's effort to let buyers keep their board upon upgrading CPUs. AMD has always owned a bit of a niche market (except the days when they dominated with the Athlon 64), but they are expanding their strategy to one of differentiation from the norms of semiconductors.