The perpetual war for supremacy between AMD and Nvidia constantly leaves enthusiasts dodging shrapnel: When you want the best video card you can afford, why buy one now instead of waiting for the better one the competing chipset designer will undoubtedly release in a few months? This leaves reviewers in a tough spot, too, as we're constantly proclaiming that nearly every new card is the fastest ever. But because you can only live in the world you live in, we're obliged to go there. So, here goes once again: The just-released AMD Radeon HD 7970 ($549 list) is the latest fastest and most feature-rich single-GPU card ever, surpassing our previous Editors' Choice winner, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 580.
Though we have little doubt that Nvidia will yank back that title with its next generation of cards, the 7970 is an impressive achievement for the moment. (It's rumored to become widely available by early January of 2012.) The inaugural member of the Southern Islands family, it utilizes a fresh architecture AMD refers to as "Graphics Core Next." Based on a new 28nm process technology and utilizing more than 4.3 billion transistors, Graphics Core Next uses a revised instruction set architecture, gives each compute unit the ability to simultaneously execute instructions from multiple kernels, and delivers an increased number of instructions per clock cycle per square millimeter of GPU space. The result, so AMD claims, is "designed for high utilization, high throughput, and multitasking."
The Radeon HD 6790 is positioned between the upper-end-mainstream Radeon HD 6770 and the lower-end-enthusiast Radeon HD 6850, intended for users running at midrange resolutions (such as 1,680-by-1,050) and detail settings. The card offers 1.34 teraflops of compute power; has a core clock speed of 840 MHz, 800 stream processors, 40 texture units, and 16 ROPs; and is loaded with 1GB of GDDR5 frame buffer, operating at 4.2 Gbps on a 256-bit memory path.
AMD's press materials for the 6790 identify the 6790's TDP as about 150 watts—more than the 6850, and approximately in the same league as the card above that one, the Radeon HD 6870 (151 watts). AMD's reference spec for the card suggests it will require two six-pin connectors from a power supply, though the company says that some models will be available using only one.
For gamers and enthusiasts who aren't willing to settle for just an ordinary video card—you know, the kind with only one GPU—the Radeon HD 6990, which AMD is releasing today, could be the next must-have product.
As the 6000-series replacement for 2009's ATI Radeon HD 5970, the 6990 boasts a pair of powerful graphics processing units (GPUs), and some of the speediest specs on the market: compute power of 5.1 teraflops, a core clock speed of 830 MHz, 3,072 stream processors, 192 texture units, 64 ROPs, and 4GB of GDDR5 frame buffer running a long a 5-Gbps, 256-bit memory path. For adventurous users who want even faster frame rates, a switch on the card itself can automatically overclock the card to still-higher levels of performance.
The Deal of the Day for today offers up an HP Envy 15 notebook computer at a 13% discount. This rarely-discounted laptop features the Intel Core i5 processor, 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5830 discrete graphics, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, night vision webcam, and a 15.6-inch LED backlit BrightView display. When all is said and done, after entering the HP promo code, what you end up with is the best price currently for the 1080p Envy 15.
Just came across this Newegg deal on the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 video card that we had to share. The card typically sells for $140, but you can pick one up, today only, for $114.99. The Radeon HD 4850 sports 512 MB RAM, plugs into a PCI Express 2.0 slot, and supports HDCP. You’ll find an HDMI out on this card, and it also supports CrossFire, if you wanted to buy two and make them work in tandem.
As always, you can find all sorts of Newegg coupon codes and deals on our forums.
Read More | Newegg: Sapphire Radeon HD 4850
We take a few moments with AMD‘s Rick Bergman, General Manager of the Graphics Processing Group, about their new Spider platform—a three-tiered computing system that helps tie together and ensure compatibility between the chipset, CPU and GPU. We talk about what sort of benefits this means to the enthusiast-class consumer. We also dive into the nitty-gritty with the new Radeon, currently codenamed the R870—a dual chip design that has two separate GPU units with an internal Crossfire link and Alternate-Frame Rendering to tie them together. I also ask about some of the design challenges realized in smashing two cards together and getting an efficient, workable result. The design is impressive and the ability to link two of these cards together will come to mean a great deal of graphics processing power in the near future.
The card will be available late January and can be powered in a typical system by a 500 watt power supply; ATI has cut their power requirements for similarly powered cards in half, without sacrificing any performance.