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By Jessica Brown On 10 Sep, 2017 At 09:12 PM | Categorized As PC Games, ROG News, ROG Tech | With 0 Comments

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For quite some time, “wait for Vega” was the rallying cry of many AMD fans. After the R9 300 series of cards (with the 390X and the Fury cards offering quite a punch) in 2015, AMD backed off of the high-end market for a while. In 2016 they released their Polaris architecture under the RX 400 product line with the RX 480 capping things off for a very reasonable $250 USD. Having had a 290/X and a 390/X in the previous generations, many fans were wondering what AMD had in store for the unannounced RX 490 card. Was this the mysterious, high-end Vega architecture that would replace the year-old R9 Fury cards? As the months wore on, AMD remained mum on the topic and by the end of 2016 it became pretty clear that Vega would not be released as part of the 400 series of products. April of this year saw the release of the RX 500 cards (a modest refresh of the Polaris architecture), but once again there was no RX 590 offering in sight. Soon, though, AMD made it clear that Vega would be released as its own product category.

As far back as mid-2016, fans were saying that Vega would be the card to finally put NVIDIA in its place. Rumors were running wild about supposed specs for this next-generation card. It was clear that the card would make use of the next-generation High Bandwidth Memory 2 interface, but how much memory would be present and at what speed the GPU would be clocked to were all pure speculation at best. The Polaris cards, while great for the money, were designed to appeal to mainstream PC gamers wanting to play at a solid 1080p or dip into 1440p a bit, but these GPUs were not meant to trade blows with the higher-end Pascal cards. Even the RX 580, which was marginally better than the R9 390X (though, to be fair, coming out almost two years later), would only compete with a GTX 1060. “Don’t worry,” fans said, “Vega will stomp the 1080. Vega will be a Titan-killer!” The problem was, though, that when Vega was finally on the horizon this year, its performance claims were pitting it against cards that were nearly a year old, taking some of the wind out of their sails. Even though NVIDIA did refresh Pascal a bit this year with a faster GTX 1080 (featuring 11Gbps GDDR5X), Vega’s performance claims would pit it against the architecture from the previous production cycle.

But now that Vega has actually been released, how does it hold up against its main competition?

Honestly, things aren’t looking that great for Vega. As the release of the consumer RX Vega cards was getting close, performance showcases showed that Vega would trade blows with the GTX 1080. Knowing that more than one flavor of Vega would be released, it was unclear which version this was that was being shown. Some held out hope that it was more of a mid-tier Vega, with the “full Vega” being able to go toe-to-toe with the GTX 1080 Ti, but ultimately this turned out not to be the case. As it stands, the “full Vega” (referred to as RX Vega 64) was designed to compete with the GTX 1080, while the more cut down RX Vega 56 was designed as a GTX 1070 competitor. On paper, things actually looked pretty good. RX Vega 64 promised an MSRP of just $499 USD, meaning it would compete with a card that was $50 to $100 more than it, giving gamers some strong performance for their money (which has always been one of AMD’s goals). In the case of Vega 56, it would mean a $399 alternative to the GTX 1070 (which is a monster in the 1080p, 1440p, and VR markets) with a faster HBM2 memory interface as opposed to GDDR5. Unfortunately, though, on paper is where everything ends.

Ultimately, RX Vega 64 does trade blows quite nicely with the GTX 1080, overall across several benchmarks, even though the RX Vega 64 has many individual games where it can be a GTX 1080, it also has a few where it comes in a good bit slower. Overall, it seems like the GTX 1080 is around 10% faster on average than the RX Vega. “But hey, that’s not too bad – GTX 1080 performance for less money!” This statement may seem like a valid response, but once you factor in the next two things, it’s really not. First, there’s the obviously higher power-draw of the RX Vega 64 versus the GTX 1080. Vega 64 has a TDP of 295W while the GTX 1080 comes in at just 180W. That’s a pretty significant difference, especially when you consider the fact that it’ll draw a lot more power than that if you attempt to overclock it. To drive this fact home, PC Gamer concluded that you could run two GTX 1080 cards in SLI and draw less power than RX Vega 64 under heavy loads.

Then there’s the unavoidable fact that you can’t find Vega at anywhere close to its promised retail price. Vega production was exceptionally limited (something we knew would happen given the limited stock of HBM2 modules) and what few cards could be purchased at launch were immediately snapped up by cryptocurrency miners and after-market resellers. On NewEgg, it’s possible to snag an RX Vega 64 as part of the “Radeon Black Pack” that comes with a few extra goodies (intended to cut down on purchase from miners who didn’t care about gaming), but even this costs a minimum of $679.99 as opposed to the $599 MSRP suggested by Radeon.

Ultimately, it comes down to the question of whether or not you need to upgrade your GPU right now. If you already have a GTX 1070 or 1080 (or beyond), you’re good to go: no reason to think about upgrades right now. If you’re dealing with older architecture (a GTX 900 series card, or an older AMD model) it may be a different story. Also, if you own an RX 480 and want to jump into the realm of higher resolutions, you may find yourself shopping around for a new card.

At the end of the day, though, if you have nearly $700 to spend on a graphics card, RX Vega 64 doesn’t really offer a compelling reason to purchase it. You can get a GTX 1080 card for around $549 and not only will it draw much less power than the Vega 64, it’ll also outperform it around 10% of the time. If you are truly willing to spend $700 and think that you can stretch your budget a bit more, you may want to consider getting a GTX 1080 Ti – Vega 64 can’t even touch the performance of the Ti, and the Ti still consumes less power than the Vega!

Still, as disappointing as Vega is in many ways, it’s kind of par for the course for AMD lately. The R9 290/X and 390/X were rather power-hungry cards, yet they had the advantage at least of being priced competitively with NVIDIA cards while offering some very solid performance. In this way, Vega feels like a bit of a step in the wrong direction even despite some of its more advanced technology that’s powering it.

On the plus side, though, AMD has shaken up the CPU market with its Ryzen processors and in that case, if nothing else, it should make pricing more competitive for those wanting to pick up a new CPU in the near future!

By Jessica Brown On 10 Sep, 2017 At 08:44 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, ROG News, ROG Tech | With 0 Comments

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The GeForce GTX 10 Series is still going strong, even 16 months after its release. In May of 2016, NVIDIA released the first cards of its newest consumer GPU line built around its Pascal microarchitecture. Pascal was a pretty solid leap for the company, making use of a 16nm fabrication process, lower power consumption, improved memory performance, and exceptionally-high clock speeds. The high end GTX 1080 and Titan X (Pascal) cards also made use of a new memory format known as GDDR5X, which allowed for a faster memory interface compared to “regular” GDDR5 while being comparable to, yet cheaper than, High Bandwidth Memory (featured in AMD’s R9 Fury cards and now HBM2 in the Vega cards). This year, NVIDIA rounded off the top-end of the Pascal product line with the ultra-enthusiast GTX 1080 Ti and the new Titan Xp, the fastest consumer GPUs ever produced to date.

While some people suggested that there would be an intermediate refresh of the Pascal cards under a new numbering system prior to the release of the next major architecture, this turned out not to be the case. NVIDIA did, however, refresh their GTX 1080 cards with newer 2017 models that featured faster GDDR5X, clocked in at 11 Gbps.

The bottom line is, though, that with the newly refreshed GTX 1080 cards and the flagship GTX 1080 Ti and Titan Xp (both of which also feature 11 Gbps GDDR5X), NVIDIA has had no reason to push out an intermediate line of cards. Pascal still remains the best choice when it comes to raw power and energy efficiency and AMD’s lackluster release of their new RX Vega cards only served to reinforce this fact. The RX Vega 64 (AMD’s current top offering in the gaming space) manages to trade blows with the GTX 1080 quite well, but overall falls about 10% short of the GTX 1080 in terms of overall performance. Additionally, Vega 64 has a TDP of 295 watts, which is considerably more than the 180 watts of the GTX 1080. Round that all off with a higher asking price since Vega can only be bought from after-market sellers now and the picture for AMD in the enthusiast space looks pretty grim.

While rumors suggested at one point that NVIDIA’s newest architecture, referred to as Volta, might make a late-2017 debut, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang has said that gamers shouldn’t expect to see Volta-based GTX cards this year. It’s possible that rumors of a late-2017 NVIDIA launch were based on the assumption that RX Vega would offer a strong enough competition to force NVIDIA’s hand. Ultimately, this just wasn’t the case. Pascal is still going strong and does incredibly well in the high-end space.

No release date for Volta gaming cards has been announced yet, but if I had to guess I’d say we might see them sometime around March of 2018 (given that the GTX 1080 Ti, the penultimate GTX 10 Series card, made its debut in March of 2017). These new cards might be called the GTX 20 Series (e.g. GTX 2080), to show more of a major generational improvement rather than a smaller, incremental one which might be implied if they kept with the current numbering scheme and called them the GTX 11 Series (e.g. GTX 1180). Ultimately, that’s up to the marketing team, so there’s really no reason to speculate on that.

At any rate, if you’re looking to pick up a new GPU, don’t play the waiting game or you’ll always be waiting for the next big thing. NVIDIA has some great offerings on the high end starting with the GTX 1070, but if you’re wanting something a bit more mainstream, AMD’s RX 580 and 570 offer plenty of performance for your money in the 1080p to 1440p space!

By Jessica Brown On 14 May, 2017 At 05:20 PM | Categorized As ROG News, ROG Tech | With 0 Comments

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For quite some time now, PC gaming enthusiasts have been talking about AMD’s “Vega” line of GPUs. Last year, there was speculation at several tech sites that Vega would make its first appearance as the theoretical RX 490 graphics card. However, as time went on it became quite apparent that AMD had no plans to release a 490 graphics card, capping off the RX 400 series with the RX 480 card. The 400 series was powered by the company’s 14nm Polaris line of graphics cards, offering great performance per dollar for the mainstream market (where the majority of the money is to be made, honestly).

This April, Radeon refreshed its Polaris line of cards and released the RX 500 series, offering around a 10% boost in performance versus the previous iteration. Again, Vega was excluded from this numbering. However, AMD has stated that the upcoming Vega GPU will simply be called the “RX Vega,” releasing as its own product line. This is a bit of a different move from the enthusiast Fury cards from 2015, which were branded as being in the top-tier of the R9 300 series of cards.

So far, there has been a lot of speculation about the upcoming graphics architecture accompanied by quite a few benchmark leaks. Presumably, Vega will be released with at least a couple variants, all of which will make use of the new High Bandwidth Memory 2 format, a successor to the original HBM that was found in the Fury cards. The cards should come in a 4GB and 8GB variant with a 16GB dual, liquid-cooled GPU having been teased.

Early leaked benchmarks have suggested that at least one of the models tested performs at just around the level of NVIDIA’s GTX 1070. The problem with leaked scores like this is that we have no idea which Vega model was being tested. Also, from experience we know that engineering samples and pre-released versions of a card very well may not represent the performance seen in the final consumer versions.

However, the RX 580 is generally seen as a competitor for the GTX 1060, so it makes sense for a “low end” version of Vega to compete with their rival’s 1070 card. Higher versions of Vega will most likely go head-to-head with the GTX 1080 and possibly the GTX 1080 Ti (although many believe that the highest variation of Vega will actually come in somewhere between the 1080 and the 1080 Ti). Yet, it all comes down to price. Even if the best Vega card can only trade blows with the GTX 1080, if it comes in at a more affordable price it may very well steal a bit of the market place from the graphics giant.

There is one problem, though: TweakTown has suggested that there may only be 16,000 total Vega cards across all variants available when it first releases due to limited quantities of HBM2. If this is true, it keeps NVIDIA even safer in the enthusiast field of GPUs for a good bit longer.

Regardless, we should know more after the AMD press event at Computex on May 31. Stay tuned!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 16 Nov, 2016 At 05:03 PM | Categorized As News, NINTENDO, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang recently discussed the Nintendo Switch some more.

“The quality of games has grown significantly,” said Huang. “And one of the factors of production value of games that has been possible is because the PC and the two game consoles, Xbox and PlayStation, and — in the near-future — the Nintendo Switch, all of these architectures are common in the sense that they all use modern GPUs, they all use programmable shading, and they all have basically similar features.”

Huang admits that the chips inside your PC, your PS4, and your Switch will still have differences. The processors will vary in design and capabilities, but they still all use a common architectural language. That’s despite Tegra using mobile ARM architecture and the other consoles using the PC-based X86 design.

“As a result of that, game developers can target a much larger installed base with one common code base and, as a result, they can increase the production quality, production value of the games,” he said.

The subtext of Huang’s comment is that developers should find it relatively easy to build a game for PC and then port it to PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. One of the biggest concerns that fans have when it comes to Nintendo’s new dedicated gaming hardware is third-party support. That’s something Nintendo consoles have always struggled with, and making it an easy platform to develop for is a key step in ensuring that companies not named Nintendo want to make software for it.

This sounds like the Switch is a developer’s dream console and should have little trouble with making games for it. Perhaps getting Nvidia on board was the best move Nintendo could make. It seems Nintendo and Nvidia have combined to create a true super console.

Source

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 11 Nov, 2016 At 02:21 PM | Categorized As News, News, NINTENDO, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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At Nvidia’s recent earnings report, Ceo Jen-Hsun Huang made the following statement about Nintendo and the Switch

 

I guess you could also say that Nintendo contributed a fair amount to that growth. And over the next – as you know, the Nintendo architecture and the company tends to stick with an architecture for a very long time. And so we’ve worked with them now for almost two years. Several hundred engineering years have gone into the development of this incredible game console. I really believe when everybody sees it and enjoy it, they’re going be amazed by it. It’s really like nothing they’ve ever played with before. And of course, the brand, their franchise and their game content is incredible. And so I think this is a relationship that will likely last two decades and I’m super excited about it.

This is a rather interesting thing to say. Could it be that Nintendo has invested heavily into Nvidia? We know that Nvidia wanted to make a big comeback into gaming, so could this partnership be even deeper than we thought? It will be interesting for sure to find out.

Source

By Wade Hinkle On 20 Sep, 2016 At 08:48 PM | Categorized As News, PC Games, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarBeginning today, Nvidia is offering gamers a chance to receive a free copy of Gears of War 4 this holiday season, though the catch is having to purchased a GeForce GPU or system.

Gears of War 4 is one of the most highly anticipated and important PC games being released in 2016, but for it to be played at QHD or 4K  resolutions a Pascal GPU will be needed.  Beginning today a free copy of Gears of War 4 with the purchase of a GeForce GTX GPU or select GeForce GTX-based systems and notebooks.

From today until October 30, 2016, gamers who purchase a GeForce GTX 1080 or GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, system, or notebook will receive a full-game download of Gears of War 4 free. The codes will give players a full game download of Gears of War 4 on both PC and Xbox One, so they are perfect for the console gamer looking to get into PC gaming.

Gears of War 4 follows the story of JD Fenix, the son of legendary war hero Marcus Fenix. After an attack on their village, JD and his friends, Kait and Del, must go out into the wilds of Sera to rescue the ones they love from a monstrous new enemy, known as the Swarm.

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Nvidia is ambitious. And I like it.

As I made my way around the giant booth, two things really stood out to me. One: Nvidia really gets gamers. They know what we want, they know what’s missing in our lives, and they know how to ‘turn us on,’ so to speak. Second: holy crap, I’m never going to be a functional human being again.

The keyword of the day was mobile, and not just in the sense of a phone or a handheld, but in the sense that, if Nvidia has their way, all your games will truly be mobile. From the handheld SHIELD, to the streaming service they’re building with cable companies, to the connectivity between your computer, big screen TV and your games, they seem to have thought of everything.

The Grid

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Imagine cloud gaming that works with your network provider to turn any PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone, or TV into a gaming console. That’s the future Nvidia imagines.

GRID renders 3D games in cloud servers, encodes each frame instantly, and streams to any device with a wired or wireless broadband connection. This means no digital downloads, no installation, no patches – just streaming.

And this isn’t just a pipe dream. They’re already working on deals with major cable companies to get this show on the road.

The SHIELD

A true portable gaming system that is also a full-sized controller, SHIELD utilizes the Tegra 4, touted as the world’s fastest mobile processor. The ultra-fast wireless is to prevent lag when streaming games, and the unit will utilize Android’s Jelly Bean operating system, meaning you can access all of the Android applications and games.

Now here’s where this “me never leaving the game” steps in. I will be able to play my computer games on the SHIELD. I can essentially use it as a controller, or I can get up and go lie on my bed and play using the SHIELD’s screen. Or I can go use the bathroom and take it with me. Or take it on the bus. Or to work. Or to my work bathroom.

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Do you see how dangerous this device is? From the demos, it seems a little bit of a quicker step than the Vita to PS4 step will be, because you’re actually playing the game on your SHIELD, but we’ll be able to compare them more after the PS4 comes out.

Oh, what’s that you say? They will probably only have crappy games? Um…look at this list. Yeah. Yeah that’s a real legit list of games right there, all the kind of games I wouldn’t mind snuggling up in my bed with until 3 A.M., with none of the neck or back strain that sitting up requires. Don’t look at me like that, you’re probably in no better shape.

I hope to tell you much more about the SHIELD when I get one of my very own. So stay tuned!

The World of Tomorrow

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Nvidia almost scares me. The GRID, SHIELD, and other technology, if successful, may change the way we game. There’s no need for the console wars if you don’t need a console, and you don’t need to buy handheld versions of your consoles, like the Vita aims to be. In the world of tomorrow, every smart device could become a game console.

And I will never have a life again. I’m sure they were trying not to laugh as I stood there, flabbergasted by the new technology they were explaining. How will I eat? How will I sleep? How will I force myself to have human interaction?

No GravatarInternational CES is the world’s leading, largest technology trade show, held in Las Vegas at the LV Convention Center from January 8th to the 11th, 2013. People from all over the world come to enjoy this epic week of technologies, geek out over the future electronics.

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To give you an idea of the size of this thing, Michael Phelps would have to swim 483 laps to travel the 15 miles of the carpeted CES show floor. My feet certainly wished it was a pool instead of cement floor. There are about 3,280 exhibits, tons of parties and celebrity appearances. My friends and I saw Will.I.Am, Sheila E, Xzibit, Lupe Fiasco, Rohan Marley (son of Bob Marley and father of Lauryn Hill’s babies), Tyson Beckford, Nick Cannon, Mike Tyson and  Snooki, but didn’t see LL Cool J, 50 Cent or Felicia Day.

This was my first trip to CES, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It was definitely a different experience than any gaming convention, and I really had to look hard to find gaming specific innovations. The Gaming Showcase, a tiny section of the show floor, was my favorite part of the event of course, since I’m not really big into mobile tech or televisions. But for those of you who are, here are some highlights!

 Cool Tech News:

  • Lenevo and 3M have introduced tablets that are actually the size of tabletops. Meant for multiple users and most certainly for companies, both of the products are going to be pretty pricey.
  • Canopy developed Sensus, an iPhone case that is touch sensitive to allow you to use the back and the sides of your phone to scroll and click instead of just using your screen.
  • A vibrating fork from Hapilabs that is meant to stop you from eating too much made an appearance. 0_0
  • VuzixM100 smart glasses: a bluetooth controllable headset that sits under your eye looks pretty cool.
  • The Samsung’s Ultra HDTV S9 was shown off with both an 85-inch and a 110-inch screen. Not only that, it looks like it is floating in its frame, since you can adjust the screen.
  • The Pebble – an e-paper watch for iPhone and Android let’s you use bluetooth to seamlessly control your phone with your watch.
  • Facecake’s Swivel allows you to virtually try on clothes, different hairstyles and colors, and varied makeup styles without ever taking off what you’re wearing or making a horrible dyeing mistake .
  • The Puzzlebox Orbit is a brain-controlled helicopter that flew around and was amazing.
  • Monster had an Alicia Keys concert and featured brand ambassadors such as Tyson Beckford, Xzibit, Sheila E., Nick Cannon and more showing off their new and stylish headphones. I drooled (at the headphones… not the celebs :P).
  • Sony showcased a ton of cool products that worked by touching your mobile device to them. It was pretty cool looking!

Cool Gaming News:

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There was plenty of awesome gaming news as well!

  • Monster and EA sports teamed up to create a gaming headset, The MVP Carbon, which also works with lifestyle products such as phones and MP3 players.
  • Mad Catz showcased the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 keyboard. This keyboard won the Best of Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award in Gaming Hardware & Accessories at this year’s CEAs. The keyboard is modular, meaning it can be taken abart as needed and rearranged.
  • Razer is coming out with a gaming tablet called the Razer Edge
  • The R.A.T.M. Wireless Mobile Gaming Mouse from Mad Catz looks pretty awesome

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As for the innovations and products that caught my eye, the  real standouts for me were the Extreme Reality software, Nvidia’s Project Shield and Afterglow’s Prismatic Wireless Headset (and girl friendly products). I have a few posts coming up that go into more detail about those babies!

However, with the gaming tech in general, almost everything else was showcased at another event or convention. The one other surprise for me was not particularly innovative for this show, but it was darn fun. The Mag 2 looks like a cheap game accessory. If I came across it online, I would glance over it and keep moving. But when I actually picked it up to play, I found it completely addicting. The gun controls your view in the way movie stars use guns in action movies, pointing the way, looking around with it. It takes a bit to get used to, but once you do you feel like a total badass.

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Speaking of BadAss, there’s Xzibit at the Monster booth!

In all, I’m very glad I attended and my only with is that I brought one of our tech or mobile writers along. I’m certainly looking forward to International CES 2014.

I’ll have some reviews and previews coming along for some of these products and more, so please make sure to subscribe to stay up to date on the latest posts!