The specs needed to just power a VR headset are painfully high, so it stands to reason that the hardware used by developers to make those games will need to be something special. That's what AMD is trying to deliver with its new Radeon Pro Duo, unveiled at the Game Developer's Conference today.
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1080p, 1440p and 4K are all so passe; the future is about VR. And to build VR games — as well as to play them — you need an especially grunty graphics card. Just announced at GDC in San Francisco and designed for developers, the Radeon Pro Duo is AMD's latest silicon slice, built on two R9 Fury X GPUs.
Where its competitor Intel has decided to cut the air cooler out of its enthusiast-targeted Skylake CPU packages, perennial underdog AMD has doubled down. It's launching a new, more efficient cooler alongside new desktop chips for gamers and non-gamers alike.
AMD's Radeon R9 Nano was the most interesting card in the company's most recent graphics refresh — not because it was the most powerful (that'd be the watercooled R9 Fury X), but because it was the most efficient, and used its power in a tiny footprint that would fit a Mini ITX motherboard. Now, it's had a pretty significant price cut in Australia.
It's been a long time since we've had to worry about CPU / OS incompatibilities. In fact, the last time it was an issue was the shift from x86 to x64, but that was largely transparent to consumers thanks to AMD and its x86-64 specification, which was later adopted by Intel. Now, with Windows 7 having just entered its extended support phase, Microsoft has taken the opportunity to drop the news that only Windows 10 will be supported on upcoming CPUs.
In the latest announcement for their Crimson drivers, AMD took steps to show how they've listened to the community and improved the user experience for gamers. "The community feedback gave us a clear list of issues," the company said.
As it turns out, performance in games is a bit of a priority for AMD's customers. And being able to play GTA 5 and Diablo 3 without crashing: surprisingly high on the list.
I've been using Nvidia graphics in my gaming PCs for quite a while — at least a couple of generations. Short dalliances with water-cooled monsters like AMD's R9 295X2 and R9 Fury X haven't been enough to tear me away. Maybe it's time to change, though; after some time away from AMD cards, I gave MSI's R9 390X Gaming 8GB GPU a bit of a test drive, and came away impressed.
You might say 2015 hasn't been the most exciting year for graphics cards, though in many ways it was more eventful than 2014. The only big highlight last year was the arrival high-end Maxwell GPUs in the form of the GeForce GTX 980 and 970. Then this year Maxwell did what many thought was impossible: becoming considerably faster.
Six weeks ago, AMD formed the Radeon Technologies Group, a subset of the company focused on cutting-edge graphics and exploring the potential of virtual reality and DirectX 12. As part of that shift, AMD is ridding itself of Catalyst, the driver brand that has been around since 2002 — and the future is all about Radeon Software.
PC motherboards are getting more and more powerful and supporting faster CPUs and RAM, gaming-grade graphics cards are getting smaller and more energy efficient, next-gen storage is getting smaller and faster. If you like building gaming PCs, and you like putting them in the middle of your living room and playing games on your big-screen TV, you are witnessing the start of a golden age.
For years, top-of-the-line graphics cards have become more and more powerful, but that has been accompanied by a shift towards more heat and more bulk — larger, hotter graphics cards like the R9 295X2 and the GeForce GTX Titan. That's changed, though; AMD's new R9 Nano graphics card is small and cool but still powerful, and it's a compromise that we think is a great one.
Technology is getting smaller. We see it in our smartphones and tablets getting thinner, our laptops getting longer battery life. The same is true in the world of graphics cards. AMD's new Radeon R9 Nano is almost half the size of last generation's flagship graphics cards, but it has significantly more computing power — it's made for 4K gaming.
This year, I bought myself an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card. It was time to upgrade. And I was pleasantly surprised to find I could buy a mini version of one of the best cards ever made. Now, I can potentially fit my beefy gaming PC into a console-sized case. But a new card from AMD is about to do small and powerful even better.