Final Fantasy XV graphics performance: Will it kill my GPU?

Final Fantasy XV combat

PC games usually fall into two camps when it comes to recommended specifications. There’s the ‘Yes, you’ll probably be fine’ category, and the ‘SWEET LORD CRYSIS 3 IS ABOUT TO MAKE MY PC MELT’ bracket. Final Fantasy XV, the anime boyband stag do roadtrip JRPG, almost certainly falls into the latter, so I got together a bunch of graphics cards to see how they fared against the almighty Square Enix behemoth.

Now this is by no means a complete list of all today’s available or indeed best graphics cards (yet, anyway), but it should hopefully paint a reasonable picture of what you can expect to get out of it if you’re not quite sure whether your PC’s up to the task. And who could blame you, when the recommended graphics card is a chuffing 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480?

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Asus ROG Strix Fusion 500 review: A great, bassy headset undermined by fussy touch controls

Asus ROG Strix Fusion 500

The Asus ROG Strix Fusion 500 is probably the first headset I’ve used in quite some time where I haven’t had to automatically put the headband on the tightest possible setting. This surprised me, considering the enormous size of its ear cups, but the tight, rigid design of its headband meant there was no way I was getting this thing over my head without loosening it first. Finally, a USB headset for people with smaller noggins than I.

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Standalone Vive Focus heading westwards later this year

Vive Focus

Hot off the heels of Vive Pro’s price announcement, HTC have now revealed that its first standalone VR headset, the Vive Focus, will also be making its way across the globe later this year. Originally limited to just shops in China, the Focus will become what HTC’s calling the first inside-out-six-degrees-of-freedom standalone VR headset to be available to regular folk like us. Uh-huh.

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HDR for PC games is a hot mess (but it’s nice when it works)

assassins-creed-hdr

A few of the things I have had to do in order to get a workable version of HDR (also known as high dynamic range), the new-ish display technology that significantly ramps up brightness, darkness and vibrancy, on my PC (not including the acquisition of a fancy monitor):

– Try four different display cables
– Adjust as many as seven different brightness/contrast/colour etc shaders per game. (I have spent long, unhappy hours doing this to date)
– Manually turn on HDR on the monitor, manually turn HDR on in Windows then manually turn on HDR in the game settings. Or sometimes HDR off in Windows but on in the game then alt-tab back to Windows and turn HDR on, and off, and on, and off. Or sometimes alt-tab and alt-tab and alt-tab and alt-tab and alt-tab until HDR suddenly, randomly kicks in. When I exit the game, I have to manually turn it all back off again or Windows is unusable.
– Install an unfinished preview build of Windows 10 whose HDR isn’t totally broken on Nvidia cards.
– Almost completely lose my sense of whether anything is actually different after all of this.

The egg yolks in Final Fantasy XV were a bit shinier, though.
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EA’s Project Pica Pica leads new wave of photorealistic ray-tracing graphics demos at GDC 2018

Project Pica Pica

You love games. We love games. We love 2D games, 3D games, pixel games, life-like games, even slightly shonky-looking games. But what about if games looked, I don’t know, even better? Like, cinematic rendering, photorealistic kind of better? Well, Nvidia are on the case, as they’ve just announced their brand-new, not-at-all-incomprehensible “RTX Ray-Tracing” technology at GDC 2018.

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Best monitor 2018: Top gaming monitors and buying guide

Monitor buying guide header

Your monitor is one of the most important parts of your PC, so finding the best monitor to suit your needs and budget is vital. Take a look at the display section of any electronics retailer, though, and you’ll find hundreds of screens costing anything from £70 right up to £1500. The range of models and prices can be overwhelming, but this guide is here to help.

We’ll take you through everything you need to know about screen sizes, resolutions, refresh rates, panel types, inputs and adjustable stands, as well as provide a few recommendations of our own based on our own testing. By the time you’re done here, you’ll be fully equipped to find the best monitor for you. Let’s begin!

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MSI Optix MPG27CQ review: A great monitor with bonus RGB options

MSI MPG27CQ

As 27in 2560×1440 monitors go, the MSI Optix MPG27CQ is one that really likes to get up in your face. It’s only 27in across the diagonal, but its curved VA panel and ginormous base gives it quite a sizable footprint. Indeed, you’ll need 379mm clearance to fit this beast on your desk, which is just about enough room to stick your keyboard in front of it, but not a lot else.

In a way, having its screen shoved so close to your eyeballs helps show off its 1800mm curvature radius much more effectively than if it was sat further away from you, as the sense of those curved edges wrapping themselves snuggly round my peripheral vision feels much more pronounced than any of the ultrawide 21:9 monitors I tested earlier in the year. The other reason why it feels so up in your grill all the time, though, is that it’s also got five pulsing LED strips along the bottom, which is sure to make RGB fanatics squeal with delight.

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HTC Vive Pro is going to cost £799, but normal Vive gets price cut to £499

Vive Pro

HTC’s new-fangled Vive Pro finally has a price and release date. If you want a piece of its higher resolution screen, fancy pants headphones and slightly comfier design, these blue-tinged VR cybergoggles are going to set you back a whopping £799. Pre-orders, you’ll be happy to hear, are also open right now at Vive, GAME, Overclockers and Scan.

If all that sounds a tad steep, however, you’ll be even happier to hear that the regular Vive has now had £100 knocked off its original price, taking it down to a mere £499.  Read the rest of this entry »

Roccat Khan Aimo review: Better for bass lovers

Roccat Khan Aimo

The Khan Aimo is the final piece of Roccat’s smart RGB peripheral puzzle – or at least it is so far, anyway. Like their Horde Aimo keyboard and Kone Aimo mouse before it, the Khan Aimo uses Roccat’s intelligent RGB system to create a synchronised light show that adapts to the way you work and play, rippling and fading with every click, tap and pause across each of your devices.

Of course, unless you regularly have out-of-body-experiences when you’re playing games, the RGB effect on the headset will be pretty much lost on you, as there’s no way to actually see any of it once you’ve put it on. Not that it’s particularly overt in the first place, with only a thin strip down the side of each ear cup and a tiny little sliver at the base of headband, but at least your mates will think you’re “Très Cool” when you rock up with everything at your next LAN party. Okay, so the lighting might be a bit pointless, but to dismiss the Khan Aimo on those grounds alone would be short-sighted, as this is also another Hi Res audio certified headset just like the Steelseries Arctis Pro. It can also do Hi Res and surround sound at the same time – something the Arctis Pro is decidedly lacking.  Read the rest of this entry »

Intel’s new 8th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs will have built-in Spectre and Meltdown hardware fixes

Spectre

Good news for Intel fans this morning. PC security flaws and definitely not James Bond movie titles Spectre and Meltdown will likely be largely eradicated in future hardware releases, the CPU giant’s CEO Brian Krzanich has said in a blog post.

We suspected this would probably be the case when the flaws were first unveiled at the beginning of the year by Google’s Project Zero group, but now we know for sure. While one form of Spectre will continue to be addressed by software updates, the second Spectre variant and Meltdown will be dealt with the hard(ware) way, with Intel saying “we’ve made changes to our hardware design to further address” these flaws.

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Steelseries Rival 600 review: Worth its weight in gold?

Steelseries Rival 600 mouse

How much would you normally spend on a mouse? £10? $20? Maybe even £30 if I’d been particularly stung (or should that be bitten?) by a dodgy mouse in the past, but it would have to be a really good one for me to consider spending more. Indeed, if you thought shelling out £70 for the Asus ROG Gladius II was a bit steep, then the £80 / $75 Steelseries Rival 600 has an even greater mountain to climb before it starts looking even vaguely palatable.

Fortunately, there is method to its slightly mad pricing. If you’ve ever felt like your mouse was too heavy (like the monstrous Corsair Scimitar Pro), too light (a la Steelseries’ own Rival 110), or just not quite right for your liking, the Steelseries Rival 600 has a remedy – and that’s eight little 4g weights you can slot into each side of the mouse, giving you as many as 256 different weight and balance configurations.

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Corsair K68 RGB review: A spill resistant keyboard that only wants to get its toes wet

Corsair K68 RGB

We’ve all done it. I’ve even ruined a rather expensive gaming laptop doing it. And yet, I still keep a long, tall glass of water on my desk every day (not to mention multiple mugs of tea) because I’m an idiot who can’t learn from her own mistakes. Right next to my keyboard. One accidental swipe of my arm, or a mad dash across my desk from one of my cats (as they are increasingly wont to do these days), and it could all end in ruin.

I’m a fool, I know – which is why Corsair’s new K68 RGB keyboard may be the answer to our collective drink-related woes. It’s IP32 water and dust-resistant, you see, which means it’s got some mild protection against accidental spillages, making it a bit more durable than your typical mechanical keyboard. I’ve got the RGB version here, which costs £120 in the UK, but it’s also available in plain old red LEDs for a lot less (£87 or $88). Let’s see what it’s made of.

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Steelseries Arctis Pro review: The best headset just got better, at a cost

Steelseries Arctis Pro

Ever since the Steelseries Arctis 7 rocked my eardrums at the end of last year, no other gaming headset has even come close to matching its supreme comfort or exceptional sound quality – until now. Enter its brand-new shiny upmarket sibling, the Arctis Pro.

Borrowing the same understated design and ski goggle headband as the rest of the Arctis line, the Pro takes everything up a notch, introducing Hi Res audio support, a dash of RGB lighting around the ear cups and some primo build quality to make it extra feel durable and luxurious.

