Author:
Manufacturer: Valve

A not-so-simple set of instructions

Valve released to the world the first beta of SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system built specifically for PC gaming, on Friday evening.  We have spent quite a lot of time discussing and debating the merits of SteamOS, but this weekend we wanted to do an installation of the new OS on a system and see how it all worked.

Our full video tutorial of installing and configuring SteamOS

First up was selecting the hardware for the build.  As is usually the case, we had a nearly-complete system sitting around that needed some tweaks.  Here is a quick list of the hardware we used, with a discussion about WHY just below.

  Gaming Build
Processor Intel Core i5-4670K - $222
Motherboard EVGA Z87 Stinger Mini ITX Motherboard - $257
Memory Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB 1866 MHz (2 x 4GB) - $109
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB - $999
EVGA GeForce GTX 770 2GB SuperClocked - $349
Storage Samsung 840 EVO Series 250GB SSD - $168
Case EVGA Hadron Mini ITX Case - $189
Power Supply Included with Case
Optical Drive Slot loading DVD Burnder - $36
OS FREE!!
Peak Compute 4,494 GFLOPS (TITAN), 3,213 GFLOPS (GTX 770)
Total Price $1947 (GTX TITAN)     $1297 (GTX 770)

We definitely weren't targeting a low cost build with this system, but I think we did create a very powerful system to test SteamOS on.  First up was the case, the new EVGA Hadron Mini ITX chassis.  It's small, which is great for integration into your living room, yet can still hold a full power, full-size graphics card.

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The motherboard we used was the EVGA Z87 Stinger Mini ITX - an offering that Morry just recently reviewed and recommended.  Supporting the latest Intel Haswell processors, the Stinger includes great overclocking options and a great feature set that won't leave enthusiasts longing for a larger motherboard.

Continue reading our installation and configuration guide for SteamOS!!

Video Perspective: GPU Shortages and Litecoin Mining Discussion

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 12, 2013 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: video, amd, radeon, hawaii, r9 290, R9 290X, bitcoin, litecoin, mining

If you already listened to this weeks PC Perspective Podcast, then feel free to disregard this post.  For the rest of you - subscribe to our damned weekly podcast would you already?!?

In any event, I thought it might be interesting to extract this 6 minute discussion we had during last nights live streamed podcast about how the emergence of Litecoin mining operations is driving up prices of GPUs, particularly the compute-capable R9 290 and R9 290X Hawaii-based cards from AMD.

Check out these prices currently on Amazon!

The price of the GTX 770 is a bit higher than it should be while the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti are priced in the same range they have been for the last month or so.  The same cannot be said for the AMD cards listed here - the R9 280X is selling for $130 more than its expected MSRP at a minimum but you'll see quite a few going for much higher on Amazon, Ebay (thanks TR) and others.  The Radeon R9 290 has an MSRP of $399 from AMD but the lowest price we found on Amazon was $499 and anything on Newegg.com is showing at the same price, but sold out.  The R9 290X is even more obnoxiously priced when you can find them.

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Do you have any thoughts on this?  Do you think Litecoin mining is really causing these price inflations and what does that mean for AMD, NVIDIA and the gamer?

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Quality time with G-Sync

Readers of PC Perspective will already know quite alot about NVIDIA's G-Sync technology.  When it was first unveiled in October we were at the event and were able to listen to NVIDIA executives, product designers and engineers discuss and elaborate on what it is, how it works and why it benefits gamers.  This revolutionary new take on how displays and graphics cards talk to each other enables a new class of variable refresh rate monitors that will offer up the smoothness advantages of having V-Sync off, while offering the tear-free images normally reserved for gamers enabling V-Sync. 

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NVIDIA's Prototype G-Sync Monitor

We were lucky enough to be at NVIDIA's Montreal tech day while John Carmack, Tim Sweeney and Johan Andersson were on stage discussing NVIDIA G-Sync among other topics.  All three developers were incredibly excited about G-Sync and what it meant for gaming going forward.

Also on that day, I published a somewhat detailed editorial that dug into the background of V-sync technology, why the 60 Hz refresh rate existed and why the system in place today is flawed.  This basically led up to an explanation of how G-Sync works, including integration via extending Vblank signals and detailed how NVIDIA was enabling the graphics card to retake control over the entire display pipeline.

In reality, if you want the best explanation of G-Sync, how it works and why it is a stand-out technology for PC gaming, you should take the time to watch and listen to our interview with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen, one of the primary inventors of G-Sync.  In this video we go through quite a bit of technical explanation of how displays work today, and how the G-Sync technology changes gaming for the better.  It is a 1+ hour long video, but I selfishly believe that it is the most concise and well put together collection of information about G-Sync for our readers.

