Unlike many of the other big names in the consumer and gaming graphics card industry who produce products based on GPUs from both the green and red teams, EVGA exclusively works with nVidia. This shows in their product offerings as they offer a relatively large number of product variants per GPU. Specifically within their GTX 670 line, there are two non-reference series of products: FTW and Superclocked+. EVGA's nomenclature can get bit confusing between these two series of products as they overlap in cost, factory clock speeds and memory size.
The video card from EVGA we're looking at today is the GeForce GTX 670 FTW LE 2GB. To easily understand where it fits in EVGA's lineup, it their entry level non-reference design offering that's one step higher than the basic reference design. With the term FTW (for the win) in it's name, you'd probably assume that this is one of EVGA's higher end cards. You would be semi-right, as the FTW (and FTW SIG2) version are EVGA's top 2GB GTX 670 products. It's the LE suffix that denotes the lower end of the scale. To me, FTW LE is an oxymoron.
Next in our series of video cards review is a product from ASUS. As a large tier-1 hardware manufacturer, ASUS is both a partner of AMD and nVidia for its graphics products. Today we'll be looking at one of ASUS' high end nVidia GeForce GTX 680 based products. One step below the flagship of ASUS' GTX 680 series, the GTX680-DC2O-2GD5 has most of the same ASUS exclusive features as their top dog: the DirectCU II cooler and 10 power phases coupled with the DIGI+ VRM. The only difference is a smaller factory overclock.
At first glance, the GTX680-DC2O-2GD5 is a beast. While most high end gaming video cards are now dual slot designs, ASUS' GTX 680 is even beefier with a three slot height. Browsing the flagship products from ASUS' other product lines reveals a consistent colour scheme of black with red accents. This GTX 680 is no different with most of the video card in black, including the fans, the metal shroud and the PCB. The shroud is adorned with a car-like set of red racing stripes.
Instead of releasing a plain-jane GIGABYTE branded reference design video card for its volume GeForce GTX 670 product, GIGABYTE injected its own style into its offering. Like the headlining products across the whole GIGABYTE GeForce 600 series, its top of the line GTX 670 product features a WINDFORCE cooler. Two iterations of the WINDFORCE cooler are available for GIGABYTE's GTX 670 products, one with two fans and the one we're looking at today, the WINDFORCE 3X, which if the name doesn't already tell you comes equipped with three fans. Just at first glance, the WINDFORCE cooler covers the whole surface of the card. The top layer is comprised of three low profile fans that come fittted in a sleek and smooth black plastic shroud. Below that layer comes two large (but thin) aluminum heatsinks which are attached using three copper heatpipes.
We've looked at many SSDs here, and they've mostly been implementations of the popular SandForce NAND controller. While this isn't a bad thing, as the performance offered by those drives have been good, it's good to see more competition in the growing SSD market. The last generation of drives we looked at from OCZ fit this mould. The Vertex 3 series SSDs used the SF-2280 series of controllers, but with the Vertex 4 series, OCZ chose to go with something different. Fresh off aquisition of Indilinx, the Vertex 4 uses the Everest 2 controller. We'll see how it performs and if it's a worthy successor in OCZ's Vertex series.
Over the past year, the SSD product landscape has changed drastically. Performance has gone up, prices have dropped, and new competitors have emerged in the market place. One company that has been around through this and more is Samsung. While it's not the biggest consumer brand for SSDs, Samsung has a big presence in the industry. As a long term supplier of SSDs to Apple, Dell, and HP; Samsung has had a lot of experience building and designing SSDs. Today we'll be looking at one of Samsung's consumer oriented SSDs, the 256GB 830 series, to see how it compares.
Now that circuitREMIX has a new writer on staff, we're starting to focus more on cases. Over the next few months, you can expect to see reviews of cases here from a variety of manufacturers. We are currently working on tweaking and updating our case testing and review format based on user input, so if you have any suggestions feel free to comment and let us know.
Starting off our series of case reviews is a mid-tower gaming case from RAIDMAX. While they're probably not one of the first brands you'd think of (at least in the North American market), RAIDMAX has been around since 1988. Branding themselves as a budget-gaming oriented company, we'll be looking at their Raptor case to see if it fits this mould. With a flashy and sleek design, the Raptor looks the part, but we'll see if it's worthy for your gaming rig build.
Hot on the heels of the Radeon HD 7970 GHZ Edition launch, AMD announced price cuts to the Radeon HD 7000 series. These price cuts were implemented to help make the standard 7970 competitive from a value standpoint against video cards using nVidia's GeForce GTX 670 and 680 GPUs. However, price isn't the only major factor at hand. Extra performance always helps with sales numbers, and before the 7970GE was released, many manufacturers took it into their own hands to provide a speed boost to the vanilla 7970 in the form of factory overclocking. Today we're looking at such a video card from Diamond, who has traditionally offered graphics products with an emphasis on low price. That video card in our test lab is Diamond's Radeon HD 3GB 7970 Doub
Hot on the heels of our last series of SSD reviews, we're featuring another mini-roundup. This time, we're looking at four drives in the 120-128GB capacity range. Focusing on performance on both the PC and Mac platforms, we have SSDs from Crucial, Kingston, OCZ and Other World Computing. While the first three names are well known in the computer hardware industry, the last has had a long history in the Mac oriented hardware upgrade market.