Congratulations, your SHIELD has been upgraded to the next level

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2014 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: gaming, nvidia, shield

If you own NVIDIA's SHIELD then you may have noticed an over the air upgrade notification recently which you should take advantage of.  Legit Reviews have assembled a look at the features you get from this upgrade, from broader access to GameStream from both your SHIELD and from any PC with a modern NVIDIA GPU to a new OS, KitKat 4.4.2.  Check out how well NVIDIA implemented these updates in the full article.

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"The NVIDIA SHIELD is potentially the next evolution of mobile gaming. The SHIELD in a nutshell is a blend of mobile android devices, PC gaming, and console gaming. When the NVIDIA SHIELD first came out last year, it was carrying a price tag of $299, eventually that dropped to $249 and that remains the current price for the SHIELD. Though for right now through the end of April NVIDIA has lowered the price to $199 to celebrate the latest and greatest over the air update that we announced last week here."

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Manufacturer: Various

Athlon and Pentium Live On

Over the past year or so, we have taken a look at a few budget gaming builds here at PC Perspective. One of our objectives with these build guides was to show people that PC gaming can be cost competitive with console gaming, and at a much higher quality.

However, we haven't stopped pursuing our goal of the perfect inexpensive gaming PC, which is still capable of maxing out image quality settings on today's top games at 1080p.

Today we take a look at two new systems, featuring some parts which have been suggested to us after our previous articles.

  AMD System Intel System
Processor AMD Athlon X4 760K - $85 Intel Pentium G3220 - $65
Cores / Threads 4 / 4 2 / 2
Motherboard Gigabyte F2A55M-HD2 - $60 ASUS H81M-E - $60
Graphics MSI R9 270 Gaming - $180 MSI R9 270 Gaming - $180
System Memory Corsair 8GB DDR3-1600 (1x8GB) - $73 Corsair 8GB DDR3-1600 (1x8GB) - $73
Hard Drive Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green - $60 Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green - $60
Power Supply  Cooler Master GX 450W - $50 Cooler Master GX 450W - $50
Case Cooler Master N200 MicroATX - $50 Cooler Master N200 MicroATX - $50
Price $560 $540

(Editor's note: If you don't already have a copy of Windows, and don't plan on using Linux or SteamOS, you'll need an OEM copy of Windows 8.1 - currently selling for $98.)

These are low prices for a gaming computer, and feature some parts which many of you might not know a lot about. Let's take a deeper look at the two different platforms which we built upon.

The Platforms

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First up is the AMD Athlon X4 760K. While you may not have known the Athlon brand was still being used on current parts, they represent an interesting part of the market. On the FM2 socket, the 760K is essentially a high end Richland APU, with the graphics portion of the chip disabled.

What this means is that if you are going to pair your processor with a discrete GPU anyway, you can skip paying extra for the integrated GPU.

As for the motherboard, we went for an ultra inexpensive A55 option from Gigabyte, the GA-F2A55M-HD2. This board features the A55 chipset which launched with the Llano APUs in 2011. Because of this older chipset, the board does not feature USB 3.0 or SATA 6G capability, but since we are only concerned about gaming performance here, it makes a great bare bones option.

Continue reading our build guide for a gaming PC under $550!!!

Cooler Master Introduces QuickFire Rapid-i Mechanical Keyboard For Gamers

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2014 - 09:49 PM |
Tagged: quickfire rapid, NKRO, mechanical keyboard, gaming, cooler master

Cooler Master has introduced a new mechanical keyboard to the QuickFire Rapid family. The upcoming QuckFire Rapid-i is a fully backlit mechanical keybard that offers up gaming-friendly features.

Cooler Master is keeping many of the detailed specifications under wraps, but we do know that it supports both PS/2 and USB, uses laser etched matte keycaps along with mechanical switches, and uses a 32-bit ARM processor to drive the various back-lighting profiles (a technology Cooler Master calls ActivLite).