The story today is more about extensive hands-on testing with the G-Sync prototype monitors.  The displays that we received this week were modified versions of the 144Hz ASUS VG248QE gaming panels, the same ones that will in theory be upgradeable by end users as well sometime in the future.  These monitors are TN panels, 1920x1080 and though they have incredibly high refresh rates, aren't usually regarded as the highest image quality displays on the market.  However, the story about what you get with G-Sync is really more about stutter (or lack thereof), tearing (or lack thereof), and a better overall gaming experience for the user. 

Continue reading our tech preview of NVIDIA G-Sync!!

Podcast #280 - NVIDIA GRID Beta, R9 290X Custom Coolers, 2TB SSDs and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 12, 2013 - 01:35 AM |
Tagged: z87, xfire, video, shield, R9 290X, podcast, pcper, nvidia, litecoin, grid, frame rating, eyefinity, crossfire, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #280 - 12/12/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA GRID Beta, R9 290X Custom Coolers, 2TB SSDs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:09:46
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Windows 8.1 tweaks at WinAero.com
  4. Closing/outro

 

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Streaming games straight from NVIDIA

Over the weekend NVIDIA released a December update for the SHIELD Android mobile gaming device that included a very interesting, and somewhat understated, new feature: Beta support for NVIDIA GRID.  

You have likely heard of GRID before, NVIDIA has been pushing it as part of the companies vision going forward to GPU computing in every facet and market.  GRID was aimed at creating GPU-based server farms to enable mobile, streaming gaming to users across the country and across the world.  While initially NVIDIA only talked about working with partners to launch streaming services based on GRID, they have obviously changed their tune slightly with this limited release.

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If you own a SHIELD, and install the most recent platform update, you'll find a new icon in your NVIDIA SHIELD menu called GRID Beta.  The first time you start this new application, it will attempt to measure your bandwidth and latency to offer up an opinion on how good your experience should be.  NVIDIA is asking for at least 10 Mbps of sustained bandwidth, and wants round trip latency under 60 ms from your location to their servers.

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Currently, servers are ONLY located in Northern California so the further out you are, the more likely you will be to run into problems.  However, oing some testing in Kentucky and Ohio resulted in a very playable gaming scenarios, though we did run into some connection problems that might be load-based or latency-based.

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After the network setup portion users are shown 8 different games that they can try.  Darksiders, Darksiders II, Street Fighter X Tekken, Street Fighter IV, Alan Wake, The Witcher 2, Red Faction: Armageddon and Trine 2.  You are free to play them free of charge during this beta though I think you can be sure they will be removed and erased at some point; just a reminder.  Saves work well and we were able to save and resume games of Darksiders 2 on GRID easily and quickly.

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Starting up the game was fast, about on par with starting up a game on a local PC, though obviously the server is loading it in the background.  Once the game is up and running, you are met with some button mapping information provided by NVIDIA for that particular game (great addition) and then you jump into the menus as if you were running it locally.

Continue reading our first hands on with NVIDIA GRID on SHIELD!!

Podcast #279 - R9 290 Variance Issues, OCZ's Bankruptcy, Kaveri Leaks and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: video, ultrasharp, toshiba, R9 290X, r9 290, podcast, ocz, Kaveri, dell, amd, A10-7850K, A10-7700K, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #279 - 12/04/2013

Join us this week as we discuss R9 290 Variance Issues, OCZ's Bankruptcy, Kaveri Leaks and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Scott Michaud

 
Program length: 1:18:11
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:31:05 This episode is brought to you by Carbonite.com! Use offer code PC for two free months!
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

Video Perspective: Anker E150 5V / 5A 5-Port USB Wall Charger

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 3, 2013 - 10:32 AM |
Tagged: video, usb, charger, anker

In my eternal goal to find the perfect USB charging solution for my varied use cases, I came across a 5-port unit from a company called Anker that is as close as I have found thus far.  My needs are pretty concrete: lots of ports, high power to those ports and the ability to sit on a desk or table.  The Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger is pretty close.

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Though ideally I would like to see more than 5 ports, this capacity seems to be reasonable for most people with the standard allotment of electronics.  As the name suggests, the Anker unit maxes out at 5A of output TOTAL for all 5 ports, though each port is rated at different amperage.  The two ports labeled iPad will output up to 2.1A, the rest vary a bit.

anker2.jpg

Obviously the total amp output of those ports goes PAST the 5A maximum of the unit, so expect charging to slow down if you have all ports populated.  I also wish that Anker would just label the outputs with their respective amperage rather than attempting to get product SEO with the current naming scheme. 

