Categories
Technology

Time to Upgrade: Zotac RTX 3070 Twin Edge OC Review

Nvidia RTX 3000 GPU’s have been in short supply literally from the minute they launched. There have been countless forum threads, tweets and Youtube videos dedicated to how impossible its been to find and buy one of these elusive GPUs. It looks like a combination of actual user demand, short supply, and scalpers have made it almost impossible to get your hands on one of these cards.

I have been targeting the RTX 3070 to pair with my Asus VG259QM, so that I could maximise that 240Hz refresh rate. So after reading about the kerfuffle surrounding the RTX 3080 launch, I didn’t hold out much hope that I would be able to buy one. On launch day itself (October 28), it was no surprise to see all the online stores immediately go out of stock. I took a trip down to the local PC mall, and was aghast at the marked up prices the retailers were selling the cards for. For a US$500 / S$750 GPU, the shops and scalpers were asking over S$1000!

I reached out to the distributor directly, and even they could not tell me when more stock would come in to be listed on their online store. I resigned to the fact that I would probably not get a new GPU this year, as the shortages were expected to last until 2021. So lo and behold, to my immense surprise, that same distro releasing exactly 1 piece of the Zotac RTX 3070 Twin Edge OC at 6pm on 30 October through their online store. I was randomly refreshing the online ecommerce store, and there it was – 1 piece left in stock! I have never gone through a checkout process that fast!

Five days later, I welcomed this baby to its forever home:

Zotac RTX 3070 Twin Edge OC

Granted, I did end up paying a slight markup, but it was less than 10%, so no major issues there. I was actually more worried that the online store would cancel my order, as there were numerous reports on other sites (i.e. Reddit) of that happening to other users. So I was relieved when it shipped on Monday.

Here are the specs:

  • GPU GeForce RTX 3070
  • CUDA cores 5888
  • Video Memory 8GB GDDR6
  • Memory Bus 256-bit
  • Engine Clock Boost: 1755 MHz
  • Memory Clock 14 Gbps
  • PCI Express4.0 16x
  • Display Outputs3 x DisplayPort 1.4a (up to 7680×4320@60Hz)
    HDMI 2.1* (up to 7680×4320@60Hz)
    *Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable is required to support 8K/60FPS or 4K/120FPS
  • HDCP Support 2.3
  • Multi Display Capability Quad Display
  • Recommended Power Supply 650W
  • Power Consumption 220W
  • Power Input2 x 8-pin
  • DirectX12 Ultimate
  • OpenGL4.6
  • Cooling Ice Storm 2.0
  • Slot Size Dual Slot
  • Card Length231.9mm x 141.3mm x 41.5mm / 9.1″ x 5.6″ x 1.6″
  • Accessories2 x Dual 6-pin to 8-pin cable
    Manual

I had it installed in my rig in about 5 minutes

Damn that looks good! I fired up the 3D Mark benchmarks and these were the scores:

  • Time Spy: 12133
  • TIme Spy Extreme: 6025
  • Port Royal: 8038

Next, i jumped into Shadow of the Tomb Raider and ran the benchmark

130 FPS on average is crazy with those ‘Highest’ settings! And my god does the game look gorgeous with raytracing and DLSS. I’ve seen at least a 30% improvement over the RTX 2070 (which has been donated to my daughter’s PC, btw). This is probably the largest performance jump across generations I’ve seen in the last 10 years. The GPU boosted up to 1950 MHz, which is an astounding number!

I also ran GS:GO, and it was a constant 240 fps throughout the game. That is absolutely nuts!

My one concern about this card is the idle temperature. At max load through out a game, it’s peaked at 72 C, which is pretty good. However at idle, it stays at 55 C, because the fans don’t turn on until it hits 60 C. I’ve tried to use Ice Storm to plot a custom fan curve, but it doesn’t seem to stick after a restart. Might have to try Afterburner eventually.

Overall, I must say that the combination of the RTX 3070 and a high refresh rate (more the 240fps) 1080p monitor is as good as it gets in 2020, and is at least on par with the 1440p/144Hz and 4k/60Hz options. Might need to get my hands on one of those ultra wide QHD monitors. Gah, why does the AW3420DW have to be so pricey!

If you’re gaming at those higher resolutions, then I would recommend that you look at the RTX 3080 or the RTX 3090. But for 1080p, the RTX 3070 is more than enough to keep you in those high framerates.

p.s. Shireen, don’t be such a kay poh

Categories
Technology

Asus VG259QM High Refresh Rate Gaming Monitor Review

The update bug got me. It got me good. With the recent releases of the latest generation graphics cards from Nvidia (the RTX 3000 series) and AMD (the RX 6000 series), I’ve been itching to upgrade my gaming setup. I know that it’s more a want than a need, but when has my addiction to the latest tech ever needed any justification?

For reference, my current rig was built in 2019, and isn’t too bad:

ComponentMain Rig
MoboGigabyte Z390 Aorus Elite
CPUi7 9700K
RAMCorsair Vengeance RGB Pro 3000 CL15 32GB
SSDSamsung 970 250Gb Evo Plus
GPUZOTAC GeForce GTX 2070 Mini OC
CaseCorsair 900D
OSWindows 10 Pro
CoolingCorsair h115i Platinum
PSUCorsair Hxi 850w Platinum
Monitor3 x Dell U2414H
Specs of my main PC/ gaming rig

The one component that I obviously need to upgrade to take advantage of my current GPU and any future (i.e. coming very soon) upgrade would be my monitors. The U2414H’s are about 5 years old, and though they are still as sharp as the day I got them, they are missing some key new features that I’ve been dying to try out.

