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Old 16th Dec 2013, 09:16   #1
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HIS Radeon R9 270X IceQ X2 Turbo Boost Review

We put HIS's R9 270X through its paces to see how effective its cooler and factory overclock are.
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/gra...turbo-review/1
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 09:57   #2
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Definitely seems to be a good value move as it holds it's own against the GTX760 and is quite a bit cheaper. I don't think we'll see the GTX760 come down much further in price and so eyes on the next gen of nVidia cards.

Tell me something though, at 1080 res are we starting to see 2GB of memory being maxed out by newer games? Should gamers be looking for 3GB (am I right in thinking you need a memory bandwidth of 384 to use 3GB?) and 4GB cards instead if we want our cards to live longer than the next 12 months? Also, can someone just briefly explain again about the limits factored in by the memory bandwidth as I seem to remember previous comments about a memory bandwidth of 256 not being able to use all of 4GB of memory.

Sorry if the questions are a little convoluted and interlinking.
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 10:21   #3
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270x will not play most new releases on high settings in 12months so its not really relivent if it had 3gb or 4gb of ram that would not change much it simply lacks the gpu grunt to do that task.

Its crysis 3 results are pretty poor really 32fps is below what id accept. 36fps in bf4 is basically sub 30fps in 64 player multi for the record so your already not really getting playable fps. Bit has always said 30fps is enough I dont personally agree with that niether does a few others but thats how they review there cards.

Having an extra 1gb of vram or 2gb even would do little for this card.
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 11:03   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog View Post
Tell me something though, at 1080 res are we starting to see 2GB of memory being maxed out by newer games?
Others may disagree, but i would say the GPU is holding things back more than the amount of RAM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog View Post
Should gamers be looking for 3GB (am I right in thinking you need a memory bandwidth of 384 to use 3GB?) and 4GB cards instead if we want our cards to live longer than the next 12 months? Also, can someone just briefly explain again about the limits factored in by the memory bandwidth as I seem to remember previous comments about a memory bandwidth of 256 not being able to use all of 4GB of memory.
To access all 3GB in one cycle you would need 384bit bus, as each RAM module uses a 32bit bus AFAIK. You can get cards with more ram like you say with a 256bit bus and 4GB ram, but the ram modules will split the bus between them.
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 11:26   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
To access all 3GB in one cycle you would need 384bit bus, as each RAM module uses a 32bit bus AFAIK. You can get cards with more ram like you say with a 256bit bus and 4GB ram, but the ram modules will split the bus between them.
Correct me if I am wrong but then does that mean that the RAM refreshes on alternate cycles? I mean the Titan has 6GB RAM and a bus speed of 384bit so does 3GB get refreshed and then the other 3GB on the next cycle and so on...?
Is this a massive hindrance to GPU performance or something that is virtually insignificant?
I've never really paid much attention to the inner workings of GPU RAM and it's performance attributes.
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 12:07   #6
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Someone maybe able to confirm or correct me if i have it wrong, but yes a Titan can only address 3GB of its 6GB per clock cycle and has the same memory bandwidth as a 780 with 3GB of 288.4 GB/sec

As for if its a hindrance to GPU performance someone with more experience than me is going to have answer that one, sorry.
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 15:59   #7
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Quiet day today then...
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 18:49   #8
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Awesome review as usual. I like how it performs against GTX 760 but I would have preferred them make it a 3GB version instead of 2GB so people have more headroom when gaming on higher resolution. Why? Well it seems like 2GB is almost getting maxed out. And the cooler is just awesome.
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Old 16th Dec 2013, 19:22   #9
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I guess until Bit-Tech can get their hands on a 2GB and a 4GB version of the same card, we won't know for sure whether it is these mid range GPUs that are being maxed out or the RAM.
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Old 17th Dec 2013, 02:46   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog View Post
Tell me something though, at 1080 res are we starting to see 2GB of memory being maxed out by newer games?
Apologies for the late reply, but at 1080p I would say that 2GB of VRAM is currently not a performance limit by itself. As others have pointed out, the various other specs of GPUs like the 270X are going to limit it before the 2GB does, especially at this resolution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog View Post
Should gamers be looking for 3GB (am I right in thinking you need a memory bandwidth of 384 to use 3GB?) and 4GB cards instead if we want our cards to live longer than the next 12 months? Also, can someone just briefly explain again about the limits factored in by the memory bandwidth as I seem to remember previous comments about a memory bandwidth of 256 not being able to use all of 4GB of memory.
Whether gamers should be looking at 3GB/4GB cards is honestly hard to say. Such cards usually come with more powerful GPUs anyway, so if you want it to last longer then the standard advice of investing more holds true. But whether you should get a 4GB version of the GTX 770 or R9 270X is where it gets a little trickier - I haven't tested either but right now I reckon you'd see zero difference at 1080p. That said, since both consoles now have 8GB of memory theoretically available to the APUs (less once other system resources are accounted for, but still plenty more than 2GB), we could see games starting to be developed that benefit from more than 2GB, which would carry over into the PC space. That said, the actual console APUs are relatively underwhelming compared to most modern GPUs, so it all depends how well developers are able to optimise games for the hardware available to them. It's an annoying case of having to wait and see.

As for the rest, understanding the inner workings of memory is certainly tricky business, and I'm certainly no expert, so I am open to corrections. I also apologise if anything I say is already obvious to anyone, it just helps me to explain things a certain way! Nevertheless.. firstly, it's not really right to talk about RAM refreshes in the sense that you do. Refreshing the memory is the electronic process of refreshing the charges in the memory so that data is preserved. It's separate from the read/write operations processed by the memory controller and since no data needs to pass over the bus it's unrelated to the memory's bandwidth or clockspeed. I believe it has a very slight performance overhead, but not one that matters or that you can do anything about.

Just in case there's any confusion when it comes to memory bandwidth, a card's advertised total memory bandwidth is simply its total memory bus capacity (e.g. 384 bits) multiplied by its memory clock speed (e.g. 6GHz) and divided by 8 to turn bits into bytes. So, for both GTX Titan and GTX 780 which were mentioned, this is (384 x 6)/8 = 288GB/sec. This figure is unrelated to the actual amount of GDDR5 a card has, it just refers to the amount of data a card can theoretically pass in and out of its memory in a single second.

I'll continue with these cards as examples. On their 384-bit bus (6 x 64-bit memory controllers), whether you have GTX 780's 3GB (12 x 256MB memory modules, 2 per controller) or Titan's 6GB (24 modules, 4 per controller), the entire address space (3GB or 6GB) is available to the controllers in every clock cycle, as the ability to double up GDDR5 SDRAM modules (like Titan does) without performance loss is built into the specification. Therefore, for GTX Titan, the GDDR5 will be set to operate in x16 mode (or 'Clamshell Mode') rather than x32, so the 32 bits of data can be split between the modules in each cycle.

Finally, you asked whether you need a 384-bit bus for 3GB of VRAM. It's not necessary, but it's the common and preferred way of doing things. This is because it's beneficial to the parallel nature of graphics processing to have each controller addressing the same amount of memory. In theory though, you could connect a 256-bit bus to 3GB, with 2 of the 64-bit controllers connected to 2x256MB modules as usual and the other two connected to 1GB each (either to 2x512MB modules or 4x256MB ones), and this is indeed similar to what Nvidia did with the GTX 660 Ti, which has a 192-bit bus but still 2GB of GDDR5. In most cases though, I'd imagine that the extra memory would just be a waste of money and bring little to no benefit at extra cost.

Right, that became far longer than I intended it to, but I hope that it's clear and answers what you originally asked!
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Old 17th Dec 2013, 07:59   #11
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Thank you for taking the time to respond in that fashion and you certainly refreshed my brain cycle, can't believe It's already a decade since I did my degree.
I was starting to think of memory refreshes much in the way an 'I' based monitor screen would refresh itself and wasn't thinking of the difference between a memory refresh and actual data transfer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogbert666
...at 1080p I would say that 2GB of VRAM is currently not a performance limit by itself. As others have pointed out, the various other specs of GPUs like the 270X are going to limit it before the 2GB does, especially at this resolution.

Whether gamers should be looking at 3GB/4GB cards is honestly hard to say. Such cards usually come with more powerful GPUs anyway, so if you want it to last longer then the standard advice of investing more holds true. But whether you should get a 4GB version of the GTX 770 or R9 270X is where it gets a little trickier - I haven't tested either but right now I reckon you'd see zero difference at 1080p. That said, since both consoles now have 8GB of memory theoretically available to the APUs (less once other system resources are accounted for, but still plenty more than 2GB), we could see games starting to be developed that benefit from more than 2GB, which would carry over into the PC space. That said, the actual console APUs are relatively underwhelming compared to most modern GPUs, so it all depends how well developers are able to optimise games for the hardware available to them. It's an annoying case of having to wait and see.
I think this would be a great article to put together to compare not only AMD against nVidia but also say, 2 different versions (2GB/4GB) of 2 different cards GTX760/GTX770 (on nVidia's side and likewise a similar match up for AMD) to see what difference the memory makes between the mid level GPUs and the high end GPUs when used at 1080 (a higher resolution would start to effect the GPU and then wouldn't give true memory differences, at least I think that would be the issue).