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The keyboard supports 1ms response times in USB mode along with NKRO (N Key Roll Over) which allows simultaneous pressing of multiple keys which can come in handy when using the keyboard for gaming. The ActivLite technology supports five key backlighting modes with an additional five brightness levels in each mode. Cooler Master demonstrates one mode on their website where the keys being pressed light up and slowly fade in a trailing lighting effect as you continue typing. The keyboard has on board memory capable of storing four saved lighting profiles (users can program the backlighting of individual keys).

Unfortunately, Cooler Master has not stated which mechanical switches it is using in this keyboard beyond saying that they are both "tactile" and "quiet." Considering its predecessor used Cherry MX switches, those are a good bet though.

If you are interested in Cooler Master's latest mechanical keyboard, keep an eye on the product page the company set up for further information as it gets closer to a physical launch date.

Valve Ports Portal To NVIDIA Shield Gaming Handheld

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Portal, GTC 2014, gaming, nvidia

During the opening keynote of NVIDIA's GTC 2014 conference, company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that Valve had ported the ever-popular "Portal" game to the NVIDIA SHIELD handheld gaming platform.

The game appeared to run smoothly on the portable device, and is a worthy addition to the catalog of local games that can be run on the SHIELD.

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Additionally, while the cake may still be a lie, portable gaming systems apparently are not as Jen-Hsun Huang revealed that all GTC attendees will be getting a free SHIELD.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on all the opening keynote announcements and their implications for the future of computing!

GPU Technology Conference 2014 resources:

Keep up with GTC 2014 throughout the week by following the NVIDIA blog (blogs.nvidia.com) and the GTC tag on PC Perspective!

AMD just stole the mid-range performance Mantle in BF4

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2014 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: gaming, BF4, Mantle, amd

The new Mantle API has arrived for BF4, with quite a few other games waiting in the wings which will also take advantage of this DirectX competitor.  The results that [H]ard|OCP saw were not as impressive as what the marketing would have had you believe but it still offers an improvement over DirectX in some cases.  With high end hardware running at EyeFinity resolutions [H] did not see much improvement, the GTX 780 Ti took the performance crown.  However on a single monitor with a R9 290 or 280X they saw very significant performance increases which left both the GTX 780 and 770 lagging behind in performance.  Mantle will not yet allow mid range GPUs to act like high end cards but there is promise in this new API.

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"AMD's Mantle API has been with us for just over a month now, and we have strapped a variety of video cards to the test bench to see what real world differences are being delivered to gamers within Battlefield 4. We will compare D3D11, Mantle, on various GPUs, looking at highest playable settings, frame times, and discuss our experiences."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The best possible way you could spend Saturday, Feb 22nd

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2014 - 07:35 PM |
Tagged: vlan, gaming, fun, fragging frogs

This weekend, specifically at 10AM ET on February 22nd the fifth Virtual LAN Party kicks off,  hosted by the famous Fragging Frogs and PC Perspective, with a good chance of some secret visitors from the Red Team.  There is no set end time for the event nor for any of the games so if you have any time on Saturday in which you do not find yourself saving innocents from a fate worse than death* then hop on and play with us.  You get to hang out with Forum members you have built friendships with, shoot those you hold a grudge against, and have the chance to frag Ryan, Josh and all the other PC Per staff brave enough to set foot into this battle royale. 

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*The only acceptable excuse to bail on us.

The games are many, both old and new; with a strong likelihood of every Battlefield game since 1942 represented along with spicy versions of Unreal 2004, Torchlight II, Hawken, a game involving heavy weapons versus dinosaurs and much more.  You can see the whole list here and can suggest others if we missed one of your favourites.  To prepare for the event you should install TeamSpeak 3 which is our chat client of choice; you can find the server info right here.  Other than that just show up when you can and hop into the game of your choice.

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We have been doing VLAN's on a very irregular schedule since 2010 but if this weekend goes well we might just start eating a bit more fibre and start a more regular schedule.  There were once even tournaments held, though that was back when UT2K4 was shiny and new, which we could start up again.  For even more fun, you could help the Frogs get back together on the regular schedule we used to hold to back in the golden days of yore.  Don't forget to consider a jump in The Pond once you are finished playing, keep that CPU and GPU working full out!

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This is also a great time to thank Lenny and AMD for the wonderful good deed that they did for one of our long term members.  You can read about their good works here and be sure to thank them for putting the effort into helping out one of our own.  

We look forward to seeing you there and shooting you several times.

Can Titanfall really be as fun as it sounds?

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2014 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: gaming, titanfall, modding

If you didn't get lucky enough to get in on the Titanfall demo then all you can do is read the previews and wonder if what you are missing out on is really as good as people say it is.  The reviews we've seen have been very positive and describe what seems to be a new style of online shooter.  The basics remain the same and we have all seen footage of the 3 storey mechs which give the game its name but Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN also describes how parkour is a big part of the game and is easier to get used to than Mirror's Edge.  The launch process also sounds like an improvement, when starting you end up in a private area which makes it easy to pick who you play with if you have a group of up to 12 people together.  Even with the limit of 6 players per side the map won't feel empty thanks to the designed inclusion of bots on both teams.  It is also nice to hear that Respawn is already acknowledging the modding community for the PC version of their game.

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"There are a lot of different ways to make videogame fights meaningful. Singleplayer games do it by couching your shotgun blasts and pistol whips in the context of a story. Multiplayer games do it by emphasising competition via scoreboards, and by layering XP bonuses and equipment progression on top as rewards for each kill. Titanfall aims to do it with a mixture of all of the above, and based on its limited beta, finds mixed success."

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It's true! You can now unleash your inner billy goat

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2014 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: gaming, goat simulator

For $10 you can pre-order Goat Simulator on Steam as it has gone from a wacky physics engine demonstration to a real ... goat simulator.  They've even added a brand new feature to the tongue we saw sticking out of the goats mouth in the original video.  If you lick something it will stick to your tongue, which was put to the obvious use of chasing humans around while wielding an axe.  We can only hope that there will be a Troll Bridge add-on in the near future; how can you not buy this?

"Hmm, I worry that it’s ever so slightly less entertaining now it’s a real thing with a pricetag, as opposed to an out-of-nowhere joke. Now it’s got the Snakes On A Plane problem – it has to live up to its concept. Still, we (including I) asked for it, so down Goat Simulator’s rabbit hole we must go."

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Focus on Mantle

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 5, 2014 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Mantle, amd, battlefield 4

Now that the new Mantle enabled driver has been released several sites have had a chance to try out the new API to see what effect it has on Battlefield 4.  [H]ard|OCP took a stock XFX R9 290X paired with an i7-3770K and tested both single and multiplayer BF4 performance and the pattern they saw lead them to believe Mantle is more effective at relieving CPU bottlenecks than ones caused by the GPU.  The performance increases they saw were greater at lower resolutions than at high resolutions.  At The Tech Report another XFX R9 290X was paired with an A10-7850K and an i7-4770K and compared the systems performance in D3D as well as Mantle.  To make the tests even more interesting they also tested D3D with a 780Ti, which you should fully examine before deciding which performs the best.  Their findings were in line with [H]ard|OCP's and they made the observation that Mantle is going to offer the greatest benefits to lower powered systems, with not a lot to be gained by high end systems with the current version of Mantle.  Legit Reviews performed similar tests but also brought the Star Swarm demo into the mix, using an R7 260X for their GPU.  You can catch all of our coverage by clicking on the Mantle tag.

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"Does AMD's Mantle graphics API deliver on its promise of smoother gaming with lower-spec CPUs? We take an early look at its performance in Battlefield 4."

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Skywind is coming ... still

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2014 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: gaming, morrowind, skyrim, mod, skywind

The long awaited mod is still in development, recreating Morrowind with the improved Skyrim engine.  The alpha is currently available to those who own a copy of both games, Skyrim for the engine and Morrowind for the actual game content.  There is a lot of work to be done uniting the games, skill trees are different as well as the differences in the armour system.  With a complete redo of every texture as well as the incorporation of all of Morrowind's content this is a major project but it seems Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has good reason to believe this mod will continue being developed as there is quite a bit of action on their forums as well as the preview video they just posted.

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"I'm so used to these modern conversions of old games stalling mid-development, that I immediately approach them with skepticism. There’s now enough here that I’m starting to open up my hope glands and spurt optimism juice all over my clothes. It’s kind of a problem."

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