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
Subject: General Tech | May 20, 2015 - 01:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: The Witcher 3, gaming, CD Projekt RED
The new and not quite as pretty as advertised Witcher is here from CD Projekt RED, available from GoG among other places. Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have started another one of their ongoing diaries to share their experiences, so far involving a bare bum and the amazing Tutorial Man. They also went straight for the dream sequence right off the bat; a smart move to get that over and done with in the early stages. There will be more, as this is a very large game. If you are looking for more details on graphics settings than to turn off Vidal Sasson, there is a post here discussing the options they used as well as the links below.
"I shall instead run a (mostly) in-character diary series covering my adventures in, presumably, just the earlier stages of CDP’s saucy roleplayer. But for the record, it runs OK if I turn Fancy Hair off but it has crashed twice so far."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – a true monster in the making @ The Register
- The Witcher 3: Performance Analysis @ techPowerUp
- Wot I Think: Galactic Civilizations III @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Battlefield 4 Spring Patch Will Add Guns, Guns, Guns @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- “We’re experimenting with something that nobody’s done before” – Larian On Original Sin’s Enhanced Edition @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Life Imitates Art: The Black Glove Shelved @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2015 - 02:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, project cars
The Tech Report pulled out their wheel and pedals, tied their chair to their desk and tried out Project Cars, a game which shows off just what a good PC is capable of. The cars, tracks and weather are all rendered in amazing quality with lifelike reflections and lighting. Even better is the feel of the game, realistic handling work with the graphics to immerse you fully into the game. Their are options to help the novice driver get their skills up to speed and while there may not be quite as many tracks and cars to choose from as games such as Forza, the realism more than makes up for it. It will also work with a controller and Steam Big Picture for those who prefer to drive from the couch.
"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior gets behind the wheel in Project Cars, a new PC driving game with realistic handling and jaw-dropping graphics. This may be the best-looking game in any genre, and it feels as real as it looks."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Grand Theft Auto V Review @ OCC
- Grand Theft Auto V IQ Features Performance @ [H]ard|OCP
- Flying Cathedrals Galore In First Battlefleet Gothic Trailer @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Star Trek games premiere on GOG.com
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt preload starts today @ GOG.com
- Wot I Think – Wolfenstein: The Old Blood @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Have Faith: Mirror’s Edge 2 Slated For Early 2016 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Humble Store Spring Sale
- Assassin's Creed Syndicate trailer and walkthrough video published @ HEXUS
- Fallout 4 cinematic trailer listed on CG artist's LinkedIn profile @ HEXUS
Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2015 - 02:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, shield, nvidia, grid
Ryan and the crew have tested out NVIDIA's GRID, the cloud streaming service that lets you play games at 720p, as long as you have a 10 Mbps down connection on a network with a NVIDIA GameStream-ready 5 GHz Wi-Fi router and 60 ms or less ping time to a GRID server. In testing Ryan did notice lag but he still found them playable once he mentally adjusted to the delay.
Today NIVIDA announced an upgrade to the GRID service, 35 of the 50 games on the service can now stream at a full 1080p and 60fps including Batman: Arkham Origins, Devil May Cry 4 and Dirt 3 Complete Edition. In order to properly enjoy the HD quality you will need a compatible router from the list linked to above and connection of at least a 30 Mbps down, with 50Mbps being recommended by NVIDIA for best results.
The new SHIELD Hub beta is available to SHIELD owners by following the link in NVIDIA's blog post here. They also announced the addition of Bionic Commando to their library, playable at the new resolution.
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2015 - 03:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, GTAV, 1440p, 4k, crossfire, sli
Last week [H]ard|OCP investigated the performance of GTAV on single GPU systems and this week comes the promised follow up featuring Crossfire and SLI, including the expensive Titan X. With these high end setups, they tested 1440p and 4k performance as running these GPUs at 1080p is a crime against silicon. At 1440p, the GTX 980 in SLI could handle more than a single Titan X though nowhere near what that card managed in SLI while on the AMD the 295X2 could keep up frame wise, but at the cost of some graphical extras. At 4k resolutions, not even the mighty Titans could manage to run with all graphics options turned up, though it certainly did provide the best performance. AMD's GPUs lagged behind in performance however in scaling they were significantly better than NVIDIA's offerings, though there is still some room for improvement. The real battle is at the $650 mark, you can choose between a pair of GTX 970's or a single R9 295X2 as they offer relatively similar performance but if you want the most out of GTAV you are going to have to pay much more than that.
You should also make sure to free up your calendar at the end of the month for the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN Party #10 is coming up on the 30th!
"This is Part 2 of our full evaluation of Grand Theft Auto V's video card gaming performance. In this part we dive into NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire highest playable gameplay settings and apples-to-apples at 1440p and 4K resolutions. We find out just what it takes to get the most out of GTA V at its highest settings."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- GoatZ - Coming May 7th! - Launch Video
- Black Mesa Inbound: HL Remake On Steam Early Access? @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- I Hate These Guys – Wolfenstein: The Old Blood Released @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Watch Dogs 2 in development, according to senior Ubisoft dev @ HEXUS
- The GOG Galaxy beta is here!
Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2015 - 10:21 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: usb 3.1, sli, piledriver, msi, gaming, crossfire, amd, am3+, 990FXA-Gaming, 990fx
Some months ago MSI announced that they are releasing a slew of USB 3.1 compliant parts. What was surprising was the mention of a brand new AM3+ board based on the now nearly geriatric AMD 990FX chipset. The 990FX has had quite a lifespan with PCI-E 2.0 support and the accompanying SB950 southbridge with USB 2.0 and SATA6G features.
It looks as if MSI is doing a clean sheet design for the 990FXA-Gaming. This looks to be a class leading product with plenty of features. Not only does it have the USB 3.1 support, but it also implements the enhanced audio design that we have seen on other top end boards from MSI. It also embraces the Killer ethernet software suite (utilizing Qualcomm's Atheros Gig-E chip).
The power delivery system looks to be a full 8+2 unit, so it can officially handle the 220 watt TDP FX-9000 series of CPUs. It supports both SLI and CrossFire. The cooling on the board looks to be top notch as well, with a heatpipe stretching from the Southbridge, through the Northbridge, and finally to the VRMs.
We expect these boards to be available sometime around the middle of this month. We should also be receiving a sample for testing around then. It is nice to see new support for AMD's FX CPUs, and this should be a cost effective member of the club. Though AM3+ is a dead end in terms of socket infrastructure, there is still a lot of value in AMD's FX CPU line.
There is no word on pricing at this time, but I would not be surprised to see it hit the $149 mark. It does not seem as decked out as the 990FXA-GD80 which is priced around $179. With the robust featureset that they do implement, it does look to be a value if it can hit that aggressive price point.
Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2015 - 02:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, chaos, just cause 3
Sure, pretending to be a gangster can be fun and the many gameplay videos of GTAV certainly make it look entertaining but it pales in comparison to the over the top chaotic gameplay of the Just Cause series. Watch the trailer below which covers a mix of gameplay, scripted events and cutscenes invoke. Now decide whether destroying a town with your grapple attached to a bus while flying a helicopter seems like more entertainment than using a mod to drop whales across GTAV's landscape. The modding community will certainly develop more interesting things to do in GTAV, then again the JC2 modders helped have the multiplayer version of the chaos simulator. Up to you if you would rather demolish things as a gangster or as a 'liberator'.
Whatever you do remember, only you can stop pre-orders.
"Watching the “gameplay reveal” trailer for Just Cause 3 is like watching the ambitions of every guns, vehicles and explosions game made real. It’s the ludicrously overblown action blockbuster that Uncharted’s scripted events and cutscenes invoke."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Grand Theft Auto V Single GPU Performance @ [H]ard|OCP
- Grand Theft Auto V Review @ Techgage
- Grand Theft Auto V - Shadow Technologies Showdown @HiTech Legion
- GTA V GPU Performance @ eTeknix
- Wot Does Wot: Grand Theft Auto V Graphics Settings Guide @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Up to 77% off - Star Wars Day Celebration on GOG.com!
- Valve Drop Steam Paid Mods For Now @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- The Tables Have Turned: Valve’s Learning A Hard Lesson About Paid Mods @ Techgage
- Gabe Newell, Garry Newman Defend Steam’s Paid Mods @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Over The Top: Verdun Charges Out Of Early Access @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Not Chess – Warhammer 40,000: Regicide Gameplay Trailer @ Rock, Paper, SHOGUN
- The 50 Best Strategy Games Ever Made @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN