Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Gigabyte
PC gaming is alive and well and hardware vendors are working to create unique features in their product lines to entice this niche audience. Gigabyte has always had a soft spot for gamers who want the best components for their LAN rigs so they can own their friends in any game genre they choose to play. Gigabyte has broadened their product line to include performance gaming mice, keyboards, and PC cases. They also have a line of "G1-Killer" motherboards that Gigabyte claims is designed with 3D gaming in mind. One of their latest boards in the G1-Killer series is the G1.Sniper M3, and just happen to have a sample that we are reviewing today.
Courtesy of Gigabyte
The G1.Sniper M3 was designed into a micro ATX form factor that sports Intel's latest Z77 Express chipset and supports the third generation of Intel's LGA 1155 "Ivy Bridge" processors. It is challenging to pack enough performance features and overclocking options onto a micro ATX footprint, but Gigabyte's G1.Sniper M3 has broken the code in this department. This $180 board includes a digital power phase design with auto voltage compensation, dual UEFI BIOS, and an onboard Creative Sound Core3D quad-core audio processor for rich, high-definition audio.
Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2012 - 02:03 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sony, ps4, Internet, gaming, gaikai, cloud gaming
Gaikai, the streaming cloud gaming service was bought today by Sony Computer Entertainment. At this year’s Fusion Developer Summit, Gaikai stated its goal to be the gaming service on all of your devices, from your cell phone to Smart TV. Interestingly, the recent buyout from Sony raises questions about the future openness of the platform.
Purchased for $380 million, Sony plans to combine its game catalog with Gaikai’s streaming technology to provide cloud entertainment services. Gaikai CEO David Perry was quoted by The Verge as saying:
“We're honored to be able to help SCE rapidly harness the power of the interactive cloud and to continue to grow their ecosystem, to empower developers with new capabilities, to dramatically improve the reach of exciting content and to bring breathtaking new experiences to users worldwide.”
The biggest question I have about the future of Gaikai is whether not not it will now be a Sony-only technology. At AFDS, Gaikai showed off the technology running on Samsung Smart TVs, though it remains to be seen whether Sony will continue to license the technology to other companies. Should it remain Sony-only, the company could use that exclusivity as a feature-add for its consoles, Google TVs, blu ray players, and televisions. They could further use Gaikai to power its future consoles or to bring its entire library of console games to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita gaming platforms. The Verge speculates that Sony could be using the technology to bring its back-catalog of PS1 and PS2 games to the current generation console, now that it is otherwise no longer backwards compatible with the older hardware. That sounds like a very plausible plan of action for Sony.
Will Sony bring Gaikai-powered cloud gaming to the PS3?
You can find more additional quotes and speculation over at The Verge. What do you think will happen to Gaikai’s technology? Will Sony put it to good use or did they only buy it now to keep others from using it?
Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 07:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: max payne 3, gaming, 3d vision
We've seen a few reviews of Max Payne 3 go by, focusing on performance and the effects various graphical options have on the look and feel of the game, but so far little has been said about its 3D mode. For those who have the gear it is possible to add more artificial depth to Max's character and as it happens Hi Tech Legion had the display, glasses and the NVIDIA Beta 304.48, which would be the needed checklist for enabling 3D. They were quite impressed with the implementation and had no issues apart from a bit of blurry text. If you have the desire and the equipment you can examine a few of their screen captures here, otherwise you shall have to content yourself with reading the review.
"Max Payne 3 is the latest chapter in the 3rd person shooter title which debuted over 11 years ago for the PC. Max Payne is now living thousands of miles away from the grit and grim of New York and working in private security detail for a power Brazilian family in Sao Paolo. It is not all sunshine, beaches, and babes in bikinis for Max however, as he finds himself in the middle of a sprawling conspiracy involving all manner of Brazilian scum from the crevices of the Favela, the swampland militias as well as the ivory tower of ambitious politicians who would stop at nothing to add a few more zeroes to their paycheck. Max Payne 3 for the PC boasts detailed DirectX11 graphics and resurrects the "bullet time" gameplay everyone enjoyed in the original title that debuted over a decade ago now."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Free-to-play PC Gaming Guide @ eTeknix
- Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor review on Xbox 360 @ The Inquirer
- Ghost Recon Online PC Beta Review @ eTeknix
- Spec Ops Dev Diary Shows More Grisly Business @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- 11 Minutes Of Commanding Carrier Command Footage @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Endless Space About To Begin, 4th July @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Tokyo Jungle PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 01:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: origin, mass effect 3, gaming, ea, dlc
Today Electronic Arts made the Extended Cut DLC available for users to download. Reportedly, it would wrap up plot holes, explain the Reapers further, and actually be influenced by all the choices that you made throughout the game.
