Week in Tech: CES Show Special

By Jeremy Laird on January 9th, 2014.


Pull up a chair, pop the kettle on, stoke the fire, strangle a cat – whatever it is that loosens you up for some serious hardware hotness (Legal disclaimer: Do not strangle a cat) – and brace yourself for my CES round-up. We’ve already covered a few of the major announcements and developments, including Steam machines, high-res Oculus Rift and Razer’s Project Christine easy-upgrade shizzle. So, here’s my guide to the other PC gaming-relevant wonders from the festival of rampant, nihilistic consumerism that is the CES show in Las Vegas. There’s plenty to talk about including the messiah of monitors (Asus’s G-Sync-enabled, 1,440p effort), AMD’s G-Sync-bashing FreeSync and next-gen APUs, high-DPI PCs gone mad, an RGB-backlit keyboard and slick new cases from Corsair and, well, just stuff, stuff, stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

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RPS Xmas Compo: Custom-Cooled Sapphire Radeon 290

By Jeremy Laird on December 19th, 2013.

What do points mean?

Becoming blasé about big money graphics boards is something of an occupational hazard for a tech hack. Actually, all-too-easy access to that kind of kit can make one complacent in all kinds of unpredictable ways. For instance, why, oh why, didn’t I mine bitcoins with all those high-end GPU samples when I had the chance? But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that pulling the trigger on the latest and greatest graphics is hardly a given for most of us. But one of you won’t have to worry about that, because we’re giving away what could well prove to be the best all-round pixel pumper on the market. An AMD Radeon R9 290 with Sapphire’s custom Tri-X cooling. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moore’s Law and the Golden Age of PC Gaming

By Jeremy Laird on December 12th, 2013.

Intel's Gordon, not Black Mesa's

Walker’s recent post on the prima facie petrifying plummet in PC sales got me thinking. Or rather rebooted a thought process I’ve been mulling lately. Just what is happening to the PC? You can make a strong argument, for instance, that we’re entering a golden age of PC gaming. Faster graphics, cheaper ultra-HD screens, the new consoles as thinly disguised PCs, VR technology – the next five years or so are going to be fabulous. But there are also signs the wheels are falling off the entire enterprise of the PC as a computing platform. Then there’s the ever-present threat of Moore’s Law hitting the wall. Can we say anything concrete about it all (the future of the PC, not the looming wall)? Prepare yourself for a multi-topic treatise… Read the rest of this entry »

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Wot I Think: Logitech G602 Mouse

By Alec Meer on December 11th, 2013.

I’m always a little confused whenever anyone starts talking about the need to replace the mouse with something touch-y or pad-y or any other kind of funnily-shaped objected intended to act as ferryman between the world of flesh and the world of pixels. I like mice. They do the job well, they’ve evolved into high-precision, versatile objects and they remain a great metaphor for remotely poking and prodding at another dimension. I’m a right sucker for regularly picking up new ones that I become (incorrectly) convinced will somehow transform my working and playing life, thanks to their claims about DPI, button placement, mechanically-augmented scroll wheels and spurious new colours of laser. I’ve got about a dozen of the bloody things kicking about in various states of disrepair or simple abandonment. Lately added to the pile is Logitech’s taser-esque G602, a wireless, gaming-centric effort that looks like it fell off the new Robocop.
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Week in Tech: Ask Oculus, Cheap 4K, Other Stuff

By Jeremy Laird on December 5th, 2013.

Happiness is an ultra-HD, low-latency VR headset

The Oculus Rift. You ask. They tell. Everything you want to know. That’s the plan, anyway. They’re busy chaps, but I’ll dust off my boxed copy of Windows 98 and do my best to beat some answers out of them. In the meantime, there’s been some movement in the 4K display arena. Dell has announced a couple of new 4K PC monitors, including a 24 incher (think of the pixel pitch, oh my science the pixel pitch) and what looks like a bargain priced 4K TN monitor. Oh, and some other stuff including an update on AMD Radeon R9 290s with better cooling in time for Xmas and a solution to one of the last great challenges in modern life, plugging in USB devices. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: The Case for a New PC

By Jeremy Laird on November 29th, 2013.


Today, gentlefolk of RPS, I intend to make a case for a new PC. Case for a new PC, geddit? Sigh. Anyway, the other day I was aboard the good ship PC Format Magazine, still steering a firm and true course through the marketing-infested waters of PC hardware and gaming and like all worthy vessels, er, unapologetically made of wood. Or maybe it’s pressed peanut sweepings these days. Whatever, I happened upon none other than the latest revision of BitFenix Prodigy, the Prodigy M, a PC case I’ve always liked the look of but never had the chance to poke around. Turns out it’s a very nice little item indeed. There’s been plenty of talk about Steam Boxes and ultra small-form-factor rigs round these parts, but less on the arguably more practical topic of cases in general and what makes for the best compromise in terms of form factors. So, let’s talk. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: The PC is Doomed, Long Live the PC!

By Jeremy Laird on November 21st, 2013.

Transparent aluminum?!

Or maybe it’s the other way round. Anyway, the Xbox One only has 16 ROPs. I know, 16 ROPs. The humiliation. The humanity! Nvidia’s GeForce 6800 had 16 ROPs in 2004. No idea what I’m on about? It’s cheap point scoring from a smug PC evangelist, of course, but also just a single entry in a long list of reasons why the PC is looking pretty clever now the new consoles are roaming the wild. On the other hand, I’ve had a grope around the latest factoids and rumours relating to PC processors for the next year or so and the shape of things to come feels awfully familiar. Maybe the prophets of doom are right, after all… Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: SSD Update. Just Buy One

By Jeremy Laird on November 14th, 2013.

It’s been many moons since our last update on solid state of play. And now the SSD game finds itself in a bit of an odd spot. It seems like we’re on the cusp of a big transition, what with new PCI Express-based interfaces on the horizon. At the same time, existing SATA III drives feel like they’ve finally grown up, decided to give the ‘rents a rest and started behaving reliably and responsibly. The tech has matured and the end user experience is converging on something subjectively ‘good enough’. Just pick a drive at random from one of the decent outfits and you’re good to go. Then again, wouldn’t it be bloody annoying if you bought an SSD today only to find the entire market turned on its head by super-fast drives in the space of a month or three. What should you make of it all? Read on, chaps, read on… Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: Flicker-free Screens, AMD Noise, Nvidia 780 Ti

By Jeremy Laird on November 7th, 2013.

Suffering from headaches, tired eyes and all-round gaming fatigue? Must be that flickering LCD monitor ripping up your retinas. No idea what I’m on about? BenQ would have you believe flickering LCD monitor backlights are the new evil and it has the solution. Flicker-free backlight tech. I’ve tried it and can reveal whether it’s the next big thing after 120Hz-plus panels. It’s not. Next! Graphics. AMD and Nvidia are currently squelching about and looking grumpy following of one of their traditional pissing contests. An unpleasant image but it’s good news because it means things are very closely matched. Still, we need to tidy up a few details after all the new GPU launches and some last minute changes including AMD’s Radeon R9 290 and its dodgy cooling and final specs on the Nvidia Geforce GTX 780 Ti. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wot I Think: Microsoft Warface Surface Pro 2

By Alec Meer on November 1st, 2013.

I did an exceptionally silly thing. I bought one of Microsoft’s terribly expensive laptop/tablet hybrids, the Surface Pro 2. Upon realising how silly this was, because it’s hardly got much gameability and I can’t ever upgrade it, I returned it. That wasn’t the exceptionally silly thing, though. That happened when I realised how much I missed the Surface, so two days later I went out and bought another one. From a different shop, of course – I couldn’t have faced the look on the salesperson’s face otherwise.

I am pleased, if slightly guilt-wracked, to report that I am now sticking with my purchasing decision. Which also means I’m in a situation to tell you whether this attempt to crossbreed faithful old Mr PC with flighty young Ms Tablet has been successful, from the point of view of someone who primarily uses their computer for the pursuit of entertainment.
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Week In Tech: The Bifurcatin’ PC, Nvidia Spoils AMD’s Party

By Jeremy Laird on November 1st, 2013.


With AMD making noise lately with new(ish) graphics cards and the threat of console-derived gaming domination courtesy of Mantle, the inevitable has happened. Nvidia has hit back. Predictably there’s a new and pointlessly pricey graphics chipset to take on AMD’s mighty Radeon R9 290X. Of more interest to we mere financial mortals are a range of broader technologies and updates, one of which is alleged to deliver the smoothest gaming mankind has ever seen. Meanwhile, is there a worrying new trend in the PC’s technical development? Certainly, there are early signs that a split in the hitherto relatively happy community that is the PC platform itself is becoming a realistic threat… Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: AMD’s Mostly Not-New Graphics

By Jeremy Laird on October 10th, 2013.


All of this has happened before. And all of it will happen again. AMD has just launched its latest family of ‘new’ graphics boards and I feel like number two’s been whispering portentous, spacey waffle in my ear. The spec lists for the new boards are shot through with galactic levels of déjà vu. But before you get completely bummed out by what mostly amounts to a major bout of rebranding from AMD, there’s a wildcard in the form of this weird new thing called Mantle. It might – just might – give AMD GPUs, including every Radeon HD 7000 already in existence, an unassailable performance advantage in the bulk of new games over the next few years. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: Ultra-SFF Gaming FTW?

By Jeremy Laird on October 3rd, 2013.


Could it be true? That here in my mortal hand I do hold a nugget of purest gaming? Not exactly. It’s the latest and tiniest NUC, Intel’s so-called ‘Next Unit of Computing’. It’s a full-function PC with Intel’s best graphics ever. And it’s claimed to sport pukka gaming chops. Meanwhile, Valve has been punting SteamOS, the whole Steam Box thang is still on – as far as I know – and Xi3′s Piston has been priced up at a preposterous $1,000. Chuck all that into the mix and you might wonder whether the NUC looks a lot like a entry-level Steam Box, on the hardware side at least. And if so, does the small-form-factor gaming thing add up? Read the rest of this entry »

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