Where I do what I do. Cat for scale.

The big one is obviously adaptive sync, which comes in 2 flavours: Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s Freesync. This feature allows the frame or refresh rate of the monitor to scale up or down depending on what the GPU is capable of delivering. This benefits gamers by eliminating tearing, stuttering and judder during gameplay. I’ve seen a few demos of 144Hz displays and games in shops, and I’ve always been blown away by how smooth the games feel. I want that feeling when I’m sitting down for a sesh at home too. Unfortunately, my current monitors are only capable of going up to 60Hz.

That’s where this bad boy comes is:

Asus TUF VG259QM

While maintaining the same profile and size of my current monitors, this little fella, the Asus VG259QM, can boost up to 280Hz! That > 4 times what my current monitors can do. Its also got some other modern features like Extreme Low Motion Blur (ELMB) backlight strobing, which claims to improve the sharpness of the image further. Also important for me was the fact that this was an IPS monitor, which I have always found to be the best for colour reproduction. Every monitor I have is an IPS monitor, and this one would be no different!

Features of the VG259QM

You may be wondering why I didn’t go for a larger size and bigger resolution. The main use case for my PC is for work and productivity, and for that, nothing beats multiple monitors. I find 4K monitors to be too big for a desktop, and the size of 27 inch/1440p monitors means I can only fit 2 of them on my desk. Add on the fact that I’ll need a top-of-the-line GPU (RTX 3090 or RX 6900) to drive them to even 60Hz, it just does not make sense for me.

One area where this monitor lacks is probably HDR. Its HDR 400 certified, but that is a pretty low bar. My 3 year old 65″ LG Oled B6 TV is so much brighter, but then it also costs me the equivalent of a couple of body parts. For a 80% productivity / 20% gaming use case the VG259QM should do just fine.

The first game I loaded up was Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and put everything on Highest/Ultra preset settings. When I ran the benchmark, the FPS was usually in the 100-140fps range. During actual gameplay, it went from a high of 120 fps all the way down to 65 in some high intensity scenes. This was with ray tracing and DLSS enabled. The visuals were epic!

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Benchmark
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Benchmark 2

Hopefully I’ll have more time this weekend to really push my rig with more demanding games (Crysis remastered – I’m looking at you). I’ll also probably run it through the benchmark suite just for kicks. Overall, I’m happy with my purchase as I don’t have to drastically overhaul my workstation – it took me all of 10 minutes to dismount my old monitor from my Vesa stand and mount this new monitor up. Plugged in the power cable (which comes with a tiny little power brick) and the included Displayport cable (which is the only option if you want to enable G-Sync compatibility), and I was in the zone in no time.

In summary, if you’re intending on getting one of the next gen GPU’s from Nvidia or AMD, make sure to pair it with the right monitor. My preference is for a good quality (IPS) 1080p monitor with a high frame rate. If you want something a little larger, Asus also has the 27 inch VG279QM, which maintains to 1080p ration. Or, if you want to really splurge, get one of those Nvidia BFG (I really thought the F stood for F^&$%&!) monitors that have 4K panels that go up to 360Hz. Good luck finding the graphics power to drive those and commiserations to your wallet!

Edit: Managed to play CS:GO at a constant 240 fps. It didn’t make me any better or worse than before, and I died as often as I’ve always done, but at least I’m doing it in high FPS!

Categories
Digital Strategy Technology

And so it starts

It’s been six weeks since I started my new job, and not everything has gone according to plan. Data seems to be a challenge to gather, as so much of it sits in silos. But one thing I’m appreciative of is the desire of the business to move forward with transforming itself at a time when most other businesses are retreating into their shells.

Unsurprisingly, education appears to be the Number One thing I spend my day doing. Getting the organization to understand that digital is not just a channel, but an entire business model is going to take time. The pandemic this year has shown that we need to open up this new ways of doing business, as the old ways won’t survive in a time of lock-down or circuit breakers.

From acquisition to conversion to retention, all these business life-cycle phases need to have digital equivalents so that people have the option to continue doing business whit you even though they can’t physically interact with you. That is the ultimate business continuity strategy, and it’s unbelievable that its taken a global pandemic to make that obvious to everyone and their grandmother!

Its no surprise that the stocks that have soared this year are the one’s that are digital native businesses. Netflix, Amazon and Zoom have seen their share prices rise like crazy, while those with physical assets like airlines, hotels and cruises are barely clinging onto survival in this most horrendous of years. It’s at times like these that we need to adapt and change they way we do things.

I for one welcome the change away from the globalised model of the late 20th century, where American hegemony was a given, and we were all passive consumers of content and materials from the west. There’s been a push to go local (no, I’m not talking about the MAGA sickos), to adopt more sustainable practices that benefit people and communities. My recent stint of unemployment has given me a different perspective too, and money isn’t the most important this anymore (though I’m still striving for FIRE in the next 15years).

With that, I’m signing off to go swimming with my family. You take care of yourselves, dear reader, and wear a damn mask!

Berlin gives middle finger to anti-maskers in tourism agency ad https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/14/berlin-gives-middle-finger-to-anti-maskers-in-tourism-agency-ad