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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What will survive from Games for Windows Live?

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2014 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: gaming, microsoft, G4WL

With the ending of Microsoft's Games for Windows Live service many people are understandably worried that they will no longer be able to access games that they have legitimately purchased.  Some games, such as BioShock 2 have been made available via Steam and so will continue to be available but there is a long list of other games for with the future is uncertain.  The list HEXUS provides is far from complete as many companies have yet to respond to inquiries about the future of their games and for quite a few the only thing we know is that the game is not currently slated to be removed.  Check the current list and keep your eyes open for updates.

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"We last mentioned the closure of the Games for Windows Live (G4WL) service back in October when we heard about BioShock 2 being updated and the main game and all its DLC being made available upon Steam so it could continue to be enjoyed."

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Source: Hexus

NVIDIA G-Sync DIY Kit For ASUS VG248QE Monitor Now Available for $199

Subject: Displays | January 17, 2014 - 06:35 PM |
Tagged: vg248qe, nvidia, gaming, g-sync, DIY, asus

NVIDIA's new G-Sync variable refresh rate technology is slowly being rolled out to consumers in the form of new monitors and DIY upgrade kits that can be used to add G-Sync functionality to existing displays. The first G-Sync capable monitor to support the DIY upgrade kit path is the ASUS VG248QE which is a 24" 1080p 144Hz TN panel. The monitor itself costs around $270 and the you can now purchase a G-Sync DIY upgrade kit from NVIDIA for $199.

The upgrade kit comes with a replacement controller board, power supply, HDMI cable, plastic spudger, IO shields, and installation instructions. Users will need to take apart the VG248QE monitor, remove the old PCBs and install the G-Sync board in its place. According to NVIDIA the entire process takes about 30 minutes though if this is your first time digging into monitor internals it will likely take closer to an hour to install.

The NVIDIA G-Sync DIY kit below the ASUS VG248QE monitor.

For help with installation, NVIDIA has posted a video of the installation process on YouTube. If you find text and photos easier, you can follow the installation guides written up for PC Perspective by Allyn Malventano and reader Levi Kendall. Both DIY kit reviews stated that the process, while a bit involved, was possible for most gamers to perform with a bit of guidance.

You can order the DIY upgrade kit yourself from this NVIDIA page.

Alternatively, ASUS is also releasing an updated version of the VG248QE monitor with the G-Sync board pre-installed in the first half of this year. This updated G-Sync monitor will have an MSRP of $399.

With the G-Sync kit at $199, will you be going the DIY path or waiting for a new monitor with the technology pre-installed?

Read more about NVIDIA's G-Sync display technology at PC Perspective including first impressions, installation, and more!

Source: NVIDIA

AMD looking to take up the Mantle of huge scale games

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2014 - 03:50 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 - 10:15 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.

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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.

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Source: Sennheiser