Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Omega

Of all of the 900 series cards we have covered recently. Oddly enough, we haven’t really gotten any 970’s in. The same can be said for of coverage of Zotac cards, we haven’t heard much from them for a while now. Lucky for us they sent over a GTX 970 so not only do we get the chance to see how well the 970 performs, but I also can see what Zotac has been doing with their cards. This should be especially interesting because the GTX 970 they sent over to review is their AMP! Omega model with its HUGE cooler and a few overclocking specific features that I am excited to check out.

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Gigabyte GTX 960

We all have our own style preferences and this is no different when it comes to video cards. So when Gigabyte wanted to send out their GTX 960 I wasn’t about to turn it down enough though we have already covered a few other GTX 960’s. I wanted to see how Gigabytes offering compares to the competition, both with its performance and also with its styling. If we didn’t have variety we would all be running the exact same PC configuration and that wouldn’t be any fun. So today I’m going to put the Gigabyte GTX 960 through our standard benchmark suite as well as take a closer look at what makes it tick to find out if this is the best GTX 960 to pick up for your new budget build.

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MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G

With the launch of the 900 series of cards MSI also launched their new Twin Frozr V cooling. Sadly up until now we haven’t had the chance to actually check out one. With the GTX 960 launch setting down MSI sent over their GTX 960 Gaming 2G for us to check out. This gives us a great chance to see what their new cooling is capable of and to be able to compare it to some of the competition. My expectations are high because MSI has done a great job on the cooling front for a long time now. So let’s put the GTX 960 Gaming 2G to the test and see how it performs.

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Asus R9 290X Matrix Platinum

While Nvidia now has their latest GPU out, AMD is still relying on their 290X to lead the pack. Asus sent over their R9 290X Matrix Platinum so that we could finally put it through our benchmark suite and find out if AMDs flagship card with a healthy overclock can keep up with the latest and greatest from Nvidia. I’m especially curious to see how it performs compared to the competition in some of our higher resolution testing. With all of the fuss about memory issues on the GTX 970 it will be great to see how AMDs current flagship card is holding up.

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Asus GTX 980 Strix

The final piece needed to get our In Win D-Frame Mini build together was a powerful video card that runs cool, quiet, and matches the red and black theme of the build. For a short while I ran a reference GTX 980 but quickly switched to the Asus GTX 980 Strix. Well today I’m going to take a closer look at the card to see what it Is all about, how it performs, and how well it overclocks. Going off previous Strix reviews we can expect it to run well and stand out in the noise department as well assuming the Strix cooler can keep the GTX 980 running cool.

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Asus GTX 960 Strix

If no one had to worry about money we would all be running crazy high end PCs with 3 or 4 GTX 980’s or R9 290X’s. The reality is that most people can’t afford to do that and even when they can it’s hard to justify spending that much money on just one part of their PC. The fact is even just one of those cards can cost more than a budget PC and 4 of them can be more than some cars. Because of that we have to try to find a balance between price and performance and along with that make sure there is a card for every price point along the way. Nvidia launched their Maxwell based GTX 980 and GTX 970 back in September, they are now starting to fill in a little more of the 900 Series product line with the introduction of the GTX 960 today. So today I’m going to see how the GTX 960 performs by taking a look at the overclocked Asus GTX 960 Strix.   

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Gigabyte R9 280

I think one of the most interesting things about video cards is that the performance you see from the cards is always changing. The cards are staying the same obviously, but after a launch we will see numerous driver updates, some of those include updates that improve and optimize in game performance both across the board and sometimes just with specific games. AMD recently introduced their Omega driver that included speed improvements and a LONG list of usability fixes. Well today I just happened to have an R9 280 from Gigabyte on hand. I’m going to see what sets their card apart from the competition and we will also have the chance to see how the new drivers perform as well. Along with that I am introducing a few new benchmarks into our 2015 benchmark suite, enjoy!

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XFX R7 250E Core Edition

These days even a lot of the low power cards still require dual PCI slots. So if you have a setup that requires a single slot video card solution it can be a little hard to find something that performs well and will also fit in your case. I don’t think people realize it, but XFX does a great job of creating a wide selection of cards to cover special uses like this. In the past we have seen models from them for people who need half height cards and even silent models. So it wasn’t a big shock when they sent over their R7 250 Core Edition single slot card. Really, the only question is how does it compare to the dual slot cards. If it’s anything like their past cards it should perform well, but the only way to find out for sure it to run it through our benchmark suite and see how it performs.

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Asus GTX 750 Ti Strix OC Edition

Even now that the GTX 750 Ti isn’t the only Maxwell cards on the market, I still find them an interesting GPU. Some of you may remember from our launch coverage of the GTX 750 Ti that it packed a punch without ever needing an extra power connection. Well that was the reference design; many of the other models on the market sadly required a 6-pin power connection for their overclocked models. Well Asus sent over their Strix OC Edition of the GTX 750 Ti and low and behold, it has the same low power requirements as the reference design. Today I’m going to put it through our test suite and see what a little overclock does for the Maxwell powered GTX 750 Ti.

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Nvidia GTX 980

Nvidia may have officially launched Maxwell with the GTX 750 Ti launch back in February, but I think we can all agree that things don’t get really serious until they refresh their flagship card with the new architecture. Well the wait is over, Nvidia is taking the cover off of their new cards as you read this at their Game24 event. The new card is the GTX 980, this may come as a surprise seeing that the last generation of cards was the 700 series. Nvidia needed to sync their mobile and desktop GPUs, skipping 800 and jumping to the 900 series was the way to go about doing this. Before we dig into the changes moving to the GTX 980, everyone should check out our original Maxwell article HERE to see how well it performed.

