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Nvidia unveils GeForce GTX 780 and ShadowPlay software-based game capture

GeForce GTX 780

Nvidia is ready to reveal its next Kepler card: the GeForce GTX 780. The card arrives in stores today, sliding into the lineup between the GeForce GTX Titan and GeForce GTX 680, at a suggested retail price of $649.

The GTX 780 is your expected incremental upgrade over 2012’s 680, with boosted performance across the board. The numbers on the hardware specs are all higher than they are on the 680’s specs, and that’s a good thing. Nvidia’s principal focus is on improving overall performance rather than merely boosting frames-per-second; the idea is to minimize the number of stutters that players encounter while they reach for those higher framerates. The GTX 780 promises 50 percent more cores, 50 percent more memory, and it’s the first non-Titan card with GPU Boost 2.0, which is good news for gamers who don’t have a Titan ($1,000+) budget. 

Nvidia figures dedicated gamers upgrade their graphics card about every two years. If this is true, the GTX 780 shows a 70 percent upgrade from the GTX 580, and a 35 percent boost from the GTX 680.

Nvidia Project Shield (alternate)Those who aren’t in the market for a new video card ought to be interested in this next bit. With 2.5 million beta downloads, the beta period for Nvidia’s GeForce Experience is about to come to an end. After receiving 30,000 pieces of feedback, according to our Nvidia contact, the performance-focused software is transitioning directly into wide release as a free download. 

In its current form, the app gives PC gamers an easy path to keeping up to date with the latest drivers. It also reads your system configuration and optimizes in-game graphics settings with the goal of squeezing out the highest quality presentation without sacrificing performance. There’s a lot more coming though, and it’s coming soon.

For starters, GeForce Experience is a required app for those who intend to stream PC games to the Nvidia Shield handheld gaming device that ships in June. Note as well that you’ll need to have a current-gen Kepler card in order to stream through the app to your Shield.

Even more intriguing than the Shield streaming is ShadowPlay, which is essentially software-based game capture. Press record and your play is automatically captured using your Kepler card’s built-in H.264 encoder, resulting in what Nvidia calls a “very small performance hit” compared to other capture solutions. The file size is also said to be significantly smaller, measurable in megabytes rather than gigabytes.

The forthcoming ShadowPlay update also adds a new feature called Shadow Mode. It’s simple, really: the game capture feature can be set to automatically record your play when you’re not actively recording, saving as much as the last 20 minutes of footage. Then, if you happen to come to a moment that you wish you could save, you simply hit a hotkey and Shadow Mode takes care of the rest.

The ShadowPlay update for GeForce Experience isn’t dated yet, but Nvidia promises that it will be coming sometime this summer and most likely only a short time after E3 next month. 

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