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Each year at CES in Las Vegas, we see a glut of new consumer electronics and a bit of PC hardware. The CeBIT show that opens this week in Germany is typically a hot bed of new hardware each year. MSI has unveiled some new video cards at the show.
The new cards include the Lightning with a core frequency of 900MHz, 15 phase voltage converters, and dual 8-pin PCIe power connectors are needed. A lesser video card called the Hawk will be cheaper than the Lightning, but specs aren't offered.
You will be able to get the new MSI Twin Frozr II cooling solution on versions of the Lightning video card. With the special cooler the card is said to be good for up to 1GHz core speeds. The Frozr II is being debuted at the show for the first time.
A David Smith of SolarisUtilityDVD has been made aware of a method to enable SLI on ASUS' Crossfire only P7P55D motherboard which might be of interest to those of you with the board who wish they could double up on their existing GeForce card.
As the P7P55D Deluxe board comes with SLI support (albeit at a fair bit higher price tag), it was as simple as getting into a hex editor, comparing the deluxe board's BIOS to the vanilla variant and copying the required string across to the current BIOS.
For the end user, the hack is as simple as updating your BIOS with one which has been modified to include the SLIC string that enables the support on the board.
The BIOS that was used to be modified for SLI support was 1207, There's a pile of download links for it at the source.
When ATI first talked about the new HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 video card there were lots of gamers out there salivating at the thought of gaming with six monitors. If you are like me you probably also worried about the monitor bezels mucking things up.
The Eyefinity system has been tested and overall it sounds very sweet indeed. However, the bezels did cause an issue where some of the scene was behind the bezel. Bezels aside, the tech is described as "immersive."
The Eyefinity tech renders the entire image and then spans it across all the screens meaning some of the image is naturally going to be missed thanks to LCD bezels. This can be a big deal if that missing section of the scene is an enemy.
The folks at Plaza.fi have obtained both a CAD drawing along with performance expectations of ASUS' suped up Republic of Gamers Ares graphics card which is basically a custom-designed HD 5970 which as many bells and whistles ASUS could jam into it.
This upcoming limited edition model uses two Radeon HD 5870 GPUs with 1600 stream processors each, whilst the core and memory clock remains the same as the HD 5870 at 850MHz / 1200MHz (up from the stock 725/1000MHz on a stock HD 5970). On the subject of memory, ASUS also doubled the memory with 4GB of it residing here.
As the CAD drawing above indicates, the card sticks with a single PCB whilst the cooling system is what mostly catches the eye; not too dissimilar to what NVIDIA uses for its current top-end dual GPU based GTX 295 with a centrally positioned fan which pushes air onto copper GPU blocks on both sides. This overall fan design looks pretty mean and chunky and is said to be quieter than AMD's reference HD 5970 cooler as well while no doubt being more effective.
A graph shared out over at Plaza.fi also gives a 3DMark Vantage result with the Ares, comparing it to a stock HD 5970. According to this result it is almost 30% quicker.
There are two main downsides to a card like this. The first is power draw; the card requires two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors as well as a 6-pin and will inevitably chew through the power a good rate more than a stock HD 5970 which is already a very hungry card. Next of course is the price; being a limited edition run and a member of ASUS' ROG series, you'll be digging deep to pay out for one of these once they reach the market, that is if you can find one.
In now knowing when NVIDIA plans to unveil its GTX 400 Series (based on Fermi/GF100), which happens to be at PAX 2010 next month (March 26 to be exact), information is beginning to trickle out as to the underlying specs on the GTX 470 and 480 cards, in turn helping give a better perspective on the performance expectations of the models.
NVIDIAs next-gen GF100 silicon physically has 512 CUDA cores, 16 geometry units, 64 TMUs, 48 ROPs and a 384-bit GDDR5 memory interface. GTX 480 will of course be without limits and make use of every bit of this power in all regards. GTX 470 is of course a cut-down lower priced variant, but we're not yet sure in which areas and by how much NVIDIA will restrict it.
DonanimHaber gets a hint by sources that the GTX 470 may be limited to 448 or possibly 480 CUDA cores and have a narrower memory interface, down to maybe 320-bit. Clock speeds on the core/memory will likely take a bit of a drop as well. This card is said to have a power draw of around 300W and perform somewhere in between the HD 5850 and 5870.
The GTX 480 is being promised to give comparable performance to the current dual-GPU equipped GTX 295, but is of course a single GPU card. A recent store listing for this card popped up for pre-order which indicated pricing at $699 USD.
Filling the final void in its HD 5800 series of graphics cards, AMD has today released the HD 5830 to market. This card is priced a good bit lower than the HD 5850 at under $250 but promises significantly better performance than the HD 5770, the next model beneath it. Certainly it has its place in the market providing AMD get the price vs. performance ratio right.
To help answer that, there's a horde of reviews now floating about on the web, including our own on the ATI reference model which looks at it in stock and overclocked form as well as comparing it to the two models above and beneath it in AMD's lineup, the HD 5850 and HD 5770 to see how well it nestles into this position.
I'm sure after looking over the results many of you will be keen to get your hands on one when factoring in the good drop in price vs. the 5850. The potential problem with this is stock. Word is that the supply is short and distributers just aren't getting the quantities they want. Time will tell how badly this will affect the success of the model depending on whether or not AMD can get enough cards shipped out.
Stay tuned for more articles from Shane on the model in the coming days, including one where we Crossfire two of them to see how well they play ball together.
As we just heard the other day, NVIDIA finally let everyone know of its plans to unveil its next-gen GTX400 (Fermi) series graphics cards on March 26 (during PAX 2010). That's the big day most of us are holding out for so we can get a better perspective on just how well it'll deliver performance wise.
However, the company is certainly not in pause until such time. It is continuing to refresh its somewhat mundane GeForce 300 series of products and has just released some OEM-only cards in the form of the GeForce GT 320, 330 and 340. The folks at Hexus nabbed a picture of the GT 340, as seen below :-
Running over the GT 340s specs, its GPU is clocked at 550MHz with options of 512 and 1GB GDDR5 memory clocked at 3400MHz effectively, whilst the 96 stream processors are clocked at 1340MHz. Hexus ascertain from this information that the card is basically a re-branded GT 240 which was a 40nm DX 10.1 based card that launched in 2009.
Looking at the specs of the lower performing GT 330 and 320 cards, these also appear to be re-branded models simply based on older architecture like the GT 340.
So, the emerging pattern for the GT300 series seems to be a concoction of rebranded or slightly tweaked GT200 series parts.
So, as it turns out, NVIDIA's hyped up announcement which was anticipated to be relating to its upcoming GTX 400 (Fermi) series graphics card line-up has come and gone, but only ended up being an announcement letting us know when the official announcement of the cards would take place.
NVIDIA plans for the unveiling to be at PAX 2010 which runs from March 26th through 28th. With that said, the cards likely won't reach us in retail form until mid to late April; possibly longer.
In wanting to do a bit more digging for info on exactly what will take place come PAX 2010, our VGA man Shane Baxtor has pushed to find out directly from the horse's mouth over at his Blog site. He was able to ascertain from the feedback that during PAX 2010 NVIDIA will launch their next-gen DX11 desktop graphics cards. But we're yet to hear of what date/time exactly that will be.
eVGA has released the latest in its series of SLI Enhancement patches today which supports SLI users by giving superior SLI performance and wider support in the latest games.
This new SLI Enhancement patch is based on the GeForce 196.21 driver and it enables SLI support for Aliens vs. Predator in all DirectX models as well as Zombie Driver. There is also improved SLI performance to be had when using this update for Mass Effect 2.
You can download it for Windows XP, Vista and 7 over at this webpage.
Sapphire has just released a couple attractive HD 5850 based graphics cards to market which help them stand out amongst the crowd. They have launched HD 5850s under both their Vapor-X and TOXIC series naming which give out-of-the-box overclocked speeds and superior cooling designs.
Both cards use Sapphire's exclusive Vapor-X cooler design which is said to drop temps by as much as 15c as well as being 10dB quieter than stock models.
Where the two cards differ is in the factory overclocked rates. The Vapor-X takes a bump on the GPU to 735MHz and the memory to 1050MHz (4200MHZ effective), whilst the TOXIC is a step up again with a 765MHz core and 1125MHz (4500MHz effective) memory clock.
We have the meaner TOXIC sample in our labs right now and are in the midst of seeing what it's capable of when pushed to the limits. Expect our review online by early next week!
For more info on the two cards, check out Sapphire's official PR here.