What motherboard / CPU combo do I need to build an Intel Coffee Lake or AMD Ryzen PC?

Motherboard CPU combo

When it comes to building your own PC, there are some bits of the upgrade process that are easier to work out than others. Picking the best graphics card for your system is pretty easy, as is deciding which CPU you want to go for. The hard part is finding the right motherboard for everything you’ve just bought.

We’re here to help. Below, you’ll find an in-depth guide of which motherboards are compatible with which CPUs, as well as everything you need to know about all the different types of chipsets and sockets you’ll see when buying a new motherboard. If you’re thinking about making the jump to Intel’s new 8th Gen Coffee Lake processors, or fancy one of AMD’s Ryzen+ chips but don’t know which motherboard you should get, read on.

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Samsung 970 Pro review: Do yourself a favour and get the Evo instead

Samsung 970 Pro

For those after the very best that NVMe SSDs have to offer, Samsung’s Pro line has often been the go-to choice for workstation and power peeps alike. They’re usually faster than their more consumer and wallet-friendly Evo SSD siblings, and often come with higher endurance ratings for all that inevitable heavy-lifting they’ll be doing once you’ve popped them into your PC.

Today, I have Samsung’s latest, the 970 Pro. Big brother to the 970 Evo, this particular NVMe SSD comes in just two sizes this time round – 512GB and 1TB – and I’ve got one of the former. Let’s see if it’s worth the extra moolah.

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Steelseries Sensei 310 review: An all-round ambidextrous mouse

Steelseries Sensei 310

Esports smee-sports. Whatever it says on the box about the Steelseries Sensei 310 being “engineered” for your favourite arena-based festivities, you should know this ambidextrous mouse is still a great point and clicker in its own right. Whether you’re indeed planning to use it for a spot of Plunkbat chicken dinner-ing, or frantically buying ten thousand copies of Yakuza 0 on Steam for everyone because you’re the world’s bestest best good samaritan, the Sensei 310 makes a fine companion for all of your preferred mouse activities, lefties and righties alike.

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Intel set to release their first graphics card by 2020

Intel GPU

Watch out Nvidia and AMD. Intel have confirmed they’re going to release their first discrete GPU by 2020 – over Twitter, no less. First announced by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich last week during an analyst event according to Marketwatch, the race for best graphics card is about to get a whole lot more interesting, with Intel set to release GPUs for both data centre and AI applications as well as gaming – probably not unlike what our crack team of Photoshop monkeys have cooked up for us above. Read the rest of this entry »

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ review: 4K HDR has arrived, but good grief, HOW MUCH?

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

When I first saw the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ a couple of weeks ago, I thought the future of monitors had finally arrived. After 18 months of waiting, false starts and an increasingly dizzying array of HDR standards, infuriating Windows 10 options and simply not being able to have as good a time as our console box friends with their fancy pants 4K HDR TVs, both the PG27UQ and the Acer Predator X27 (a review of which will be coming soon) promptly blew me away with their 1000cd/m2 bright, 4K IPS screens, 384 dynamic backlight zones, 144Hz refresh rates and Nvidia G-Sync HDR support (or high dynamic range, to you and me).

A month later, that rush of excitement hasn’t faded, and every moment I’ve spent with the PG27UQ has been – for the most part – an absolute delight. That is, when Windows 10’s playing ball and I’ve spent at least fifteen minutes fiddling around with the settings making sure the brightness level’s set correctly, followed by the same amount of time again in-game tweaking luminance levels to ensure the Fat Chocobo Triple-Decker sandwich in Final Fantasy XV isn’t a blown-out mess of white highlights and oversaturated colours. I was almost ready to crown it our best gaming monitor of all time. Then I found out how much it actually costs. Brace yourselves.

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Best gaming headset 2018: Our top PC picks

Best gaming headset

So you’ve built your PC, bought the best graphics card and the best gaming monitor to go with it; now all you need is some kind of new-fangled listening device to appreciate the sights and sounds of your favourite games, which is why I’m here to help you find the best gaming headset for your needs and budget.

For whatever reason, PC desktop speakers seem to have gone the way of the dodo these days, and the piddly speakers you’ll find in your monitor usually aren’t fit for anything but the briefest of email pings. What’s more, with several games now utilizing online play and various types of co-op mode, a gaming headset with a built-in microphone is often much more convenient than simply having a pair of regular headphones and a separate mic.

Finding a good gaming headset, however, is fraught with problems, as you’ve not only got to find one that sounds decent, but there’s also the quality of its microphone to consider as well as its overall comfort. There’s no use having an incredible sounding headset if the headband suddenly turns into a vice-like torture device after 30 minutes of use. To that end, I’ve created this handy guide, complete with everything else you need to know about buying a new gaming headset. Below, you’ll find my current favourites out of all the headsets I’ve tested here at Castle Shotgun, but as with any kind of ‘Best’ list, these picks aren’t set in stone. It will continue to change and evolve as I get new headsets in for testing, but for now, let’s count ourselves in…

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Hands on with Asus’ MOBA and FPS-friendly Hero II and Scar II laptops

Asus Scar II and Hero II

The phrase “mid-range gaming laptop” often seems a bit silly, considering that even this tier – in theory the most sensible one – is still occupied by mad, distressingly angular notebooks costing as much or more as a 4K-ready desktop. That said, there’s certainly a gap worth aiming for between bulky, plasticky entry-level models and the swish but even more punishingly expensive high-end.

This is where Asus’ first-gen ROG Strix Scar Edition and ROG Strix Hero Edition reside, and now Computex has revealed their replacements in the form of the ROG Strix Scar II and the ROG Strix Hero II.

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Zotac MEK1 review: A pint-sized GTX 1060 powerhouse

Zotac MEK1 header

Building your own PC can be pretty damn satisfying when you’re not paying through the nose for one of today’s best graphics cards and actually manage to get it all working when you first turn it on, but sometimes we just want someone else do the hard work for us – especially when that someone is graphics card extraordinaire Zotac and the PC in question is the delightfully diddy MEK1.

I say diddy – the MEK1 is still positively monstrous compared to Zotac’s other collection of miniature media PCs and tiddly little NUC units they’ve made over the years. But at just over 418mm tall, a svelte 118mm wide and a sleek 415mm deep, this mini-ITX build is arguably one of the neatest kinds of gaming PC you can get that stills fit on top of your desk without it looking completely ridiculous – and its 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and Intel Core i5 CPU aren’t bad either. Let’s take a look.

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Roccat’s Vulcan mechanical keyboard is one to watch

Roccat Vulcan

One of the surprise highlights of this year’s Computex has been, of all things, a keyboard – and a Roccat one at that. It’s not that the German firm makes a load of bad kit – the Khan Pro headset and Leadr mouse are both recent successes – but they’ve also never really broken through to becoming first-rate purveyors of must-have peripherals. The Vulcan, however, is a convincing argument to start thinking otherwise.

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Best gaming keyboard 2018: Our top mechanical, membrane and RGB picks for PC

Best gaming keyboard 2018

Your keyboard is one of the most important parts of your entire PC, so to help you decide what your next one’s going to be, we’ve put together a list of all the best gaming keyboards we’ve tried and tested in the RPS treehouse. We’ve got everything here from top of the range mechanical keyboards right down to the very best that membrane keyboards have to offer as well, the latter of which are both a bit easier on your ears and, more importantly, your wallet.

If none of that makes even the slightest bit of sense, then fear not, as we’ll also take you through everything you need to know about all the different keyboard types on offer, as well as all the various kinds of switches that go with them. By the time you’re done, you’ll have everything you need to know about buying the best gaming keyboard for you and your budget. Naturally, this list will continue to evolve as and when we get new keyboards in for testing that we think deserve a place on this list (wireless keyboards are also forthcoming), but for now, let’s get to it.

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Alienware cut cords with their first wireless headset, plus a new mouse

Alienware Wireless Gaming Headset and Elite Gaming Mouse

It’s been almost ten years since Alienware released their last headset, but now Dell’s gaming division are diving back into the heady world of RGB lights, chunky microphones and oversized audio drivers with their very first wireless gaming headset, the appropriately named Alienware Wireless Gaming Headset. Or the AW988 for short.

Oh, and they’ve also released a new mouse to go with it that has interchangeable side ;plates in case you want to switch up the number of buttons you have for FPS games and MMOs. Let’s take a look.

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The best bonkers case mods at Computex 2018

Best Computex case mods

This year’s Computex will probably be remembered for both AMD and Intel’s duelling “Mine’s got more cores than yours, pal” processor announcements and the conspicuous absence of the new Nvidia Turing GPUs. But if there’s one thing that nicely encapsulates the show as a whole, it would be the assortment of mad custom case designs on display.

They’re the logical conclusion of where, judging by two days spent on the show floor, PC component design is heading: big, brash and almost definitely laden with RGB lighting. It’s a testament to how ambitious some of these designs are that even among such flashy company, certain models still manage to stand out. Here are five of them!

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Bag a free copy of The Crew 2 when you buy a new GTX 1080 or GTX 1080Ti

the-crew-2-open-beta

I don’t know about you, but there’s still a little part of me that feels cut up about the fact we won’t be getting Nvidia’s Turing graphics cards as soon as we’d hoped. I know, I know, no one really needs to buy a new graphics card in this day and age – especially when most of today’s best graphics cards are a) finally back down to normal-ish prices and b) pretty damn fast anyway – but it wounds me, all right? Deep.

The good news, happily, is that Nvidia are finally starting to bundle games in with their graphics cards again, which was always a sweet little extra when you’d just spent hundreds of pounds / dollars on a new card. And what better way to show off your new GPU, apparently, than with Ubisoft and Ivory Tower’s bananas open world racing-sailing-flying-and-biking bonanza The Crew 2. Read the rest of this entry »

Intel’s 28-core CPU monster vs. AMD’s 32-core 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper

AMD Threadripper 2

The battle for ‘how many cores can you possibly fit onto a CPU’ has been getting rather toasty at this year’s Computex show, as last night Intel and AMD both unveiled (or teased, in Intel’s case) some monstrously powerful CPUs in the form of 28-core and, wait for it, 32-core chipsets. Read the rest of this entry »

Intel’s Core i7-8086K is their best CPU yet – and there are 8086 of them up for grabs

Intel Core i7-8086K box

In happier Computex news today (which doesn’t involve having the vague release date of Nvidia’s Turing graphics cards being dashed from sometime this autumn into the vague nothingness of “a long time” into the future), Intel have announced their very first CPU with a 5.0GHz turbo frequency to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their x86 architecture, the limited edition (and very aptly-named) Intel Core i7-8086K – and to mark the occasion they’re giving away 8086 of them for absolutely nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

Nvidia Turing: GTX 1180 release date cast into doubt, plus everything we know so far

Nvidia GeForce GTX

After months of extortionate graphics card prices and a general feeling of malaise toward today’s current crop of GPUs, many of us have been looking forward to seeing what Nvidia have in store for their next set of GeForce GTX graphics cards, which are currently going by the code name ‘Turing’. Set to replace many of today’s best graphics cards like the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, the current thinking is that Nvidia’s Turing GPUs will either become a new 11-series of graphics cards, taking on names like the GTX 1180, or even a new 20-series under monikers like the GTX 2070.

However, while all previous information pointed toward a vague autumn release date, Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang has now thrown everything into doubt, saying it will be “a long time” before we see the next GeForce GPU. What does that mean for Turing? Here’s everything we know so far.

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Nvidia: Next GeForce graphics card won’t arrive for “a long time”

Nvidia Isaac

Do my ears deceive me? Did Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang just say it will be “a long time” until the next GeForce GPU release at this year’s Computex show in Taiwan? What about all those Nvidia Turing rumours about a new Founders Edition card being available next month and a supposed proper reveal scheduled for August? I’m going to need some time to process this – perhaps with the help of Nvidia’s newly-announced robot platform pal, Issac.  Read the rest of this entry »

Asus’ new 49in curved 144Hz monitor to take on Samsung’s CHG90

Asus VG49V

If a crate load of new TUF Gaming peripherals wasn’t enough hardware news for one day, Asus have also announced a brand-new 49in curved gaming monitor at this year’s Computex show to take on the likes of the stupidly wide Samsung CHG90. Much like its extra long 32:9 rival, the Asus VG49V comes with a curved 49in display with a 3840×1080 resolution and a super fast 144Hz refresh rate, giving you as much room as two 27in 1920×1080 monitors without any pesky bezels getting in the way.

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Move over ROG, Asus’ new TUF mouse, keyboard and headset are in town

Asus new TUF Gaming range

PC gaming’s E3 is finally here. No, not that other PC gaming show that’s taking place next week at E3 proper. I’m talking about Computex 2018, Taiwan’s yearly tech bonanza where the weird and wonderful of PC gaming hardware is shown off to the world for the first time. Sometimes these bits of hardware actually see the light of day. Sometimes they don’t. I suspect Asus’ new entry-level TUF peripherals, however, will fall into the former camp. Let’s see what’s in store.

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Nvidia Turing graphics cards reveal set for August

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini small

After months of speculation and a will-they-won’t-they game of leaked and delayed release dates, Nvidia look set to finally reveal all about their upcoming Turing graphics cards and the GTX 1180 this August. There’s a chance we may hear about them formally beforehand, of course, especially if the current rumours about a GTX 1180 Founders Edition appearing next month are to be believed, but whatever happens, the program outline for this year’s Hot Chips conference suggests we’ll definitely be hearing at least something about what’s in store on August 20. Read the rest of this entry »