Posts Tagged ‘Hardware’

Philips 349X7FJEW review: A great 21:9 ultra-wide monitor for Final Fantasy XII

Philips 349X7FJEW

If there are two things I love in life, it’s Final Fantasy and 21:9 monitors. It’s a select group of interests, I’ll admit, but when I heard that Final Fantasy XII was finally coming to PC (tomorrow, no less) with both 21:9 and multi-monitor support, I knew what I had to do. Yep, today marks the start of my 21:9 ultra-wide monitor group test to find the perfect display for playing Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on PC, and the first monitor on the gambit table is the Philips 349X7FJEW.

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AMD Radeon RX 570 review: An all-round 1080p card

AMD RX 570

Back toward the end of last year, the AMD Radeon RX 570 looked like the saving grace of AMD’s graphics card line-up. However, with prices still ludicrously inflated thanks to the ongoing Great Mining Drought, even the RX 570 has now been hurled violently over the £300 barrier violently over the £300 barrier, taking it worryingly close to its vastly superior big brother, the AMD Radeon RX 580.

With fewer ‘stream processors’ (i.e. cores) than the RX 580 and just 4GB of memory, the RX 570 is once again the awkward middle child – not powerful enough to consider over the RX 580 and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, and too expensive to consider over budget alternatives like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti.  So where does this FreeSync-enabled, 1080p/1440p card sit on the best graphics card 2018 ladder? To find out, I’ve got an Asus ROG Strix RX 570 OC Edition.

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AMD Radeon RX 580 review: Our top pick for 1440p gaming

AMD RX 580

The AMD Radeon RX 580 is the patriarch of AMD’s Polaris architecture family and was, until a few months ago when all graphics card pricing went out the window, our recommended centrepiece for mid-range PC builders. Indeed, while it still occupies the top spot for 1440p gaming in our Best graphics cards 2018 article, its main rival, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, is actually significantly cheaper at the moment, putting its reign in serious jeopardy.

For those unaware, the RX 580 comes in both 4GB and 8GB VRAM flavours. I’m covering the latter here, and it’s hard to make an argument as to why you’d consider the former: it’s not that much cheaper, but does essentially cut you off from the flashiest graphical stuff (like Ultra-high quality textures) in games which support them. Having less memory can also generally scupper you when running with higher resolutions, and considering that the RX 580 appears to have been made with 1440p firmly in AMD’s collective mind, 8GB just makes more sense.

Once again, it’s an Asus ROG Strix OC Edition I’m testing, though since the overclock in question has such a tiny boost speed upgrade from 1340MHz to a maximum of 1380MHz, it should be representative of most partner-made RX 580s. Here, however, you do get three fans, a sturdy backplate and an extra HDMI port for VR kit for your trouble.

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AMD Radeon Vega RX 64 review: Finally some competition for the GTX 1080

Asus Vega RX 64

Just as the Radeon Vega RX 56 targets the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, the Vega RX 64 is AMD’s precision strike on the mighty Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080. About damn time, too – by focusing solely on the mid-range and entry-level RX 400 and RX 500 series (which you can read more about in our AMD Radeon RX 580 review), AMD has given Nvidia free reign of the premium market for about two years. Time for some competition in the best graphics card 2018 tourney, methinks.

The model I’m testing is Asus’ ROG Strix version, or to use its full title for the only time in this review, the Asus ROG Strix RX Vega 64 OC Edition. The poetically-named ARSRV64OCE builds on AMD’s tech – which includes 8GB of High Bandwidth Memory 2 (HBM2), which stacks its memory modules units on top of each other, supposedly speeding up how long it takes to talk to your CPU – with a nifty three-fan air cooler and, as the name suggests, overclocked cores. It’s only a little bump, mind, upping the base clock from 1247MHz to 1298MHz and the boost clock from 1549MHz to 1590MHz. As to whether all that makes the RX 64 as capable as the GTX 1080 at 1440p and, perhaps most importantly, 4K, the answer is: yes! Pretty much!

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Best graphics cards 2018 for 1080p, 1440p and 4K gaming

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti

With graphics card prices soaring once again thanks to the lovely exploits of nefarious cryptocurrency miners, choosing what graphics card to buy has never been more difficult – which is why this here article is all about identifying the single best GPU you can get for playing games at 1080p, 1440p and 4K at a price that suits you. Read on for advice on what and how to pick your next graphics card for 2018. Read the rest of this entry »

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 review: The best 1440p graphics card (for now)

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 is Nvidia’s new mid-range contender, chasing the coat tails of its more powerful big brother, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 and rubbing shoulders with the AMD Radeon RX 580 for 2560×1440 gaming goodness. Or at least the 6GB version of Nvidia’s card is, as you’ll also find lesser 3GB variants on sale as well.

3GB models have the same basic DNA as 6GB GTX 1060s, but they have slightly lower clock speeds and fewer cores, meaning performance won’t be as good as their 6GB counterparts. Indeed, we wouldn’t really recommend the 3GB GTX 1060, if only in the name of future-proofing yourself against the ever increasing memory requirements of the latest games. As you can see from our Best graphics cards 2018 article, you should really be looking at the 6GB version if you want something to rival the GTX 1070 at resolutions beyond 1080p, as there are plenty of cheaper cards, namely the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti, that do 1080p just as well as the 3GB GTX 1060 without you having to spend almost £300 for the privilege. Fortunately, we have one such 6GB card on test to show us what it’s capable of. Say hello to the MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Gaming X.

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 review: Still the best 1440p graphics card in 2018?

For many PC gamers, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 is the next logical step up from the excellent GTX 970. While not as powerful as the beefy Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, it still offers significant gains over its lesser sibling, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, providing a smoother, more flexible gaming experience at both 1080p and 1440p alike, and even a teeny bit of 4K. The problem is, graphics card prices have currently sky-rocketed beyond all reasonable consideration at the moment, putting potential GTX 1070 buyers in a bit of a tough spot.

In fact, we wouldn’t recommend buying any mid-to-high-end graphics card at the moment until this crypto-mining business settles down again. You can read more about other options in our Best graphics card 2018 article, but provided you can actually find one in stock and don’t mind paying through the roof for it, then read on. After all, when Nvidia claims it can outperform its £1,000 Titan X mega beast, that’s reason enough to sit up and take notice.

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070Ti review: Better than the GTX 1080?

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070Ti is a bit of a funny old thing. I’ve spent countless hours trying, and failing, to determine where this 4K-bothering card sits in Nvidia’s overall strategy,  and while its position in the Nvidia hierarchy is obvious – between the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 – it seems to be more of a toned-down 1080 than a souped-up 1070. It’s got hundreds more cores than the GTX 1070 – 2432 of them, compared to just 1920, but falls short of the GTX 1080 by just 128 of them. Why, then, would you not just make that tiny extra leap to a full-fat GTX 1080?

To help answer that question, I’ve got Zotac’s take, the GeForce GTX 1070Ti AMP Extreme, while Katharine has MSI’s GTX 1070Ti Gaming 8G. Together, we should hopefully find out how Nvidia’s newest card stacks up against its siblings – and whether it’s got the chops to dethrone the GTX 1080 in our Best graphics cards 2018 article for 4K gaming.

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 review: The best 4K graphics card right now

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 is no longer top dog in its GPU family – that honour now goes the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti and, of course, the frankly ridiculous Titan Xp. However, with graphics card prices currently hitting all-time highs due to the rather ridiculous craze for cryptocurrency mining, the GTX 1080 is now our top choice for those after a 4K capable graphics card. If you don’t believe us, check out our Best graphics card 2018 article to see why we’ve picked this one and not its Ti counterpart.

To help us discover why it’s our 4K graphics card of choice, we’ve got the economically monikered MSI Gaming X 8GB Twin Frozr VI. To the benchmarks!

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti review: A 4K monster that isn’t worth the extra cash

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti

As muscular as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 is, there have been some not-entirely-unwarranted grumbles about its underlying tech; specifically, that it’s basically a GeForce GTX 1070 with more of the GPU’s cores enabled. The GTX 1080Ti is much bigger break from the rest of Nvidia’s 10-series, and a much more overtly ‘high-end’ card. It uses the bigger, beefier GP-102 GPU, same as in the bonkers-expensive Titan X and Titan Xp, and wields 3584 processing cores to the GTX 1080’s 2560. Its 11GB of memory is the most you’ll find in a mainstream card, too.

Obviously, these upgrades will put a proportionally larger dent into your finances (which is part of the reason why it doesn’t currently occupy top spot in our Best graphics card 2018 list as our 4K card of choice). The MSI GeForce GTX 1080Ti Gaming X Trio I’ve been testing – with its factory overclocking and custom triple-fan cooler – is a staggering £900 right now, and generally the cheapest GTX 1080Ti I can find that’s actually in stock still asks for £850. With the GTX 1080 currently hovering around £650, this card needs to prove it’s not just a list of fancy-sounding specs.

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Intel’s new Cannon Lake and Ice Lake CPUs might fix Spectre and Meltdown flaws

Hopefully, Intel's Cannon Lake CPUs will blow a giant hole in these Spectre and Meltdown flaws

It’s a bad time to buy PC hardware right now, what with graphics card prices going through the roof due to crytpocurrency mining and practically every CPU on the planet being vulnerable to the recently uncovered Spectre and Meltdown CPU flaws. Fortunately, PC land’s CPU woes may not be around for much longer, as Intel’s suggested its new, upcoming Cannon Lake and Ice Lake processors won’t be affected by the same security exploits as literally almost every other CPU they’ve made since 1995.  Thank the blessed silicon gods.

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HyperX Pulsefire FPS review: What it lacks in customisation, it makes up for in comfort

HyperX PulseFire FPS

If you’ve ever been within spitting distance of a Plunkbat chicken dinner, you know the importance of having a light, nimble mouse under your fingers. You won’t be tucking into anything even remotely bird-shaped if you’ve only got something big and bulky like the Roccat Kone Aimo or Corsair Scimitar Pro RGB at your disposal. Instead, you need a mouse you can move with ease and minimal resistance. Something, perhaps, like the HyperX Pulsefire FPS.
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Blade’s tiny Shadow box could be your next gaming PC

Blade Shadow

Earlier this week, Nvidia’s GeForce Now PC beta left me pleasantly surprised. This was cloud gaming done right, I thought. I can play my own games on my own ancient hardware at the highest possible graphics settings and give a cheeky middle finger to all those soaring GPU prices in one fell swoop. It’s almost like the PC-equivalent of the Nintendo Switch, as I can use my tiny laptop to play all the latest games from any room in my house. Having seen French start-up Blade’s new Shadow box, however, I’m starting to think I don’t even need a PC full stop anymore.

Whereas GeForce Now is all about letting you game in the cloud, Shadow wants to move your entire PC there. You don’t even technically need that box up there in the header. That’s essentially just a 4K decoder for those who want to sit down at a desk and use a mouse, keyboard and monitor. You could, in fact, access your Intel Xeon and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080-powered cloud PC from your phone, tablet, Android TV or even a Mac, all with a single tap of its multi-platform app. The real clincher, though? You can seamlessly switch between all those devices simply by launching the Shadow app on another device. Based on an hour-long demo session, this looks like it could be the real PC Switch.

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Nvidia’s GeForce Now PC beta is much better at cloud gaming than you think

GeForce Now

Cloud gaming has become a bit of a dirty word these days. There have been plenty of people who have tried their hand at it over the years, promising high-end, lag-free gaming without the need for all that bulky, costly hardware, but most (*cough*Gaikai*cough*OnLive*cough*) have ended up on that age-old trash heap of crushed dreams and broken promises, their meagre uptake prompting them to disappear back into the ether almost as quickly as they appeared.

This time, though, Nvidia might have finally cracked it, as the beta for their GeForce Now streaming service has finally arrived on PC in Europe and North America. It’s free, uses your very own game library and their respective cloud saves, and, whisper it, it’s actually pretty good. So rejoice all you laptop and creaking PC people whose rigs would probably faint at even the slightest suggestion of running something like Doom or Shadow of War at Ultra quality settings and 60fps. Your time in the gaming big leagues has arrived.

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Ubi announce bear necessities for Far Cry 5 on PC, inc 4K specs

far-cry-5-specs

It’s been a long time since Far Cry games were how you gave your PC its fiercest work-out, but hell, old habits. Ubi have just put out system requirements for March’s Montana-set Far Cry 5 and they’re pretty reasonable, in the main.

Basically, if you have at least a GTX 670 or R9 270 you’re getting in the door, though if you want to crank it all the way to 4K and 60FPS and don’t already have the high-end cards to do it, it’s second mortgage time.
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Corsair Scimitar Pro RGB and MM800c RGB Polaris review: The ultimate rainbow lightshow

Corsair Scimitar Pro RGB

When I first saw Corsair’s Scimitar mouse a couple of years ago, I thought it was the most bonkers-looking thing I’d ever seen. Just like its equally mad successor, the Scimitar Pro RGB I’ve got here, it had 12 mechanical buttons on the side. Twelve! This is a calculator, not a mouse, I thought to myself at the time. How could anyone possibly need 12 individual mouse buttons?

Of course, both the Scimitar and the Scimitar Pro RGB are often trailed by the words “MOBA” and MMO”, and I’m sure there’s a handful of such players who might find this kind of thing useful. Admittedly, neither genre is my particular forte, so I’m largely going to be looking at the Scimitar Pro RGB in the context of an ordinary gaming mouse. And just in case its four RGB lighting zones weren’t enough for you, I’ve also got Corsair’s MM800c RGB Polaris mouse mat here as well, which has – wait for it – FIFTEEN RGB lighting zones that can sync with the same theme on your Scimitar Pro for the ultimate desk-side rainbow show.

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Best PC gaming deals of the week

dead-cells-art

The internet is currently aflame with hundreds of takes of varying heat levels based on Nintendo’s cardboard gaming venture, but that doesn’t concern us – unless, of course, some hardware company is working on something that involves stuffing your keyboard into a papercraft robot. This doesn’t mean there aren’t gadgets and games aplenty to salivate over in our little corner of the internet, though.

As always, we’ve gathered a batch of the best PC gaming deals of the week (UK, US and other places too) so far. This week: free Carmageddon, cheap Civ 6, gaming laptops, speedy SSDs and our 2017 GOTY.

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HyperX Cloud Flight review: Near wireless gaming headset perfection

HyperX Cloud Flight

It’s been barely a week since the annual CES tech bonanza shut up shop for another year, but HyperX has wasted no time getting in its very first wireless gaming headset out into the wild. Dubbed the Cloud Flight, this 2.4GHz headset boasts the longest battery life of any of its wireless competitors – up to a whopping 30 hours to be precise.

That’s enough time to play a complete run through of AC Oranges or that same cathedral at the start of Dark Souls III over and over again because god damn Vordt of the Boreal Valley is just too damn hard. The question is, is it actually any good?

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Corsair K70 Lux RGB review: Softly, softly with the MX Silent edition

Corsair K70 Lux RGB header

As much as I loved the Asus ROG Claymore when I tested it at the end of last year, there’s still a very large part of me that balks at the idea of spending £150 on a mechanical keyboard. After years of being perfectly happy with admittedly terrible plastic membrane concoctions, it’s hard to let go.

The Corsair K70 Lux RGB isn’t any less expensive at roughly £145 or $170, but at least this one doesn’t charge you an extra £50 for a number pad, making it better value overall for those looking to make the jump.

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Roccat Khan Pro review: A small wonder?

Roccat Khan Pro header

As gaming headsets go, the Roccat Khan Pro is delightfully diddly. Normally when I put on a headset, it feels like I’m encasing my head in something akin to a bike helmet, so large and cumbersome are their various ear cups that they’d probably provide adequate protection in the event of a roadside collision.

That might be because of my apparently pea-sized head, judging by the number of adjustments I always have to make to get a good fit, but it’s a rare thing indeed when I find a headset that could almost pass for a regular pair of over-ear headphones. You know, if it didn’t have a mic poking out the side or gigantic logos emblazoned on the ear cups.

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