How shiny will your gaming be on an SSD

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2013 - 11:19 AM |
Tagged: gaming

Sure, it is obvious that an SSD will speed up your boot time and the loading speed of programs but will it actually make your in game experience better?  [H]ard|OCP tested a Western Digital 640GB Black Edition HDD against a Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB in five different games.  The results are as you might expect; consistency, framerate and gameplay performance differences all fall within the margin of error showing that in game the SSD will not have much effect.  On the other hand load times for both the game and saves are vastly improved.

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"We've upgraded all our video card test systems to SSDs recently. But does it actually make a difference in real world gaming performance? Today we are going to test the claim that an SSD will improve your gameplay experience compared to a spinning hard drive. We test several games apples-to-apples on our video card test system."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Trying to tempt people onto The Elder Scrolls Online beta

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 11:30 AM |
Tagged: mmorpg, gaming, elder scrolls online

Long time fans of The Elder Scrolls series have not been jumping on the online version in great numbers, partly due to the changes that were made to the game to make it an MMORPG but also because that particular market is rather saturated.  Over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN is a short video intended to offer an enticing look at the skills that you can develop over time.  They are much more in depth than the constellation of skills available in offline TES games and can be gained in more ways that just levelling up.  As well they can be tweaked and modified in such a way as to make your character much more personalized, take a peek and see if it convinces you to give the game a try.

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"When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a fireman and an astronaut and a cowboy and a monster truck and Batman and a shoe and a barn and a machine that could produce infinite popsicles and the head of a moderately successful middle management firm. Eventually, however, I realized that I’d have to settle on just one thing, so I decided that I hated money and became a games journo."

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Hey look, Win 8.1 is better at something!

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 10:39 AM |
Tagged: win8, gaming, BF4

[H]ard|OCP found something that Win8.1 can do better than Win7, especially now that the mouse issue is not nearly as pervasive.  As it turns out the current non-Mantle version of Battlefield 4 performs between 3-6% faster when run on a Win8 machine.  While that finding does not imply a huge performance difference they also reported that the video was much smoother when run under Win8 with none of the choppiness that was present under Win7.  Think of the frame pacing examples Ryan has provided as a good demonstration of what they are referring to, though the cause may not be the same.  It will be interesting to see how the Mantle version will perform under both operating systems.

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"Is in-game real world Battlefield 4 gaming performance better on the Windows 8.1 operating system or on Windows 7? We look at video card performance between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 in this game and find out if upgrading to Windows 8.1 is worth it or not for the much rumored performance advantage."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel's HD4600 versus AMD's 4600 on Linux ... with special guests

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, mesa, open source

Phoronix is continuing to test the performance of open source Linux drivers on Source Engine games with this installation focusing on the performance of the Haswell i7-4770K.  They compare it to a number of RV770 based AMD GPUs as well as the newer HD 6450.  As you can see in the result the performance of the HD 6450 and HD 4550 are almost exactly the same and are the only two Radeons that do not leave the Intel's GPU in the dust.  If you have experience with the HD 4650 you have a very good idea as to how Intel's 4600 performs as the results are very similar.  Check out the full review here.

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"Earlier this week I delivered some 13-way AMD open-source Linux GPU benchmarks when tested against Valve's Source Engine powered Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Source games. Now up for testing from the Steam Linux client on Ubuntu is the Intel open-source Mesa graphics driver performance with Core i7 "Haswell" graphics."

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Source: Phoronix

Linux, your Source for gaming

Subject: General Tech | November 13, 2013 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: source engine, linux, gaming

By now you should have heard about the Linux version of Valve's Source Engine which allows you to play any of the games based on that engine on the open source OS.  Phoronix has just completed a battery of tests showing the performance of both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs in these games as a prelude to what you can probably expect from the Steam Machine.  AMD's older cards performed at a higher level than did NVIDIA's legacy GPUs as well as taking top spot overall with the HD 6870.  Check out both reviews to see how your silicon will handle TF2, CS:Source and other favourites.

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"For your viewing pleasure today is a 13-way AMD Radeon graphics card comparison when testing out the open-source Radeon Gallium3D drivers on the wide spectrum of ATI/AMD GPUs while looking at the performance for Valve's Source Engine with Counter-Strike: Source and Team Fortress 2. Given the imminent arrival of Steam Machines and SteamOS to push Linux gaming into its long-awaited spotlight, is AMD's open-source Linux graphics driver capable of delivering a reasonable level of performance?"

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Source: Phoronix
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Design

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With few exceptions, it’s generally been taken for granted that gaming notebooks are going to be hefty devices. Portability is rarely the focus, with weight and battery life alike usually sacrificed in the interest of sheer power. But the MSI GE40 2OC—the lightest 14-inch gaming notebook currently available—seeks to compromise while retaining the gaming prowess. Trending instead toward the form factor of a large Ultrabook, the GE40 is both stylish and manageable (and perhaps affordable at around $1,300)—but can its muscle withstand the reduction in casing real estate?

While it can’t hang with the best of the 15-inch and 17-inch crowd, in context with its 14-inch peers, the GE40’s spec sheet hardly reads like it’s been the subject of any sort of game-changing handicap:

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One of the most popular CPUs for Haswell gaming notebooks has been the 2.4 GHz (3.4 GHz Turbo) i7-4700MQ. But the i7-4702MQ in the GE40-20C is nearly as powerful (managing 2.2 GHz and 3.2 GHz in those same areas respectively), and it features a TDP that’s 10 W lower at just 37 W. That’s ideal for notebooks such as the GE40, which seek to provide a thinner case in conjunction with uncompromising performance. Meanwhile, the NVIDIA GTX 760M is no slouch, even if it isn’t on the same level as the 770s and 780s that we’ve been seeing in some 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch gaming beasts.

Elsewhere, it’s business as usual, with 8 GB of RAM and a 120 GB SSD rounding out the major bullet points. Nearly everything here is on par with the best of rival 14-inch gaming models with the exception of the 900p screen resolution (which is bested by some notebooks, such as Dell’s Alienware 14 and its 1080p panel).

Continue reading our review of the MSI GE40 2OC!!!

Battling Frostbite on the PC

Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2013 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: gaming, battlefield 4

EA may have released the minimum and recommended specs but until properly tweaked and benchmarked it is never clear how much power BF4 wants.  Thankfully TechSpot has gone through all of that work for you, testing over 2 dozen video cards and their performance in BF4 at three different resolutions.  They didn't parse the performance by every single graphics option switching between enabled and disabled but the benchmarks are informative enough to give you an idea where to start.

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"With roots that stretch back more than a decade and enough fans to justify new content every year, Battlefield is among the handful of franchises that needs no introduction around here. Even if you hate EA's approach modern military madness, you can typically expect Battlefield's graphics to raise the bar."

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Source: Techspot

Batman teaches an old engine new tricks

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: gaming, batman arkham origins

Batman: Arkham Origins is here and using the familiar Unreal 3 Engine but with some new tricks that haven't been tried.  Tessellation, Ambient Occlusion HBAO+, Percentage Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS), and Depth of Field (DoF) will be available for users of DX11 cards with NVIDIA owners also able to use TXAA and PhysX.  That could have some impact on your systems performance and so TechSpot grabbed a couple of dozen videocards and tested them for performance.  They break down performance by resolution and slowly add features such as AA to the benchmarks so that you can get a good idea what to set your machine to when in the graphics options menu but the good news is that just about everyone should be able to get decent performance from this game if they keep to recommended settings.

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"Despite being built with Epic's aging Unreal Engine 3, WB Montreal used a heavily modified version of the software. The PC version has received some special attention in the graphics department including many DirectX 11 and PhysX effects."

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Source: Techspot

BF4's single player campaign; just for benchmarking?

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2013 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: gaming, BF4

Once again EA has decided to include a single player campaign for the new Battlefield and it will hopefully be better than previous attempts that tended to be as gripping as 3 year old scotch tape.  You can catch the trailer below if you are feeling the need to see cutscenes full of screaming and explosions and if you are interested in commentary you can pick some up at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.  As most of the people who played the campaign of BF3 they are only familiar with the first few minutes that it takes to run a benchmark the quality of story in the single player campaign matter very little; most are more hopeful the bugs which plagued Bad Company and BF3's multiplayer will be nonexistent in the newest incarnation.

"So now I want to know: who plays the single-player bits of Battlefield games, and were you/are you excited about the fourth game’s offline shootery? Actually, you should probably wait until watching the trailer before answering that, because it looks a bit crap."

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Thoughts on the unintended consequences of Mantle and SteamOS

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2013 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: amd, Mantle, gaming, valve

The Tech Report has been thinking on the upcoming release of SteamOS and AMD's Mantle and they see some problems that could come about because of them.  Fragmentation has always been a problem for PCs, be it that the hardware between systems never matches or the wide variety of APIs and game engines on the software side.  It can de daunting to begin developing a game and determining if optimizing for AMD, NVIDIA or Intel is worth considering as well as the choice between Direct3D or OpenGL or trying to make them both work.  Mantle is now a choice, BF4 will actually be releasing a version that is natively Mantle shortly after they launch the first version of the game.  Valve has also hinted that several AAA titles will be released on SteamOS, not necessarily Windows or Linux.  What effect could this have on PC gaming as these new choices arrive at the same time the next generation consoles are released?  Read on and see.

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"Valve's SteamOS and AMD's Mantle API have the potential to do great things for PC gaming. However, they also threaten to fragment the platform at a critical time, when next-gen consoles are about to reduce the PC's performance and image quality lead by a long shot."

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