Sound card? Never heard of it, what's it for?

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2011 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: audio

It is becoming difficult to discuss the quality of soundcards with anyone, since very few people use them.  We've gone from needing a sound card to play back a reasonable amount of channels since the onboard audio could not handle it, to saving CPU cycles by pulling the responsibility of processing audio onto a sound card, to a point where they seem obsolete.  Putting aside the fact that many PCs are outputting audio and video over a single HDMI cable or onto a USB headset, most non-audiophiles will be satisfied with the variety of outputs available on the back of a motherboard and the processing power that the onboard audio Codec needs is minuscule.  At The Tech Report you can read about one technophiles experiences with sound cards and his recommendation focuses more on the importance of providing yourself with a decent sound system and top of the line speakers before in preference to upgrading your sound card.

TR_graphic.png

"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated "In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated motherboard audio and wonders whether discrete sound cards are still relevant."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Oh Llano, wherefore art thou?

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2011 - 12:14 PM |
Tagged: llano, APU, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, 28nm, 32nm, trinity, amd

Woe is AMD, as it becomes ever more obvious that Llano is not giving good yields at GLOBALFOUNDRIES.  Back in July the market noticed that while the new Llano chips were great at providing good enough graphics for a great price, they were very hard to find.  As a consumer you might be able to find a notebook to purchase for yourself but as a reseller who needs to buy processors in the thousands before considering that chip as a part of the new product line up you have been out of luck.  According to DigiTimes this will change in 2012 with the arrival of Trinity which will still use GLOBALFOUNDRIES 32nm process, turning to TSMC for the 28nm graphical portion.  The previous hope that the supply problems would be solved in September were obviously a little too optimistic.

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"Supply of AMD's Llano APUs, affected by Globalfoundries's lower-than-expected 32nm yield rates, has been significantly limited and is unlikely to recover until the company's upcoming Trinity arrives in 2012, according to sources from motherboard players. When asked about the company's upcoming Trinity schedule, AMD Taiwan declined to comment on unannounced products.

AMD started suffering from Llano APU supply shortages in July due to the yield issues and the company originally expected the supply status to return to normal in September. However, judging from the current situation, the sources believe the company's supply volume is unlikely to meet client demand through the end of 2011.

The sources estimated that the yield rate issue should be resolved in 2012, when Trinity launches."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Valve Releasing Free Peer Review Portal 2 DLC On October 4th

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2011 - 05:13 AM |
Tagged: valve, Portal 2, gaming, dlc

Although id Software’s RAGE and DICE’s upcoming shooter Battlefield 3 have been getting all the attention around the PC Per office lately, Portal 2 is about to receive some free DLC that just might hold gamers over while they wait impatiently for their Battlefield 3 and RAGE pre-orders! Dubbed “Peer Review,” the upcoming DLC has been delayed several times and missed its original “summer” release date; however, it is finally releasing and will be available on October 4th.

Portal 2.jpg

The Peer Review DLC (download-able content) will be available on the PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. According to Digital Trends, the free content will include new co-op modes for Atlas and P-Body in addition to new single play puzzles. Unfortunately, the single player puzzles will not extend the overall story of the Portal universe. Leader-boards and a new Challenge game mode will also be featured in the DLC.

One can be assured that GLaDOS is waiting. Whether gamers will finally get the promised cake is another matter, however.

Battlefield 3 (BF3) Beta Performance: Quality Preset and SLI Scaling

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 1, 2011 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: sli, gtx 570, gtx 460, bf3, battlefield 3

I know, we've been talking a lot about Battlefield 3 this week, but I have yet another set of numbers and results that I think you guys will want to see.  Previously, all of our BF3 benchmarks have been run under the Ultra quality presets but it is obvious that not all GPUs or gamers are going to want to target the highest settings the game can accomplish.  With that in mind I decided to test a couple of cards at Ultra, High, Medium and Low presets in order to guage how well the game scaled based on image quality.

For this round I wanted to use a high end card as well as an older, much more popular (and currently low cost) card; the result is tests on the GeForce GTX 570 1.25GB and the GeForce GTX 460 1GB reference platforms.  We used the Operation Metro map and the initial outdoor section for our testing as it was the most strenuous in the beta thus far.  

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As a side note, if you want to see how the image quality actually changes from the Ultra, High, Medium and Low presets, check out this page of my previous performance article that included screenshots and even some animated GIFs as demonstration.

Here are the results:

bf3scaling1-1920.jpg

bf3scaling1-1920-bar.jpg

On the more powerful GTX 570 you can see that BF3 scales pretty well from the Ultra settings through the Low options in even steps.  By moving from Ultra down to High a gamer would see about 34% better performance and 22% better minimum frame rates.  The jump to Medium gains another 41% while the move to Low gets another 25% on top of that.  The gap between Low and Ultra is about ~2.3x.

bf3scaling2-1920.jpg

bf3scaling2-1920-bar.jpg

The GTX 460 sees similar levels of performance grades though the move from Ultra to High only gains you about 28% and averages of 33.8 FPS or so.  I would still consider that on the low side of a good game play experience and thus the move to Medium (which is 82% faster than Ultra) seems like the sweet spot for BF3.  

I know we also had some requests for SLI scaling performance and, in particular, with the GTX 460 1GB cards.  Since this card has been so incredibly popular we thought this would be the perfect candidate for the "SLI Upgrade Path" option and you can pick one up for $150 (or less with rebates).  Let's see how well Battlefield 3 scales with multiple GPUs.

bf3sli1-1920.jpg

bf3sli1-1920-bar.jpg

At the Ultra quality settings we saw a 60% scaling capability by adding in a second GTX 460 at stock speeds while at High settings we see that rate increases to 84%!  That is pretty impressive and for the cost investment of a second GPU it looks like you are going to see better than average scaling.  Considering this is with the first driver release and with a beta version of the game, I can only see multi-GPU scaling rates going up as the full retail release hits.

With these results and some others we have done through the week we are ready to put together our Battlefield 3 system build guide.  Stay tuned!

Source: PCPer

AMD Bulldozer FX CPUs dated: October 12th. Shhh.

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | October 1, 2011 - 01:55 AM |
Tagged: FX, bulldozer, amd, am3+

AMD has not been too well received in the upper end of CPUs for quite some time now. Once Intel started pushing for performance with their Conroe core, AMD was forced to stay competitive in the mainstream market to survive and that is pretty much where we have been for the last 5 years. Also returning after a nearly 5-year hiatus is the FX moniker for AMD’s flagship products. According to leak(s) from Microcenter that floated past our desks we should see a resurgence of at least one of those two on October 12th, 2011:

"AMD is launching their new AM3+ FX series processors on 10/12/11. We currently have a number of AM3+ compatible motherboards in stock. These motherboards will support the new AM3+ FX processors as well as legacy AM3 processors."

AMD-FX-2.jpg

Personally, I would shy away from the words "Bull" and "Dozer" in my product line.

Also from the memo we learned that the new AM3+ FX SKUs that will launch includes: FX-6100, FX-8120, and the FX-8150. The 6000-series parts constitute 6-core processors where the 8000-series parts constitute 8-core parts. To support those processors we shall see three Gigabyte motherboards, four ASUS motherboards, and four ASRock motherboards. Update Oct 1 @ 2pm: There may be more motherboards at launch but since this is a Microcenter leak it only considers their stock.

Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3
Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7
ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
ASUS M5A88-V EVO
ASUS M5A99X EVO
ASUS M5A97 EVO
ASRock 990FX Extreme4
ASRock 890FX Deluxe 5
ASRock 880G PRO 3*
ASRock 890GX PRO 3*

 

Each of these motherboards will require a BIOS update to be serviceable though the leak suggests that the update would be performed by Microcenter themselves. If for some reason you have the board on your own you will need an older AM3 processor to perform the update. Also, the last two ASRock motherboards (asterixed) do not yet have a BIOS update for AM3+. AMD is expected to post an official blog about the topic on October 3rd at AMD.com.

Ethernet is now legally allowed to drink in the US

Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2011 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: friday

The Tech Talk Forum captures a wide variety of topics, though a little more focussed than the spread you might find in the Off Topic Forum.  For instance, at the same time that a poll inquires as to whether you think sound cards are even worth purchasing anymore there is another thread discussing a video rendering machine that does not even list a sound card in the build anywhere.  One assumes the machine will not be making silent movies.  

In the Motherboard Forum you can get a blast from the past, not only is a member having a problem with a Tyan board, another is inquiring about a DFI board.  There is a good chance some of our members have never heard of those manufacturers, let alone seen a board from them; other members might get a wee trip down memory lane.  If you are more interested in new hardware, how about windwithme's comprehensive look at the Gigabyte G1. Sniper

In the Processor forum, you might want to keep an eye out on this thread as it might just get a little busier in the very near future.   In the Cases and Cooling Forum you can read about the proper philosophy behind applying thermal paste (hint: no spatula required).  If you are curious about the Vertex 3 series of SSDs, you should definitely hit this thread in the Storage Forum to get the real story instead of just hearsay.  If you are more interested in Windows 8 and the developer version that was recently made available, then off to the Windows Forum with you.  

If you are feeling more like finding entertainment on a Friday, then the Battlefield 3 thread has picked up, in part because of Ryan's virtual party last night.  If not, there is The Lightning Round where you can vent your spleen about recent events or even The Trading Post where you can engage in a little swapping.

As well, thanks to the new motivational tool that Ryan picked up, Ken has already posted this weeks PC Perspective Podcast in audio and video.

A just good enough wireless router from EnGenius

Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2011 - 11:55 AM |
Tagged: engenius, wireless router

If you have been asked to help someone pick a wireless router for their home you are likely familiar with the glazed look that comes to the eyes of the person who asked for your help when you try to figure out what their requirements are.  EnGenuis might be a good way for you to look when offering them a model.  The 300N Gaming router offers a simple interface and will prioritize media traffic to ensure that streaming video and gaming packets get the highest priority if there is a lot of traffic over the router.  It also does not have a reset button, which means you can avoid reprogramming the router every time the user wants to do their own maintenance and resets the router back to factory defaults.  Techware Labs would like to see a dual band version for enthusiasts but as it stands the EnGenius 300N is great for family use.

twl_engenius.jpg

"EnGenius has answered the call of media enthusiasts and gamers alike with the Wireless 300N Gaming Router (ESR9855G). With 300Mbps (37.5 MBps) wireless and 1000Mbps (125 MBps) wired speeds this router is aimed at gaming and HD streaming. Lets take a dive and take a look if this router a step above the rest."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

PCPer Live! Battlefield 3 Beta Party and Discussion @ 10:30pm EST

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 29, 2011 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: radeon, pcper live, nvidia, geforce, bf3, battlefield 3, amd

Look, there isn't any football on tonight, so what else are you going to do?  Rather than watch a rerun of Seinfeld, why not stop by here at http://pcper.com/live to hang out and not only watch us play some Battlefield 3 but also participate yourself by calling in on Skype, using Google+ Hangouts or even just chatting on our IRC server (welcome back to 1998, amiright?).

We are going to start the show at 10:30pm EST and plan on running until midnight at least, but it all depends on participation levels from YOU! 

What all do we have on the agenda?  Well, it is going to be pretty informal as we are still getting our feet wet with this whole "live" thing but here is what we are planning:

  • Watch Ryan and Ken get destroyed over and over in Battlefield 3 and watch as we attempt to sneak our way into the password protected Caspian levels with vehicles, 64 players and a new game type (oh my!).
  • Skype call ins from readers and gamers that want to talk about BF3 and their experiences with the game so far.  How does it run on your hardware?  Discussion like this will help others that might not have the beta figure out what they might want to upgrade in the near future.  (Be prepared to give us your Skype handle in the chat so we can call you!)
  • Trying some group games via our PC Perspective Platoon, the Fragging Frogs!  (Head over and apply to join or become a fan!)  You can also find me on EA Origin or in the Battlelog system as "ryanshrout".
  • We will discuss our brainstorming sessions for what hardware we will recommend for certain gaming resolutions and specific image quality settings in a future article...all live!
  • Maybe some surprise guests from the PC Perspective staff and beyond...??  

