So recently I decided to go ahead and upgrade my PC. It has been a while, and I love computers, especially enthusiast builds. My personal taste has always been two things: Intel for the CPU, and AMD for the GPU (graphics card). This time around, with Nvidia releasing a lot of different features, small and large, I decided to give them a try, despite my feeling that they were always a bit overpriced for the equal or greater performance that AMD supplied me with on the GPU front. I went just about as far as I could with budget and bought the EVGA GTX 780Ti superclocked (see pic below).
Now if you are looking for specs and performance, you can find tons of great information (and what I personally use each time I build a custom rig) over at Tom’s Hardware. Specs, verses articles, and best “bang for your buck” information can all be found there, and far better than I am capable of providing. No, the real reason for what stimulated me to write this on a whim is my growing interest and excitement for the software that is provided with the Nvidia cards. If you want to get the most out of your Nvidia card, keep reading…
AMD Catalyst Control Center
I would like to reinforce the fact that although I do love AMD cards, and they are great quality for the price, they have always had one huge draw back that I absolutely could never understand. The AMD Catalyst Control Center. Simply put, it’s supposed to be that one piece of software you use for all things that have to do with your card, so you do not have to scour the web for drivers, settings, update information on new drivers coming out etc. The CCC (Catalyst Control Center) was not just ugly, it was down right tedious in the way that nothing made sense. Sure, you could spend a lot of time using the settings, but for someone like me, even with my vast wealth of knowledge on computer hardware, GPU technology and settings have a way of confusing even the most up to date individual. The CCC did a terrible job at simplifying and helping you maintain your lower to higher end graphics card.
NVIDIA GeForce Experience
Without the shadow of a doubt, the GTX 780Ti is certainly a beastly card. Leaving the “spec’s world” behind and going for features, I was very impressed (and continue to become more impressed) by the NVIDIA GeForce Experience software that accompanies this card. Keep in mind, it’s not just this card but mostly all of the GeForce cards now. From the initial install I noticed many people on forums were having major issues with this software, as it seems relatively new. However, I can honestly say I have had not one single problem with it thus far, and it makes my life VASTLY easier when it comes to maintaining this card. The UI layout is extremely simple to understand, and one of my favorite parts about it, is the fact “Drivers” has its own (very obvious) tab within this software. Checking for updates and installing them is really made simple here.
Gaming optimization made easy
Nvidia has taken a special interest in optimizing the games you own on your hard drive. So much in fact, that it has its own tab just for the games and optimizing their settings specific to your system. It goes into such detail per specific game, that it will explain to you what each setting in the game is. Breaking down details such as Shaders, shadows, anti-aliasing and much more. This selects and recommends the best settings your system can run the game at, with little to no effort. A lot to swallow? Check the pictures below for examples of what I’m talking about.
This is honestly one of my favorite parts of the Nvidia Experience. Shadow Play is a DVR for your PC when it comes to gaming. Not only can it record, but the myriad of settings it provides you as a user is quite strong. I frequently like to record my game play, and edit it. However, finding the right software can sometimes be down right painful, especially when learning the more complicated ones. Nvidia truly did make it easy here. Not just recording game play, but streaming as well. Just by a simple log in, you can change the Shadow Play mode from local straight to Twitch. All I have to do then, is start the recording and voila! You can choose to add what portions of the screen you would like to record, putting your webcam in the feed, audio recording and much more. Most of the basics are all right there in front of you and has everything you need to get a stream going on the fly. This is a fantastic feature made easy that Nvidia thought ahead to implement for their buyers. (see pictures below)
In the end this software is extremely useful to me, if nothing else than just a simple way to get things done all in a centralized location without me having to install a ton of 3rd party applications. It’s not without its downfalls though, for not everything is perfect. There are many settings you get with other applications that you may not be able to get for optimal streaming. In addition to this, their has been many reports of errors and crashes with this software that are being addressed on a daily basis. I can happily report though, that I haven’t had a single issue thus far.
Nvidia is working hard and constantly bringing updates to this software to remedy any problems, and we can see this with frequent updates. I have streamed, recorded, and even changed the settings to where if I am not recording, but run in to a monumental spot in a game where I wish I had been, I can simply hit the record button and it will record the last (up to 20 minutes) I was playing without me having to buy a non existent time machine. This is similar to Xbox’s “record that” 30 second time window, only you can get up to 20 minutes! This alone has great value to me, and Nvidia has come a long way with this software. I highly recommend checking this out, and for the power users that really want to tweak every little thing themselves…well you still have access to the Nvidia Control Panel which is much like the AMD Catalyst software for fine tuning.
Do you own an Nvidia card? Do you use this software? And if you dont, would you consider Nvidia your next GPU purchase to take advantage of such features? Let me know in the comments below! As always, see you in the game!