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Graphics cards

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Desktop – Graphics Cards

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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The graphics cards segment has been one-sided this year. Aside from a few refreshes in the low-end, the only graphics card of note that Radeon Technologies Group came out with this year was the Radeon RX 590. That too is essentially the RX 580 built on the 12nm process node. The RX 590 is a good card in terms of performance. However, the 12nm process from GloFo is a variation of the Samsung 14nm process. So not a lot has changed actually.

NVIDIA, on the other hand, is having a gala time. Its RTX series requires no introduction. The sheer amount of leaks and press attention that the 2000 family of GPUs received far exceeds that of any other component. By making real-time ray-tracing accessible, they have now hit the ball into the developers’ court. But the RTX series have seen a slow start. A third competitor, Intel seems to be readying their graphics cards too. Here is your Zero1 winner.

2018 Zero1 award Winner: ASUS ROG STRIX RTX 2080 Ti O11G

There was no option for the winner, it had to be an RTX 2080 Ti. This particular card that beat the rest was the ASUS ROG STRIX RTX 2080 Ti O11G. It’s a slightly souped-up variant of the RTX 2080 Ti with a boost clock of 1665 MHz and a base clock of 1350 MHz. There’s also an intermediary profile, i.e. the gaming profile which has a boost clock of 1650 MHz.

All our RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards had the same boost clock of 1665 MHz. So, it was quite the pain to establish the best. Even the cooling assemblies on all the cards had three fans, ran most games on 4K at 60 FPS and had beefy heatsinks. So it came down to the overclocking benchmarks this time. All cards had their power target increased to 125% and the memory to about 1000 MHz greater than stock.

We then started bumping the GPU clock to see which card could produce stable runs at the highest clocks. The ASUS card turned out to have the most highest stable OC. We managed to get it to run at 175 MHz over stock frequency while the others would freeze. It was a tough competition but the ASUS ROG STRIX RTX 2080 Ti O11G ended up as this year’s Zero1 Award winner.

Runner-up: GIGABYTE RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC

Coming in a close second, the GIGABYTE RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC took the runner-up spot. It’s got the same clocks as the ASUS card with a gaming mode that nets you 1650 MHz and an OC mode that goes all the way to 1665 MHz. Moreover, the cooler is open-ended on all sides with three massive fans. However, in our OC tests, we couldn’t get any of the 175 MHz runs to complete successfully.

The card performed really well at 170 MHz OC and the benchmark metrics were barely discernible from the ASUS card. This being the Zero1 Awards, we can only pick one winner so the GIGABYTE RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC comes in at a close second place.

Best Buy: Sapphire Radeon RX 590 Nitro+

The best buy is decided simply on the basis of which product provides the best bang for your buck. The Sapphire Radeon RX 590 Nitro+ at its Rs 28,500 price point offers the best bang for your buck among all graphics cards that were released this year.

It’s capable of churning out around 55-60 FPS on 1080p in most video games running at their absolute max settings. This is a pretty decent achievement on its own. It certainly doesn’t help NVIDIA’s case that their graphics cards are all ridiculously priced, making it an easy win for the Radeon RX 590.

Graphics cards

Zero1 Awards 2017 – Desktop – Graphics Cards

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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The Graphics cards segment has been dominated by NVIDIA for quite some time. We were on the fringe of seeing an all out war break out between the two rivals after AMD’s VEGA launch. Unfortunately, VEGA didn’t make the cut and it seems we’ll be left with incremental upgrades for the coming year(s). There’s a bit of uncertainty over the number of years before we see some real competition. And for now, it seems to be rooted around one man – Raja Koduri. The erstwhile head of the Radeon Technologies Group which brought out Radeon VEGA has left AMD and joined Intel. With a new technology group under his guidance, Intel is now planning to come out with discrete graphics solutions. These things take time so perhaps we might see some interesting developments from the Blue camp in about two or three years. Till then, we’re stuck with the Green camp who’ve delivered a really powerful architecture in Pascal after Maxwell. And now it seems NVIDIA might not release Volta anytime soon, instead they’re coming out with Ampere which is geared for the consumer market. Let’s look at this year’s contenders.

