Posts Tagged ‘Hardware’

So I Bought A Mechanical Keyboard

Note – this piece is aimed at people who are as ignorant about mechanical keyboards as I was until around a week ago (and probably still am), not at old hands.

For the longest time, my major interest in a keyboard has been whether it’s got big, easy multimedia controls. Apart from that, it’s a plastic thing with buttons on it, right? Then people (including our resident tech-head Jeremy) started talking about mechanical keyboards and how they were the best thing to happen to both typing and gaming since Ian Keyboard invented the keyboard in 1426, and I started to worry about being left behind.
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Week in Tech: 2015 Hardware Hotness

Your new gaming PC...

We wrapped up 2014 with the best hardware bits of the year. Ever the innovator, I’m thinking how better to start 2015 than a look at the likely highlights for the next 12 months? Empty speculation and a dash of rampant SEO cheekiness? Perish the very thought. Instead, hang your cynicism on a coat hook for half an hour and humour me. With upsides that start with faster graphics and cheaper SSDs and might extend to some free gaming performance for your PC courtesy of Microsoft, turning your TV into a massive gaming rig for under £100/$150 and perhaps even a VR revolution, 2015 might not be so bad after all.

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The Successes And Failures Of Building Powerful PCs

Wasim Salman writes about videogames using short, mechanical sentences. He also sometimes builds PCs, and has written this article for us about the ups and downs of building and owning computers that are more powerful than they need to be.

Enclave.

It all started with a 2006 Lenovo T61 Thinkpad.

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Week in Tech: Epic End Of Year Review

It’s that time of year when the press releases stop flowing, the new product dries up and yours truly runs out of novel kit to verbally clobber. What more excuse do we need to round up the highlights of the year in PC gaming tech, from the proud victories and fearful gaffes to the simply-failed-to-ever-happens. Here we go…

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Week in Tech: Buy Yourself The Gift Of Graphics

Custom-cooled 290X is where it's at re AMD cards

As the festive season approaches and thoughts inevitably turn to gifts and giving, to those we love and cherish and want to keep safe from all the horror and the hurt, I can’t help but recall Captain Blackadder’s priorities at such moments. So, that’ll be me. Or rather you. Look, what I’m trying to say is that it’s nearly Christmas, graphics cards look cheap, so I suggest if you’re struggling for frame rates, now’s a good time to give yourself a treat and knock that particular problem on the head. Meanwhile, Samsung has wheeled out its first affordable SSD with 3D memory. Sounds exciting. But is it? Read the rest of this entry »

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An Exciting Post About AssCreed Unity’s PC Performance

Now that I’ve a) got code and b) got said code to run after a ton of tinkering, I’ve spent a couple of hours with gaming’s latest whipping boy, Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Given yesterday’s web brouhaha about its shonky performance on console, it seems worth sharing my technical experiences with it on PC too.

Below are a bunch of numbers, if you like that sort of thing. TLDR: it’s not disastrous, but something sure ain’t right.
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The Framerate Debate: 30 “Feels More Cinematic” Than 60

It is pretty.

“The human eye can’t see more than 24 frames per second,” Those Internet People say. “Tests found fighter pilots watching a 250fps video of playful kittens will grow furious if you slip in one single frame of Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties,” Others insist. “If a game ran at 500fps it would seem so real that if you died in the game you would die in real life,” I’m also told. I thought I’d heard it all in The Great Framerate Debate that rages eternally across the gameosphere. Dear, sweet, naive Alice.

Some Ubisoft chaps have declared that 30fps “feels more cinematic” than 60fps. Gosh.

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Control The Winds Of Venus With A Repurposed Radio

Actually Venus seems sunnier

Updated to add Petri as a co-creator

You know what’s cooler than being cool? Being absolutely freezing. Also custom controllers which augment the experience of playing a game in interesting ways. Long story short? We need to talk about The Winds Of Venus.

I’ve been tinkering with the free keyboard-controlled version (you can do that too if you fancy). In it you are piloting a Space Dirigible on an expedition from Helsinki to an alternate universe version of Venus in 1927. You must contend with strong storms while seeking the harvesters you need in order to escape the hellish environment. And then there’s the controller.

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Wot I Think: Oculus Rift DK2

The possible future is here, delivered by a nice man from UPS after a challenging five-month wait on my part. The first gen Oculus I’d been using had sadly morphed from toy of tomorrow into insufferable antique in the time it took for my gen 2 Oculus pre-order to process, and I’d almost forgotten why I was once so charmed by the whole concept of VR headsets.

The Oculus Development Kit 2, which I’ve been using for just under a week now, is an excellent reminder. My excitement is back, and I have a raft of new games, mods and experiments with which to assault my now bone-dry eyeballs. At the same time, I’ve been a little underwhelmed by this new-gen prototype.
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Week in Tech: Faster, Cheaper SSDs, Nvidia’s Driver Bomb

Want it cheaper? Want it faster? This week, I can offer both. But not quite at the same time. I speak of SSDs and the first part of the puzzle is Crucial’s upcoming MX100. It replaces the existing M500 as Crucial’s value SSD. And may I remind you the 240GB M500 can currently be had for a preposterous £80/$110? The MX100 sports 16nm NAND memory, doesn’t replace the higher performing M550 and I can only assume its raison d’etre is to be even cheaper. Meanwhile, the first looks at quad-channel SATA Express are popping up (cue 1GB/s SSDs), Nvidia has a new driver out that promises to make your graphics card eleventy-two times faster. Ish. And some other stuff including yet more cheap 4K panels, including one with G-Sync support, and a hot looking gaming lappie from Gigabyte. Read the rest of this entry »

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Week in Tech: Intel 9 Series, £200 GPUs, VR And Fast Food

Where awesome game developers go.

Bit of a mish mash this week starting with a quick update on Intel’s new 9 Series chipset and the motherboards that go with it. The boards are now on sale, but new CPUs of note are missing, so what gives? Meanwhile AMD has officially cut the price of ye olde Radeon R9 280 to $249 which seems like a good cue to look at the state of graphics at that £200 sweet spot here in Blighty (apologies for the mixed currency messaging). While we’re talking AMD, there’s confirmation that new high performance FX CPUs are on the way. Hurrah. But probably not until 2016. Haroo. Oh, and try this bombshell for size. Oculus Rift will be testing out its headsets on snotty youths at none other than the swashbuckling culinary trend setter and conspicuous Michelin star non-awardee that is Chuck E. Cheese’s. And some other stuff that I haven’t quite decided on as I write these very words. Click through and you never know what you might find. It might even be worth reading.
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Damn & Blazkowicz: Wolfenstein New Order PC Tech Issues

Update – I’ve borrowed on oldish GeForce and the game’s now running fine. Definitely primarily an AMD incompatibility, presumably at driver level.

What time is it? It’s WHINY MOANY GRIPEY O’CLOCK, that’s what goddamn time it is. I’d hoped to have made decent inroads into Wolfenstein: The New Sequel* by now, but no PC code was available before release, and post-release the thing’s all but unplayable on my system, even on its lowest settings. I’m not alone in this, but while troubles are reported on a myriad of systems, AMD-ATI graphics card users have been hit particularly hard. I even bought a Radeon R290 yesterday for the express purposes of this and Watch Dogs, but I’m looking at 10-20 FPS most of the time. It does spike to 40 on occasion, but not often or consistently enough to enjoy the experience. Even the Bethesda and Machine Games logos at the start play like a cellphone video from 2004. At least I’m not suffering from the crashes to desktop that many others have reported.

A few possible performance aids are below, but they haven’t helped me.
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Week in Tech: Cheap 4K, Adaptive-Sync, DP1.2a, Screens!

Sammy's £500, 60Hz, 4K monster

4K, 6-bit, 8-bit and 10-bit panels, G-Sync n’ FreeSync n’ Adaptive-Sync, 120Hz-plus refresh, DisplayPort 1.2 and 1.2a, backlight modulation, multi-stream vs single-stream and IPS vs PLS. The PC display market is completely out of control. But in a good way. Things are developing faster now than at any time I can remember since getting into this game. And I am incredibly, astonishingly, implausibly old. The Atari 2600 was still on sale (just) when I achieved something approaching sentience. I still haven’t truly recovered from the 2600’s piss-poor Pac-Man port. Anywho, the last week or so has seen some really interesting developments in the monitor market, including the announcement that AMD’s FreeSync tech is moving into the mainstream courtesy of official VESA status and the appearance of a cheap Samsung 4K monitor with 60Hz support. High time, then, to pull together the state of play in PC monitors into something we can all understand. Well, hopefully. Read the rest of this entry »

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