Posts Tagged ‘Hardware’

Nvidia’s new $700 1080 Ti in theory beats $1200 Titan X

With Nvidia‘s long dominance of the top end of the graphics card market potentially under threat from AMD’s upcoming RX Vega line, they’ve just offered a speculative riposte. The Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti is a buffed-up take on the year-old 1080, and though conventional wisdom (i.e. Nvidia naming traditions) would place it between that card and their $1200 Titan X, the claim is that their $700 new’un actually beats the X.

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Review: Alienware’s latest gaming laptop is a monster

A monster in good ways and in bad ways, but we’ll get to that shortly. First, here’s the plan. Over the coming few weeks and months, I’m going to review a number of gaming laptops from a variety of manufacturers. Each will be its own standalone review, but as well as the fact that each new review can involve greater comparison to the other systems, at the end of the whole boogaloo, I will buy the laptop I like best. Hardware reviews with a narrative arc. I’m like the Joss Whedon of computer journalism, me.

We kick off with Alienware’s latest 15″ machine (US and UK store link; exact specs and prices differ per territory), toting an NVIDIA GTX 1070 and an Intel Kaby Lake i7 CPU.
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Have You Played… (with a) Steam Link?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Despite not having previously felt as thought I needed one, I picked a Steam Link dirt-cheap in the sales, more out of curiosity than anything else. It’s pretty good – unless you try to use it over WiFi. Read the rest of this entry »

“We’re building 3 full VR games, not experiments”- Valve

Given they’re at the forefront of virtual reality tech, it’s kind of odd that Valve don’t have a full-fat VR game to boast of themselves. We’ve had a few experiments, most notably minigame collection The Lab and armchair tourism app Destinations, but nothing that really justifies spending hours and hours and hours in your gogglebox of choice. Well, that’s going to change, as Gabe Newell hisself has confirmed that no less than three “full” VR games are in development. He’s also bullish that the technology, though it would seem to be no runaway commercial success as yet, is bound for great things. Read the rest of this entry »

FreeSync vs G-Sync revisited: FreeSync 2 is coming

This didn’t go too well for AMD’s FreeSync technology last time around. But lo, a shiny new version of FreeSync is inbound. Give it up for FreeSync 2: This Time It Actually Works. OK, that’s a little unfair. But hold onto your mechanical keyboards, folks, because FreeSync 2 is as much about streamlining the PC for HDR support (and indeed making AMD your weapon of choice for HDR gaming) as it is syncing your graphics card and your monitor nicely. Confused? You aren’t the only one… Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Windows 10’s new Game Mode explained

Just last week (and yet somehow an eternity ago, in terms of world events), Microsoft announced that they’d soon be adding something called ‘Game Mode’ to Windows 10 with the aim of improving games’ performance, but gave away few details about what this might involve. Are we talking real framerate gains, suppressing potentially bothersome background tasks or just freeing up a wee bit of RAM?

With the first iteration of Game Mode due to arrive as part of Windows 10’s optional early Insider builds due today, I had a chat with Kevin Gammill, Partner Group Program Manager, Xbox Platform, spokesperson for the group building Game Mode, to find out what this thing actually does, which games it will support and what kind of control users will have over it. Read the rest of this entry »

Can you use a pocket-size PC as a games machine?

Bootleg Transformer not included

The PC is dead, long live the PC, etc. By which I mean ‘a big box that sits underneath your desk’ is an increasingly inaccurate definition of PC. The concept is heading off in all sorts of directions, from patently ridiculous laptops to transforming tablets to all-in-one giant touchscreens to surprisingly games-capable laptops to yes, big boxes under your desk but also small boxes on top of your desk. And, as I’m looking at today, teeny-tiny boxes that just about fit into the back pocket of your trousers or can slip behind your TV.

Can a $235/£188, 12x12x3cm box really work as a PC? And, more pertinently, can it possibly be any kind of games machine? Read the rest of this entry »

Oculus Touch Review: The Games

I’ve already yammered about the design and capabilities of the Oculus Touch motion controller hardware itself, and now it’s time to talk software. Around 50 Touch-enabled VR games and apps launched this week – more than I can feasibly hope to look at, but I’ve been able to finger-gun and swipe and prod in enough of ’em to give you a clear sense of what this whole experience is like right now for games and software, and whether the Touch is generally a goer or not.

Also: SUPERHOT.
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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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Journey Into Misery: my desperate, flailing attempts to make Dishonored 2 run on my laptop

Dishonored 2 [official site] is a wonderful game, but in terrible shape on PC – not for all of us, but for many of us. The most widely-reported issue is its lurching framerate on a suitably-specced PC, and that’s been severely hampering my attempts to play it on my desktop (AMD R9 Nano, FWIW). As well as making the general sense of motion disrupted and even uncomfortable, I have bungled strangles because the game suddenly spasms underneath me. I HAVE BUNGLED STRANGLES. In desperation, I sought to instead run the thing on a three-year-old laptop with a very weeny AMD GPU, just in case Dishonored 2 was playable at lowest settings.

And so began my nightmare.
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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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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 »

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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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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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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Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 1060: The New 1440p King?

The graphics launches have come thick and fast this year. What with GTXs and then the surprise Titan X from Nvidia, and AMD’s Polaris chips, there’s little chance of keeping up with the official embargo calendar. So think of this as part two of my leisurely stroll through the new GPU landscape. Last time around, it was the mighty Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080, which suddenly looks a lot less mighty thanks to the arrival of the aforementioned Titan X. This week, it’s the turn of Nvidia’s new mid-range contender, the GTX 1060. As before, I shall be spurning objectivity, benchmarks and frame-rate counters for a what-does-it-actually-feel-like approach. And yes, AMD coverage will follow in the fullness of time. Patience, Iago!

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