With the success of Tablet PCs and the popularity of dedicated games consoles, many had written the desktop PC off as a dying platform. I am currently sitting at my desk laughing at these commentators and nay Sayers. The reason why the desktop PC is still very much alive is down to the competition between the manufacturers of PC components. Without competition development cycles would cease to move as the companies would become complacent in their product, seeing no need to innovate and develop. So what is the latest development in the PC space?
Probably the most expensive piece of hardware in a desktop PC is the graphics card and thanks to the latest battle between Nvidia and AMD we now have a nice selection of new high end enthusiast cards to gawp over, with both companies pushing the limits of graphical power.
Nvidia were first to make a move, with the release of the Titan Black. The original Titan was already considered a masterpiece of silicon, featuring tech lifted from a super computer and having the best core computational power of any GPU on the market. The Black is supposed to combine the compute power of the old Titan with the gaming capabilities of the 780Ti thus putting the Titan brand back on top as Nvidia’s flagship card. With that being said, the actual purpose of the Black is difficult to place. For those that want the capabilities of both the Titan and the 780Ti it seems perfect. In regard to price, you can recommend the Black over a standard Titan, retailing at £785, £15 more then its predecessor. But if you just want a card for gaming, recommending the Black over the 780Ti is difficult as the 780Ti retails for £500.
AMD’s new flagship card is a development of their already powerful R9 290 card. The R9 295X2 as the name suggests is a integrated crossfire card, meaning it is two R9 290’s sandwiched together tweaked by AMD to get a bit more juice out over your standard crossfire set up and sold as a new card. Regardless the new cooler design looks quite nice, with AMD taking a page from Nvidia’s book by having colour coded lighting in the case. The odd thing to note about this card is the integrated closed loop water cooler. If you recall the launch of the original 290X you may remember that the running temperature was a bit excessive prompting for partner companies to develop better cooler cases with their variants of the card, with this in mind that closed loop water cooler seems more of a necessity then a cool addition as I doubt a standard fan and heat sink system would be able to keep this card in check. On the whole, most PC experts consider this to be one of the best 4K capable cards out there and a fine tech demo, but for $1500 it isn’t a realistic option for the common PC owner.
With AMD seemingly at the top of the graphics war, Nvidia asked the question, ‘What is better than one Titain Black?’ The answer. Two Titan Blacks. And thus the Titan Z was born. Yes not to be outdone, Nvidia also had plans to take its best graphics tech and factory build an SLI set up. Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose “If you’re in desperate need of a supercomputer, and you need one close by and handy – one that will sit next to your desk – we have just the card for you: Titan Z.” All this can be yours for the low low price of $3000. This is the key issue with this card. For this price you could run two of AMD’s High end cards, meaning you technically have four GPU’s in your system or for $1000 less you can have two of the Titan Blacks, which according to some in the tech industry, will run faster.
I know most people will never own any of these cards, but they are a key element in showing that the PC space is still alive and well. These developments whilst out of reach to the average consumer today, will see there war into future more consumer targeted cards down the line, meaning that in a year or so we will all be able to by a graphics card fully capable of running 4K resolutions for a fraction of the price.