As is its wont Nvidia has released a new set of beta graphics drivers, hot on the heels of the 310.33 release a couple of weeks back. This is being called an "essential upgrade for all GeForce GTX gamers". Compared with the current WHQL certified drivers the 310.54 release is boasting up to a 26% frame rate boost for anyone playing the just-released Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or the still-waiting Assassin’s Creed 3.
Ten years ago Nvidia released Dawn, a GeForce FX tech demo featuring a fairy gymnast as seen through the tunnel vision of someone who's been eating unidentified fungi. It was impressive, but in the past ten years extreme use of bloom and depth of field has become less novel. Today, Nvidia released "A New Dawn," an updated demo (announced last month) which shows off the power of Kepler-based GPUs.
Purveyor of graphics chips NVIDIA has followed up on the launch of its GeForce GTX 680 with the second card in the 6-series, the GeForce GTX 670. On the face of it, the two cards are almost identical: both are based on the same Kepler design GK104 chip, with 2GB of GDDR5 memory running on a 256bit bandwidth bus.
That GK104 is, in both cases, produced on the same 28nm process, and the only real difference is that the GTX 670 has 1344 CUDA cores activated compared to the GTX 680's 1536. Plus, of course, it's a bit cheaper. Since we decided the GTX 680 was good but overkill for most people's needs, is the 670 a better bet?
What's better than a brand new GeForce GTX 680 with which to upgrade your PC on a fine and sunny spring morning? Try two GeForce GTX 680s lashed together on one card. That's what NVIDIA has built: they announced a twin chip monstrosity called the GeForce GTX 690 yesterday.
The GTX 690 be on sale by Thursday, apparently, although the lack of online reviews and apparent paucity of sample availability suggests that if you do want to buy one, there may be a bit of a queue.
Or will there?
If you have a GeForce card you might want to grab the latest batch of beta drivers from the Nvidia site. Nvidia say they'll deliver a performance boost in Skyrim of up to 20%, which is nice, but the Nvidia FXAA functionality is perhaps a more interesting addition. That'll allow us to force a faster form of anti-aliasing across hundreds of games from the Nvidia control panel. The new shader-based antialiasing function should help to smooth out edges at speeds "60% faster than 4xMSAA."
Graphics vendor NVIDIA has launched a limited edition version of its sub-£200 GeForce GTX 560Ti card, which features more shader cores and a wider memory bus than a standard version. It's not entirely clear how limited the production run is – although the card won't be on sale in all regions - but the GeForce GTX 560Ti 448 Edition is available from today, and reviews are appearing across the web.
Zotac, Inno3D, EVGA, Palit, Gainward, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI will all have their own spins on the 560Ti 448 for sale, with prices starting at around £240/$289. That compares to about £180/$240 for a standard GTX 560Ti, the likes of which we recommend in the current PC Gamer Rig.
Should you grab one while you can?
Here's a quick heads up for anyone running an Nvidia card. New GeForce 290.36 Beta drivers have been released that add ambient occlusion support for Skyrim and Modern Warfare 3. Screen flickering and triangular artifacts in Battlefield 3 should also be fixed by the new drivers, and Nvidia recommend the update to Batman: Arkham City players. The update streamlines PhysX support, so players experiencing performance problems in Arkham City might want to give this a download.
The Skyrim and Modern Warfare 3 ambient occlusion settings can be turned on via the Nvidia control panel. You'll find instructions on how to enable the advanced shadowing effect on the Nvidia site where the new beta are now available to download. You'll find the full release notes below.
Our compatriots over at MaximumPC.com have given outstanding marks to Nvidia's newest mid-range graphics card, which trounces the Radeon HD 5850 in most tests.
"Built on a cut-down version of Nvidia’s high-end, DirectX 11 GPU, this card posted eyebrow-raising benchmarks, pretty much putting it into a class of its own."
Click here to read the full review and benchmark tests.