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Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285

I absolutely love building Mini-ITX gaming rigs. Every time I build a new Lunchbox (what I call our LAN rigs), I try to make them smaller and faster. Either of those along can be a challenge, but trying to constantly pack a faster rig into a small can be a huge challenge. Thankfully recently motherboard manufactures, video card manufactures, and heatsink manufactures have taken notice and have started to make things easier. With the launch of the R9 285 Sapphire jumped into that same market with their first Mini-ITX focused video card. With their focus on attending LANs this wasn’t a huge shock. What was surprising was the fact they went with the new R9 285 when MSI has the R9 270 and GTX 760. I have no doubt that the ITX Compact R9 285 will outperform the other Mini-TX cards, heck we proved that live at our LAN last weekend. Power usage and heat are also important in small form factor builds, I can’t wait to see how well it will perform.  

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Asus GTX 760 Striker Platinum

Just as soon as I thought all of the video card introductions from the Nvidia 700 series cards were over Asus tossed out another one. This time it was something a little special, the Striker. The Striker is a GTX 760 but they went a little above and beyond from their standard cards. This is actually a little bit of an unusual launch, typically special cards are limited to the highest end GPUs (like this Mars and Poseidon models), but they did something special with that GPU that more people can afford. Now lets dig in and see how the Striker holds up against the competition. 

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Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290

With all of the Sapphire cards that launched this year the one model that I didn’t get a chance to check out was their Vapor-X cards. They share a lot of the styling of their other cards but Sapphire changed up the cooling design with a vapor chamber sitting between the heatsink and the GPU and PCB to spread out the heat for better cooling. I had to see how it compares to the standard Tri-X cooling as well as the competition, so I got in touch with Sapphire and put their Vapor-X 290 to the test.

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Sapphire Dual-X R9 280 OC

As we get farther away from the initial launch of AMD’s lineup they have continued to fill in the blanks with a few other cards. One of those is the R9 280 that sits in between the R9 280X and the R9 270X. Sapphire sent over one of their overclocked models for me to check out. I have been extremely impressed with Sapphires product line this generation but this will be the first of their Dual-X cards to come in the office so I will reserve my judgment until we see how well it performs in our test suite. 

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Nvidia GTX 750 Ti (Maxwell Launch)

It’s hard to believe that Nvidia’s Kepler architecture has been around for nearly two years now. In those two years Nvidia has continued to innovate with Kepler exclusive features like Shadowplay and PC streaming to your Nvidia Shield. Well now it is finally time to take a look at what Nvidia has been working on with its latest architecture, Maxwell. Interestingly enough Nvidia isn’t launching their new architecture with a flagship card, they chose to fill in a gap in their current 700 series of cards down at budget price points. Today they are introducing the GTX 750 Ti and the GTX 750 and I will be putting a GTX 750 Ti through its paces as well.

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MSI R9 290 Gaming

When it comes to video cards, there is only so much that a manufacturer can do to set themselves apart from the competition. Cooling, overclocking, and styling are three of the biggest things that can set cards apart. Without exception MSI has done extremely well at this in the past with their Twin Frozr cooling and their Gaming series of cards. Today I have the chance to take a look at their latest model, the R9 290 Gaming. Today I am going to see how well the Twin Frozr cooling performs on the warm R9 290 GPU and also find out if they are still able to stand up to the competition.

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Sapphire R7 260X 2GB OC

Let’s be honest, not everyone can afford the latest and greatest. The mid-range video cards paired up with a cheap CPU is what most people start with in PC gaming. At our last LAN Sapphire was setup and gaming on a perfect example of a great budget build. When they asked if we would be interested in taking a look at their new R7 260X I couldn’t wait to see what kind of gaming experience you can get without breaking the bank. Let’s dig in and see what the card is all about and find out if it should be in your next budget build!

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MSI R9 270X Gaming 4G

To date I have had the chance to take a look at a few different R9 270Xs. All of the cards have been extremely similar for the most part with most of the differences coming from small overclocks and their different cooling designs. Today I have a completely unique card that stands out from the others. You see the other cards all have 4 gigs of memory where the MSI R9 270X Gaming 4G has 4 gigs of memory. Today I’m going to see how the difference in memory affects the performance in our benchmark suite.

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XFX R9 290 Double Dissipation Edition

Out of last year’s AMD cards there was one card that stood above the rest with an all metal custom cooler. That was the double dissipation HD 7970 from XFX. This year there is a lot more competition and XFX has changed their design once again. I’m excited to find out how XFX stands up against the competition this year. With a black and chrome it certainly has the styling needed, but how is the performance? Let’s find out!

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Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X

Although all of the R9 270X’s and R9 280X’s that we have covered have been extremely exciting, especially the Toxic cards, to date we hadn’t had a chance to take a look at the newest cards from AMD. Today we finally have that chance. Sapphire sent over their R9 290 Tri-X for us to put through our tests. The Toxic cards have dominated in our other reviews so I am extremely interested in how well the 290 Tri-X will perform with it sharing a very similar cooling design. With high expectations, let’s jump into it and let the numbers do the talking.

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