Even better, the Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger can be picked up at Amazon for an impulse purchase price of $19!

Check out my full video overview below!!

Video Perspective: Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2013 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: video, nest, nest protect, smoke, carbon monoxide

Though a little bit outside our normal coverage area, I wanted to share a quick video we made this morning that shows off the new Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector.  Much like the Nest thermostat released a couple years ago, the smoke detector takes a new approach to this bland and "dumb" device in your home.  It connects to Wi-Fi for alerts, speaks in a human tone about warnings and is intelligent enough to let you know in what room the emergency is occurring. 

Find on Amazon.com - $129

Video Perspective: Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 2 Pro Ultrabook with 3200x1800 Screen

Subject: Mobile | November 26, 2013 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: video, Lenovo, Ideapad, yoga, yoga 2 pro, haswell

The Yoga has easily been the most successful convertible notebook brand in my book and I think Lenovo would agree.  The 4-option form factor allows for a standard laptop stance, tablet mode, tent mode and stand mode, all of which have unique benefits and trade offs. 

The new Yoga 2 Pro offers the same style chassis as the previous Yoga laptops but offers several dramatic improvements.  First, this notebook is Haswell based, a 4th Generation Intel Core processor, and that will equal better performance and better battery life than the previous Ivy Bridge based design.

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Also, this unit has a 13.3-in 3200x1800 resolution display; that's correct a 5.7 MP screen in a 13.3 inch form factor.  That is better than the retina MacBook Air that has a resolution of 2560x1600 and is even higher than the 2880x1800 display on the 15-in retina MacBook.  In use the screen is bright (up to 350 nits now) and crisp. 

The keyboard is backlit, the edge has a rubber ring around it to prevent slipping and damage in tent mode and it is both lighter and slimmer than the previous Yoga.

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Overall, the Yoga 2 Pro looks to be an amazing sequel to the original.  Look for a full review on PC Perspective soon!!

Find the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro on Amazon! 

Video: How to Build a Gaming PC: OS Install, Steam Setup

Subject: General Tech, Systems | November 25, 2013 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, video, r9 270x, ps4, playstation 4, fx 6300, amd, 200r

Over the past week or so, we have been slowly putting together a guide to help interested readers select, build and now install everything necessary to build the perfect PC to compete against the new console generation.  

In the first part, Josh and I discussed the new console architectures and how they were similar, and different, from modern PC gaming systems.  We also discussed a couple of specific build outs that we thought were price competitive with the Xbox One and the PS4 while also offering quite a bit more performance and flexibility for the user.  

  Gaming Build PlayStation 4 Xbox One
Processor AMD FX-6300 6-core CPU - $109 8-core Jaguar APU 8-core Jaguar APU
Motherboard MSI 970A-G43 AM3+ - $59 Custom Custom
Memory Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB 1866 MHz (2 x 4GB) - $80 8GB GDDR5 8GB DDR3
Graphics Card Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X 2GB - $199 1152 Stream Unit APU 768 Stream Unit APU
Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM HDD - $64 500GB 5400 RPM 500GB
Case Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case - $59 Custom Custom
Power Supply Corsair CX 600 watt 80+ Bronze - $69 Internal External
Optical Drive Pioneer Blu-ray Reader - $49 Blu-ray Blu-ray
OS Windows 8.1 OEM - $98 Custom, FreeBSD Custom, Windows
Peak Compute 2,690 GFLOPS 1,840 GFLOPS 1,270 GFLOPS
Total Price $780 - Amazon $399 - Amazon $499 - Amazon

In part 2, we recorded a video of me actually assembling the parts (or nearly the same parts) in the build to show users that might be intimidated by the process exactly how easy it is to build a PC from scratch.

Today, we finalize our journey with the installation of the operating system, setup of the Steam gaming platform and even how easy it is to run the PC when attached to a TV.  

After briefly discussing the BIOS and UEFI on the motherboard, installing Windows 8.1 and then running the latest Steam client on the new PC, a brief demonstration of Metro: Last Light running in Big Picture Mode takes place.  With that we can demonstrate the power of the PC and the flexibility it truly offers over even the latest consoles.

I hope this set of videos has been useful for our readers that might have been interested in the idea of a gaming PC but were worried or unsure of their own ability to get the job done.  I think we have demonstrated that the entire process is easy, fun and rewarding - and can be done in a single afternoon as long as you order the right parts. 

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or feedback - and happy building!!

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