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Nvidia’s Turing graphics cards apparently delayed AGAIN

Not Nvidia's Turing

Normally, delays are considered a Bad Thing, but as the great graphics card price crisis rumbles on, it’s not like any of us actually have any money to upgrade our PCs anyway, so the later, the better, really, when it comes to hardware.

Indeed, the latest gossip appears to suggest that Nvidia’s next-gen Turing graphics cards won’t be here until the autumn now, after previously being tipped for a reveal at the end of this month during Nvidia’s GTC conference, and then later for a mid-June release date once that initial rumour had been well and truly busted.

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Roccat Horde Aimo review: Where membrane meets mechanical

Roccat Horde Aimo

‘Membranical’ is a horrible word and a crime against the English language, but those in keyboard circles will probably agree (albeit reluctantly) that it’s a fitting description for Roccat’s new keyboard, the Horde Aimo. If that last word sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re remembering Roccat’s Kone Aimo mouse, which belongs to the same family of RGB peripherals.

The Horde Aimo is, thankfully, a bit less overt than other LED-tastic keyboards, as the very nature of its closed-in, island-style membrane keys means you only get light escaping from each individual letter cut-out rather than having it spill out the bottom of each individual key cap. That might be a deal breaker for some, but for those who want a less distracting keyboard that doesn’t make a CLACKETY racket, read on.

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AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 review: A good 4K graphics card that’s just too expensive right now

AMD RX Vega 56

As the great graphics card mining crisis rumbles on, picking a time to upgrade your PC has become a minefield of inflated prices and overblown mark-ups – and nowhere has this been felt more keenly than AMD’s new Radeon RX Vega 56 card and its big brother, the Radeon RX Vega 64.

Whereas the RX Vega 64 targets the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (our current best graphics card for 4K gaming), the RX Vega 56 takes aim at the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070. That is, an excellent graphics card for 2560×1440 resolutions with ambitions of pushing into the 4K arena with a couple of compromises. And yet their respective prices couldn’t be more different, with the cheapest GTX 1070 currently costing around £500 / $665, while the poor old RX Vega 56 will set you back at least £750 / $750. The easily-parsable Asus Radeon RX Vega 56 ROG Strix OC Gaming version I’ve got here demands even more, too, with prices at time of writing sitting lamentably out of reach around the £840 / $900 mark.

This immediately puts the RX Vega 56 on the back foot, regardless of which make you go for, but assuming everything starts settling down at some point in the future (and good gravy I hope they do), I’m going to ignore prices for the moment and just focus on whether it’s just a good graphics card. Capice? Capice. Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry »

Oculus issuing $15 apology voucher for #goggpocalypse

visor

There is no pain greater in our universe than not being able to use your virtual reality goggles for a whole day. As such, the $15 Oculus store voucher the Rift-makers are offering by way of apology for yesterday’s #goggpocalypse, in which messed-up software effectively broke their headset for a while, only begins to salve the wound. I demand that Ian Oculus comes to my house and installs triple-SLI GTX Titan Blacks in my PC this very evening.

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ICEd: Oculus Rift cybergoggles are broken today while the megacorp work on a fix

Update: this is now fixed, though users will need to take a long route to the update. Oculus officially confirmed that the problem was an expired software certificate, which caused further problems because it also wonked the usual updater.

I keep telling you: if you want to jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace, you’ve gotta roll your own goggs. These megacorp-supplied cybergoggles are controlled by The Man, the very shadowy organisations you should be jacking in to undermine. The vulnerability of megacorp hardware was revealed today when technomancers across the globe woke up to discover the Oculus software throwing up an error message, leaving Rift headsets effectively broken. Oculus say they’re aware of this and are trying to fix it. If you’re hoping to escape meatspace tonight and enter a data trance, you might want a backup plan. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam hardware charts: The GTX 1060 and 1080p gaming rule the roost

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 is still the most popular graphics card among Steam users, according to the store’s latest hardware survey, with 14.05% of all users using it as their card of choice. Nvidia’s old GTX 750Ti isn’t far behind, though, as that’s still being used by 13.05% of users, making it the second most popular gaming card for the month of February.

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Turtle Beach Elite Pro review: Not for those with tiny skulls

Turtle Beach Elite Pro

A lot of headsets sound like they’re playing a game of buzzword bingo these days, and the Turtle Beach Elite Pro is no exception. Are you a pro gamer who’s into esports and want to play like the athletes you see on the internet? Well, the Elite Pro and its Superhuman Hearing tech, TruSpeak microphone, Aerofit ear cushions and ComfortTec fit and ProSpecs glasses relief system (yes, all actual words printed on the side of the Elite Pro’s box) could be the headset for you! Sorry, you’ll have to excuse me a minute, I think I just threw up in my own mouth.

Marketing jargon and crimes against the English language aside, though, and the Elite Pro is actually a very nice headset. A rather bulky,  heavy gaming headset, but a nice one nevertheless.

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