GPU beatdown, Metro Last Light edition

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, metro last light

Metro 2033 quickly gained a reputation as a game which can take everything a modern GPU could throw at it and still want more.  Now we have not only a new generation of Metro but also some new hardware to test it with, namely the TITAN and the GTX 780 which are now in [H]ard|OCP's test bed.  They tried out the new game at 2560 x 1600 with high tessellation enabled and found the TITAN to be the overall winner thanks to its ability to support PhysX at these high settings, with the GTX 780 a very close second and perhaps a better choice for those not planning on using PhysX.  Their testing also backs up the developers statement that in order to enable SSAA you will need a second GPU.

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"Today we look at 4A Games Metro: Last Light. Running the 4A Engine it supports modern DX11 effects including tessellation, and NVIDIA PhysX, providing realistic simulations of particles, water, cloth and fog. We'll evaluate this game using today's latest video cards including GTX TITAN and GTX 780, for a total of eight video cards."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Launches GX70 and GX60 Gaming Notebooks Powered By AMD Richland APUs

Subject: Systems | May 21, 2013 - 08:21 PM |
Tagged: Richland, msi, gx70, gx60, gaming notebook, gaming, APU, amd

MSI announced two new gaming notebooks powered by AMD's latest Richland APUs today called the GX70 and GX60. Both gaming notebooks use AMD A10-5750M processors, a discrete AMD graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and a 750GB (7200 RPM) hard drive. Other shared specifications include a Killer E2200 NIC, Blu-ray drive, THX certified speakers, a headphone amp, and a large 9-cell battery.

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The GX70 is the largest of the two gaming notebooks at 8.6 pounds and packing a 17.3” display. The GX70 uses the A10-5750M APU and a Radeon 8970M discrete mobile GPU to deliver gaming performance to the 1080p display. The system is also capable of outputting to multiple displays over HDMI and supports AMD's Eyefinity 3D technology. On the outside, the MSI GX70 features a 17.3” 1920 x 1080p display with an anti-reflective coating as well as a SteelSeries gaming keyboard.

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Meanwhile, the MSI GX60 is a 15-inch notebook that weighs 7.7 pounds. This gaming notebook uses an AMD A10-5750M APU and a Radeon 7970M mobile discrete GPU. Further, the GX60 has a 15.6” 1080p anti-reflective display and SteelSeries gaming keyboard.

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MSI claims that the new AMD Richland APUs will give its gaming notebooks much better battery life. The new GX70 and GX60 will have up to 40% better graphical performance compared to previous generations thanks to the new APUs and discrete cards. According to MSI VP of Sales Andy Tung, “the GX70 and GX60 deliver the ultimate sensory experience for both professional and amateur gamers.” More information on the new gaming notebooks can be found on this MSI press release.

Source: MSI
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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While Lenovo hasn’t historically been known for its gaming PCs, it’s poised to make quite a splash with the latest entry in its IdeaPad line. Owing little to the company’s business-oriented roots, the Y500 aims to be all power—moreso than any other laptop from the manufacturer to date—tactfully squeezed into a price tag that would normally be unattainable given the promised performance. But can it succeed?

Our Y500 review unit can be had for $1,249 at Newegg and other retailers, or for as low as $1,180 at Best Buy. Lenovo also sells customizable models, though the price is generally higher. Here’s the full list of specifications:

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The configurations offered by Lenovo range in price fairly widely, from as low as $849 for a model sporting 8 GB of RAM with a single GT 650M with 2 GB GDDR5. The best value is certainly this configuration that we received, however.

What’s so special about it? Well, apart from the obvious (powerful quad-core CPU and 16 GB RAM), this laptop actually includes two NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M GPUs (both with 2 GB GDDR5) configured in SLI. Seeing as it’s just a 15.6-inch model, how does it manage to do that? By way of a clever compromise: the exchange of the usual optical drive for an Ultrabay, something normally only seen in Lenovo’s ThinkPad line of laptops. So I guess the Y500 does owe a little bit of its success to its business-grade brethren after all.

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In our review unit (and in the particular configuration noted above), this Ultrabay comes prepopulated with the second GT 650M, equipped with its own heatsink/fan and all. The addition of this GPU effectively launches the Y500 into high-end gaming laptop territory—at least on the spec sheet. Other options for the Ultrabay also exist (sold separately), including a DVD burner and a second hard drive. The bay is easily removable via a switch on the back of the PC (see below).

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Continue Reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500!

Sony Profitable, Expects Its PlayStation 4 Launch to Keep It That Way

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2013 - 11:37 AM |
Tagged: sony, semi-custom business unit, ps4, gaming, financial report, amd

Sony, a company with an annual profit of 436 billion Yen ($458 million USD) in its fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 saw PS3 and PS2 sales decline and a slight bump up in PSP and PS Vita sales. In a recent earnings call covered by Euro Gamer, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Masaru Kato stated that the company expects this year to be even better with the launch of its upcoming PlayStation 4 console. Sony does not believe it will incur any significant losses with the PS4 and that sales will "increase significantly." Unlike the PS3 which used a Cell chip that was expensive to develop, the PlayStation 4 uses mostly-traditional PC hardware. With the upcoming console, AMD did the majority of the development legwork which saved Sony money. As a result, Sony believes that the PS4 will turn a profit much faster than it took the PS3.

Looking into Sony's next fiscal year ending March 2014, the company is putting a renewed focus on smartphones and smart TVs. In the previous year, Sony saw combined PS3 and PS2 sales decline to $16.5 million from $18 million the prior year. Sony expects to sell approximately $10 million worth of PS3s in the upcoming fiscal year. While the company's PS2 console had a wild ride, it is no longer included in the company's sales forecast. Sales of Sony's mobile PSP and PS Vita gaming consoles are expected to decrease to a mere $5 million as well. Basically, Sony has a lot riding on its PlayStation 4 console. It expects to see its next-generation console make up for the decreased sales of its existing hardware.

Either way, a profitable Sony is a good thing, and I hope that the upcoming console is priced to sell while also resulting in a tidy profit for the company. I expect the Xbox-PS3-PC gamer flame-war to be especially entertaining this year, as the consoles are essentially using lower-end PC hardware (heh) and the two consoles specs are more-similar than ever.

Source: Eurogamer

Can Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart bring balance to the Force?

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2013 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, obsidian, gaming, ea

Disney may have passed exclusive rights to EA for the Star Wars franchise but that might not mean the end of the world if Obsidian Entertainment's CEO has anything to say about it.  Just as BioWare worked with Obsidian the idea of an EA and Obsidian partnership is not completely off the table.  This might not full reassure those who still miss the old days of Black Isle and BioWare games but it seems that there is hope for the future of Star Wars games.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has a quick interview with Feargus Urquhart discussing his efforts to partner up with EA.

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"We now live in a world where The Sims: Star Wars or Need for Speed: Tosche Station could become things. I’m not saying it’s likely (though the former would not shock me in the slightest), but Star Wars is under new management, so who knows? For now, all we can say for sure is that BioWare, DICE, and Visceral are actively adding their own chapters to the space opera, but we won’t see results from those initial efforts until at least mid-2014 – and much later, in all likelihood."

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A Duke Nukem obsession like no other

Subject: General Tech | May 1, 2013 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: gaming, mod, duke nukem, obsessive

You might think you expressed your disappointment about the pile of garbage that was Duke Nukem Forever by posting scathing reviews online, but you have nothing on these modders who attempted to create the Duke we were all promised by modding Duke Nukem 3D.  If you still have the DN3D kicking around, or at least the DUKE3D.GRP file you can head to ModDB and download a 30MB mod which will expand Las Vegas far beyond the original game. Don't expect miracles, they can only reuse existing assets but they certainly impressed Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN who posted a trailer-ish movie of the mod in action.

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"A group of modders have been busily attempting to rewrite history – by recreating the game that 2001 trailer suggested in good old Duke Nukem 3D. Given they suffered a degree of 3D Realms-esque hubris in their struggle to finish the thing, are these the first Method Developers?"

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Subject: Editorial

Good effort goes a long way

The wait has been long and anxious for Heart of the Swarm, the expansion to 2010's StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty. Blizzard originally hinted at a very rapid release schedule which did not exactly come to fruition. The nearly three years of development time for Heart of the Swarm is longer than a single studio spends on a full Call of Duty title; although, one could make a very credible argument that a Blizzard expansion requires more effort to create than said complete Call of Duty title.