2017 zero1 award Winner: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme

ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme

The Titan Xp might be NVIDIA’s most powerful graphics card but it’s more of a compute card rather than a gaming card which is why we don’t see board partners coming out with Titan Xp SKUs. So the next best thing is the GTX 1080 Ti. Among all the GTX 1080 Ti(s)that we received this year, the ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Extreme is this year’s best performer. It’s a 3-slot graphics card with a triple fan cooler that’s built to ensure cool operation and has the thermal headroom should you further overclock the already factory-overclocked graphics card. Its got a 3DMark Firestrike score of 23371 which is the highest we’ve seen from any GTX 1080 Ti. NVIDIA’s reference card clocks in at around 22800. 4K gaming at 60 FPS is the norm when you pack a GTX 1080 Ti. Even a poorly optimised title like PUBG when played on Ultra setting at 4K resolution gives 40-45 FPS and that is quite impressive.

Runner up: Inno3D iChill GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Ultra X4

With a lower clock speed than the ZOTAC card, the Inno3D iChill GTX 1080 Ti Ultra X4 comes in at a close second. The synthetic benchmarks are what set the two apart, but when you look at real world gaming performance, then they are very similar. The iChill card has a unique cooler unlike any we’ve seen so far where they’ve added an intake fan on the top side of the graphics card. It’s a weird setup that you can check out later in our detailed review. For now, it remains the second best graphics card we’ve tested.

Best Buy: PowerColor RED DEVIL Golden Radeon RX 580

AMD refreshed their entire Polaris lineup early this year with the RX 500 series. However, their RX 580 and RX 480 units have been extremely hard to come by thanks to cryptocurrency miners who’ve wiped the aisles clean. The same can be said of the GTX 1060 series from NVIDIA. Speaking of NVIDIA, they didn’t have any mid-range launches this year. And since the law of diminishing returns makes the 1070 Ti pale in comparison to the RX 580 in terms of value for money, we picked the RX 580 as the best buy among all the cards released this year.

Graphics cards

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Graphics Cards

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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This was a year of much joy for the PC Master Race. Both companies, NVIDIA and AMD made huge improvements to their GPU architecture. The move to 16 nm and 14 nm FinFET design has obviously worked wonders for NVIDIA’s Pascal and AMD’s Polaris architectures. NVIDIA went about the usual task of releasing new graphics cards based on Pascal across the entire price segment with the GP107 based 1050 at one end targeted at low to mid-range gaming and the GP102 based TITAN X at the other end for GPGPU applications. On the other hand, AMD’s Polaris was only put into production in the low to mid-range segment with the Polaris 10 and 11 GPUs in the AMD RX 460, RX 470 and RX 480. While questions were raised about this approach, it did work wonders for AMD whose shares rose from $1.67 (Jul ‘15) to 8.7 (November ‘16). The entire GPU market sold a lot more units compared to the previous year with NVIDIA taking the lead followed by AMD and Intel.
And when AMD’s VEGA GPU does launch for the high-end segment we’ll get to see some real action.

Zero1 Winner: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 – GIGABYTE

graphics cards

The new TITAN X is not available in India. Which leaves the GTX 1080 as the victor. AMD has no GPU to compete against the likes of the GTX 1080 at the moment (though we hope VEGA comes out at CES if not around the rumoured mid-December launch date). The ASUS ROG STRIX GTX1080 O8G GAMING and the GIGABYTE GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING PACK were neck and neck given they both had the exact same clock speeds and all our benchmark scores were within 1% or each other so we couldn’t decide between them easily.
The ZOTAC and the MSI cards are only ever so slightly clocked lower than the other two and that brings them outside the 1% error margin that we follow. So that brings us back to the GIGABYTE and the ASUS cards. Looking at the cooling performance, we did notice that the ASUS card had slightly higher temperatures on full load. We suspect this could have been due to the fact that the ASUS card came to us much later so every other reviewer who had it before us could have possibly disassembled the card.
We don’t overclock the cards for Zero1 but if we are to consider the fact that the GIGABYTE card has a 12+2 VRM design as compared to the ASUS’ 8+2 design, then theoretically, the GIGABYTE will have a more stable current allowing for stable overclocks. But more isn’t always better. However, considering the fact that gaming performance is the same, we resort to temperature performance being the deciding factor to tip the scale and that makes the GIGABYTE GTX 1080 EXTREME GAMING PACK the Zero1 Winner.

Runner-ups: ASUS, ZOTAC and MSI GeForce GTX 1080

ASUS misses out by a sliver and the ZOTAC and MSI GeForce GTX 1080 cards end up as the runner-ups in the graphics segment. All three cards have high over-clocks, good accompanying software, and beefy cooling solutions. With each card being so close to each other in performance, it becomes really difficult to pick between the three. So when you bring cost into the picture and their respective warranty periods then the ZOTAC card shines. The ASUS card just narrowly lost out winning the Zero1 Award and the MSI card has one of the best build quality in the premium segment. So make your choice!

Best Buy: AMD RX 480 – Sapphire

The AMD RX 480 gets the Best Buy because of a multitude of factors. While NVIDIA’s GTX 1060 and RX 480 are neck and neck in most games with either card taking the lead in games that use proprietary APIs. However, given that the AMD card performs better in games using Directx 12 and Vulkan APIs, we have to give it to AMD. Barring the initial pricing goof-up, the RX 480 is now at a much better price point.

Graphics cards

Graphics cards

December 18, 2015 — by Digit0

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Nothing sets the pulse racing as a good old graphics performance showdown

The desktop graphics scenario saw a tumultuous conflict this year as AMD’s R9 Fury X ended up being a competitive model against NVIDIA’s offerings. For about 2-3 years we’d seen NVIDIA’s single-GPU SKUs wiping the floor with whatever AMD had to offer and with a financial crisis at hand, AMD couldn’t offer more than rebadged GPUs of its older technologies with little performance increments.

Zero1 Winner: NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X

Coming from a family of goliaths, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X was yet another ace performer with a massive 12 GB of RAM to boast for. Pushing the boundaries of performance each year, NVIDIA’s TITAN sure did live up to expectations. The massive RAM cluster is only one of the many signs that show how the industry is moving up towards making 4K the next resolution standard that’ll be accepted by one and all. After all it cranks out 50 FPS or more in almost all AAA games running at 4K while previously you’d have to get a dual GPU card to get the same or more. The R9 290X, GTX 980 and 780 Ti were all great performers at 4K but for the generation of AAA games that were around back then, current titles like Shadow of Mordor and GTA V will have certain scenarios where you’d experience inconvenient stuttering but the TITAN X makes those go away. However, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X is still no match for dual GPU cards or flagships in SLI / CrossFireX so you might as well spend the same amount getting two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti and SLI them to get a lot more performance.
Price Rs. 86,990

Runner-ups:
ZOTAC and ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Ti

What do you get for roughly half the price of a TITAN X and performs just about the same? The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti of course! And we didn’t see any lack of competition here when it came to brands with ZOTAC’s GTX 980 Ti AMP! Extreme coming in at second and the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 Ti DC3OC coming in at third. With a fairly straightforward condition of performance being the sole parameter for the Zero1 Awards, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ZOTAC’s GTX 980 Ti AMP! Extreme takes the crown. It’s clocked at 1253 MHz and has quite the cooling capacity to handle the heat it generates.
Price Rs. 59,338

And right at its heels is the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 Ti DC3OC with a base clock of 1216 MHz and a build quality that few bother to top. It’s 12+2-phase VRM circuitry should be more than sufficient for it to be coveted by overclockers and it isn’t lacking in the cooling department either. MSI’s GTX 980TI GAMING 6G isn’t that far behind but with only so many places on the podium, it lost out but it’s nevertheless worthy of a mention.
Price Rs. 65338

Best buy: GeForce GTX 960

The GTX 960 sure happens to be priced appropriately for most Indian gamers. If we were to look at the international scene, then the GTX 970 seems more deserving of the Best Buy award but since India happens to be a more price conscious market the GTX 960 is better suited. Comparing prices on top ecommerce sites in India, we found that these cards can be obtained for as low as Rs. 16,250. Specifically, the Gigabyte GTX 960 Gaming G1 carried this price tag at the time of writing this section but we understand that prices fluctuate and some other SKU might be better priced by the time you check the prices so we’ll have to be brand agnostic here as well.
Price Rs. 16,250