Posts Tagged ‘hard choices’

The 2015 PC Gaming Monitor Mega Guide

All the screen you actually need?

Is capitalism in all its ghastly splendour is to blame? Or is it just us, we first-world punters, who have a problem with our priorities? I’m not sure. But what I do know is that, while parts of the world can’t get the basic human rights thing worked out, we’ve sure as hell nailed it when it comes to choice in the PC monitor market. 4K, adaptive-sync, 144Hz, curved screens, superwide aspect ratio – where to begin? And how can you end up with the right screen for you?

You see, I’m no latter-day socio-economic sage. But I can tell you which of this new-fangled monitor malarkey actually matters. So, who’s with me for some LCD-themed retail therapy?

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Week in Tech: Mobile Gaming Update

Embrace the brick

Long ago, in an age when PC magazines ruled the land, the internet had barely achieved broadband and being a tech journalist really meant something (OK, that last bit was probably never true), I used to be a laptop gaming junky. This, I’d largely forgotten until Nvidia’s new mobile GPUs launched the other day and were accompanied by some conspicuously OTT hyperbole from wet-behind-the-ears padawans in the tech press. How quickly they forget the great mobile GPUs of yesteryear. Thus, for a serious dissertation on the delights and, let’s be honest, drastic downsides of laptop gaming along with a grudging admission that the new GeForce GTX 970M and 980M do actually look pretty damn fine, you know what to do.

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Hard Choices: The Great DIY Vs Pre-built PC Debate, Part 2

After last week’s missive, the comments were alive with la passion PC. And it was all good. But the one critical aspect we didn’t look at in detail was the value proposition. Do you really save a chunk of change with a DIY build? A matter of some simple sums, you say?

Would that it could be so. The reality is that the variables quickly get out of control. Much depends on your budget, how flexible you are on spec, what kind of warranty you want, even where you are in the world. There are no definitive answers, folks. However, what I can do is spec up my ideal PC via both separate components and a few of the usual suspects from the PC building industry here in Blighty. The upshot makes for some interesting observations that highlight the various pitfalls, pros and cons, hell even some of my own personal peccadilloes, when it comes to DIY vs pre-built PCs. So get comfortable. This is going to take a while. Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Choices: The Great DIY Vs Pre-built PC Debate, Part 1

To build or to buy. That is the fundamental philosophical, cultural, hell maybe even epistemological, question for we PC lovers. Some of you will already know the cut of your own jib. You’ll either gag at the thought of paying through the nose for an oily work-experience tick to inexpertly cobble your PC together using whatever bits the system seller bought cheap that week. Or you’ll wonder why anyone imagines the marginal savings of self build are worth the risk of bork.

I reckon a lot of us are floating voters on this issue. Is DIY a false economy? Is buying pre-built just paying the man? Let’s pick apart the pros and cons and have a proper powwow in the comments below. For part one, we’ll cover off the theoretical bases, the theories, assumptions and practical pros and cons. In part two, I’ll wheel out some examples from both sides of the equation and get forensic with the cost comparison. Here we go.

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Hard Choices: How To Choose The Right CPU

Apparently, some of you don’t dedicate every waking hour to keeping up with PCI Express lane counts, silicon production nodes and CPU socket redundancy. I know, some people, eh? But with that in mind, plus the tendency for product-driven reportage to get a bit jargon heavy, not to mention some significant recent CPU-related developments from Intel of late, now feels like a good moment to stick a peg in the sand, pull all the current CPU options together, outline the key technologies and issues and then point you in the direct of a few best buys. It’s time for another semi-newbie’s guide to CPUs.
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Week in Tech: Sony Vaio Tap 11, Will It Game?

As I wandered the debris-strewn wasteland of discarded smartphones that is the aftermath of the perfect storm of disposable consumerism at CES in Vegas earlier this month, my plan had been to regale you all with a twisting tale of ultra mobile technology and gaming. To talk about the iPhone and how its performance has ballooned by 40 times since introduction in 2007. And what it all means for the PC. I wrote it up and even managed to crowbar in an anecdote about the afternoon I spent lounging in the sun at the Colombo Swimming Club chatting to Arthur C. Clarke without once mentioning 2001 (true story and all that). But then I thought sod that whimsy, I’ll save it for another day. I’ve got an Intel Haswell-powered Sony Vaio Tap 11 at the moment. Will it game? Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Microsoft Warface Surface Pro 2

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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Build A Better-Than-Xbox-One/PS4 PC For £500

Well, don’t take that entirely literally. I’m just writing that to get your attention and/or I can’t think of a more accurate way to do it within the character limit. Obviously you can’t build your own Xbox One or PlayStation 4 – they use some custom hardware not available to PC-builders to do their next-generation thing, they’re running bespoke operating systems (and all the horror-DRM that goes with it) and contain it all with in a comparatively small black monolith that sits underneath your TV. Additionally, console games can be made to specific hardware requirements, which can entail a far great degree of optimisation than trying to target a hundred thousand million different PC configs. No matter what the console generation, the PC comparison can never be an exact one. What you can do, though, is build yourself a PC that has a little more grunt under the hood than these apparent future-machines, for pretty much the same amount of money.

To be honest, while hitting the £420 price of an Xbone is eminently possible, I’d recommend you spend just a little more on a games PC than that – it’ll last you longer, there’s more scope for upgrading later, games will look fancier and you won’t have to spend a week trawling price comparison sites. Either way, the idea that a beefy games PC costs thousands of dollars/pounds is an outdated and wildly inaccurate one.
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Hard Choices: Intel’s ‘Orrible New Haswell Chips


Move along. There’s absolutely nothing to see.

Still here? Fine. Intel’s new Haswell CPUs are a non-event for the desktop PC. In fact, with Haswell Intel’s indifference to the desktop might just have been upgraded to spite. If you really must have an explanation, here it is. Read the rest of this entry »

Week In Tech: Nvidia’s ‘New’ Graphics Cards

Back in Feb we had a little chin wag about the mad dash of annual graphics hardware launches slowing to a saunter. We can add a little more flesh to the bones of that story this week, with some pretty plausible looking details of Nvidia’s upcoming plans – and further confirmation of nothing new from AMD. It’s worth a quick dip into the mucky waters of rumour for anyone pondering a GPU upgrade or a generally a new rig as some new kit – of sorts – is imminent. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Awesome RPS Gaming Rig Winners

What do points mean?

Remember our gaming rig give away in January? It took a little while to pull all the pieces together and get the kits out to our winners. But it was quite a haul – a package including our favourite CPU, motherboard and graphics card combo – and well worth the wait. The lucky so and soes who won have had their booty for a few months now, so we thought we’d drop in and find out what life is like in the pixel-pumping fast lane… Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Choices: Ask AMD Part 2, The Answers

Here it is, folks. The answers to all your AMD questions. Well, not all of them. Dropped some, reworded others, added a few twists of my own. The usual. The senior AMD suit in question is Roy Taylor. His official title is Corporate Vice President, Global Channel Sales. That’s right, Corporate Vice President, Global Channel Sales. Soak up the seniority. He’s been at AMD for 12 weeks having spent the previous 12 years at arch enemy Nvidia. So let’s just say he’s got plenty of insight into graphics, CPUs and gaming. Did I mention he is indeed quite senior? Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Choices: Build Your Own Steam Box

Why wait for Gabe Newell to wax his generous whiskers and turn up fashionably late to the launch party? Build your own Steam Box today. Or perhaps getting a pre-order in for Xi3’s today-it’s-official-tomorrow-it-ain’t Piston is a good idea? Yes, there have been some odd goings on. But all this PC-as-games-console jazz does throw up several interesting questions. Like what does it take to build a Steam Box yourself? Does Piston have plausible gaming chops? And can the official Steam Box compete with those evil corporate consoles on price? For answers to these questions three and a generous helping of finger-in-air prognosticating, ride your rodents to the other side… Read the rest of this entry »

Week in Tech: Will It Play Crysis, & More On PS4

Ahhh, the quest for PC games with graphics so good, they look pre-rendered. When will it end? Actually, it’ll end when PCs are capable of graphics that look pre-rendered. It’s going to happen. And say what you want about the gameplay or narrative, but Crysis 3 is a reminder that we’re getting ever closer. Think it’s also worth a recap on the Sony PS4 launch now that its beating, PC-derived heart has been officially revealed and tell you why I’m increasingly convinced it’s good news for the PC.
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FINISHED The Awesome RPS Gaming Rig Give Away

Come on down for some actually pretty good prizes

Update: OK, we’ve now had correct answers to both questions, so please cease your frenzied entries now. Thanks for getting involved, all. Now updated with answers. Well done to our two winners! And for the avoidance of doubt, our two winners know who they are!

This is it, folks. Your chance to live the dream and kick off 2013 in style. I’ve scratched backs, pulled strings and fiddled with knobs. The result is that we’re giving away a pair of gaming rig kits composed of RPS’s favourite clobber. So, that’s an Intel Core i5-3570K processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 graphics and some Z77 motherboard action. And it can all be yours. All you have to do is riddle me these questions three. Well, two and a tie breaker… Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Choices: The Week in Tech

The pitfalls of high performance PC graphics. Pitfalls. Geddit? Sigh

Graphics, graphics, graphics. It’s all you lot care about. Actually, it’s what I care about most when it comes to PC performance. So why fight it? Instead, I’ve got a couple of graphics-related titbits for you this week. Firstly, I’ve had a chat with Intel’s graphics guru, Richard Huddy. Odds are, you’ll be gaming on Intel graphics one day. What’s more, the mere fact that Intel has snapped up the likes of Mr Huddy, previously known for his dev-rel uberness at ATI, when there was an ATI, is symptomatic of Intel’s increasingly full-on attitude to graphics. The other part of this week’s awfully exciting package is NVIDIA’s new GeForce Experience. It’s an automated game settings optimisation tool. The idea is to take the headache out of graphics settings and give you the holy grail of PC performance and visuals with console levels of setup pain, which is to say zero pain.
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Hard Choices Update: Mobile Gaming On The Cheap

The good ol' days of mobile gaming for cheap...

We’ve dabbled with mobile gaming machines in Hard Choices passim. Gaming lappies are great, but they’re also punitively pricey. What if laptops with tolerable gaming chops were on the verge of an epic price drop? That might just be the case courtesy of Intel’s upcoming Haswell processors and a funky little software layer from a little known third party. For clarity, the context here is relatively low-end gaming portables, not full-on desktop replacement sorts. But if you’re strapped for cash or just looking for something casual for away days, read on.

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Hard Choices: AMD CPU update

Points and very possibly a prize...

Bulldozer and Zambezi begat Piledriver and Vishera. Say that three times before bed for a month and you might just remember AMD’s latest chips. So it goes with silly CPU code names. Completely lost you? AMD has just tweaked its FX-branded PC processors. Out goes the AMD FX 8100 series, in comes the AMD FX 8300 series. But am I bovered? And should you care? Read on to find out.

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Hard Choices SSD Update: Samsung’s Double Whammy


Quick (and slightly belated, sorry team – Jim) heads up to the RPS massive regarding a couple of interesting new SSDs from Samsung. I speak of the 840 and 840 Pro Series drives, which respectively promise to insert a bat up the nightdress of SSD pricing and performance. One will be uber cheap. The other crazy fast. Eventually, anyway.

Ideally, of course, we’d have cheap and fast in one drive. And big. Hold that thought. First, let’s consider these new Sammy drives. The plain 840 Series’ party trick is the the introduction of Triple-Level Cell or TLC flash memory.
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