But as Duke Nukem Forever demonstrated, a long time in development does not guarantee a fully baked product coming out the other end.

Blizzard games have always been highly entertaining albeit without deep artistic substance; their games are not first on the list for a university literature syllabus. But, there is a lot of room in life for engaging entertainment. In terms of the PC, Blizzard has always been one of the leading developers for the platform; they know how to deliver an exceptional PC experience if they choose to.

Watch the video and read on to find out if they did!

Dark Souls 2 will be coming to PC, not just ported as an afterthought

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2013 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Dark Souls II, consolitis, masochism

Dark Souls made a name for its self as one of the toughest and most unforgiving games going and built a huge following because of that.  The sequel will be coming to PC as well but the one major negative comment many gamers had about the original will no longer be applicable, according to the developers this version will not suffer from consolitis.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has about as much information as is available on this game but to truly understand what this game will be like you should check out the YouTube preview below.

"A word of warning: I have never played Dark Souls, and this information is coming from French website GameKult’s interview with a Yui Tanimura, the Japanese game director of Dark Souls II. I am merely an information conduit. A nexus from them to you, with news that the complaints of the horrible, nasty port job of the previous game was noticed and taken into account. Dark Souls II is being developed as a PC game. Hooray!"

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Metro: Last Light System Specifications Revealed

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2013 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: metro: last light, gaming, deep silver

Metro: Last Light is nearing completion, with an expected release date of May 17th for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Developer Deep Silver – famous (or perhaps infamous) for the STALKER game series – has taken over the project from THQ.

According to Bit-Tech, publisher 4K Games has announced the game’s system requirements. It seems that Metro: Last Light will continue the system-punishing trend that its Metro: 2033 predecessor started. In order to play the game with all the eye candy, gamers will reportedly need at least a NVIDIA GTX 690 or GTX Titan video card. Notably absent from the requirements list is an AMD equivalent, but the AMD Radeon HD 7990 would be the closest match.

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The Optimum system requirements represent PC that will be able to crank up all the details. At least a quad core CPU clocked at 3.4GHz, 8GB of RAM, a GTX 690 (or GTX Titan), and Windows 7 or higher is recommended.

The Recommended system requirements suggests hardware used to play the game with most details turned on and at at least 1920 x 1080 resolution. 4K Games recommends at least a 2.6GHz quad core processor, 4GB of RAM, and a DirectX 11 compatible GPU equivalent to at least a NVIDIA GTX 580, GTX 660 Ti, or AMD HD 7870.

Interestingly, even the minimum system requirements are pretty steep compared to other modern titles. A computer running the 32-bit version of Windows XP or higher is needed along with at least a 2.2GHz dual core CPU, 2GB of system RAM, and a DirectX 9 Shader Model 3 compatible video card such as the NVIDIA GTS 250 or AMD HD 4000-series.

The suggested system requirements (especially the optimum level) are impressive, and do suggest that Metro: Last Light is a game that will take full advantage of PC hardware. (I am curious to see whether the system requirements are mostly due to graphical prowess or code optimization issues though. In other words, I hope that the game is more-stable than the STALKER series.)

One thing is for sure: my unlocked AMD 6950 is looking rather dated in light of the new Metro: Last Light specifications!

 

Source: Bit-Tech.net

Come fly the unfriendly skies of Columbia

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2013 - 06:13 PM |
Tagged: gaming, bioshock infinite

As is their wont, [H]ard|OCP focuses on performance when reviewing the game, leaving examination of the game its self to sites dedicated to that type of content.  The half dozen contestants represent the top 3 single GPU cards from NVIDIA and AMD and the drivers used were released this March.  The game is DX11 through and through but tesselation is conspicuosly absent as is MSAA, only FXAA is available; even when enabled at the driver level they saw no differences.  Both companies cards could play the game at 1080p with all settings maxed out but for higher resolutions we saw NVIDIA's performance pull ahead somewhat.  Check out the image quality of BioShock Infinite in the full review.

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"BioShock Infinite is here, delivering a colorful and dynamic world with the help of a customized Unreal Engine 3. BioShock Infinite has an improved PC gaming experience, we will test this game's performance among 8 video card configurations, and look at image quality of this immersive and colorful new game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP