This article topic stems from a recent reader email. Our inquisitive reader was curious as to the nature of variable clock speeds, primarily asking about why GPUs (specifically nVidia's) would sometimes log slower clock speeds than the overclock settings; similarly, speeds are occasionally reported higher than even what a user OC reflects.

Variable clock speeds stem from boost settings available on both AMD and nVidia architecture, but each company's version differs in execution. This brief post will focus on nVidia Boost 2.0 and why it throttles clock speeds in some environments. None of this is news at this point, but it's worth demystifying.

With Christmas only days away, many of us still haven't finished our shopping. No need to brave the cold to rush out into the crowds, though – we've got you covered. This week we found a case, a power supply, and three video cards that are on sale. If you're looking for a gift for someone else – or just want to treat yourself – check out the deals we found below.

Elite: Dangerous is one of the best-optimized games we've tested this year, right up there with GRID: Autosport. The game is a member of the impending cluster of space sim and space-flight combat games actively being developed. Like Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous comes from the designers of a game that's decades-old, 1984's “Elite.”

With Elite: Dangerous' official launch, we've put the game on our GPU bench to test the FPS on various graphics card configurations, including an R7 250X, 270X, GTX 750 Ti, GTX 980, and more. In addition to our usual video settings tests, we ran Elite: Dangerous using AMD's VSR and nVidia's DSR (super resolution) to render output at 4K. These tests are representative of performance yield on a true 4K display. Our crash fix guide may be useful to those who are experiencing issues running Elite: Dangerous.

Video card manufacturer Gigabyte just announced its fully-equipped “Waterforce” GTX 980s, and they've set the MSRP to $3000. The Waterforce setup includes 3xGTX 980s pre-overclocked, each attached to an individual radiator; the three radiators then get mounted in the external watercooling box, which sits atop the PC enclosure. Pipe clamps, bridges, 5.25” external controllers, and mounting hardware are all included.

Insane.

CIG's Star Citizen aims to revitalize the PC gaming space by fully utilizing every system component to its fullest potential, starting with multi-million poly-count objects that hit the GPU heavily. In our very first interview with CIG's Chris Roberts – a man who has managed to raise $60 million in crowd-funding – we discussed Star Citizen's emphasis on full system hardware utilization. Roberts told us “I've got eight cores – I want to use them.”

The game is currently in alpha, versioned at version 0.9.2.2. Star Citizen's persistent universe (the major multiplayer component) has yet to begin production and is still in the design phase, though the “Arena Commander” module is currently available for download to early backers. The next module in the release schedule will patch-in FPS elements, but the game's current alpha offers dog-fighting, free flight, hangar exploration, and “murray cup” racing.

With less than two weeks left until Christmas is here, we decided to do a video card sales round-up for all of you last-minute shoppers. Whether you're shopping for yourself or one of your technophile friends/family members, we have a few video cards that we consider the best weekly buys.

In a bid to garner attention in the graphics market, AMD's Radeon graphics division has branded its newest Catalyst driver update simply as “Omega.” Unlike previous iterations, the new driver attaches a codename to symbolize the dramatic changes made to the underlying software. Catalyst Omega introduces direct competitors to NVIDIA technology (like DSR, seen here), offers greater Linux support, and hosts a suite of media playback smoothing options. We'll look into all of those here, along with some driver benchmarks.

Here's a quick overview, as provided by AMD (note that AMD's numbers differ from our benchmark numbers, shown and explained further below):

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We hope you had your fill of Thanksgiving turkey and survived the ensuing Cyber Monday sales rush. With several of the sales at major retailers ended, we had to dig a bit harder to find remaining good bargains. These left-overs would be great as gifts for the upcoming holidays, or even just to treat yourself after having to sit through hours of family torture and bad football. This weekend, we found sales on RAM, an SSD, a couple video cards, and an mITX case.

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Like many sites, our site relies heavily upon referral commission from online retail outlets. It's a fairly straight-forward operation: We help our readers build computers, find the right video card, and test games; in return for this free service, we earn a small commission on sales from Newegg, Amazon, and similar online retail outlets. It's not a lot of money, but it's something.

Now that Black Friday is over and all of the sales are reporting in, we started analyzing data to see which items were the most popular referred purchases through our site. This isn't representative of the most popular hardware in the industry – just what was recommended on our site – but is a good cross-section for what PC builders are interested in.

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Continuing this weekend's trend of consumerism, “Cyber Monday” sees the introduction of several more PC hardware and video game sales. Note well that, despite banners on retail websites, sales at this point in the year will remain a constant until the final days before the 25th. Most shockingly, we found a $160 R9 280 3GB GPU, $870 Y50 gaming laptop, 480GB SSD for $180, cases / coolers, CPUs, and a 49" HDTV.

These buyer's guides we've published may provide further assistance, in the event the below (active) sales do not contain what you're after:

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