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Our first look at Nvidia’s new flagship card featuring a Maxwell 2.0 GPU.

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We have taken a look to one of a gamers’ dream graphics card based on new Nvidia Maxwell chip. And it's unbelievable, but we cannot find any drawbacks in MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming. And now we will try to convince you of its advantages.

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Every year NVIDIA launches quite a few new products; some are better than others, but they're all interesting. This fall, the big news is Maxwell 2.0, aka GM204. Initially launched last month as the GTX 980 and GTX 970, NVIDIA is hopefully changing the way notebook gamers get treated by launching the mobile version of the GM204 just one month later.

We've already covered all of the new features in the desktop launch, so things like DSR, FXAA, VXGI, DX12, and GameWorks are all part of the notebook launch marketing materials. Of course, as a notebook GPU there are a few extra features available that you don't see on desktop GPUs, mostly because such features aren't really needed. Optimus Technology has been around for several years now so there's not much to add; it allows laptops to dynamically switch between the lower power integrated graphics when you're not doing anything that requires a faster GPU, and it can turn on and utilize the faster discrete NVIDIA GPU when needed. BatteryBoost is a related technology that was first introduced with the GTX 800M series of GPUs, and it seeks to improve gaming battery life. Our test platform at the time didn't really give us the gains we were hoping to see, but NVIDIA assures us that the new GM204 mobile graphics chips will do much better at providing decent battery life while running games. We'll be diving into this in more detail once we get our test notebooks.

Nvidia has updated its professional product line-up, promising more onboard memory and up to 40% more performance at the same prices and within the same TDP as before. We are going to test the new graphics cards in comparison with AMD’s FirePro W9100 and W8100.

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AMD is going to significantly increase its market share in the professional graphics segment. To do this, the company had updated its FirePro series lineup. In this review we take a look at the new flagship video card for CAD/CAM, based on the Hawaii GPU, the FirePro W9100.

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We’re going to benchmark the world’s fastest single-GPU graphics card which offers two cooling systems for the user to choose from.

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We’ve finally managed to lay our hands on the graphics card that is potentially the best in terms of price/performance ratio. Today we’re going to check out if the Radeon R9 280 is indeed unrivalled in its category.

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Last week we took a look at NVIDIA’s newest consumer flagship video card, the GeForce GTX 980. Based on the company’s new GM204 GPU, GTX 980 further cemented NVIDIA’s ownership of the performance crown with a combination of performance improvements, new features, and power consumption reductions. Combined with a lower price than the now-dethroned GTX 780 Ti, GTX 980 is an impressive flagship with a mix of attributes that NVIDIA hopes to entice existing 600 and 500 series owners to upgrade to.

Of course even though GTX 980 was cheaper than the outgoing GTX 780 Ti, it is still a flagship card and at $549 is priced accordingly. But as in every GeForce product lineup there is a GeForce x70 right behind it, and for GTX 980 its lower-tier, lower priced counterpart is the GeForce GTX 970. Based on the same GM204 but configured with fewer active SMMs, a slightly lower clock speed, and a lower TDP, GTX 970 fills the gap by providing a lower performance but much lower priced alternative to the flagship GTX 980. In fact at $329 it’s some 40% cheaper than GTX 980, one of the largest discounts for a second-tier GeForce card in recent memory.

For this reason GTX 970 is an interesting card on its own, if not more interesting overall than its bigger sibling. The performance decrease from the reduced clock speeds and fewer SMMs is going to be tangible, but then so is a $220 savings to the pocketbook. With GTX 980 already topping our charts, if GTX 970 can stay relatively close then it would be a very tantalizing value proposition for enthusiast gamers who want to buy in to GM204 at a lower price.

<div><span style="font-size: small;">At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the biggest story in the GPU industry over the last year has been over what isn&rsquo;t as opposed to what is. What isn&rsquo;t happening is that after nearly 3 years of the leading edge manufacturing node for GPUs at TSMC being their 28nm process, it isn&rsquo;t being replaced any time soon. As of this fall TSMC has 20nm up and running, but only for SoC-class devices such as Qualcomm Snapdragons and Apple&rsquo;s A8. Consequently if you&rsquo;re making something big and powerful like a GPU, all signs point to an unprecedented 4th year of 28nm being the leading node.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">We start off with this tidbit because it&rsquo;s important to understand the manufacturing situation in order to frame everything that follows. In years past TSMC would produce a new node every 2 years, and farther back yet there would even be half-nodes in between those 2 years. This meant that every 1-2 years GPU manufacturers could take advantage of Moore&rsquo;s Law and pack in more hardware into a chip of the same size, rapidly increasing their performance. Given the embarrassingly parallel nature of graphics rendering, it&rsquo;s this cadence in manufacturing improvements that has driven so much of the advancement of GPUs for so long.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">With 28nm however that 2 year cadence has stalled, and this has driven GPU manufacturers into an interesting and really unprecedented corner. They can&rsquo;t merely rest on their laurels for the 4 years between 28nm and the next node &ndash; their continuing existence means having new products every cycle &ndash; so they instead must find new ways to develop new products. They must iterate on their designs and technology so that now more than ever it&rsquo;s their designs driving progress and not improvements in manufacturing technology.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">What this means is that for consumers and technology enthusiasts alike we are venturing into something of an uncharted territory. With no real precedent to draw from we can only guess what AMD and NVIDIA will do to maintain the pace of innovation in the face of manufacturing stagnation. This makes this a frustrating time &ndash; who doesn&rsquo;t miss GPUs doubling in performance every 2 years &ndash; but also an interesting one. How will AMD and NVIDIA solve the problem they face and bring newer, better products to the market? We don&rsquo;t know, and not knowing the answer leaves us open to be surprised.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">Out of NVIDIA the answer to that has come in two parts this year. NVIDIA&rsquo;s Kepler architecture, first introduced in 2012, has just about reached its retirement age. NVIDIA continues to develop new architectures on roughly a 2 year cycle, so new manufacturing process or not they have something ready to go. And that something is Maxwell.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">At the start of this year we saw the first half of the Maxwell architecture in the form of the GeForce GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti. Based on the first generation Maxwell GM107 GPU, NVIDIA did something we still can hardly believe and managed to pull off a trifecta of improvements over Kepler. GTX 750 Ti was significantly faster than its predecessor, it was denser than its predecessor (though larger overall), and perhaps most importantly consumed less power than its predecessor. In GM107 NVIDIA was able to significantly improve their performance and reduce their power consumption at the same time, all on the same 28nm manufacturing node we&rsquo;ve come to know since 2012. For NVIDIA this was a major accomplishment, and to this day competitor AMD doesn&rsquo;t have a real answer to GM107&rsquo;s energy efficiency.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">However GM107 was only the start of the story. In deviating from their typical strategy of launching high-end GPU first &ndash; either a 100/110 or 104 GPU &ndash; NVIDIA told us up front that while they were launching in the low end first because that made the most sense for them, they would be following up on GM107 later this year with what at the time was being called &ldquo;second generation Maxwell&rdquo;. Now 7 months later and true to their word, NVIDIA is back in the spotlight with the first of the second generation Maxwell GPUs, GM204.</span></div> </div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">GM204 itself follows up on the GM107 with everything we loved about the first Maxwell GPUs and yet with more. &ldquo;Second generation&rdquo; in this case is not just a description of the second wave of Maxwell GPUs, but in fact is a technically accurate description of the Maxwell 2 architecture. As we&rsquo;ll see in our deep dive into the architecture, Maxwell 2 has learned some new tricks compared to Maxwell 1 that make it an even more potent processor, and further extends the functionality of the family.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br type="_moz" /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://anandtech.com/show/8526/nvidia-geforce-gtx-980-review" target="_blank">Read more...</a></span></div>
Last month AMD held their 30 years of graphics celebration, during which they announced their next Radeon video card, the Radeon R9 285. Designed to be AMD’s new $249 midrange enthusiast card, the R9 285 would be launching on September 2nd. In the process the R9 285 would be a partial refresh of their R9 280 series lineup, supplying it with a new part that would serve to replace their nearly 3 year old Tahiti GPU.

The R9 285 is something of a lateral move for AMD, which is something we very rarely see in this industry. The R9 285’s immediate predecessor, the R9 280 (vanilla) has been on the market with an MSRP of $249 for nearly 4 months now. Meanwhile the R9 285 is not designed to be meaningfully faster than the R9 280 – in fact if you looked at the raw specifications, you’d rightfully guess it would be slower. Instead the R9 285 is intended to serve as a sort of second-generation feature update to R9 280, replacing it with a card at the same price with roughly the same performance level, but with 3 years’ worth of amassed feature updates and optimizations.

To accomplish this AMD has minted a new GPU, Tonga. We’ll go into more detail on Tonga in a bit, but at its core Tonga is in many ways an optimized version of Tahiti. More importantly though, Tonga is also the first GPU in AMD’s next Graphics Core Next architecture revision, which we will come to know as GCN 1.2. As a result, this launch won’t come with a significant shift in AMD’s performance-value, but for buyers it offers an improved feature set for those apprehensive about buying into Tahiti 3 years later, and for enthusiast it offers us a look at what the next iteration of AMD’s GPUs will look like.

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