I’ll admit that I eagerly downloaded it and went in with high hopes for a better and more personalized (and meaningful) ending. I won’t spoil it for you but the new DLC adds a couple cut scenes to each of the three traditional ending choices and even adds an alternate ending as well.
The download is a bit over 800 MB, and even around 10PM CST I was able to max out my Internet connection to download the full game and the DLC pack. To get the DLC, open up Origin, click on the “My Games” tab, then click on the little “i” icon in the lower left of the Mass Effect 3 icon. It will now open the Mass Effect 3 game details panel. In the upper right-hand corner, click on the “Shop for add-ons” button. Find the Extended Cut pack (free), and download it.
Once downloaded and installed, you will be able to start up the game and load a save just before you enter the Citadel in the final level. The steps needed to find and install the download were not as intuitive as the simple instructions EA provided, so I hope my path to the DLC will help you (I spent quite a few minutes trying to find the area they said to go to... may be related to a different version of the Origin client and me not being very familiar with the interface, but still).
Warning Spoilers after the break. You’ve been warned!
Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 02:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, linux, source engine, steam
If you have ever bemoaned the fact that your gaming habit is the only thing preventing you from dumping Windows and moving to Linux then your excuse might just be about to expire. As Phoronix informed us a few short weeks ago, Steam is taking gaming on Linux seriously and the project to get the Source Engine up and running on Linux moves ever forward. Their team has recently grown with the addition of the designer of Battle for Wesnoth, David White and they are still looking for more Linux developers. If you are interested in playing Portal on a Linux box, or if you are a Linux Guru who'd like to work for Steam, you should check out this post on Phoronix.
"Things appear to be moving along nicely in the Linux cabal at Valve Software as they work to enable Steam and the Source Engine on the Linux desktop. Here's another one of the new tenured Linux developers that will be starting soon."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Founding: Pay For Mechwarrior Online Now, If You Want? @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Perspective Does That Clever Dimension Shifting Thing @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gods & Kings is an essential Civilization expansion @ Ars Technica
- HOWTO: Multi-Display Online Gaming @ HardwareHeaven
- Hauppauge HD PVR Gaming Edition Review @ eTeknix
- Jig’s Up: Secret World’s Last Beta Weekend Open To All @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor (XBOX 360 Kinect) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Ghost Recon: Future Soldier PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
- Dragons Dogma PS3 @ eTeknix
- Dragon’s Dogma (PS3) @ Guru of 3D
Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2012 - 03:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, max payne 3, fxaa, msaa, ssao, hdao
Techgage recently took a look at the effect enabling tesselation and antialiasing has on the visual quality of Max Payne 3. Visually the Phong Tesselation seems to only have an effect on close visuals of faces, as well as adding some volume to clothing. FXAA and 4xMSAA had more effect, with FXAA not only offering smoother visuals but also having almost no effect whatsoever on frame rates. They also took a look at SSAO and HDAO but for that you'd need to download their large screenshot to be able to tell them apart and ended by delving into the performance. Check it out here.
"With Max Payne 3 reviewed, how about we take a look at the game from a technical perspective? Wondering what the game brings to the tessellation table? How FXAA compares to MSAA? Whether HDAO is really worth the performance hit? We tackle all these questions and more, so read on."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Max Payne 3 PC Review @ eTeknix
- Game of Thrones @ HardwareHeaven
- Peasant Surprise: Civilization V: Gods & Kings Factions @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Spacebiff! Sins Of A Solar Empire: Rebellion Launches @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gratuitous Tank Battles Demo Rolls Into View @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Sorcery (PlayStation Move) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2012 - 08:45 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: prizes, lan, gigabyte, gaming, event, esports
Last month we reported that Gigabyte would be hosting its first eSports LAN party in North America. Running from June 15 to June 17, the GESL event will feature tournament competitions, a bring your own computer (BYOC) LAN fest, case mod competition, event raffle, and a number of presentational speakers.
The Gigabyte eSports LAN will be offering up various pieces of hardware including Gigabyte G1 Sniper 3 motherboards, graphics cards, and memory (among others). StarCraft II and League of Legends are the two games that will be used in the tournament competitions and Gigabyte is offering up $11,000 and $10,000 prize pools respectively. The case mod competition will feature custom computers from participants of the LANFest, and CPU Magazine will be recognizing the winner in its magazine.
And because that was not enough gaming goodness, the MadCatz will be hosting its own Street Fighter X Tekken tournament below the GESL main event. The tournament will run throughout the weekend, with a championship tournament on Sunday. They will be providing fight sticks and winners will receive prizes from MadCatz and Dolby. The event requires gamers to have a LANFest or spectator badge ($15), but is otherwise free to enter.
Further, Odyssey Gaming will be holding a GESL pre-party with several professional StarCraft II players. While space is limited, gamers with spectator badges are welcome to attend and there are also a few slots open for those that wish to play some StarCraft II. The pre-party event attendees will also get a pre-party raffle ticket, extra GESL raffle ticket, and free photo booth access. For those that wish to play, they will need to purchase a GESL Pre-Party Gan Pack with includes 4 hours of gameplay time and will cost $20. Otherwise, gamers with spectator badges are welcome to attend free of additional charges. The professional players on-site will include viOLet, DeMusliM, Clide, Ryung, and Alicia.
The GESL Pre-Party will be held on June 12, 2012 from 6pm to 10pm PST. The location is about 15 minutes from the main GESL event (California Polytechnical University in Pomona, California) at the Odyssey Gaming cyber cafe.
The is coming up fast, so those interested in attending should purchase a spectator badge as soon as possible (which will cost $15). For those interested in the LANFest but cannot make it to the show, Gigabyte will be streaming the event in HD for free. In case you missed the details in our earlier article, the GESL will be held at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California. More detailed information on finding your way around the university can be found on this FAQ.
In addition to Gigabyte, co-sponsors of the GESL include Kingston and Cooler Master who will be giving away some swag and computer hardware to attendees at the show. More information can be found at the GESL website at thegesl.com. Will you be attending the LANFest? Are you at least excited to watch some Starcraft II? Let us know in the comments below!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 09:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: video, trinity, msi, mobile, laptops, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gaming notebook, gaming, computex, amd
MSI has been busy at this year’s Computex trade show. In addition to the company’s graphics cards and motherboard displays, MSI is showing off four new G Series gaming notebooks. Three of them are running Intel Ivy Bridge processors while the fourth machine is powered by a top-end AMD Trinity APU. Included in the new G series is the GT70, GT60, GE70, GE60, and GX60. The only AMD system is the GX60. Let’s take a look at that one first.
The GX60 has a similar exterior build as the other G Series notebooks, but has vastly different internals and does not appear to have the same audio technology as the Intel-based notebooks. The desktop replacement class (read: heavy and not so great battery life heh) laptop features an AMD A10-4600M APU, AMD A70M chipset, and AMD Radeon 7970M graphics card. Other features include MSI’s “SuperRAID” storage with up to two SSDs in RAID and a mechanical hard drive, Steelseries keyboard, and a Killer E2200 gaming network card. Another interesting feature is the system’s ability to output to up to three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology. The system was able to pull a respectable 30 frames per second on the Unigine Heave benchmark and will have an MSRP of around 1,000 British Pounds (~$1,557.70 USD). According to eTeknix, the AMD Trinity-based notebook will be available soon.
The Intel Ivy Bridge based systems get a bit more love than the AMD Trinity system with SuperRAID support, up to 32GB of RAM, MSI Audio Boost (powered by Dynaudio or THX TruStudiio Pro depending on model), gold-plated audio connectors, Turbo Drive Engine and NVIDIA discrete graphics. The Intel and AMD G series laptops all get 1080p displays and custom backlit keyboards built by SteelSeries. The AMD system may well have MSI Audio Boost, gold plated connectors, and the like but MSI did not seem to tout them on the GX60 like they did for the Intel ones. The GX60 does at least get the SteelSeries keyboard and SuperRAID tech. Anyway, onto the Intel gaming rigs.
MSI GT70 and GT60
The MSI GT 70 is the largest and fastest gaming notebook at the MSI booth with a 17” 1080p display, quad core Core i7 processor, SuperRAID storage, THX certified Dynaudio sound, Turbo Drive Engine, Killer E2200 NIC, and a NVIDIA GTX 680M mobile GPU with GDDR5 RAM. The GT70 utilizes MSI’s SuperRAID to the fullest with two SSDs and a mechanical hard drive for up to 700MB/s read speeds. The system further features a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries that has five LED pattern modes (Normal, Gaming, Wave, Breathing, and Dual Color) and various selectable colors to choose from. The GT70 was pulling about 45 frames-per-second on the Unigine Heaven benchmark and P20,000 on 3DMark Vantage. Consumers should expect it to be available for around 2,500 British Pounds (~$3,894.25 USD).
The MSI GT70 gaming notebook
The GT60 is a smaller version of the GT70 with 15.6” chassis, slightly slower Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor at 2.9GHz, and only a GTX 670M graphics card. It features the same MSI technology as its bigger brother, the GT70, but may not have the exact SuperRAID setup. Otherwise it has Dynaudio, 1080p display, the backlit SteelSeries keyboard, and lots of other goodies. No price info on this one to report, unfortunately.
MSI GE70 and GE60
The two MSI GE branded gaming laptops are the budget versions of the GT70 and GT60. They feature slower IVY Bridge processors, a downgrade in the Intel chipset to H76M, and a GPU downgrade to a NVIDIA GT650M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The displays are still 1080p, but they do not have Dynaudio (only THX TruStudio Pro), and the SteelSeries keyboards are not backlit. Of the two, the GE70 has a slightly faster Intel processor. They do both feature Turbo Drive Engine technology and likely SuperRAID though the setups are likely limited versus the bigger GT70’s chassis. Again, no word on how much these will cost or when they will be shipping.
All the notebooks have a nice black finish to them and the SteelSeries keyboard looks pretty nice. I’m interested in the AMD GX60 myself as I find Trinity neat. The Intel-based systems are definitely power houses though, especially the GT70 and although I don’t expect battery life to be anywhere near great these would be a good choice for gamers that demand the portability of a laptop platform.
Update: the press release does clarify that the GT70 and GE70 have 17.3” 1080p screens while the GT60 and GE60 have 15.6” 1080p screens. It also lists USB 3.0 compatibility on the Intel-based notebooks along with a built-in 720p 30fps webcam for video conferencing.
Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 01:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless, gaming laptop, gaming, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac, 5GHz wifi
Earlier today we posted a couple of teaser photos showing off some of ASUS’ upcoming products. One of the devices was a gaming laptop called the ASUS G75. Engadget has managed to get their hands on some more information regarding a variant of the G75 – the G75VW. According to the site, the gaming laptop is rocking an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, GeForce GTX 670M, and DDR3 memory (known because of the CPU used). That hardware is then powering a 1080p display, which the GTX 670M should have no problem driving but is a bit depressing to see on a high end laptop of this size (approximately 17”). The real kicker though is in the wireless card that it is allegedly packing: an 802.11ac card.
The ASUS G75 gaming laptop
Engadget states that although the information sheet next to the laptop at ASUS’ Computex booth did not list any 802.11ac compatibility, wireless chip maker Broadcom (manufacturer of chips that are used in many wireless routers and NICs) has stated that it does in fact have an 802.11ac NIC in it. Senior Vice President Michael Hurlston told members of the press at Computex 2012 that the ASUS G75VW is the “World’s first 5G Wi-Fi laptop.” He further stated that the computer would be arriving in the hands of consumers “very shortly.”