We will be streaming the festivities live on our Justin.tv channel (embedded below) and will have a chat widget here as well for those of you that would rather use IRC than the integrated Justin.tv chat.

In short, we are planning on having a good time playing some games and talking hardware so if you are into that, then I think you should be sure to stop by and say hello!!  Let us know in the comments if you have anything else you want to see or any more ideas for our live show.  Thanks!!!

 

Source: PCPer

Podcast #172 - 1.6TB PCI-E SSD from OCZ, the Battlefield 3 beta, a PCI GT520, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2011 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: podcast, pci, nvidia, Intel, gt520, gaming, battlefield 3, battlefield, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #172 - 9/29/2011

Join us this week as we talk about a 1.6TB PCI-E SSD from OCZ, the Battlefield 3 beta, a PCI GT520, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:10:45

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:32 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:28 OCZ Z-Drive R4 1.6TB PCIe 2.0 x8 SSD Full Review - 8 SF-2200's Can't Be Wrong!
  6. 0:17:11 Battlefield 3 Beta Performance Testing and Image Quality Evaluation - Day 1
  7. 0:32:41 AD BREAK
  8. 0:33:36 Intel Core i7 2700K Will Cost More Than 2600K
  9. 0:35:00 Internet Machines' PCI-Express Patent Lawsuit Targets Numerous System Vendors
  10. 0:37:53 ZOTAC Announces A75-ITX WiFi
  11. 0:40:52 ZOTAC Expands Value GeForce GT 520 lineup
  12. 0:44:54 PC Gaming to Surpass Console Gaming in Revenue by 2015
  13. 0:52:04 Don’t touch my wife! VIA sues Apple for patent infringement
  14. 0:55:25 FeTRAM is higher and lower; gives the best of both worlds
  15. 1:01:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Battlefield 3 Beta - gets you some tomorrow!
    2. Jeremy: ZOTAC AMP! GeForce GTX 560
    3. Josh: Nice, inexpensive speakers that sound real good:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882290203
    4. Allyn:  Blue Man Group
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing

Source:

Nice mousepad but who thought Slamepad was a good name?

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2011 - 12:10 PM |
Tagged: ModMyMachine, input, mousepad, slamepad

The ModMyMachine SlamePad is a 4mm thick aluminium rectangle, 315 x 235 mm, with a rubber coating designed to let your mouse move at high speeds and still have the sensor properly register the movement.  The pad comes in 10 different colours to ensure it matches your tastes as well as your skill.  Mad Shrimps do point out that aluminium pads are noisier to use than cloth pads but are much easier to clean and do tend to last quite a while longer.

slamepad.jpg

"The new SlamePad mouse pad from ModMyMachine is made from high quality materials, durable, and is designed for speed, by featuring a smooth top surface, which can be found in one of the 10 available colors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Mad Shrimps

It's confirmed, NVIDIA won't be leading with the big Kepler

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2011 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK107

As SemiAccurate reported back on the 21st, Kepler will be arriving in the form of a bottom to top release, not the top down that many enthusiasts were hoping for.  The reason for this is a popular topic of speculation, the most likely suspect being that this is not only a process change, to 28nm; it is also an architecture refresh and pulling off both of those together is a tricky proposition at the best of times.  VR-Zone also provides insight into the code names, with the P suffix indicating a lower powered chip, likely a replacement to the GT 500M while the E suffix denotes an enthusiast mobile chip more in line with what the GTX600M is currently.  More spoilers available in their post.

kepler_spacecraft.jpg

"GK107 is set to feature in four mobile GeForce SKUs - N13P-LP, N13P-GS, N13P-GT and N13E-GE. If these codenames sound familiar, it is because they have previously appeared in a leaked 28nm mobile GPU line-up. GK107 features a 128-bit memory interface, and supports DDR3 and GDDR5 memory. The first three GK107 based SKUs (with a "P" suffix) will likely succeed the GeForce GT 500M series, and will presumably be branded GeForce GT 600M series. The top GK107 part, N13E-GE, may succeed GTX 560M and be part of the GTX 600M series, as denoted by the "E" suffix (Enthusiast). In addition, GK107 will also be part of mobile Quadro SKUs - N14P-Q1 and N14P-Q3."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: VR-Zone

Gentlemen, start your graphics engine; comparing GPU performance in F1 2011

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2011 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: gaming

[H]ard|OCP tested F1 2011, the latest and greatest racing sim which supports DX11 and should be a way for new graphics cards to show off their stuff.  On the block are NVIDIA's GTX 580, 570 and 560Ti along with AMD's HD6970, 6950 and 6870 paired with the stalwart Intel Core i7 920.  As their testing showed, the game did not end up stressing the GPUs as much as they thought the game would and summed up their testing with "If you're going to play F1 2011 on a 30", 2560x1600 or 1080p monitor, you don't need anything more expensive than an AMD Radeon HD 6950 or an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570."

As well, Ryan has some really good news for Battlefield 3 fans; he ordered a 64 player dedicated server for the Fragging Frogs, as well as publishing a look at the performance of the beta.

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"F1 2011 was just recently released, this new game supports DX11 out-of-the-box, and is based on the newer EGO 2.0 game engine, but that may not mean it's all that graphically intense. We test performance on six of today's video cards so you will know what to expect in terms of performance. Comparing to F1 2010, we found some surprises."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

FeTRAM is higher and lower; gives the best of both worlds

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2011 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: ram, FeTRAM, low power, flash

There's a new type of Flash RAM looking to make its name on the street called FeTRAM, which sounds as interesting as the phase change memory that we've been hearing about.  It is an improved version of Ferrous RAM, which is very fast and uses very low power but uses a destructive reading technique.  The T in the new RAM stands for transistor, so instead of the charge on the memory cell being negated by a read, the transistor will hold onto the charge so that the data can be held long term.  That spells the difference between a memory module good only for RAM and a module that can be used in an SSD.  The Register points to an article citing a 99% reduction in power usage when compared to current flash memory technology.

ElReg_fetram.jpg

"Nanotechnology boffins are exploring a new type of nonvolatile memory that not only has the potential of being faster than today's flash RAM, but also requires 99 per cent less energy.

Called ferroelectric transistor random access memory – FeTRAM, for short – the scheme is based on a new type of transistor that combines silicon nanowires with an organic ferroelectric polymer – P(VDF-TrFE) – that switches polarity when an electric field is applied to it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Boost the audio performance of your laptop with Creative's new USB DAC

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: Creative, X-FI HD USB, usb audio, audio, digital audio converter

It has become commonplace to see USB headsets that can be plugged into any system and will work without drivers needing to be installed.  That has not been widely spread to actual soundcards yet but Creative is changing that with the release of the X-FI HD USB, which does need drivers but should happily function on any machine.  For under $100 you get a small box which acts as a headphone amplifier and mic receiver but can also take audio from almost any source to be recorded to your PC.  It is a really good deal for a Digital Audio Converter, especially for notebook users which is why [H]ard|OCP heartily recommends the device for those looking to easily boost their audio performance.

H_CreativeUSBaudio.jpg

"Creative's latest sound card is an external model that sports a USB interface and boasts high quality digital, analog, and dedicated headphone connectivity options. We tell you if this may be the audio upgrade that laptop users and those of you with no free expansion slots in your desktop PC have been looking for."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Interrupting Oktoberfest to run Mesa benchmarks under Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: linux, mesa, HiZ, Intel, sandy bridge

Phoronix are dedicated to testing out the current limitations of Linux and the graphics performance Sandy Bridge is capable of, so much so that they abandoned the joys of Oktoberfest to test the new implementation of hierarchical Z support for Intel's Mesa DRI driver.  Specifically they wanted to see the improvements made to the performance of the graphical portion of a Core i5 2520M.  The new implementation did well, with improvements across the board though more impressive in some tasks that others.  Read on to see what you can expect from the new Mesa driver.

oktoberfest.jpg

"While there are still several days left of this year's Oktoberfest, to take a short break this morning from benchmarking the wonderful beer, food, and Bavarian females, here are benchmarks of the new Intel HiZ Linux support. Just a few days ago a new, nearly ready patch-set was published for implementing hierarchical Z support within Intel's Mesa DRI driver."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Phoronix

Still hope for SSL, the web ain't dead yet

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2011 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: fud, security, SSL

SSL and secure data transfer are wounded, but not dying quite yet if you use an elderly encryption protocol called RC4 or ARC4.  Current AES is suggested as the preferred way of encrypting data transfers, but the BEAST (Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS) attack is capable of defeating AES encryption.  Unfortunately there are attack methods which are able to defeat RC4, specifically as it is implemented for WPA and WES in wireless networks.  Google informed The Register that they have been using RC4, although clients that attempt to connect which don't support that encryption method are offered the vulnerable AES method.  Google also pointed out the latest developer version of Chrome protects against the BEAST attack but don't mention when the main version of Chrome will protect users.

Broken_Key_Extractor.jpg

"The recommendations published Friday by two-factor authentication service PhoneFactor, suggest websites use the RC4 cipher to encrypt SSL traffic instead of newer, and ironically cryptographically stronger, algorithms such as AES. Google webservers are already configured to favor RC4, according to this analysis tool from security firm Qualys. A Google spokesman says the company has used those settings "for years."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Yet another The Old Republic trailer, oh and release date

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2011 - 03:49 AM |
Tagged: The Old Republic, Star Wars, MMO, BioWare

WOW there is a lot of anticipation building up towards EA’s The Old Republic. The MMO Star Wars fans seem to be swooning over after each successive trailer release has released yet another trailer. Made entirely in-game (with the likely exception of a few title sequences) the new trailer shows the breadth of the MMO: Ton-Ton to Wookie; Droid wars to Space battles. Then, with a final unexpected jolt of music, it is finally revealed to be released December 20th, 2011 in North America and December 22nd, 2011 in Europe. And the floor be once again littered with passed out piles of PC Gamers.

Those three Jawa got messed up!

While I am personally not an MMO player it looks to me like BioWare will do Star Wars fans justice with this offering. Few companies can spread their focus and make massive games like BioWare and that is one of the main attributes required to recreate an entire world for many different viewpoints to explore. Many were nervous about the fate of The Old Republic; BioWare was very cagey with disclosing their release dates which led to speculation of behind the scene troubles developing a game as massive as they promised. Now that a date is official and is as nearby as it is, it seems like BioWare was simply just keeping the mantra: “It is done when it is done.”

Source: BioWare/EA

Tweak Windows 8 With The Metro UI Tweaker Utility

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2011 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, Utility, ui, tweaker, microsoft, Metro, developer preview, beta

Are you trying out the Windows 8 Developer Preview that was released earlier this month and finding the new Windows Explorer Ribbon and Metro UI start menu frustrating? If so, Lee Whittington has just the tweaking utility for you!

A freeware tool developed for The Windows Club dubbed Metro UI Tweaker (for Windows 8) is the first third party tweaking tool for the upcoming operating system. It provides several tweaking options to make the transition to the Metro UI more palatable including the ability to completely disable (or enable) the Metro Start Menu and new Ribbon interface in Windows Explorer (which can also be easily hidden without the need for this tool via an icon in the corner). When disabling the Metro Start Menu and Ribbon, the Metro style Task Manager and new lock screen will also be disabled.

ui_tweaker.jpg

Such sweeping changes are not the only tweaks possible, however. The Windows 8 utility also lets you add power options including sleep, restart, and full shutdown to the Metro interface (when clicking on your user name’s picture), as well as adding any application or file to the Metro Start Menu.

