AMD looking to take up the Mantle of huge scale games

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2014 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: Star Swarm, Oxide Games, Nitrous, Mantle, gaming, amd

Without having seen Frostbite run in Mantle there is still some supposition as to the true effect of the new technology; will it increase the performance of high end PCs and allow lower end ones to do things they cannot under DirectX?  Engadget has a video of a different Mantle based engine called Nitrous, displaying a demo called Star Swarm which can display thousands of objects simultaneously on screen.  In the video they switch to DirectX to show you how much the demo slows down and what effects need to be disabled to be able to make it perform as it does under Mantle.  If this translates to real game performance Mantle could totally change RTS and most other types of games by a huge margin.  Let's hope it arrives soon now that Kaveri is out!

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"Some RTS games set the limit at 50-70 units, while others can cope with as many as 500, but a new game engine called Nitrous takes things up a level: It uses AMD's Mantle programming tool to speed up communication between the CPU and GPU, allowing up to 5,000 AI- or physics-driven objects (i.e., not mindless clones or animations) to be displayed onscreen at one time."

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Source: Engadget

CES 2014: Sennheiser Launches New PC Gaming Headsets

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2014 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: sennheiser, headset, gaming, CES 2014, CES, audio

Hi-end PC audio manufacturer Sennheiser has announced two new PC gaming headsets aimed at enthusiasts. The new headsets are called the G4ME ZERO and G4ME ONE and feature a closed ear and open ear design, respectively.

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The G4ME ZERO is a high end model circumaural headset with a foldable design, ample padding on the headband and ear cups, and noise cancelling microphone. The analog headset is rated at 150 Ohms and the speakers at 10 Hz to 26 KHz. The G4ME ZERO has a 3 meter cable that ends with two 3.5mm jacks for the microphone and headset. Users can purchase the Sennheiser PCV 05 Combo Adapter to take the two 3.5mm jacks into a single jack for use on Mac PCs and game consoles. It is slightly heavier than the G4ME ONE at 312 grams.

G4ME ONE Gaming Headset.jpg

The G4ME ONE, on the other hand, weighs 300 grams and features a open circumaural design that wraps around the ears but still lets air in to reduce sweat over long gaming sessions and allow some outside sound in.  This lighter analog headset is rated at 50 Ohms and the speakers at 15 Hz to 28 KHz. Similar to the ZERO, the ONE uses two 3.5mm jacks at the end of a 3 meter long cable. It uses plush velvet pads on the ear cups and provides plenty of padding along the headband as well.

Both headsets share a design aesthetic that incorporates white, red, and silver colors on the outside of the ear cups and microphone. The headband and ear pads are black with a large Sennheiser logo along the top end of the headband. Users can control volume via controls on the right ear cup and automatically mute the microphone by lifting the boom mic upwards. Both high end G4ME headsets look nice and comfortable from the specifications and amount of padding shown in the photos.

Along with the headsets, Sennheiser has announced a partnership with IO Interactive, which is part of Square Enix to develop game audio using Sennheiser recording equipment. The company is positioning this deal as the perfect way for gamers to get the exact audio the game developers intended by using Sennheiser microphones to record the audio, headsets in the studio to test the audio, and gamers using the same headsets to play the games. It is a nice perk for sure if you are already looking to buy into one of the company's high end headsets.

The G4ME ZERO has an MSRP of $279.95 while the G4ME ONE has an MSRP of $249.95. You can find more information on their respective product pages:

Read more about PC gaming headsets at PC Perspective.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Sennheiser

Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice; oh hey the new Aliens game isn't from Gearbox

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2014 - 12:14 PM |
Tagged: gaming, alien: isolation

We've been burned by Aliens games in the past, most recently by Gearbox's Colonial Marines and many are not willing to trust any new games using this IP.   Those who still have fond memories of the sound of the motion tracker did get some good news recently as Creative Assembly will be releasing Alien: Isolation which will not be a horrible shooter but instead will be a survival horror game in which you play Ripley's daughter.  The trailer shows promise, with the only flames coming from tools and not military grade hardware.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN had a chance to get their hands on the game, check it out here.

"We have all been burned by past Alien games and I would like us to maintain a healthy scepticism about Creative Assembly’s recently unveiled Alien: Isolation, which I went to see and play just before the turn of the year. With this in mind, I believe it an obligation, before we begin discussing this new threat, to observe a moment of silence in which we can all remember the brave souls we lost to the Colonial Marines disaster."

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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

P9173249.jpg

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.

TS_battlefield-4-benchmarks.jpg

"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