It’s taken NVIDIA a mighty long time to squeeze its Kepler GPU into something more affordable than the GTX 670, but it’s finally happened — the mid-range GTX 660 Ti is out and available to purchase for $299 on boards from EVGA, Gigabyte, ASUS and the usual suspects. Some buyers may complain that’s $50 more than the 560 Ti, while others will no doubt be reeling off their CVV codes already. For its part, NVIDIA claims the 660 Ti is the “best card per watt ever made” and that it beats even AMD’s higher-priced Radeon HD 7950 at 1920 x 1080. Check out the slide deck below for official stats, as well as for examples of what the card can do with its support for DirectX 11 tessellation, PhysX (particularly on Borderlands 2, which you may well find bundled free) and NVIDIA’s TXAA anti-aliasing.
We’ll wait for independent benchmarks in our review round-up before making any judgment, but in the meantime it’s fair to say that this 150-watt card comes fully featured. For a start, it has just as many 28nm CUDA cores as the GTX 670, the same base and GPU Boost clock speeds, the same 2GB of GDDR5 and indeed the same connectivity. The only sacrifice is memory bandwidth: all that computational performance is limited by a 192-bit memory bus, compared to the 256-bit width of the 670. Judging from those specs, we’d expect it to be almost 670-like in performance, and that’s going to be pretty impressive.
We got a taste of Windows 8 back at D9, but the real bounty is waiting in Anaheim. The company’s kicking off its Build conference with a full-on developer preview of its next major desktop operating system, still code-named Windows 8 for the time being. According to Steven Sinofsky — president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft — the company has “reimagined Windows,” bringing about a “new range of capabilities” that coders will begin to dig into sooner rather than later. As we’d seen before, the “Metro-styled” user interface is front-and-center, bringing graphical elements of Windows Phone 7 to desktop, laptop and tablet users of the future. Internet Explorer 10 is also onboard, as well as a focus on “apps” that can communicate with one another, and content that can sync across devices. Folks comfortable in a Win7 environment ought to be right at home here — Win8 is built on the same foundation, though the retooled Task Manager and Windows Explorer should tickle the average fancy.
The Windows Store will enable devs to hawk their apps to any nation where Windows is sold, and yes, support for ARM-based chipsets is proudly included alongside compatibility with x86 devices. In other words, everything from “10-inch tablets to laptops to all-in-ones with 27-inch HD screens” will be able to ingest Win8 with ease. That’s a markedly different take than the folks in Cupertino have expressed, with an (admittedly limiting) mobile OS being chosen to run the tablet side of things. Only time will tell which mantra proves more viable, but we’re guessing the both of ‘em will find varying levels of success. Microsoft has also confirmed backwards compatibility with “devices and programs” that support Windows 7, and while an exact time has yet to be revealed, we’re told that developers will be able to download the Windows Developer Preview via the new Windows Dev Center later this week. Full fact sheets can be seen in the source link below.
If you were religiously awaiting the fruition of last month’s Intel leak, brace yourself: we’ve got another one. Although Intel’s updated roadmap hasn’t changed anything per se, it does offer a few specifics. Whereas the previous schedule only suggested we’d be crossing the Ivy Bridge in the first half of 2012, the new roadmap shows the 22 nanometer processor penned in at the end of the first quarter. The Sandy Bridge E series is still on schedule for Q4 however, so unless you just have to have native USB 3.0 and DirectX 11 support, you still have plenty to look forward to. Otherwise, we’ll see you in April.
As sure as snow in winter or sun in summer, AMD has yet another refresh to its graphics card portfolio this spring. The Radeon HD 6790 is only a couple of misplaced digits away from the far more illustrious HD 6970, but you should be able to tell the two apart by another, altogether more significant spec: the new mid-tier card retails at $149. Predictably, its performance offers no threat to AMD’s single-GPU flagship, but the 6790′s 840MHz graphics and shader clock speeds plus 1GB of GDDR5 running at an effective 4.2GHz data rate don’t seem like anything to sniff at either. Reviewers agreed that it’s AMD’s slightly delayed answer to NVIDIA’s GTX 460, and with the latter card exiting retail availability to make room for the (oddly enough) less powerful GTX 550 Ti, AMD’s new solution looks set to be the better choice at the shared $149 price point. Alas, being limited to 800 Stream processors and 16 ROPs does expose the HD 6790 to being cannibalized by AMD’s own Radeon HD 6850 (which can be had for sub-$150 if you’re tolerant of rebates) and that turns out to be exactly what happens. A solid card, then, but one that would require an even lower price dip to make economic sense. Benchmarks await below.
1,024 total CUDA cores, 94 ROPs, and 3GB of GDDR5 RAM on board. Yup, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 is indeed a pair of GTX 580 chips spliced together, however power constraints have meant that each of those chips is running at a tamer pace that their single-card variant. The core clock speed is down to 607MHz, shaders are only doing 1.2GHz, and the memory clocks in at 3.4GHz. Still, there’s a ton of grunt under that oversized shroud and reviewers have put it to the test against AMD’s incumbent single-card performance leader, the Radeon HD 6990. Just like the GTX 590, it sports a pair of AMD’s finest GPUs and costs a wallet-eviscerating $699. Alas, after much benchmarking, testing, and staring at extremely beautiful graphics, the conclusion was that AMD retains its title. But only just. And, as Tech Report points out, the GTX 590 has a remarkably quiet cooler for a heavy duty pixel pusher of its kind. Dive into the reviews below to learn more, or check the new card out on video after the break.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were commending ATI on the stellar regularity of its product launches while NVIDIA was floundering, yet now the roles are reversed and we’re seeing NVIDIA flesh out its second generation of Fermi products with the midrange GeForce GTX 550 Ti presented today. Its biggest attraction is a $150 price tag, but it makes a major concession in order to reach that pricing plateau — there are only 192 CUDA cores inside it, equal to the previous-gen GTS 450, but less than the celebrated GTX 460. NVIDIA tries to ameliorate that shortage of parallel processing units by running the ones it has at an aggressive 1800MHz allied to a 900MHz graphics clock speed, and it also throws in a gigabyte of RAM running at an effective rate of 4GHz. That too is constrained somewhat, however, by a 192-bit interface, rather than the wider 256-bit affair on its bigger brother GTX 560 Ti. What all these specs boil down is some decent performance, but few recommendations from reviewers — mostly due to the abundance of compelling alternatives at nearby price points. Hit up the links below for more.
Why, it was only yesterday that we were eyeballing a dual-GF104 board from Galaxy, presuming it an artifact of a 2010 project that went nowhere, but there’s at least one NVIDIA partner that’s going to deliver exactly such a creation, and soon at that! EVGA has just set loose the details of a new GTX 460 2Win graphics card, which ticks along at 700MHz, has 672 cumulative CUDA cores served by 2GB of GDDR5, and reportedly collects more 3D Marks than NVIDIA’s finest card out at the moment, the GTX 580. The company also gleefully reports that pricing of the 2Win model will be lower than the 580′s. It’s interesting that NVIDIA is opting for a pair of the older-gen GF104 Fermi chips here, but then again, those have been big winners with critics and price-sensitive gamers alike, with many touting the use of two GTX 460s in SLI as a more sensible solution than the elite single-card options. Well, now you have both, in a manner of speaking. Skip past the break to see EVGA’s latest in the flesh.
If you’re scoring at home, NVIDIA currently holds the lead in single-GPU graphics cards with its GeForce GTX 580, but ATI’s dual-chip Radeon HD 5970 has been holding down the absolute speed crown for a good long while. Now, bearing the name of AMD Radeon HD 6990, its successor sidles up to the throne and demands attention as the fastest single expansion board you can plug into your shiny new motherboard. The 6990 boasts a massive 4GB of GDDR5, 3,072 Stream Processors, 64 ROPs, and an 830MHz core clock speed. A dual-BIOS switch will let you crank that clock up to 880MHz with a corresponding increase in voltage, but don’t expect to see much overclocking headroom above that.
Reviewers note, alongside their fawning assessment of the world’s best performance, that the HD 6990 is a massively power-hungry card (375W TDP) and one that makes quite a bit of noise while going through its herculean tasks. That’s in spite of a new vapor chamber cooling system that allegedly supports up to 450W of thermal output. If all this strikes you as a somewhat flawed execution, maybe you’ll join us in hoping NVIDIA’s imminently upcoming response, dubbed the GTX 590, will be able to offer a neater, more efficient assault on the extreme peaks of graphical performance.