In a somewhat tricksy move today, AMD hosted a press conference a couple of miles from nVidia’s active GTC event going on down the road. In yesterday’s keynote by nVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, we saw the introduction of the new Titan Z video card, Pascal architecture, machine learning, and other upcoming GPU technologies. Now, less than 24 hours later, AMD has invited us by to look at their new high-end workstation solution – the W9100 FirePro GPU.

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The presentation was pretty quick compared to what we got with nVidia, but the primary focus was on computationally-intensive OpenCL tasks, real-time color correction and editing playback in full 4K resolution, and “enabling content creation.”

Let’s start with the obvious.

NVIDIA's keynote today kicked off with Linkin Park's appropriately-loud "A Light That Never Comes." We’ve been at nVidia’s GTC since yesterday, but today is the official kick-off of the GPU Technology Conference with nVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang; Huang hosted today’s GTC Keynote – part of nVidia’s annual hype parade – to discuss advancements in GPU technology, SDKs for gaming applications, machine learning, PCIe bandwidth, and the new architecture after Maxwell (Pascal). We’ll primarily focus on the GPU technology and Pascal here – I have a full-feature article pending publication that covers all of the SDK information.

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The big news is the announcement of nVidia's Pascal architecture, the architecture that will follow-up on Maxwell, Titan Z specifications, and NVLink.

Last week we visited San Francisco for GDC, the Game Developers Conference, where we interviewed AMD (content forthcoming), Intel about Devil’s Canyon, the EverQuest Next team, Clockwork Empires devs, Dreamfall Chapters devs, and more. Content is still pending publication for many of these interviews (thanks given to our hotel internet bottlenecking video uploads), but it’s time to start switching gears for GTC – the GPU Technology Conference, as hosted by nVidia.

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Welcome to another addition of our Weekly Hardware Sales round-up that I affectionately call Mik's Piks. I have been away on paternity leave, but am now back with some sweet deals. I found a Xion case, some HyperX RAM, Zalman CPU heatsink, an XFX HD 7870, and Crucial 240GB SSD.

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This is one of the best weekend hardware sales round-ups we've had yet. This weekend, there's an MSI R9 270 2GB video card on sale for $180 (yes, actual MSRP!), an ultra-wide ASUS LED LCD for $210, Fractal's Define R4 case at $90, and more.

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There's been a lot of discussion about Titanfall's performance lately. Our most recent Titanfall GPU performance benchmark showed that the game still exhibits serious issues on certain devices; nVidia cards showed severe stuttering, SLI has micro-stuttering and works better disabled, and the game is simply needlessly large. All these taken into account, the performance issues feel almost unjustified for the visuals -- the game looks fine, sure, but it's not melt-your-GPU level of graphics and certainly isn't spectacular to look at. It's another Source Engine game with adequate graphics. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing, so please don't get me wrong -- just that the performance isn't perfectly-tuned, at least, not yet. More drivers and patches will smooth that out.

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I don't want to come off as too harsh, though. The mechanics are enjoyable for certain types of players and the game overall seems 'good,' it's just experiencing some (now-standard) launch issues with PC optimization. All is survivable, though.

 

NVidia and AMD go back-and-forth with gaming bundles (Assassin's Creed IV, Never Settle), and now it's nVidia's turn to offer a new bundle atop their existing AC4 one.

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NVidia started its press release off with some overly-marketed, infomercial-esque questions, but got to the point quickly: Daylight, the new psychological thriller (we previewed this) running on Unreal Engine 4, will be included with purchases of the Titan / Titan Black, GTX 780 Ti, 780, 770, 760, 690, 680, 670, 660 Ti, and GTX 660. NVidia says the game will activate on April 8th.

Titanfall's official launch brings us back to the topic of video card performance in the Source Engine-based game. When we originally benchmarked how various video cards performed in Titanfall, we clearly noted that the pre-release state of the game and lack of official driver support likely contributed to SLI microstuttering, CrossFire catastrophic failure, and overall odd performance. We're now back with a full report using the latest beta drivers (with Titanfall profiles and support) and the full version of the game.

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In this Titanfall PC video card benchmark, we look at the FPS of the GTX 760, GTX 650 Ti Boost, GTX 750, R9 270X, R7 260X, 7850, the A10-5800K 7660D APU, and Intel's HD4000. I threw a GTX 580 in there for fun. Our thanks to MSI for providing the 750, 260X, and 270X for these tests. 

NVIDIA's GTX 750 Ti has been rumored for about a month now, and as of today, most of those rumors are confirmed. Today sees the announcement of NVIDIA's Maxwell GTX 750 Ti, GTX 750, and TITAN Black specs and internal benchmarks; most interestingly, the 750 Ti and 750 introduce potentially game-changing graphics processing to low-TDP, passively-cooled HTPCs.

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The 750 Ti, 750, and TITAN Black should all be available as of this posting (release date: 2/18/14).

NOTE: This has been updated with the launch version of the game!

During our hands-on press preview with Titanfall's PC deployment last night, we put the game through its paces on numerous GPU configurations atop our standardized test bench. Initial test attempts resulted in some frustration and hurdles, but with enough research and troubleshooting, we managed to develop a stable, reliable test bed for Titanfall's PC debut.

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If you're yet unfamiliar with Titanfall, check out our (now-outdated) Titanfall Analysis.

In this Titanfall benchmark & analysis, we look at the best video cards for Titanfall, framerates (FPS), performance of APUs, SLI configs, & CrossFire, and more; the graphics devices we tested on Titanfall include AMD's 7850 1GB (+ CrossFire), the A10-5800K Trinity APU (7660D), NVIDIA's GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB (+ SLI), GTX 760 2GB, and GTX 580 1.5GB (for reference), and Intel's HD4000 integrated graphics processor (IGP) on the 3rd-Gen Ivy Bridge CPUs. This IGP is also found in modern Haswell CPUs.

 Note: Titanfall is presently in early beta, so it is highly likely that these numbers will improve as the game nears launch and optimization patches are released. It is also likely that nVidia and AMD will release updated drivers with profiles for Titanfall shortly, at which point we will re-test the game appropriately.

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