Why You (Might) Need A Decent PC Case

By Jeremy Laird on March 26th, 2015.

The ultimate in modular construction and max-flow air cooling...

Do you need a proper PC case? Not really, no. In fact, you don’t strictly need a PC case at all. A fully functional PC will actually hang together perfectly well without one. Would you appreciate one? Ah, now that’s more complicated question. I therefore present to you the proverbial good PC case, and a semi-serious dissertation that examines some of the more convincing reasons why you might want one.
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SteamVR: A Chat About What Worked And What Didn’t

By Alec Meer on March 20th, 2015.

Alec and Graham have both had a go on SteamVR, aka the HTC Vive (as described here and here). Yes, aren’t they glorious, beautiful, shining examples of humanity? You can touch them if you like. No, not there. And not for that long. What are you.. ew, no, no, get off.

Actually, just stand over there and avert your eyes while they have a big old natter about what worked best, what might go wrong in practice, where this might all lead to, whether this is basically MAGIC, Valve vs Oculus and whether the hell we should let children use this thing.
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Is Nvidia’s New Titan X Uber-GPU Good Enough?

By Jeremy Laird on March 19th, 2015.

All in black: Nvidia's big new beastie

The same. But different. In a good way. That’s the take-home from the launch of Nvidia’s new Titan X graphics. Yes, it’s another $1,000 graphics card and thus priced well beyond relevance for most of us. And yet it’s different enough, philosophically, from Nvidia’s previous big-dollar Titans to signal something that does matter to all of us. The focus with Titan X has moved back to pure gaming and away from doing other variously worthy and unworthy stuff on GPUs, like folding proteins or, I dunno, surveying for oil.
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You Can Have Windows 10 This Summer, If You Like

By Alec Meer on March 18th, 2015.

yes, yes grimdark macho colours for xbone fans

Is Windows 10 out this summer? Yes, Windows 10 is out this summer. Honestly, some news stories are hard to take anywhere.

Er. Well, it seems that, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, June 21 is the first official day of summer and September 22nd the last, so there’s your Windows window. Unless Microsoft pull a fast one and go with Southern Hemisphere timing. They’re crrrrrrrrazy like that, these Microguys.
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Why You Need A Solid-State Drive

By Jeremy Laird on March 12th, 2015.

SanDisk Extreme Pro, m'current SATA SSD weapon of choice

You might think the technical properties and real-world performance of your PC’s hard drive is pretty tangential to your gaming experience. After all, games are not rendered on hard drives. And yet you would be wrong. I view a decent solid state drive as one of the most important cornestones to any half-decent PC. And that includes half-decent gaming PCs. As why-you-needs go, then, this one is awfully easy.
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Why You Don’t Need More Than Four CPU Cores

By Jeremy Laird on March 5th, 2015.

We’re back and this week I’m saving you even more money by telling you why you don’t need more than four processor cores in your PC for gaming. You don’t need more now. And you almost definitely won’t need more for several years to come. What’s, er, more, even if your cores are quite crusty, you’re probably fine.
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Hands On With Valve’s Hardware Bonanza

By John Walker on March 5th, 2015.

Sitting down with Valve’s Eric Johnson this morning, one thing seemed to become increasingly clear. Valve, a studio that has arguably been pretty quiet of late (not least with the failure to ship Steam Machines in 2014), is coming to life again. With a slew of announcements at this year’s GDC, the HTC-tech-incorporating VR Vive, a proper announcement of Source 2, in-home streaming tech in Link, available builds of Steam OS, and a final build for their much anticipated controller, you could almost forget that none of them is a game. While Graham was being pulled into a virtual world, I had a play with the controller on games running on a couple of Steam Machines, on some rather enormous televisions.

So the first thing you want to know: is the controller any good?

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Why You Don’t Need Multiple Graphics Cards

By Jeremy Laird on February 26th, 2015.

Stop that. It's silly

Apparently contrary forces, but suddenly complimentary. Are AMD and Nvidia about to become the yin and yang of the PC gaming world? Possibly. Rumour has it graphicsy bits of that DirectX 12 thing that arrives with Windows 10 will allow for asynchronous multi-GPU (graphics processing unit). In other words, you’ll be able to use AMD and Nvidia cards in the same rig at the same time to make games run faster. As rumours go, this is pretty spectacular. But it does rather remind me. Multi-GPU is basically a bad idea. Here’s why.
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Why You Need A Monitor With Adaptive Sync

By Jeremy Laird on February 19th, 2015.

We’ve done IPS panel tech. We’ve done high refresh. So let’s wrap up the holy trinity of gaming-relevant monitor technologies of late. It’s time to talk frame syncing or adaptive sync. Probably better known via brand names like Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync, frame syncing technology is all about getting your games running smoother and without any nasty screen tearing. But here’s the twist. It does that without requiring that your games run faster or that you buy a $/£1,000 mega-GPU. And it really is rather lovely
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Why You Need A High-Refresh / 120Hz-plus Monitor

By Jeremy Laird on February 12th, 2015.

Did somebody say something about IPS and high refresh?

Last week we rolled out the first in a new series of why-you-need-stuff posts. The idea being, assumptions about what is good and why come a little too easily with the ongoing churn of PC hardware news and product launches. So, let’s go back to basics with these assumed goodnesses. I kicked off with IPS monitor technology and while healthy discussion of the pros and cons of IPS ensued, so did some wailing and gnashing of teeth that a gaming website had appeared to be dismissive of high refresh rates and glossed over 120/144Hz.

This was because high refresh rates are a separate issue from panel type. Something worthy of a post of its own. This post, in fact. Is faster really better when it comes to screens?
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Why You Need An IPS Monitor

By Jeremy Laird on February 5th, 2015.


Welcome, everybody, to the first in an impossibly exciting new series of posts in which I tell you why you need to buy stuff. Or maybe why you don’t. If that sounds a lot like what I’ve already been doing with Week In Tech, there’s a twist.

The point is that a lot of jargon gets thrown around when it comes to PC hardware. Too often assumptions are made. Assumptions about what is good and bad. Assumptions about what everybody understands or cares about. With all that in mind, we thought it would be good to go back to basics with stuff that sometimes seems obvious but actually isn’t. We’ll start with IPS panel technology in PC monitors. If you’re thinking about buying a new screen, you need to know about this.

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Week in Tech: Is Nvidia’s New £150/$200 Graphics Good?

By Jeremy Laird on January 29th, 2015.

Almost definitely not what a retail 960 will look like...

Ah, the glories of high-end graphics chips. The billions of teensy little transistors. The preposterous pixel pumping power. All terribly impressive. But not hugely helpful if you simply want half-decent frame rates on a plain old 1080p monitor without re-mortgaging everything short of the shirt on your back. In an ideal world, what most of us really need is an affordable £150/$200 graphics card that’ll hook up to that 1080p monitor and run almost anything you chuck at it without worrying about optimising the settings. Well, it just so happens Nvidia has a new GPU that fits the bill, on paper at least. It’s the Geforce GTX 960. Is this the mainstream marvel we’ve all been waiting for?
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The Old Weird Web: Formative Online Gaming Experiences

By Jeremy Laird on January 22nd, 2015.

Usually you’d find Week In Tech in this spot, but it’s been a particularly big week in tech already. With the big Microsoft Win10 and Holowhatsit announcements covered here and here and here, for this column I’m proposing to go off the reservation. Let us, each one of us, reminisce and indeed celebrate our earliest experiences of the internet and of course gaming thereon. And then ponder what the future holds for our internet connections and how we game on them.

I’m thinking less social history, more unapologetic geeky nostalgia. Read the rest of this entry »

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