Timid Fury

Timid Fury

posted in: Technology News | 0

The AMD Radeon Fury X isn’t exactly the $649 USD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti killer that AMD hoped for.

The Radeon R9 Fury X is a big advance over the last-gen R9 290X, and it’s a close match overall for the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. However, the GeForce generally outperforms the Fury X across our suite of games—by under 10%, or four FPS, on average. That’s massive progress from the red team, and it’s a shame the Fury X’s measurably superior shader array and prodigious memory bandwidth don’t have a bigger payoff in today’s games.

If I were going to spend $649 USD on a video card, why would I spend it on a Fury X? For the water cooling unit? The LED lights? Why would I spend money on a video card that cannot deliver frames in a smooth manner?

Speaking of which, if you dig deeper using our frame-time-focused performance metrics—or just flip over to the 99th-percentile scatter plot above—you’ll find that the Fury X struggles to live up to its considerable potential. Unfortunate slowdowns in games like The Witcher 3 and Far Cry 4 drag the Fury X’s overall score below that of the less expensive GeForce GTX 980. What’s important to note in this context is that these scores aren’t just numbers. They mean that you’ll generally experience smoother gameplay in 4K with a $499 GeForce GTX 980 than with a $649 Fury X. Our seat-of-the-pants impressions while play-testing confirm it. The good news is that we’ve seen AMD fix problems like these in the past with driver updates, and I don’t doubt that’s a possibility in this case. There’s much work to be done, though.

I thought AMD was on the road to improving their drivers and yet to this day, they’re still struggling to get a handle on it. Again, why would I spend money on this?

I’m not content with this outcome because it just means that NVIDIA is running unopposed which isn’t good for consumers. We need healthy competition in the video card space.

Petal to the Metal

Petal to the Metal

posted in: News | 0

Now we’re all ready for next-generation graphics

“Getting closer to metal” is the hot thing in graphics these days. With so many low power devices needing more horsepower without needing wads of power, companies like AMD, Microsoft and Apple are looking for ways to increase efficiency from the software side things. AMD got the ball rolling with their Mantle API, Apple introduced their Metal API with iOS 8 and Microsoft’s Windows 10 will also usher in the era of DirectX 12 and its low level access. That only leaves one major player and that’s the successor to OpenGL.

That successor’s name is Vulkan and with the backing of several key players such as Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Valve, EA, Blizzard, Pixar and Epic Games, it promises to be right at the coat tails of DirectX 12. If you’re looking for digestible details, I suggest you pay a visit to AnandTech’s article on the matter.

We know who will support Vulkan but what will support it? Will the PlayStation 4 see support in the future? Is it even necessary? I’m sure it’ll make life a lot easier for porting reasons but if Sony already has solid low level access to their systems, what’s the incentive for Sony to support an API like Vulkan?

I’m glad the industry as a whole is doing this giant re-evaluation of software. I’m glad we’re not just stacking things on-top of established known quantities just because that’s the way they’ve always been. Apple have been at the forefront of technologies and breaking up established norms and it’s about time other companies are willing to shed away the old and make way for modern ideas.

Oh, Apple. How you amaze me

These are just a few items that are generating buzz for Apple.

  1. They’re looking to get into the car business.
  2. They secured the highest percentage of smartphone sales in the Q4 2014.
  3. The impending launch of the Apple Watch on March 9th

I want to talk about the second item, the popularity of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plaus and their 4.7″ and 5.5″ screens. We know what the market wanted. It’s in large part why Samsung phone sales ballooned during the iPhone 5 and 5S years. What I want to know is if Apple did this on purpose: did Apple purposely take the incremental step from 3.5″ to 4″ and finally to 4.7″ and 5.5″? Did they purposely drip feed the size increase with the 4″ iPhone 5 and 5S to maximize sales? I’m not condemning them for that move, I’m just wondering if they were doing it on purpose.

There was no reason not to tackle Samsung’s Galaxy S3 head on with a large screen of their own. I cannot believe that it took Apple this long to tackle the one handed utilization issues that purportedly held them back from pursing large screen phones in 2012.

Again, I’m just curious because by going down the path that they did, they made an incredible amount of money.

Quote of the Week

“Live long and prosper.”

— Lt. Commander Spock & Leonard Nimoy

A $400 HTPC Build: Part 2

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

A $400 HTPC Build - Part 2

Remember that $400 HTPC build that I spoke of last week? Well, it’s now a reality. The parts have been ordered.

 Model
CPUAMD Athlon 5350
MotherboardASRock AM1H-ITX
MemoryKingston HyperX Blu 4GB DDR3-1600
CaseAntec ISK 310-150
NetworkingTP-Link TL-WDN4800

After taxes, the build above totalled up to approximately $333. Not too shabby. Like I said before, I will be supplying the solid state drive and operating system. I’m looking to a wireless keyboard and mouse combo as well. I’m leaning towards the Logitech K400. And finally, there will be no optical drive included in this.

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Microsoft Announced DirectX 12 Last Week

posted in: Game News | 0

microsoftThere will be a new version of DirectX coming in 18 months or so and like all announcements, there’s unbridled optimism for the latest Microsoft API.

The hallmark feature of DirectX 12 is the return of low level graphics programming. Low level graphics programming –something console game developers have been enjoying on closed ecosystems — allows developers to forgo abstraction layers and execute code with better performance.

With DirectX 12, Microsoft and the GPU vendors including AMD, NVIDIA, Intel and Qualcommm have agreed to a set of standards that will make low level programming possible across different graphics cards.

Microsoft and its partners are promising DirectX 12 compatibility with many of today’s and yesteryear’s graphics cards:

AMD GCN 1.0 (Radeon 7000/8000/200)
GCN 1.1 (Radeon 200)
Intel Gen 7.5 (Haswell/4th Gen Core)
NVIDIA Fermi (GeForce 400/500)
Kepler (GeForce 600/700/800)
Maxwell (GeForce 700/800)

Great news! All my active video cards will support the upcoming API. The next obvious question is: which operating systems will support DirectX 12? It’s obvious that Windows 8 will but what about Windows 7?

Since the Xbox One sports a supported and compatible AMD GPU, it too will receive DirectX 12 support. This will undoubtedly enable easier porting between consoles and PCs.

I hope DirectX 12 manages to deliver on all its promises. Game developers need all the performance and compatibility help they could get.

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