As always the rule of thumb is that more and bigger is always better but it would be nice to see some results to show why.
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Old 17th Dec 2013, 09:26   #12
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I'll continue with these cards as examples. On their 384-bit bus (6 x 64-bit memory controllers), whether you have GTX 780's 3GB (12 x 256MB memory modules, 2 per controller) or Titan's 6GB (24 modules, 4 per controller), the entire address space (3GB or 6GB) is available to the controllers in every clock cycle, as the ability to double up GDDR5 SDRAM modules (like Titan does) without performance loss is built into the specification. Therefore, for GTX Titan, the GDDR5 will be set to operate in x16 mode (or 'Clamshell Mode') rather than x32, so the 32 bits of data can be split between the modules in each cycle.
Sorry if i come across as being a bit dense, but if i have understood correctly in x16 mode (or 'Clamshell Mode') would that mean the ram module only contains half the data sent from the controller? (why do i feel like i have just asked the dumbest question in the world)
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Old 17th Dec 2013, 10:39   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I think this would be a great article to put together to compare not only AMD against nVidia but also say, 2 different versions (2GB/4GB) of 2 different cards GTX760/GTX770 (on nVidia's side and likewise a similar match up for AMD) to see what difference the memory makes between the mid level GPUs and the high end GPUs when used at 1080 (a higher resolution would start to effect the GPU and then wouldn't give true memory differences, at least I think that would be the issue).
Definitely something I've had an eye on doing. We'll see what the new year brings!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Sorry if i come across as being a bit dense, but if i have understood correctly in x16 mode (or 'Clamshell Mode') would that mean the ram module only contains half the data sent from the controller? (why do i feel like i have just asked the dumbest question in the world)
Not a dumb question at all, I had to double check a few things before posting myself In all honesty, I'm not completely up to speed on how it works, but yes, I think the data and instructions are split 50/50 between the two modules, which is certainly what the x32 / x16 mode names would suggest anyway! The main thing though is that GDDR5 allows you to double stack modules without a performance hit, which is good for future proofing - companies can and do design SKUs with space on the PCB to take more memory chips. The only time where performance could be affected is if you doubled up only some of them, so that the controllers aren't all talking to the same amount of memory, but this is all starting to reach the limits of my knowledge!
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Old 17th Dec 2013, 10:58   #14
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Mid range the problem is a 4gb 760 costs about the same as a higher performing 770 and that 770 will always be faster in every game at 1080p. So you would surely buy the 770 in that case.

If somebody could sell that 2gb of extra ram for basically free so a 4gb 760 cost a few quid more than a 2gb 760 then you may see it been done more often.

Normal 760 is 199 a 4gb version is 259 on overclockers today. Cheapest 770 is 239. 270 is 145 270 4gb is 179. Significant cost gains which brings them up to there next level of performance cards. ( no 270x 4gb card on market so not possible to match up that way)

At the high end its more relivent but both high end gpus come with 3gb / 4gb of ram these days so not really sure even thats viable discussion anymore. As your in multi screen gaming area to really see the benifit of 3gb + ram.
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Old 17th Dec 2013, 12:32   #15
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Rollo, you may want to cross check your 'facts' before stating them as 'facts'. Scan has a Sapphire 4GB 270x available for sale right now for under 175.
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/4gb-s...and-oc-version

Also, not everything is about the price. I may well pay the extra 30-40 for a 4GB GTX760 (again you need to check around as Scan has a Gigabyte 4GB GTX760 for under 240) if I felt it would prolong the life of the card as a whole. Yes the extra may take it up to the GTX770 price range but they are limited to 2GB once again for that money and we are then back to the question of 'Is it worth having more than 2GB when gaming at 1080?'.
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Old 17th Dec 2013, 13:52   #16
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did not check scan as I can not access it from work.

Memory will never beat pure gpu grunt. 770 in crysis 3 gets 48 fps average. a 760 gets 40fps. Thats a pretty significant gap in performance. 15-18% performance gap in the most demanding title. 4gb of ram will not get you close to that gap.

Bit tech actually did this test on a 4gb 680 when it was launched the 680 4gb was slower in certain games than the 2gb one. ( was in the magazine 680 phantom 4gb was the tested card)

770 is basically a 680 remember and is not alot slower than the 780. 760 is based on the 660ti which was alot slower than the 670.

At 1080p memory will not be the main issue as you will run outta gpu power before you hit the memory wall in all games.

The biggest user of memory is AA always has been always will be. AA requires alot of GPU grunt though to use. If Bit tech tested with AA you would be in sub 20 fps on some of these titles.

Crysis 3 is the most demanding game out there and it still does not need more than 2gb frame buffer at 1080p with no AA. ( AA on crysis 3 is aprox 800mb on frame buffer for the record. no AA on 2 680 sli uses 1.1gb of ram (Crysis 3). With AA the cards can pretty much max themselfs in ram usage. Thats at 1080p with everything enabled)

If you game at 2560x then the memory becomes more a factor but you will need multiple gpus to game at that resolution with everything enabled.
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