Why You Need A Solid-State Drive

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

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

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

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

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

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


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?

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

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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Is Windows 10 Good For PC Gamers Or XBone Owners?

“It’s time for us to talk about gaming in Windows,” promised Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in December. A little over a month later, Microsoft has finally stepped up to the plate with a slew of big announcements about Windows 10, Xbox and PC gaming delivered at its Redmond campus yesterday morning.

The big news for gamers—aside from holograms—is that Windows 10 will not only support multiplayer gaming between Xbox One and PC, but allow you to stream Xbox One games locally to PCs or tablets.

Which is all well and good for Xbox fans, but where does that leave PC gamers, especially ones who don’t particularly care about Xbox?

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Hands On With HoloLens And Augmented Reality Minecraft

“Is it real?” I ask. I’m looking around at the landscape of Mars, where a dusty, rocky desert stretches in every direction, reddish mountains rising in the distance. It looks so vivid, so strangely plausible that it’s hard to believe that I’m actually looking at the surface of another planet and not the set of a sci-fi movie.

The gentleman who works for Microsoft assure me that it is, in fact, real—depending on how you think about it. I’m currently wearing a prototype version of the HoloLens, a new augmented reality headset announced yesterday by Microsoft, and exploring real three-dimensional images collected from the Mars Curiosity rover using a tool called OnSight.

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Microsoft Announce HoloLens Augmented Reality Headset

Microsoft have announced the HoloLens, an augmented reality headset for games and general computing. Which is maybe not what we were expecting when we were invited to Redmond to hear about the company’s future gaming plans this evening. While our correspondent is trying the thing on as I type, you can whet your appetite for impressions with the video Microsoft used to introduce the device. It’s not clear what parts of it are hypothetical and which are already functional – depicting augmented reality glasses from a third-person perspective is hard, after all, so it’s all mock-ups – but the gaming application depicted is, predictably, some form of Minecraft.

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Extra Win 10 Reveals: Free Offer, DX12, More Xbox Games


Our roving reporter at the big Windows 10 event in Redmond is currently playing with Microsoft’s newly-announced holo-goggles, more on which soon, but she has been able to send back to useful bonus info about Win 10 and games in the meantime – including whether DirectX 12 is exclusive to the new OS, how this ‘upgrade to Win 10 free for a year’ offer works and whether there’ll be keyboard/mouse support for streamed Xbox One games.
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