NVidia and AMD both define the ~$200 price-range as a zone of serious contention among graphics cards. The launch of the 960 held the card to high standards for 1080 gaming, a point nVidia drove home with data showing the prevalence of 1920x1080 as the standard desktop resolution for most gamers.
Our GTX 960 review employed ASUS' Strix 960, a 2GB card with a heavy focus on silence and cooling efficiency, but we've since received several other GTX 960 devices. In this round-up, we'll review the ASUS Strix, EVGA SuperSC 4GB, MSI Gaming 4GB, and PNY XLR8 Elite GTX 960 video cards. The benchmark tests each device for heatsink efficacy, framerate output (FPS) in games, and memory capacity advantages.
Following the launch of 2GB cards, major board partners – MSI and EVGA included – have begun shipment of 4GB models of the GTX 960. Most 4GB cards are restocking availability in early April at around $240 MSRP, approximately $30 more expensive than their 2GB counterparts. We've already got a round-up pending publication with more in-depth reviews of each major GTX 960, but today, we're addressing a much more basic concern: Is 4GB of VRAM worth it for a GTX 960?
Our initial review of nVidia's new GTX 960 looked at ASUS' Strix model of the card, a $210 unit with a custom cooler and an emphasis on silence. We declared the GTX 960 a formidable competitor at the price range, remarking that its software-side support and power made it a primary choice for 1080p gaming. AMD's closest competitor is the R9 280 – a powerful alternative for users who don't mind a bit higher TDP and less frequent driver updates – priced closer to $170 after rebates.
As nVidia continues to push SLI as an actionable configuration, the question of SLI compatibility with video games is raised once again. Not all games adequately support SLI and, for this reason, we've historically recommend a single, more powerful GPU in opposition to two mid-range options in SLI.
Recently, the monitor industry has amusingly reminded me of laundry detergent. It seems like everybody is coming out with detergents that are four times as potent, and the monitor industry isn't too different in its marketing language. With the rising popularity of 4K, it's just a matter of time until the norm is to have a monitor with four times as many pixels as a 1080p screen.
The normalization of 4k monitors is certainly very exciting, but current-gen GPUs still struggle with playing games at such a high resolution. Similarly, prices for 4K monitors may be dropping, but are still high for the average gamer. Luckily, 2560x1440 screens are a reasonable compromise between performance, pixels, and price.
This round-up looks at some of the best 1440p displays on the market, particularly with a focus on gaming needs.
Save CPUs, all components manufacturing in the PC hardware industry is centered upon the same core philosophy: Design a PCB, design the aesthetics and/or heatsink, and then purchase the semiconductor or Flash supply and build a product. In the case of video cards, board partners are responsible for designing aftermarket coolers (and PCBs, if straying from reference), but purchase the GPU itself from AMD or nVidia. The “hard work” is done by the GPU engineers and fabrication plants, but that's not to trivialize the thermal engineering that board partners invest into coolers.
When our readers ask us which version of a particular video card is “best,” we have to take into account several use-case factors and objective design factors. Fully passive cooling solutions may be best for gaming HTPCs like this one, but can't be deployed for higher-TDP graphics hardware. That's where various aftermarket designs come into play, each prioritizing noise, dissipation, and flair to varying degrees.
Many aspects of the hardware industry are cut-and-dry facts that are easy to understand -- X GPU gets 40 FPS while Y GPU gets 60, for instance. One item that is largely ignored, in part due to its complicated and over-marketed nature, is monitors. Contrast ratio, input delay, response time, pixel pitch, and resolution are all important aspects of monitors, but aren’t always well understood by consumers. On top of this, marketing speak from competing vendors has inflated some specifications to a point of being entirely useless as a unit of comparison.
Due to this, monitor selection can be intimidating or overwhelming. For this reason, we’ve pulled together the best gaming monitors for our 2014 monitor buyer’s guide, including 1080, 1440p, and 4K displays.
Since the creation of gaming laptops, their performance has generally been substantially lower than their desktop counterparts. Somewhat excitingly, this has been changing in recent years. The release of nVidia’s Maxwell-based mobile GPUs introduced laptops that are inching closer to the performance of their desktop brethren.
While gaming laptops generally provide worse performance-per-dollar and customization options when compared to self-built PCs, their advantages in mobility are unrivaled for traveling gamers.
While most of us are eagerly awaiting Black Friday for the yearly sales frenzy, I found a few hardware gems on sale this weekend. This week’s hardware sales include deals on a power supply, a micro-ATX case, an Intel motherboard, and a pair of video cards.
The show floor presence was much more vibrant for Intel at this year’s PAX Prime. When we visited the company at East, presentation was largely devoted to a few 700-series SSDs, some (very large) gaming notebooks, and that was about it. This event’s booth came equipped with Intel-branded lamp shades over the ceiling lights – a clear indication of the company’s technological progress.
Impressive light diffusion aside, Intel did have fairly exciting lineup of hardware to look at: The i7-5960X had its embargo officially lifted at 9AM PST and made an appearance at the show, ASUS has its new X99-Deluxe boards powering the booth, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Maingear, and other shops have systems present, and there’s a clear push toward the DIY PC consumer. A huge step in the direction we all want to move.
ASUS has announced that the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q we saw during CES is officially shipping at the end of August. It's a fair bit later than the Q2 target they were shooting for, but if all goes to plan, it will be here shortly. This is the first WQHD screen to use NVIDIA's G-Sync. The 27" monitor will feature a 144Hz refresh rate at 2560x1440 for normal 2D viewing; the Swift PG278Q drops to 120Hz in 3D mode. It also has a response time of 1ms (GTG) and 2xUSB 3.0 ports in addition to the DisplayPort 1.2 input.
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