Now at version 1.0, the Metro UI Tweaker is available for download from here for those adventurous enough to use a beta tweaking tool on a beta operating system. How do you feel about the new Windows 8 interface? Will you be checking out this tool? Let us know in the comments.

Don’t touch my wife! VIA sues Apple for patent infringement

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 24, 2011 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: VIA, Patent, htc, apple

Do not let the title deceive you: we probably also find Apple and Patent Infringement stories as boring as you do; this case on the other hand makes it through our tightly meshed sift and into our news feed. VIA is best known for chipsets and specialty x86 processors. VIA’s influence was recently felt through the introduction of the netbook craze as a result of their VIA Nano CPU line which lead to the rise of the Intel Atom processor line. Recently VIA decided that they would set their sights on Apple and sue them over three patents. This is one of those cases where the what is not nearly as funny as the alleged why.

Apple-logo.jpg

Did Apple take a bite out of VIA’s forbidden fruit?

(Image from Wikipedia, modified)

If it seems to you that VIA is suing Apple over seemingly no reason then you probably are correct. There does not appear to be any public reason for VIA to go after Apple. HTC on the other hand has many reasons to sue, technically counter-sue, Apple. For those wondering where HTC came from in this discussion: the chairperson for HTC is the wife of the CEO of VIA Technologies. It very much seems like the whole reason for the VIA lawsuit is to protect his wife's company in their own lawsuits. If these patent lawsuits continue on their current trajectory then we might just be forced to sit every company down and settle like we did with similar issues back in the 90’s: Springer.

Did Apple bite off more than they could chew? (Registration not required for comments)

Source: PCMag

Battlefield 3 Beta Releasing Next Week On All Platforms

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2011 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: PC, gaming, beta, battlefield 3

PC Perspective’s own Scott Michaud has been eagerly awaiting the launch of Battlefield 3, and was kind enough to keep me in the loop on the important aspects of the upcoming multi-platform multiplayer shooter. One aspect that many gamers (including myself) worldwide are likely salivating over is the imminent Battlefield 3 beta launch next week. Specifically, the Battlefield 3 beta will be available for download starting September 29th, 2011 for the general public and the 27th for those who pre-ordered or purchased the Limited/Tier 1 edition of Medal Of Honor.

The beta will be available on all major platforms, including PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. In order to play the beta on the Xbox 360 and PS3, the game will show up automatically in the Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network respectively. On the PC side of things, gamers will need to download EA’s Origin client first, and then download the Battlefield 3 beta from the free games section of the Origin client.

The open beta will last until October 10th, and until then there are no caps or time limits regarding how far you can rank up or how often you can play. The map in question will be the “Op: Metro” map from the Alpha. Unfortunately, any ranks or stats you gain from the beta will not carry over into the final game.

While many gamers will be playing the beta on Xbox 360 and PS3, there will likely be a good number of gamers who will play it on the PC for the PC experience. During the EuroGamer expo, DICE General Manager Karl Magnusson spoke to NVIDIA, and stated that 1.5 million copies of Battlefield 3 had been pre-ordered and that DICE was happy to be back on the PC. Further, he stated that they are enjoying the feedback from gamers and whether it is the visuals, audio, or game play that they are enjoying, “all the feedback we get is really freakin’ cool.”

The minimum (and recommended) system requirements for the PC are as follows: 

  Minimum Recommended
OS Windows Vista SP2 32 bit Windows 7 64 bit
Processor 2 GHz dual core  quad core
Memory (RAM) 2 GB 4 GB
Hard Drive 20 GB 20 GB
Graphics (GPU) DirectX 10 with 512mb RAM DirectX 11 with 1GB RAM
Sound DirectX compatible DirectX compatible
Peripherals Keyboard, mouse, DVD-ROM Keyboard, mouse, DVD-ROM

 

Have you been following the development of Battlefield 3 and are you looking forward to the open beta? Let us know in the comments.

Source: EA