Posts Tagged graphics

The EVGA GTX 1060 SC and Linux Mint 18.1

📅 May 30, 2017
Running Linux at high resolutions with fancy desktop effects works well on low-end graphics cards, but I wanted smoother performance, silent or near-silent graphics, and plenty of ports for different monitors. What to do?

Why, look for a new card, of course!

The latest 1080 line from Nvidia is overkill for my needs, but the 1060 is perfect. I wanted smoother desktop effects compared to the older Radeon card I had been using, and when I found the EVGA 1060 SC 3GB graphics card on sale, it was a must-buy.

Featuring lower power consumption, more cores, higher clock speeds, five ports to connect a variety of monitors, and favorable performance (in case my original plans on Linux are lackluster I can still use this card elsewhere), this 1060 card is a winner for my humble needs.

There are two versions of the GTX 1060: a 3GB version and a 6GB version. After pondering various benchmarks and reviews, I saw almost no difference between the two versions (other than the huge price difference at the time), so I chose the 3GB version. After all, it was on sale comparable to the cost of a lesser 1050, which only had three ports.

The real questions are these:

  • “How does the EVGA GTX 1060 SC perform in Linux Mint 18.1?”
  • “Is it easy to install drivers?”
  • “Does it even work at all?”

Here is my experience installing and using this card with Linux Mint 18.1 64-bit.

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Better PlayStation Video with RGB SCART

📅 October 15, 2016
ff7-1-ps1-scart-comboYearning to play games on an original PlayStation console but dislike the poor video quality?

Most modern HDTVs available today only offer HDMI and maybe component video inputs — neither of which the PlayStation (PSX/PS1/PSOne) supports.

However, the PSX outputs RGB (red/green/blue) signals through its video output port to produce the best colors and picture quality.

How can we use RGB with today’s HDMI televisions and monitors? This requires two items: a PSX SCART cable and a SCART-to-HDMI converter. With these, we can achieve almost pixel-perfect sharpness and colors from a nearly 20-year-old gaming console.

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EVGA 980 Ti 2-Way SLI Performance with Modded Skyrim and ENB

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How smoothly will a heavily-modded, ENB-rich Skyrim perform when using two EVGA 980 Ti graphics cards in 2-way SLI?

Will Skyrim achieve 60 fps with ENB at 5760×1080 resolution using NVIDIA Surround?

Reviews adulate the power of the 980 Ti, but answers to these questions were nonexistent. The game Skyrim features beautiful eyecandy when modified with high-resolution textures, lighting effects, and high-performance, crash-inducing modifications, but these modifications produce a heavy performance hit that can bring the mightiest of graphics cards to their knees..

No 980 Ti reviews that I have read discuss performance when modifying older games. This is a shame because unoptimized games, like Skyrim, often require more GPU power to produce cutting-edge effects than the latest blockbuster games, which have been optimized for current technology. As a result, how well a new graphics cards runs a modified game — particularly Skyrim with ENB — can offer a glimpse into the card’s true potential.

While many older games can be modified, I chose to test Skyrim due the near-photographic results that are possible with its lush environment. Is ENB-laden Skyrim playable? Will Skyrim crash? Will there be the dreaded Blue Screen of Death? 1920×1080 resolution runs fine no matter what the game, but what about NVIDIA Surround at 5760×1080?

I had the opportunity to test two EVGA 980 Ti graphics cards in SLI (Scalable Link Interface) to see how a modified Skyrim would perform with ENB effects enabled. I compared these results to two MSi N770 Lighting graphics cards in 2-way SLI. The difference was amazing!

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Xubuntu 13.10, Compiz, and Emerald

April 14, 2014
compiz01Ah, Compiz. The graphical darling of the Linux world that instantly grabs people’s attention and makes them ask, “Cool! How can I make my computer do that?”

Ah, Compiz. Why must you be so quirky?

Before Unity and GNOME 3, Compiz and Emerald were easy to setup and run most of the time. The Ubuntu 10.10 era made the process simple, and Linux Mint 10 was even simpler.

These days, Compiz and Emerald can be a struggle. Are they feasible on today’s distributions? Yes, but… Being a tremendous fan of Compiz and Emerald, I resolved to make them work in Xubuntu 13.10 and Linux Mint 16 MATE, and this led to contradicting results yearning for the “good ol’ days.”

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SweetFX – Levels

002SweetFX Levels sets new black and white points. This means every pixel whose value is below the black point will be converted into pure black, and every pixel whose value is above the white point will be converted into pure white.

Think of this as the equivalent of level adjustment in GIMP using the histogram. Used sparingly, Levels will trim off excess whiteness, and it will darken shadows and other dark areas that appear too “washed out” when they should be darker.

On the other hand, visual detail is lost when used excessively, and drastic scene changes can be produced. This is either good or bad depending upon the desired effect. In short, Levels is an effect best used for minor touchups to the resulting image.

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SweetFX – Vignette

007SweetFX Vignette darkens the corners of the image to produce a peephole or faded corner effect. This can be used with other effects, such as Sepia and Monochrome, to produce a variation of the old-time photo effect.

Of course, Vignette settings can darken an area greater than the corners alone until the entire image is obscured, so use sparingly for the best results.

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SweetFX – Lift Gamma Gain

006Regarding video and images, gamma is an exponential relationship between pixels and luminance. (Luminance is technically not the same as brightness.) The theory and mathematical formulae behind gamma is educational, so the Gamma FAQ might provide a useful introduction for those interested in grasping the technical principles.

For an inaccurate, simplified description related to video games, we can think of gamma as brightening the bright areas and darkening the dark areas without losing too much detail. Where a simple brightness effect would brighten the entire scene uniformly, gamma handles this with more “intelligence.”

The SweetFX Lift Gamma Gain effect provides a fine amount of control over how gamma is applied to an image. While the SweetFX Tonemap effect provides a basic gamma control for basic gamma application, Lift Gamma Gain allows for more precise gamma control over the brightness of shadow areas, midrange areas, and bright areas, and it can do so at the color level with RGB values.

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