Logitech Focuses in on Gaming
Logitech has been around seemingly forever. The Swiss based company is ubiquitous in the peripherals market, providing products ranging from keyboards and mice, to speakers and headsets. There is not much that the company does not offer when it comes to PC peripherals. Their 3 button mice back in the day were considered cutting edge that also happened to be semi-programmable. Since that time we have seen them go from ball mice, to optical mice, to the latest laser based products that offer a tremendous amount of precision.
Gaming has become one of the bigger movers for Logitech, and they have revamped their entire lineup as well as added a few new products to hopefully cash in on the popularity of modern gaming. To further address this market Logitech has designed and marketed a new batch of gaming headsets. These promise to be moderately priced, but high quality products that bear the Logitech name. We go from the very basic up to the top 7.1 wireless products. Originally these covered a pretty significant price range, but lately the discounts have been extremely deep. The lowest end gaming headset is at $40US while the 7.1 wireless model comes in around $90 US.
I am looking at two models today that span the lowest end to the 2nd highest. The first headset is the G230 analog set. The second is the G35 wired 7.1 USB with Dolby Headphone technology. I have never been a fan of wireless headphones, but the G35 should be a fairly good approximation of the performance of that part.
My goal is to look at these two wired units and see what Logitech can offer at these two very affordable price points.
Introduction and Test Hardware
The PC gaming world has become divided by two distinct types of games: those that were designed and programmed specifically for the PC, and console ports. Unfortunately for PC gamers it seems that far too many titles are simply ported over (or at least optimized for consoles first) these days, and while PC users can usually enjoy higher detail levels and unlocked frame rates there is now the issue of processor core-count to consider. This may seem artificial, but in recent months quite a few games have been released that require at least a quad-core CPU to even run (without modifying the game).
One possible explanation for this is current console hardware: PS4 and Xbox One systems are based on multi-core AMD APUs (the 8-core AMD "Jaguar"). While a quad-core (or higher) processor might not be techincally required to run current games on PCs, the fact that these exist on consoles might help to explain quad-core CPU as a minimum spec. This trend could simply be the result of current x86 console hardware, as developement of console versions of games is often prioritized (and porting has become common for development of PC versions of games). So it is that popular dual-core processors like the $69 Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition (G3258) are suddenly less viable for a future-proofed gaming build. While hacking these games might make dual-core CPUs work, and might be the only way to get such a game to even load as the CPU is checked at launch, this is obviously far from ideal.
Is this much CPU really necessary?
Rather than rail against this quad-core trend and question its necessity, I decided instead to see just how much of a difference the processor alone might make with some game benchmarks. This quickly escalated into more and more system configurations as I accumulated parts, eventually arriving at 36 different configurations at various price points. Yeah, I said 36. (Remember that Budget Gaming Shootout article from last year? It's bigger than that!) Some of the charts that follow are really long (you've been warned), and there’s a lot of information to parse here. I wanted this to be as fair as possible, so there is a theme to the component selection. I started with three processors each (low, mid, and high price) from AMD and Intel, and then three graphics cards (again, low, mid, and high price) from AMD and NVIDIA.
Here’s the component rundown with current pricing*:
- AMD Athlon X4 860K - $74.99
- AMD FX 8350 - $165.93
- AMD FX 9590 (with AIO cooler) - $259.99
- Intel Core i3-4130 - $118
- Intel Core i5-4440 - $184.29
- Intel Core i7-4790K - $338.99
Graphics cards tested:
- AMD Radeon R7 260X (ASUS 2GB OC) - $137.24
- AMD Radeon R9 280 (Sapphire Dual-X) - $169.99
- AMD Radeon R9 290X (MSI Lightning) - $399
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (OEM) - $149.99
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 (OEM) - $235
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (ASUS STRIX) - $519
*These prices were current as of 6/29/15, and of course fluctuate.
Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2015 - 03:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Portal 2, Stories of Mel
Stories of Mel is a Portal 2 mod which takes place between the two games, with a length that sounds similar to the original game. There is new music, voice acting and even a redesigned Portal gun all available for free for owners of Portal 2 on Steam. The embedded video below gives you a sense of the ambience you can expect from the game without giving away many hints as to the content. If you already have the Portal games then head over to Steam to pick up the mod, which installs as a separate game and if you don't then you owe it to yourself to pay the ~$30 to pick up both games. Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has links for Steam as well as the projects homepage if you want to show your thanks.
"Mel brings a new protagonist with a new companion sphere, boasting over 300 new voiced lines, an hour of original music, and 22 levels that its creators say may take anywhere from four to twelve hours to complete depending on how well you think with portals. It looks quite pretty. And it’s entirely free (if you own Portal 2, natch), available direct through Steam."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Pillars Of Eternity 2.0: Better AI, Less Rubbish Stealth @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Valve's 'get it early' Steam Machine promotion sells out @ HEXUS
- Shadow of the Beast: Amiga classic returns from the darkness @ The Register
- Firaxis publishes 10-minute XCOM 2 mission video @ HEXUS
- Warner knew about Batman: Arkham Knight PC issues 'for months' @ Polygon
Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2015 - 03:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Star Wars, gaming, ea
EA showed what they described as in game footage of the new Star Wars: Battlefront which was gorgeous and seems to capture the feel of that universe quite well. Tthe more realistic of us worry that this might be in game footage in the same sense as Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs footage from last year and most of us are just hoping EA doesn't find a way to screw this game up more than they already have. From the video below we can see that first and third person views are supported, flying vehicles have been included and jetpacks will be available. We also learned that Luke can apparently time travel from the future into the past. It is hard not to be excited about this release, one can only hope it does not all end in tears.
HEXUS also has a few more EA videos on their page right here.
"EA revealed new video trailers, footage and information about all its hottest gaming titles at the E3 show yesterday. The one and a half hour long presentation, available in full here, included information about Star Wars: Battlefront, Mass Effect Andromeda, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, the Need 4 Speed reboot, a plethora of sports title updates (plus an on-stage interview with Pele) and more."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Lady Beserkers & Corpse-Carrying In XCOM 2 Footage @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- No worries, Fallout 4 fans. That dog is not going to die @ Polygon
- Kick-Off Delayed: Blood Bowl 2 Now Due In September @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Check Out The Afro Samurai 2: Revenge Of Kuma Trailer @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Dark Souls 3 Announced, Miyazaki Directing @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Square Enix E3 presentation offers compelling mix of sequels @ HEXUS
- Shadow Warrior 2 Announced Packing Four-Player Co-op @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2015 - 03:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED
Techgage has spent a while in the open world of The Witcher 3 and are ready to share their experiences. The open world is very open, you will find yourself wandering into areas you are not ready for without warning and at 50 hours in the reviewer is still seeing the occasional tutorial pop-up so they are nowhere near finishing. You may find yourself abandoning a quest to do other side quests in order to become powerful enough to survive the encounter with the boss at the end of the quest you originally intended to do. That is the heart and soul of a truly open game, which CD Projekt RED seem to have mastered. Check out their review right here.
"This land is deep in darkness, words do little to describe the hell that has befallen. War, pillaging, oppression, greed, politics and scandals. We are beyond the petty battles of good and evil, for all have monsters living within. With the stench of deceit in the air, what this world needs, is a Witcher."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review @ OCC
- ‘Mirror’s Edge 2′ Is Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Not A Sequel @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Warm up the Mega Buster: Next-gen consoles to reboot Mega Man series @ The RegisterE
- Co-op D&D: Sword Coast Legends Arriving In September @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Some developers hit hard by new Steam Refunds policy @ HEXUS
- AMD tipped to bundle Star Wars Battlefront with new Radeons @ HEXUS
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2015 - 05:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, fragging frogs, fallout 4, bethesda
At last we have a teaser trailer of Fallout 4, which for a nice change does not look mostly like Skyrim using a colour palette from Doom. Also possibly exciting is the hint of several vehicles capable of flight, which could add quite a bit to this game if available in the story or with a mod. The garage shown in the trailer looks to be a home base for the player, albeit one infected with the pernicious crafting system disease if the partially assembled power armour is not simply decoration. Check out the trailer below and then patiently await the release.
On another note, the 10th Fragging Frog VLAN was a huge success with most of the day seeing 60 or more active participants blasting away in a variety of games including Toxikk which is a fun homage to the old style of online FPSes such as Unreal Tournament. You can check out what happened as well as see the winners of the prizes which were generously donated by AMD, Fractal Design, Epic Games and even one of our own members right here in this thread on the Forums.
"Aha, now this is promising. We’re clearly looking at the game’s post-apocalyptic present-day rather than a flashback, but there’s tons of colours there. Paint, clearly, can survive the end of the world, and thank goodness for that."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 2015 DRM-Free Summer Sale Starts Now @ GoG
- Steam Refunds @ Steam
- Wot I Think: Hatred @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Colour me bad: Kraken time or damp squid with Splatoon @ The Register
- 19 Observations About The XCOM 2 Trailer @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- StarDrive II Review – Take Me To Your PC @ Techgage
- TITANS! Dawn Of War Ultimate Apocalypse Does Epic 40K @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Cyberpunk 2077 A While Away Whilst Witcher Bewitches @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: touch, synaptics, smartbar, opinion, gaming, computex 2015, computex
Synaptics revealed more details on its SmartBar technology today at Computex. The human interface company most known for its trackpads is looking to expand its reach into keyboards. Specifically, SmartBar is technology that will add touch input functionality to the keyboard spacebar. Using the technology, OEMs can integrate capacitive touch sensors into the spacebar allowing for several unique and productivity boosting gestures.
The SmartBar spacebar can be broken up into five logical (touch sensitive areas) buttons each of which can be associated with user created macros using a bundled macro editing utility. Alternatively, users can enable touch gestures. Synaptics is touting the ability to use quick left and right swipe motion to edit text by moving the cursor back and forth word by word though a document as well as the ability to use a two thumb pinch gesture to zoom in and out on an image or document. The touch input would also be useful to gamers who want to future increase their actions per minute in RTS games or even something as simple as shifting gears or switching weapons in racing and first person games respectively.
Along the lines of gaming, it turns out that Thermaltake under it's Tt eSports line will be the first adopter of this SmartBar technology, and while Synaptics did not reveal any exact products I am looking forward to see what Thermaltake does with the technology in its future gaming keyboards. This could be a gimmick, or it could really take off and be a must have feature depending on how well it is implemented in both hardware and software. It does make sense though; the spacebar is the natural resting place for your thumbs, so it should not take too much effort to incorporate touch gestures (literally at your fingertips...) to improve your game or work efficiency. A simple but promising idea for sure.
From the press release:
“Desktop PCs still represent a sizeable portion of the PC market, especially in the commercial segment, but most desktop users have been left behind in terms of next-generation interfaces such as touch,” said Tom Mainelli, VP of Devices & Displays at International Data Corporation (IDC). “Companies are always looking for ways to help drive employee efficiency, and feature-rich, touch-enabled keyboards represent a straightforward, affordable way to help increase worker productivity.”
The SmartBar technology is available now to OEMs, but we might have to wait until CES to see actual products offering touch sensitive spacebars.
What do you think of the technology, and would you use it for gaming?
Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X99A GODLIKE GAMING, RGB, msi, motherboard, Intel X99, gaming, computex 2015, computex
In the spirit of being un-subtle (and writing things in all-caps) MSI has introduced its new ultra high-end X99 platform motherboard, the X99A GODLIKE GAMING.
MSI says the X99A GODLIKE GAMING is the “world’s first RGB LED motherboard, supporting more than 2000 colors and many style presets such as breathing, flashing and waving”. Flashing and waving? Two things my motherboard has always needed. And breathing? Well, we all have to do that.
In all seriousness however (that name notwithstanding) the X99A GODLIKE GAMING looks like a really interesting product for a gaming market permeated by RGB-adorned peripherals and enclosures.
“The X99A GODLIKE GAMING employs the latest Audio Boost 3 PRO technology to deliver crystal clear sound quality and lossless audio compression. For efficient data transfer, Turbo M.2, SATA Express and USB 3.1 are supported. The X99A GODLIKE GAMING also adopts the latest Killer DoubleShot-X3 PRO. Smart teaming with two Killer Ethernet chips and Killer 1535 Wi-Fi module, X99A GODLIKE GAMING can provide up to 2.867Gbps of network bandwidth for hardcore gamers. The Mystic Light, another special feature, lets users easily control the LED light effects with the MSI Gaming APP on OS and the Mystic Light APP on Android mobile devices.”
No details yet on pricing or availability for this “god-like” motherboard just yet.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 1, 2015 - 07:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: steam os, living room gaming, liquid cooling, gaming, DIY, corsair, computex 2015, computex, barebones, 4k
Today at Computex, Corsair unveiled a new barebones gaming PC aimed at the living room. The compact Bulldog PC is an upgradeable barebones DIY kit that offers gamers an interesting base from which to build a living room PC capable of 4K gaming. The chassis resembles an overbuilt console in that it is a short but wide design with many angular edges and aesthetic touches including stylized black case feet and red accents surrounding the vents. A hidden panel in the lower right corner reveals two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks. It looks ready to fight in the next season of Robot Wars should you add a flamethrower or hydraulic flipper (heh).
The Bulldog kit consists of the chassis, motherboard, small form factor power supply, and a customized Hydro H55F series closed loop liquid CPU cooler. From there, users need to bring their own processor, RAM, and storage devices. There is no operating system included with the kit, but it, being a full PC, supports Windows, Linux, and SteamOS et al.
As far as graphics cards, Corsair is offering several liquid cooled NVIDIA graphics cards (initially only from MSI with other AIB partner cards to follow) that are ready to be installed in the Bulldog PC. Currently, users can choose from the GTX TITAN X, GTX 980, and GTX 970.
Alternatively, Corsair is offering a $99 (MSRP) upgrade kit for existing graphics cards with its Hydro H55 cooler and HG110 bracket.
The Bulldog case supports Mini ITX form factor motherboards and it appears that Corsair is including the Asus Z97I-Plus which is a socket 1150 board supporting Haswell-based Core processors, DDR3 memory, M.2 (though you have to take the board out of the case to install the drive since the slot is on the underside of the board), a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, four SATA 6.0 Gbps ports, and the usual fare of I/O options including USB 3.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and optical and analog audio outputs (among others).