Interesting stuff, and although the “5G Wi-Fi” – so called because it is the fifth generation of consumer grade Wi-Fi (though not the 5th gen if you count all iterations of the wireless 802.11 standards) – is not yet official and set in stone, it is very close and I would not be surprised to see the technology in a laptop like this particular ASUS at this point in the game.
And to think that I just got done upgrading my network to Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n about two months ago! Even so, I’m excited for the upcoming standard because I want to test its usefulness in getting live TV from my CableCARD tuner to the living room and Katy’s wireless laptop without stuttering – something even wireless N with MIMO can’t do with devices in the same room. So far, the only thing stable enough has been wired Cat5e Ethernet (both 100Mbps and 1000Mbps hardware seem to work without issues). And because it’s proving difficult to get a wired connection from the router to the TV (Xbox 360 used as Windows Media Extender), I’m ready to try out some 802.11ac stuff to see if it can really deliver on the increased bandwidth!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 6, 2012 - 05:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: motherboard, laptop, headsets, gaming, ASUS ROG, asus
Today we received a number of photos from ASUS that show off some upcoming hardware from their upcoming Republic of Gamers line. Except for the Xonar Phoebus (which has launched), the hardware in these photos is not yet released and ASUS has not revealed when it will be available for sale – or how much it will cost. Still, I can’t think of a better way to start the day than getting a glimpse of some shiny unreleased hardware – especially when I get to share it with you!
First up is a new Replublic of Gamers motherboard called the Maximus V Extreme. This board is similar to the mATX Maximus V GENE board that was announced recently, but the Extreme motherboard is full ATX.
While full specifications are unknown, from the photo you can see that the board has an LGA 1155 socket, making it compatible with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors. Further, it is sporting four DDR3 DIMM slots, five PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots. Other features of the board include ASUS’ Extreme Engine Digi+ II digital power control technology, power and reset buttons on the board itself, voltage check points, Lucid Virtu MVP GPU virtualization technology, and AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI support. The VRM area and southbridge area of the board is covered by large black and red heatsinks.
Rear IO includes five USB 2.0 ports (one to be used with ROG Connect), two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, HDMI, DisplayPort, optical audio output, PS/2 port, five analog audio outputs and a TOSLink connector. Additionally, the board features CMOS clear and reset buttons, a mini-PCIe + mSATA combo card, and a Republic of Gamers OC Key accessory. The OC Key plugs into the DVI port of the graphics card and provides an on-screen-display for overclocking information and voltage tweaking.
In addition to the ASUS Maximus V Extreme, the company is producing the Maximus V Forumula motherboard, which is then further available with or without the ThunderFX audio accessory. The Formula board is another socket 1155 board with a red and black color scheme that is ready for Ivy Bridge processors and multi-GPU setups (SLI or CrossFireX). The heatsinks on the formula are a little less beefy than those on the Maximus V Extreme, but the VRM heatsinks are ready to be integrated into a water cooling loop. Further features include four DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SATA connectors, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot.
The board also features the SupremeFX integrated sound card (which has been isolated from the rest of the board by routing the wiring through its own PCB layer) and a mini-PCI-E + mSATA combo card. One version of the motherboard also comes with the SupremeFX accessory which you can see in the photo below.
Rear IO of the Maximus V Formula motherboard includes four USB 2.0 ports (one for ROG connect), four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, DisplayPort, HDMI, Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, five analog audio jacks, two optical audio outputs, and CMOS clear and reset buttons.
The Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a device called the ThunderFX that is a high end headphone amp and DAC offering 120dB SNR, and noise cancellation technology. The included GamEQ comes with three preset profiles but also offers you a wide range of options to tweak your sound to your own desires. There is also onboard audio in the form of the SupremeFX IV audio chipset which will keep those who prefer speakers more than happy with their audio quality.
You can also see that the large anodized aluminium heatsinks have barbs for you to include them in a watercooling loop so that all components on your motherboard can be cooled without resorting to fans to move air. GameFirst II is the name ASUS has given their networking software and it is designed to examine an prioritize packets to reduce lag and ping times. It comes with both an EZ Mode as well as offering advanced options for those who know what they are doing. As we have seen on other boards, the Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a mPCIe Combo card with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. This board is also shattering records in Super PI 32M, 3DMark05 and Heaven to name a few.