Technology content trusted in North America and globally since 1999
8,426 Reviews & Articles | 64,558 News Posts

Helping with tech questions - TweakTown's Ask the Experts - Page 4

Ask us a tech question!

Use the form below to submit a question for Ask the Experts.

Will I be able to use multiple Pascal-based cards without NVLink?

Question by Mark from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards | Posted: Feb 8, 2016 @ 23:43 CST

Can i use more than one Pascal GPU on my motherboard without an NVLink interconnect? What performance increase would I see if i had 3 Pascal GPU's (with and without NVLink) versus 3 Titan X GPU's?

Hey Mark,

This is something we are going to be getting into later in the year, but first off - NVLink isn't something that you're going to see slapped onto the next ASUS, GIGABYTE or MSI motherboards in the near future. NVLink is poised for the prosumer and professional market, for supercomputers, and insane servers and number crunching systems.

For those who want a bit more information; NVLink allows multiple GPUs to communicate with each other directly, versus going over the slower PCIe bus. NVLink also ushers in 5-12x the speed of the PCIe 3.0 interconnect, while enabling high-speed GPU communication with the CPU, allowing them to share system memory at the same speed. Pretty damn good, eh?

So you shouldn't need an NVLink-capable system, as you should be able to buy multiple Pascal-based video cards and enjoy super-insane performance. I think we'll see some prosumer boards in the future with NVLink, but there's nothing on the PC side of things that would take advantage of it for the general consumer. If you were to use it for something like video processing, etc - then maybe, you might need the speeds of NVLink. For most, if not all consumers and gamers - NVLink won't be used (at least for now).


Will my Core i5-2500K be enough for VR gaming on the HTC Vive?

Question by André from Portugal | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Feb 4, 2016 @ 20:55 CST

Hi there. Great site, one of my favorites, by the way. I am getting pretty pumped regarding VR (particulary the HTC Vive) and I believe it will reVIVE my taste for Pc Gaming, a taste that as been diminuishing in the last years. I have a 2500K CPU (overclocked to 4.2Mhz) and a GTX670 GPU. Of course I will have to upgrade my GPU (will follow your advice and wait for the Pascal GPUs, lets just hope the performance increase is as good as everyone expects) but regarding my CPU, do you believe it will be enough? When I run the Oculus Rift Requirements Tools it says its not compatible but from my research the Intel i5-4590 equivalent they recommend has less performance that a 2500K overclocked, right? It´s a bit early, I know, but what do you thing?

Cheers, André Mendes.

Hey there André,

The requirements that both Oculus and HTC have put online are for the optimum VR experience, and personally, I wouldn't take them too seriously. Sure, you can't be running into buying an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive with your Pentium II 300, 4MB of RAM and a 3dfx Voodoo video card, but your Core i5-2500K would be plenty fast enough for VR games.


Then as you've said, your Core i5-2500K is overclocked to 4.2GHz which is pretty damn good - I would feel confident in your CPU. You've said that you're upgrading your NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 to a new Pascal-based video card when NVIDIA launches them this year, which is the biggest part of the VR upgrade puzzle. Your CPU will be fine, and down the track feel free to upgrade it to something faster - but for now, I don't see any VR titles being CPU bound. The Core i5-2500K you've got should be able to handle VR gaming like a boss.

Will my DDR3 RAM hold back NVIDIA's next-gen Pascal GPU?

Question by Ronald from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards | Posted: Feb 3, 2016 @ 17:16 CST

I have a i7 4790k paired up with an MSI Z97 PC Mate motherboard that only supports DDR3 memory. I plan on upgrading to the Pascal's high-end GFX when it launches, do you think my DDR3 or any other spec will bottle neck the new generation of NVIDIA's GPUs in anyway? Thanks in advance!

Hey Ronald!

This is a good question, and something that's easy to answer: no, no it won't. Buy the next-gen Pascal GPU without any worries.


Done? Yeah, we are - but I'll explain a little. Your system RAM won't hold you back at all, and this would apply to both next-gen AMD and NVIDIA cards. If you had DDR2, then we might have a different answer - but that would be more because of the older CPU and motherboard you'd have, and not the DDR2 RAM itself.

DDR3 won't hold you back, and you have a pretty damn good CPU with your Core i7-4790K, too. You can rest assured, that any Pascal-based GPU from NVIDIA is going to work absolutely fine in your system, without any bottlenecking. The only bottlenecking to speak of, would be from your CPU - but there aren't many games that are CPU bound these days.

Should I upgrade my Radeon HD 7970 Crossfire GPUs to an R9 380X?

Question by George from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards | Posted: Feb 10, 2016 @ 16:18 CST

Hi I have the fx8350 @4.5 GHz and 16gig's of RAM and two hd7970's. My question should I upgrade my gpu to the r9 380 x 8 gig of RAM or is there a better option also will my cpu hinder performance

Hey there George,

Right now, I would hold off. Your current GPU setup with the 2 x Radeon HD 7970s in Crossfire is still mighty powerful - while in some games you'll notice an increase in performance in some games. The increase in games would come from the crappy Crossfire support in some games, but with games with great multi-GPU support, the HD 7970s in CF would still be a great rig.


What I would recommend, is selling your cards and upgrading to the R9 380X (if you really have an upgrade bug) - but then, you could wait for the new Polaris cards coming later in the year. If it were 100% up to me, I would wait for Polaris and then see how your upgrade path goes from there.

As for the CPU, the AMD FX-8350 @ 4.5GHz is more than enough for today. The FX-8350 @ stock is great but at 4.5GHz? You're fine in the CPU department. Any GPU upgrade won't be affected by the CPU upgrade, and if you don't upgrade - your FX-8350 @ 4.5GHz is going to be more than fine.

I'm not going to be gaming, which Z170-based motherboard should I buy?

Question by Slack from Australia | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Motherboards | Posted: Jan 29, 2016 @ 22:07 CST

Thinking of getting a Z170 motherboard with an Intel i7 on board for calculations. I don't need a graphics board as the in-built i7 graphics will do me (and the calculations I am doing cannot benefit from any video card computing). Is there a good quality motherboard out there that isn't for 'gamers'?

Hey there Slack,

Yes, yes there are. If you're getting an Intel Core i7 processor and don't need a beefy GPU, then a 'non-gaming' motherboard will be fine. ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI and all of the other motherboard manufacturers all make great gaming motherboards, but they all make awesome 'non-gaming' motherboards, too.


I'd recommend something like the ASUS Z170-A, which is right up your alley. It arrives with the Intel Z170 chipset, ready for that beasty Core i7-6700K. You still get some premium features as our Motherboard guru Steven Bassiri says, with USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C, a 32Gbps M.2 port for a super-quick storage solution, and Intel GbE. There's still a PCI slot, D-SUB, and even PS/2 connectivity. It's a totally 'non-gaming' motherboard, with some truly kick ass features.

And the price, you're looking at $149.99 on Amazon - making it quite the motherboard for under $150.

Which VR headset should I buy? The Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive?

Question by Adrian from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Displays & Projectors | Posted: Jan 24, 2016 @ 18:35 CST

Hello TweakTown!

I missed the launch of the Oculus Rift earlier this month, but I'm still deciding on what VR headset I should invest in? The Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive?

I'm currently running an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, but I might upgrade to the new GPUs when they're announced. I still need help deciding on which VR headset to invest in. What's your recommendation?

Hey Adrian,

This is a good question, that's hard to answer. First off, either VR headset is going to have you sitting there with a smile on your face. The Oculus Rift has nearly everything that the HTC Vive has, sans the Lighthouse controllers. Oculus has its own Touch controllers coming out, but they won't be here until later this year. HTC however, will launch its Vive headset with the Lighthouse controllers in the box.


Both headsets are very similar in resolution and refresh rate, as well as size and weight. The big difference that I think there's going to be is... content. Oculus will most likely have more content, as it has the bigger name in the VR world right now. Personally, I think the HTC Vive will be the "#pcmasterrace" VR headset, thanks to the collaboration with Valve, and concentration on a high-end experience (by providing the Lighthouse controllers in the box). The Lighthouse controllers themselves are super impressive, as they're very responsive - this is mostly thanks to the two sensors that HTC includes in the package.

If it were up to me, I would suggest the HTC Vive. The Vive is going to kick some serious ass, and you get the Lighthouse controllers on day one. By the time Oculus launches its Touch controllers, HTC and Valve should have tons of games that are controller-based, giving them a serious leg up on Oculus. But, if you decide on the Rift, don't feel bad - the experience is going to be just as awesome.

Can you believe VR gaming is nearly here? I'm more excited than I've been in a very long time.

Do I need x8 ports for AMD Radeon R9 390X Crossfire?

Question by Yadin from Honduras | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Motherboards | Posted: Jan 22, 2016 @ 17:14 CST

Hi guys, right now I have a 390x and I want to crossfire the thing, BUT! my motherboard only supports PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode) in crossfire (is an ASUS Z97M-Plus) I know that, in theory I need at least both at 8x, but how much performance will be lost if I don't change my MB (I'm quite happy with it) Thanks!

Hey Yadin,

This is a question that comes up a lot, and the answer is quite simple. Yes, you will lose performance - but will you notice? Probably not. You will lose around 5-6% performance using PCIe 2.0 x4, compared to PCIe 3.0 x16 - that's something that 90% of people won't notice. TechPowerUp have a great article that covers it in detail if you want to read it, but personally I think you won't notice the difference.


If you had a motherboard capable of x16/x16 in Crossfire, sure - you'd use it. But you don't, so to take in the full x16/x16 CF, you'd need to buy a new motherboard. I don't think that the cost is worth it, as it's only 5-10%. If the numbers were something like 20-30%, well my recommendation would be different.

So, if you don't change motherboard - you'll lose, at most - 10% performance. Considering you'll most likely gain 50%+ in upgrading to R9 390X Crossfire, I'd say the benefits are worth it!

I want to build a SFF PC, capable of 60FPS+ for VR gaming - which GPU?

Question by Andrew from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards | Posted: Jan 21, 2016 @ 21:24 CST

Hi. I'm interesting in building a SFX gaming desktop to run a 1440p monitor with one of the adaptive sync technologies. My other goal for the build is having a small (transportable) computer that can maintain 60+ FPS on an Oculus Rift. The recent price drop of the R9 Fury Nano means this build may happen sooner than i anticipated. The question is, should i go ahead and spring for the newly cheap R9 Nano, or wait for Polaris "Nano" (or Pascal "1070" Mini)? My current system is a 2500k and GTX 670, so the upgrade bug is biting hard, but i can also wait, as the Rift and the HTC Vibe wont really be widely available until the Summer.

Hi Andrew,

This question comes at a perfect time, as I'm in the process of collecting parts for a SFF gaming PC that will be used for my VR coverage and articles, involving the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.


As for your upgrade - if you can wait, wait. The new cards are going to be built around VR, and since the Rift and Vive will have a few months on the market by then, AMD and NVIDIA will have a better grip around VR gaming. On the other hand, if you needed to (or anyone else reading this) buy something now, then the price drop on the R9 Nano has been a great thing, and good timing.

Buying the R9 Nano now - The new $499 pricing on the Radeon R9 Nano makes building a SFF gaming PC that will pump away at VR, perfect. You'll play games at 1440p @ 60FPS+ without a problem on the R9 Nano, it'll fit inside of an SFF gaming PC without a problem, and be more than powerful enough to handle VR gaming with the Oculus Rift and/or the HTC Vive.

Waiting for next-gen GPUs - If you wait, I think you'll find AMD and NVIDIA will better position themselves for VR with next-gen GPUs. The new cards are going to feature HBM2, which will provide up to 1TB/sec of memory bandwidth - very important for maintaining 90FPS+ on the VR headsets. Not only that, but they should be 1.5-2x the increase in performance per watt. I think we're going to see NVIDIA enter the super-small GPU market with a Nano-like card, and I want to see AMD continue their great work with a Polaris-powered Nano.

What should you do? Well, that's up to you. You did say the "upgrade bug is biting hard", but followed it up with "I can also wait", and I think you should wait. The new cards are going to kick some serious ass, and it'll give you time for the Rift and Vive to be released, and see if any bugs and GPU issues need to be ironed out. If you do however want to bite the bullet and upgrade now, the R9 Nano is a great card - and think of it this way - if the new cards are really 1.5-2x better, you can always sell the R9 Nano and upgrade at the time.

Should I upgrade to Radeon R9 390s in CF, R9 Fury or a GTX 980 Ti?

Question by Ricardo from United Kingdom (Great Britain) | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards | Posted: Jan 19, 2016 @ 18:15 CST

Hello, I am currently running an AMD Radeon R9 290, but I'm wanting to upgrade. Should I get R9 390s in CrossFire, an R9 Fury or the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

Or, just stay with this and wait till the new ones come out later this year.

Hey there Ricardo,

Your current card is pretty damn good, but I can definitely see that you want to upgrade - especially with DX12 here, and VR headsets out in March and April from Oculus and HTC, respectively. As for your upgrade path, all three choices would be good, but let's break them down.


AMD Radeon R9 390 Crossfire - This will be the most powerful of them all, easily achieving 1080p @ 120FPS, 1440p at close to 120FPS and 4K at 60FPS without a problem. VR gaming would be great on this setup too. The only issue I would have is the power consumption and heat. We tested R9 390X cards in Crossfire, where they used up to 800W depending on the test. These were the 390X and not the 390, but the power consumption numbers would be close.

AMD Radeon R9 Fury - This is another fine choice, as you would achieve 60FPS at 1080p and 1440p without a problem, and 60FPS at 4K if you adjusted some of the in-game visual settings. But, HBM2-based cards are on the way, so you might want to hold off here.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti - This is the most powerful single GPU choice, the GTX 980 Ti. You will definitely hit 60FPS at 1080p and 1440p, and as with the R9 Fury - if you adjusted some in-game settings, you'd reach 60FPS at 4K, too. But, as I warned with the R9 Fury, there are HBM2-based offerings on the horizon.

Waiting to upgrade - Right now, unless you desperately needed to upgrade; wait. The next-gen offerings are only months away, and they should offer the biggest leap in performance per watt we've ever seen. We're looking at the combination of next-gen architecture (Pascal and Polaris), as well as 14nm and 16nm nodes, and then the mix of faster GDDR5X and HBM2 technologies.

My advice would be to wait. There are some truly exciting things that are about to be unleashed onto gamers in the form of next-gen video cards, and it's going to be super exciting. If you don't end up with one of the new cards, you could always wait until others upgrade, and sell on their old R9 390, R9 Fury or GTX 980 Ti cards...

Should I upgrade my GeForce GTX 690 SLI setup, or wait for next-gen?

Question by Robert from United States | Answered by Anthony Garreffa | Video Cards | Posted: Dec 26, 2015 @ 18:35 CST

Hi there. I have 2 EVGA 690 GTX video cards in SLI. Is it worth upgrading now? I am i better off waiting for the next generation of NVIDIA cards to come to the market?

Hey Robert,

Now this is an interesting question - as not many people I've talked to have NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 cards in SLI - but they're still a kick ass combo, even today.


My suggestion would be to wait. NVIDIA, as I'm sure you know, has next-gen GPUs on the way in the form of the Pascal architecture. They will feature HBM2, with some cards poised to use GDDR5X (a faster version of GDDR5 that's on today's cards), the Pascal architecture, and shrunken down onto the 14/16nm node.

This will provide a huge increase in performance - just from the node shrink, not to mention the 1TB/sec of available memory bandwidth courtesy of HBM2. This is without mentioning the huge architectural advances that Pascal will deliver over Fermi and Pascal. It's quite the perfect storm for NVIDIA in 2016... which is only going to mean great things for consumers.

So in finishing - wait, please... just wait. You're going to love what next-gen GPUs deliver.