Oculus Touch is a superior motion controller to the Vive’s

I’ve been playing with them there Oculus Touch controllers for the last few days – a pair of wireless, motion-tracking handheld devices that, in theory, bring the Oculus Rift more in line with the HTC Vive and its wavy, donut-ended pointers. Turns out they’re quite a bit better. Read the rest of this entry »

An Exciting Dishonored 2 Performance Update

I’ve a ‘mare of a time with Dishonored 2 [official site]. You can tell because I’ve devoted an order of magnitude more words to the subject than I’ve written to my parents in the past two years. As I wrote yesterday, the latest patch has ameliorated but not solved the performance problem – however, I might now have found the sweet spot. Not without compromise.
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Black Friday 2016 Budget Monitor Guide

A very naughty monitor

HDR hotness, uber-res 4K panels and the messiah of 27-inch IPS monitors are all very well. But what is a parsimonious PC gamer to do if she or he just wants a decent screen at a price mere mortals can afford? Take the advice I’m just about to give you, that’s what. In fact, you’ll probably be surprised what a limited budget now buys you. Beyond the jump you’ll find everything from sub-£100 screens from 40-inch 4K wonders to high-refresh honeys, and none of them breach the £300 barrier. What’s more, the ghastly spectacle of consumerism that is Black Friday is imminent. Which means now is undeniably a good a time to buy. Read the rest of this entry »

The HTC Vive Is Getting An Official Wireless Add-on

Huh. The smart money was on the Vive (and indeed Oculus Rift) not embracing the wireless future is so desperately needs until a full second generation of the hardware, but seems like we might get to cut the cord a whole lot sooner than that. An HTC partner company is about to start selling a little bolt-on box that makes the existent Valve-friendly headset entirely wireless. Finally, we can frolic freely, like Lawnmower Lambs.
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Week in Tech: Wearable VR, Photo-Realistic Fleeces And So Much More

With the profound logistical complexities of orchestrating the arrival of two 3D cards in the same place at roughly the same time apparently beyond me, my planned graphics-off between the latest budget video boards has been punted two weeks hence (hopefully, anyway). So, it’s time for another installment of the somewhat tenuously-titled Week in Tech. This week’s muses include a preposterous looking VR backpack PC from Zotac, an even more preposterous gaming laptop from Asus and the PC’s journey towards rendering photo-realistic graphics in games. Read the rest of this entry »

Budget Graphics Update: AMD Radeon RX 460 VS Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050

Graphics. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. In 2016, at least. We’ve covered much of the pricier performance end of the market, cards like the new Radeon RX 480 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070. But not all of us have made the leap from washing lettuce to assistant manager. Money, put simply, is an object.

With the launch of a new budget GPU from Nvidia, now looks like as good a time as any for a quick recap of the cheapest graphics cards that at least purport to be good for gaming and ask that crucial question – how cheap does proper 1080p gaming get?
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Nvidia 1050: Cheap 1080p/60FPS Graphics?

I’ve been lucky/dorky enough to live a life in the mid-range of graphics cards, so I must confess that what goes on with entry-level boards is a bit mysterious to me. Clearly though, that’s where a whole heap of people need to focus their interests – in many cases purely because of cost, in others because they’re stuck with some nasty off-the-shelf PC that doesn’t have enough space or power supply connectors for a Big Mama card. Nvidia’s next, the GeForce GTX 1050, is for those folk – the idea is it can do most modern games at medium settings in 1080p, at a cost of approx $110/£115. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Dev Days Goss: New Vive Controllers, Steam Link In TVs

Valve invited our mate Ian Video Games to their Steam Dev Days conference this week because “they recognise his genius potential”, or so he’d have you believe. Suspicious sorts have observed that the never-before-mentioned ‘twin brother’ housesitting to water Ian’s plants looks just like him, down to the same red wine stain on his jeans, with a stick-on moustache. Other say that the tweets and photos he’s ‘sending back’ from Seattle look suspiciously like tweets from actual developers who are actually there. No matter. Either way, Valve have been gabbing about prototype new Vive motion controllers, Steam Links included with Samsung televisions, and other Steamstuff. Read the rest of this entry »

Nvidia’s GTX 1070: The 1440p Graphics Card Of Choice?

Hello. Good evening. And graphics. After a brief excursion into the delights of HDR screens, it’s back to This Week in Graphics in which I deliver my subjective, benchmarkless verdict some months behind almost everyone else in the Alpha Quandrant. Being first is so easy, so obvious, after all. This time around we’re filling in the final slot in Nvidia’s new Pascal family of GPUs. If you discount the crazy money Titan X, at least. Yup, it’s the GeForce GTX 1070. As it happens, the 1070 neatly fills what is normally my favoured slot in the overall hierarchy of any given GPU family, namely one rung down from the top graphics chip that’s actually bought in significant volumes. Except, Nvidia’s Pascal family isn’t entirely normal…

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Review: Too Good To Be True? A 4K VR Headset That Supports SteamVR For $300

Oh, virtual reality. So much promise, so many drawbacks. Stick your hand into the Tombola Of VR Woes and see what you grab. Headaches and nauseau? High system requirements? Too many cables? Screen door effect? Apparent low resolutions? Gimmicky games? Problematic prices? Your face in a box? I could go on, but I won’t because, er, that is most of them. Both Oculus Rift and the Vive offer a real jolly good time for initial forays into lifesize 3D wonderlands, but come up short when it comes to longer term usage, for reasons we’ve opined about at length here and here. But those constitute just the first consumer generation of hardware.

The tech will be refined over time (unless the market totally loses faith in the concept), but whether that is achieved by Oculus, Valve/HTC or someone else entirely is very much up for grabs still. In the interim, here’s Chinese outfit Pimax, who are selling what they label as the first 4K VR headset for PC, which works with SteamVR. It’s also $350 (or $300 without headphones), compared to the Rift’s $599 and Vive’s $799. Two questions, then. 1) Can it really solve the image quality problem? 2) Can it really do what it needs to at half the price of the big boys of VR? I’ve been testing the Pimax for the last few days, and here’s what I think.

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HDR Gaming And The PC: It’s Complicated

There was a time when all you had to worry about with an LCD display was whether you cared enough to pay extra for a monitor with an IPS panel. Well, that and its size. And resolution. And maybe its native colour depth. And brightness. And contrast. And pixel response. And inputs. OK, it was never that simple. But it’s certainly not getting any simpler: the last few years have added further unfathomables including frame syncing, higher refresh rates, new display interconnects and the 4K standard.

Now there’s more for you to worry about in the form of HDR. Or should that be UHD Premium? Or Rec. 2020? Or BT.2100? Maybe SMPTE 2084 or HDR10? Whatever, it’s mainly about colours, lots and lots of lovely colours. This is already a big thing in HDTVs. It’s coming to the PC. But what’s it all about and is there any chance of making sense of what is, currently, a bit of a mess?

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Get Gogged: Oculus Rift Hits European Retail Today

Mate, no wonder cybergoggles didn’t bring an overnight revolution: they weren’t in the shops here. Digital distribution is great for games but you can’t download goggles, can you? Think it through, yeah? No one’s going to pay a few hundred quid for an e-mail with a small picture of a black plastic box. What kind of mug do they take us for?

At long last, Oculus Rift is now officially in Europe as something you can touch with your face. The physical edition is now in shops in boxes, and a fair few places are hosting demos so you can try jacking your face in.

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Logitech Buys Saitek’s Sim Controller Business For $13m

Saitek, the makers of a great many switch-covered peripherals for controlling planes, trains, and and automobiles, have been sold for $13 million (about £10 million) in cash. Saitek was owned by fellow controller company Mad Catz, who bought them in 2007, but now they march under the banner of peripheral giants Logitech. (I recommend Saitek’s Pro Flight™ Rudder Pedals for marching simulators – the differential braking really sells the footfeel.)

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Hardware Hotness: AMD’s Zen CPU, Gaming Monitors, More VR And The Silliest Laptop Ever

What with the sober-suited Euro foil to CES that is the IFA consumer electronics show, Intel’s IDF shindig, a new console or two from Sony and new version of the smartphone that dare not speak its name, it’s been a busy week or two in tech. But has there been any joy for the good old PC? You know, that dessicated old thing that just so happens to be by far the best gaming platform, period? There’s certainly been some startling new PC-gaming kit, including surely the most preposterous gaming laptop ever. But also some newness of genuine relevance, including an update on AMD’s new Zen CPU, some very interesting screens, plus a few further potentially PC-related oddities that are hard to gauge for now.

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Here’s How Mass Effect Andromeda Will Look In 4k

Sony just held a somewhat dry press conference about the release of their new PlayStation 4 models (a skinny one called the PS4 slim and a fat one called the PS4 Pro, if you’re interested) but the new Mass Effect Andromeda [official site] was also among the games they showed off. The footage is marked as a ‘tech demo’ to boast about the benefits of 4k, promising “crisper visuals, high dynamic range lighting… and some of the most lifelike characters we’ve ever created.” It’s also incredibly boring.

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Quark VR Working On Wireless HTC Vive Prototype

The level of immersion you get from VR is impressive, to be sure, but nothing mars that experience quite like tripping over a cord and conking your head on the coffee table. Quark VR are hoping to save the day with a wireless HTC Vive prototype. Well, nearly wireless. It’s a work in progress.

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AMD’s New Radeon RX 480: Graphics Greatness You Can Actually Afford?

As promised, the 2016 GPUgasm continues and not a moment too soon we come to AMD’s new pixel pumper, the Radeon RX 480, otherwise known as Polaris. With Nvidia’s new graphics chipsets delivering excellent performance but at punitive pricing, the narrative I’m unashamedly desperate to deliver involves AMD to the rescue with something very nearly as good, just for a fraction of the cost. With the new RX 480 clocking in at around £200 / $200, the money part of the package looks promising. But what about the performance? Forget the benchmarks, let’s give the new RX 480 a good old grope.

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Playerkind Divided – How’s Deus Ex Running For You?

SMILING IS NOT APPROPRIATE

Just as night follows day, just as pudding follows main course, just as Westlife follows Boyzone, so too is Steam flooded with negative reviews following the release of a highly-anticipated new game. This time it’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [official site], which was released yesterday to a mostly good critical response, but a cooler reception from PC players. Those who pointed their mecha-thumbs downwards are divided between complaints about performance, and being very upset about the inclusion of singleplayer microtransactions.

I did a quick poll of Team RPS to see how well this sucker is running on our many and various systems and, yeah, it seems like it’s not exactly Captain Smooth From Smooth Town.
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ZeniMax Vs. Oculus: Palmer Luckey Didn’t Develop Rift

I am sorry to bring you an update on ZeniMax’s lawsuit against Oculus, a dispute over how much ZeniMax and then-id Software technowizard John Carmack contributed to the Rift’s development. I’m sorry because courtroom drama is so dry. I’d much rather tell you about how Jessica Fletcher, Phryne Fisher, or equivalent amateur sleuth uncovered evidence, how they charmed their way into a high-society dinner, pumped a suspect for details with grace, then cracked their safe with a bobby pin.

No, instead all I can tell you is ZeniMax lawyers claim that the Rift only became the technological wonder we know today thanks to work by Carmack and other ZeniMax employees, not solely by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. Heck, they say Luckey “lacked the training, expertise, resources or know-how to create commercially viable VR technology, his computer programming skills were rudimentary, and he relied on ZeniMax’s computer program code and games to demonstrate the prototype Rift.” Oof.

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Monitor Magic: What Games Look Like At 21:9

I keep banging on about it to all who will listen, but like a mid-life-crisiseer and their ridiculous sports car, I am increasingly in love with my new ultrawide monitor. I had to use a standard 1080p one recently – oh the humanity! – and felt as though I was trapped inside a tiny box. 21:9 is the only way to play. At least until 32:9 arrives and I decide that of course I cannot live without that. CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME. Genuinely though, ultrawide is lovely: it really brings games to life.
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