A mini ITX motherboard paired with the small from factor Corsair H55F CPU cooler (left) and the internal layout of the Bulldog case with all components installed (right).
User purchased processors are cooled by the included liquid cooler which is a customized Hydro series cooler that mounts over the processor and exhausts air blower style out of the back of the case. The system is powered by the pre-installed 600W Corsair FS600 power supply. The PSU is mounted in the front of the system and the graphics card radiator and fan are mounted horizontally beside it. Along the left side of the case are mounts for a single 2.5" drive and a single 3.5" drive.
GPU manufacturers will be selling card with liquid coolers pre-installed. Users can also upgrade existing air cooled graphics cards with an optional upgrade kit.
The liquid cooling aspect of the Bulldog is neat and, according to Corsair, is what is enabling them to cram so much hardware together into a relatively small case while enabling thermal headroom for overclocking and quieter operation versus air coolers.
I am curious how well the CPU cooler performs especially as far as noise levels go with the compacted and shrouded design. Also, while there is certainly plenty of ventilation along the sides of the case to draw in cool air, I'm interested in how well the GPU HSF will be able to exhaust the heat since there are no top grilles.
Corsair is marketing the Bulldog as the next step up from your typical Steam Machine and game console and the first 4K capable gaming PC designed for the living room. Further, it would be a nice stepping stone for console gamers to jump into PC gaming.
From the press release:
“Bulldog is designed to take the 4K gaming experience delivered by desktop gaming PCs, and bring it to the big 4K screens in the home,” said Andy Paul, CEO of Corsair Components. “We knew we needed to deliver a solution that was elegant, powerful, and compact. By leveraging our leading expertise in PC case design and liquid cooling, we met that goal with Bulldog. We can’t wait to unleash it on gamers this fall.”
The Bulldog DIY PC kit is slated for an early Q4 2015 launch with a MSRP of $399. After adding in a processor, memory, storage, and graphics, Corsair estimates a completed build to start around $940 with liquid cooled graphics ($600 without a dedicated GPU) and tops out at $2,250.
Keep in mind that the lowest tier liquid cooled GPU at launch will be the MSI GTX 970 (~$340). Users could get these prices down a bit with some smart shopping and component selection along with the optional $99 upgrade kit for other GPU options. It is also worth considering that the Bulldog is being positioned as a 4K gaming machine. If you were willing to start off with a 1080p setup, you could get buy with a cheaper graphics card and upgrade later along with your TV when 4K televisions are cheaper and more widespread.
At its core, $400 for the Bulldog kit (case, quality power supply, high end motherboard, and closed loop CPU cooler) is a decent value that just might entice some console gamers to explore the world of PC gaming (and to never leave following their first Steam sale heh)! It is a big commitment for sure at that price, but it looks like Corsair is using quality components and while there is surely the usual the small form factor part price premium (especially cases), it is far from obnoxious.
What do you think about the bulldog? Is it more bark than bite or is it a console killer?
Subject: General Tech | May 27, 2015 - 01:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, GTAV, VLAN party
[H]ard|OCP is concluding their series on GTA V graphical settings with a look at various anti-aliasing technologies and shadowing options. Their testing shows that TXAA has a much greater effect on textures than FXAA but that change is not necessarily a good thing for your textures. MSAA is not only less than effective in the game but also comes with a performance hit that makes it a rather unattractive option except in certain situations. They also cover AMD CHS and NVIDIA PCSS soft shadow technologies and the visual effects that high resolution shadows provide. If you are still tweaking your GTA V settings then head over to check the review out.
Make sure to head over to the Gaming forum if you haven't already as this Saturday May 30, starting at 10:00 AM ET it is the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party #10. You need to confirm your attendance in this thread if you want a shot at some of the many prizes being given out by AMD, Fractal Designs and maybe even other secret prizes. The thread also covers how to log into the TeamSpeak server as well as the gamut of games likely to be played; make sure you install any patches or mods before we kick off to maximize your gaming time.
"In our final look at Grand Theft Auto V we will look at image quality comparisons in this game. We will focus on the main graphics options that affect performance the most and we will get to the bottom of which soft shadow option is best to use. We will also find out if FXAA and TXAA affect texture quality."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ready Steady Splat: Carmageddon Leaves Early Access @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Large Amount of Star Citizen Art Assets Leaked @ Slashdot
- Normal Witcher 3 performance is possible on AMD GPUs @ HEXUS
- K Games teases sinister AAA sci-fi game called Advent @ HEXUS
- Wotcha: More Witcher 3 DLC Released For Free @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Double Fine Recover Iron Brigade, Ditch GFWL @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN