Update your AntiVirus software and you won't have to worry

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2015 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: security, avg, Kaspersky, mcafee

To reverse the usual order, the good news is that AVG fixed the issue a while ago, as have Intel, owner of McAfee, as well as Kaspersky.  The bad news is that this exploit is rather nasty and was completely avoidable with a bit of forethought.  Of all the programs to follow a predictable pattern, AV software is the last one you would want to see do so.  There is a tool over at github to allow you to check your own vulnerability.  Personal machines should be good to go but as The Register mentions, at least one Enterprise level AV program is vulnerable and those definitions are often updated along a different path that consumer level products. 

Chances are you are safe, but you should probably double check.

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"In March, researchers at security firm enSilo found a serious flaw in popular free antivirus engine AVG Internet Security 2015. They found that the software was allocating memory for read, write, and execute (RWX) permissions in a predictable address that an attacker could use to inject code into a target system."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Podcast #378 - Updates from the Radeon Technology Group, a new case from Antec, ASUS Maximus VIII Gene and more!

Subject: Editorial | December 10, 2015 - 01:21 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, freesync, hdr, displayport 1.3, antec, P380, Maximus VIII Gene, killer networks, corsair, h5 sf, carbide 600

PC Perspective Podcast #378 - 12/10/2015

Join us this week as we discuss updates from the Radeon Technology Group, a new case from Antec, ASUS Maximus VIII Gene 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: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Humble Bundle for Neo Geo 25th Anniversary

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: snk, pc gaming, humble bundle

The Neo Geo was created by SNK as an arcade and commercial video game system. The hardware made its way into an (expensive) home console in 1990, with almost every arcade game available for it. This was back in an era where new arcade cabinets overshadowed consoles in quality. Granted, the Neo Geo doesn't quite fit in that pigeonhole, especially when you look at games at the end of its product cycle. Its draw, as an arcade cabinet, was its ability to store multiple games simultaneously.

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1990 is now 25 years ago, and Humble Bundle has a huge collection of their titles for the next handful of days. These franchises include Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, Metal Slug, Sengoku, and more. They are all PC ports, of course. While some titles haven't been announced yet, most of them are available DRM-free on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Web (Chrome and Firefox). The two (current) exceptions are The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match Final Edition and The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match, which are both Windows-only Steam keys.

The bundle lasts until Tuesday, December 22nd at 2pm EST (UTC - 5).

Is there still a market for AIO PCs? The Acer Aspire Z3

Subject: Systems | December 9, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: acer, Aspire Z3-710-UR54, AIO

With the rise of SFF systems, Zotac's ZBox series for example, which can be mounted on the back of a display, is there really a market for AIO PCs still?  Acer seems to think so as they have recently released the Z3-710-UR54, a 23.8" 1080p LED screen which houses an i5-4590T, 8GB of DDR3 and a 1TB HDD.  Other models range from i3's to i7's but all have the same type of connectivity, 5.1 sound and a strange lack of touchscreen features.  The system is only 1.4" thick, so it is technically slimmer than a display with a SFF sticking out of the VESA mount on the back but it still seems hard to justify the price.  Check out the full list of features at Hardware Secrets and see if you think this Aspire is worth the cost.

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"The All-in-One (AIO) computer is a great way to put a computer on your desktop without any clutter or big chunky CPU and the Acer Z3 series gives you everything that you need in an AIO."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Now that's a Golf game!

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2015 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: gaming, no goblin, 100ft robot golf

Developers No Goblin have come up with a golf game that actually looks like a lot of fun to play and if Tiger Woods is in there somewhere he will end up smooshed under the foot of a 100' tall robot.   Instead of taking a pro golfer in funny pants you instead romp through the world as an incredibly destructive giant mech with a penchant for whacking everything around them, up to and including a golf ball.  Is there a skyscraper in the way of your shot?  No worries, wander over and smash it down before hitting the ball.  A competitor getting ahead of you?  Why not handicap them, in a rather literal sense!  Check out the video below or head over to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a link to the game page.

"100ft Robot Golf – there’s a fantastic game name for you. Pretty much everything it is can be deduced from that name. The second game from Roundabout folks No Goblin, it’ll see giant golfbots playing on – and smashing through – courses across cities, mountains, and moons."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Mozilla Abandons Firefox OS Smartphones

Subject: Editorial, Mobile, Shows and Expos | December 9, 2015 - 07:04 AM |
Tagged: yahoo, mozilla, google, Firefox OS, Android

Author's Disclosure: I volunteer for Mozilla, unpaid. I've been to one of their events in 2013, but otherwise have no financial ties with them. They actually weren't aware that I was a journalist. Still, our readers should know my background when reading my editorial.

Mozilla has announced that, while Firefox OS will still be developed for “many connected devices,” the organization will stop developing and selling smartphones through carriers. Mozilla claims that the reason is because they “weren't able to offer the best user experience possible.” While the statement is generic enough to apply in a lot of contexts, I'm not sure how close to the center of that region it is.

This all occurred at the “Mozlando” conference in Florida.

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Firefox OS was born when stakeholders asked Mozilla to get involved in the iOS and Android duopoly. Unlike Windows, Blackberry, and other competitors, Mozilla has a history of leveraging Web standards to topple industry giants. Rather than trying to fight the industry leaders with a better platform, and hoping that developers create enough apps to draw users over, they expanded what Web could do to dig the ground out of their competitors.

This makes sense. Mobile apps were still in their infancy themselves, so Firefox OS wouldn't need to defeat decades of lock-in or orders of magnitude performance deltas. JavaScript is getting quite fast anyway, especially when transpiled from an unmanaged language like C, so apps could exist to show developers that the phones are just as capable as their competitors.

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The issue is that being able to achieve high performance is different from actually achieving it. The Web, as a platform, is getting panned as slow and “memory hungry” (even though free memory doesn't make a system faster -- it's all about the overhead required to manage it). Likewise, the first few phones landed at the low end, due in part to Mozilla, the non-profit organization remember, wanting to use Firefox OS to bring computing to new areas of the world. A few hiccups here and there added another coat of paint to the Web's perception of low performance.

Granted, they couldn't compete on the high end without a successful app ecosystem if they tried. Only the most hardcore of fans would purchase a several-hundred dollar smartphone, and intend to put up with just Web apps. Likewise, when I've told people that phones run on the Web, they didn't realize we mean “primarily localhost” until it's explicitly stated. People are afraid for their data caps, even though offline experiences are actually offline and stored locally.

The Dinosaur in the Room

Then there's the last question that I have. I am a bit concerned about the organization as a whole. They seem to be trying to shed several products lately, and narrow their focus. Granted, all of these announcements occur because of the event, so there's plenty of room for coincidence. They have announced that they will drop ad tiles, which I've heard praised.

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The problem is, why would they do that? Was it for good will, aligning with their non-profit values? (Update: Fixed double-negative typo) Or was it bringing in much less money than projected? If it's the latter, then how far do they need to shrink their influence, and how? Did they already over-extend, and will they need to compensate for that? Looking at their other decisions, they've downsized Firefox OS, they are thinking about spinning out Thunderbird again, and they have quietly shuttered several internal projects, like their division for skunkworks projects, called “Mozilla Labs.” Mozilla also has a division called "Mozilla Research," although that is going strong. They are continually hiring for projects like "Servo," a potential new browser engine, and "Rust," a programming language that is used for Servo and other projects.

While Mozilla is definitely stable enough, financially, to thrive in their core products, I'm concerned about how much they can do beyond that. I'm genuinely concerned that Mozilla is trying to restructure while looking like a warrior for both human rights and platforms of free expression. We will not see the books until a few months from now, so we can only speculate until then. The organization is pulling inward, though. I don't know how much of this is refocusing on the problems they can solve, or the problems they can afford. We will see.

Source: Techcrunch

The other Android, a look at the OnePlus 2

Subject: Mobile | December 8, 2015 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C, OxygenOS, oneplus 2, Android

OnePlus is not likely the first source you would think of when purchasing an Android phone but perhaps this review over at Techgage might just change that.  As you can see below the phones are rather attractive and OxygenOS is an interesting flavour of Lollipop 5.1.1.  The charge cable is also an interesting feature, it is USB Type-C, however the cable it ships with is specific to this phone and you should not be charging other USB devices with it as it is out of spec.  While there are advantages to a custom USB cable, there is also some danger associated with it so make sure to keep it separate from your other cables if you intend on picking this phone up.

The hardware includes an 8-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 and Adreno 430 GPU powering a 5.5" 1080p IPS screen.  Depending on the model you choose you will either have 16GB local storage and 3GB of DDR4 or 64GB and 4GB.  Techgage liked the phone a lot, with a few caveats; check them out in the full review.

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"When a smartphone vendor comes along and offers its latest option as a “flagship killer”, it doesn’t exactly leave much room for leeway: it’s either going to be accurate, or off the mark. On paper, the OnePlus 2’s case seems to be solid, so let’s take a hard look at it and see if its promises are lived up to."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: Techgage

Corsair Introduces Carbide 600 Series Inverted ATX Enclosures

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 8, 2015 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: silent case, quiet computing, inverted motherboard, corsair, Carbide 600Q, Carbide 600C, atx case

Corsair has announced a new model in their Carbide lineup with the 600Q and 600C enclusures, both of which feature an inverted motherboard design - a first from Corsair.

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The Corsair Carbide 600C

The two models share the same basic design, though the 600Q is optimized for silence with sound-deadening material (and a solid side panel), while the 600C offers a very large side-panel window for more style when silence is at less of a premium. Both versions use Corsair's AF140L 140 mm fans for cooling, which are connected to an external 3-speed fan controller to easily adjust based on cooling/noise needs.

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The Corsair Carbide 600Q top I/O and fan controller

"Unlike many PC cases which demand enthusiasts choose between noisy, high-airflow ventilation or low-noise, restricted airflow designs, the 600Q and 600C are able to deliver the best of both. The distinctive inverted-ATX internal design places the heat producing components in the direct airflow pathway of the two AF140L 140mm intake fans and single AF140L 140mm exhaust fan, providing powerful and efficient cooling, with extra wide vents ensuring unimpeded airflow.

Specially tuned for low-noise operation, the 600Q and 600C’s three included fans have been redesigned for excellent airflow at lower noise levels, with an integrated external 3-speed fan controller allowing users to reduce the fan RPM, further lowering noise with a minimal impact on cooling performance. The result is a no-compromise approach to cooling that delivers fantastic system temperatures at extremely low noise levels.

The 600Q dedication to low-noise continues well beyond fan speeds. High density sound deadening material fitted in the front panel, side panels, and roof works to further mute system noise and ensure that the 600Q is as quiet as it is beautiful."

The Carbide 600 enclosures have an unobtrusive steel constuction, and the hinged front panel opens to reveal a pair of 5.25" optical drive bays. The interior features includes a PSU/drive bay cover to help keep things looking clean (especially for the windowed 600C version), and support for up to a 280 mm liquid cooler up front, and up to 360 mm on the bottom.

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The Carbide 600C with hinged door open

Here are some of the specs and features from Corsair:

  • Inverse-ATX Layout: With this new layout, airflow is easily directed at the hottest devices in your system; the GPU and CPU, and not wasted on drive cages.
  • Sound Damping Throughout (600Q only): Keep your system quiet and cool with high-density sound damping material on side panels, front panel, and top panels.  It’s so quiet, you’ll find yourself wondering if your PC is even powered on.
  • Hinged and Latched Full Side Panel Window (600C only): Easily access your components with a single touch – and when closed, enjoy viewing every part of your build through the full size side panel window.
  • Steel Exterior: Get rid of those plastic cases – the 600Q and 600C have full steel exterior panels for extra durability and gorgeous good looks.
  • Three Included AF140L fans: Great airflow doesn’t have to be noisy – the three AF140L fans can push large amounts of air across your hottest devices without that annoying fan hum, and the three-speed fan controller lets you decide exactly how fast they run.
  • PSU and 5.25” Bay Cover: Clean up the inside of your case by tucking all those cables and less-attractive drives behind a clean, refined PSU and 5.25” bay cover. Or remove them for assembly – it’s up to you.
  • Watercooling Ready: Fit up to a 280mm radiator up front and up to a 360mm radiator on the bottom – along with a 140mm rear fan mount.
  • Easy to Clean: Easily access dust filters on front and bottom meaning you’ll never spend more than a minute getting dust out of your system.
  • Easy to Build: Tool-free drive installation, tool-free side panel access, and tons of cable routing options and tie downs means you can spend less time building your PC and more time using it.

The Carbide 600Q and 600C will be available in this month, and both models carry an MSRP of $149.99.

Source: Corsair

What is this, a GPU for Seattle fans? The MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 8, 2015 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK, 980 Ti, 4k

[H]ard|OCP recently wrapped up a review of the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK and are now revisiting the GPU, focusing on the performance at 4K resolutions.  The particular card that they have tops out at 1340MHz base and a 1441MHz boost clock which results in an in-game frequency of 1567MHz.  For comparison testing they have tested their overclocked card against the SEA HAWK at the factory overclock and a regular 980 Ti at 4k resolution.  Read on to see if this watercooled 980 Ti is worth the premium price in the full review.

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"Our second installment with the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK focuses in on gameplay at 4K and how viable it is with the fastest overclocked GTX 980 Ti we have seen yet. We will be using a reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti to show the full spectrum of the 980 Ti’s performance capabilities and emphasize the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK’s value."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Sure ... it's the filesharing that takes up all the bandwidth

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2015 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: bandwidth, streaming, fud

The next time you hear someone harping about how the tubes are clogged with filesharing, either legal or illegal, as the reason why your internet is slow or dropping out you should reference this chart.  According to Sandvine, who would tend to know this sort of thing, just over 65% of all traffic is media streaming.  Chances are that the vast majority of that traffic is legal, coming from Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and the wide variety of other online content providers.  Indeed, chances are you pay to use that service so when your connection degrades and you contact your ISP about it make sure to have this handy as a reference. 

If those companies want to charge you for a service they should actually provide it and not try to blame their lack of infrastructure or insight on something else.  Unfortunately they will probably ignore the data and the only result of knowing this will be a sharp increase in your blood pressure.  Still, knowing is half the battle so head to re/code for a look at the charts they have compiled into this article.

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"Here’s the latest breakdown from broadband services company Sandvine of “fixed access” — for the purposes of this piece, read it as “home broadband” — Internet usage during peak evening hours. That big red bar in the middle is the one to focus on."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: re/code

These 3 Systems Will Leave You Shocked...

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2015 - 08:41 AM |
Tagged: system shock, pc gaming, otherside entertainment, night dive studios

Otherside Entertainment is a relatively new game studio, founded in 2014, that is working on a crowdfunded fantasy RPG called Underworld Ascendant. Apparently, they are also working on System Shock 3.

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Well, at least a teaser page says the words “System Shock 3” and has a copyright notice from Otherside Entertainment. I believe that it is fairly reasonable to jump to the aforementioned conclusion with the provided information. The rights to Systen Shock are currently in the hands of Night Dive Studios, which has been reviving old (~90s-era) PC games. They are also in the news for a few screenshots of the upcoming Turok and Turok 2 remaster.

One of the most interesting parts about all of this is that Otherside Entertainment was founded by the founder of Blue Sky Productions, later renamed Looking Glass Studios, who co-developed System Shock 2 with Irrational Games. More Looking Glass alumni than just the founder are at Otherside too, but I don't know how many were from that era and team.

AMD HSA Patches Hoping for GCC 6

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | December 8, 2015 - 08:07 AM |
Tagged: hsa, GCC, amd

Phoronix, the Linux-focused hardware website, highlighted patches for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) that implement HSA. This will allow newer APUs, such as AMD's Carrizo, to accelerate chunks of code (mostly loops) that have been tagged with a precompiler flag as valuable to be done on the GPU. While I have done some GPGPU development, many of the low-level specifics of HSA aren't areas that I have too much experience with.

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The patches have been managed by Martin Jambor of SUSE Labs. You can see a slideshow presentation of their work on the GNU website. Even though features froze about a month ago, they are apparently hoping that this will make it into the official GCC 6 release. If so, many developers around the world will be able to target HSA-compatible hardware in the first half of 2016. Technically, anyone can do so regardless, but they would need to specifically use the unofficial branch on the GCC Subversion repository. This probably means compiling it themselves, and it might even be behind on a few features in other branches that were accepted into GCC 6.

Source: Phoronix

WebGL Leaves "Preview" with Unity 5.3

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: webgl, Unity

WebGL is a Web standard that allows issuing OpenGL ES 2.0-based instructions to compatible graphics cards, which is just about everything today. It has programmable vertex and fragment (pixel) shaders with a decent amount of flexibility. Engines like Unity have been looking toward using this technology as a compile target, because Web browsers are ubiquitous, relatively user friendly, and based on standards that anyone could implement should a work of art benefit from preservation.

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Image Credit: Mozilla

Until Unity 5.3, this feature was in “preview” levels of support. This upcoming release, scheduled for today according to their roadmap, drops this moniker. It is now a build target with official support.

To run WebGL applications that are built in Unity, the vast majority of features target recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Edge for Windows 10 Version 1511. (The November Update for Windows 10 added the ability to lock the mouse cursor, which is obviously useful for mouse and keyboard titles.)

We're still a long way from web browsers being equivalent to game consoles. That said, they are catching up fast. You could easily have an experience that shames the last generation, especially when WebGL 2 lands, and you don't have to worry about what happens in 10, 40, or even hundreds of years as long as society deems your art worthy for preservation. I do hope that some artists and serious developers take real advantage of it, though. Shovelware could obscure its power and confuse users, and we know they will be pretty much first out of the gate.

Source: Unity

Thermaltake Water 3.0 Riing RGB 240 and 360 Announced

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 8, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, water cooler, thermaltake, cpu cooler

Thermaltake has announced the Water 3.0 Riing RGB, which is a water cooler with multi-color LEDs. Two SKUs will be available, which differ in radiator size. As the title of this post suggests, your choice will be between double-wide (240mm) and triple-wide (360mm) radiators. The lights surround the fan in a ring, and can be modified by a remote into a few different settings. Thermaltake notes that these settings persist after a reboot. I would think that's expected, but the wording sounds like a subtle reference to something. Over my head regardless.

thermaltake-2015-riing-360.jpg

I should note that there appears to be a typo in Thermaltake's specification sheet. On the Water 3.0 Riing RGB 360, it claims that its dimensions are 326x120x27mm. 326mm is the same length as its rubber tubing and, to say the least, it seems very unlikely that they intend to fit three, 120mm fans (360mm total) into a length that's 326mm long (plus fit the hosing off one side). The 240 model is listed as being 270mm long, which leaves 30mm for spacing and tubing, and that seems about right. I assume that they accidentally wrote the tube length as the radiator length. I have attempted to contact Thermaltake PR for clarification. I'll update the post if I get through and receive a response. This should be fine for most users looking to install a triple-wide radiator, but you should hold off if a few centimeters make or break your build.

No pricing or availability has been released yet.

Source: Thermaltake

PCPer Live! Killer Networks Live Stream and Giveaway!

Subject: Networking | December 7, 2015 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: video, rivet network, rivet, live, Killer Networking, killer network, giveaway, contest

UPDATE: Did you miss the live stream on Monday? No worries, you can catch up on the information and demos from Rivet Networks CEO Michael Cubbage here in the video below!

We are just a few weeks away from Christmas and we are burning through the content here at PC Perspective, preparing everyone for the new year and the upcoming CES in January. Our friends at Rivet Networks are stopping by the offices next week to co-host a live stream to discuss their latest networking technologies including Gigabit Ethernet and wireless solutions. Sebastian recently reviewed the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 with MU-MIMO support and came away very impressed! Rivet will be here to answer questions from readers and viewers, demonstrate the advantages of Killer Networking and hand out one of the best prizes we've ever offered on PC Perspective.

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And what's a live stream without prizes? Rivet Networks and Alienware have stepped up to the plate to offer up a complete gaming notebook for those of you that tune in to watch the live stream! 

  • Alienware 13 R2 - Dell.com
  • Intel Core i5-6200U
  • 13-in 1366x768 Screen
  • GeForce GTX 960M
  • 4GB Dual Channel DDR3L
  • 500GB Hybrid Hard Drive
  • Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi
  • Killer E4200 Gigabit Ethernet

aliewanre.jpg

pcperlive.png

Killer Networks Live Stream and Giveaway

1pm PT / 4pm ET - December 7th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

The event will take place Monday, December 7th at 1pm PT / 4pm ET at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the notebook you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

I will be joined by Mike Cubbage, CEO of Rivet Networks and no topics will be taken off the table. Clearly if you have questions, concerns or ideas about Killer Networking or networks in general, this is the stream to participate in!

killerpromo.jpg

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Rivet / Killer Networking?

So join us! Set your calendar for Monday at 1pm PT / 4pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

Source: PCPer Live!

Blizzard Says Overwatch's New Heroes and Maps Will Be Free

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2015 - 09:28 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, overwatch, blizzard

Jeff Kaplan of Blizzard has just announced, in the December 7th Overwatch Developer Update, embedded below, that maps and characters will always be patched in as free updates. This is particularly interesting because the game is often viewed as Team Fortress 2 being distilled through a DOTA 2 filter. Those games offer purchases of specific weapons or heroes (Update December 8th @6:15pm ET: I meant League of Legends when I was talking about hero purchasing -- I changed it to DOTA 2 for Valve symmetry, but they apparently don't sell heroes), respectively, which would be an easy way to monetize the title. The problem is that it could lead to a situation where a team doesn't have the necessary tools to counter a strategy that the opponent is fielding, not because of in-game logistics, but because the players didn't buy some piece of content ahead-of-time.

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Note that, while I haven't played the game, I've been hearing that weapon loadouts for individual heros will not be a part of the game, free or otherwise. A chosen hero will be the same across all players. I say this because Blizzard hasn't denied the potential for weapons or loadouts as DLC, but that seems to be because they're not even considering them at all.

Beyond heroes, maps will also be patched in for free. This is likely for a different purpose, of course. Heroes make a huge impact on the balancing of a game and the list of available strategies. The decision to release maps for free is likely to prevent parties from being split up because individual members don't have all the required content. StarCraft II approached this issue by allowing all members of a party to be upgraded to the highest-level member until the group is disbanded. For a game like Overwatch though, which seems likely to have more than two or three tiers of content, segmenting off a handful of maps unless you play with friends is probably too petty to monetize. Might as well just give it to everyone and charge once at the door.

Here is TotalBiscuit's thoughts on this issue and others, from before this announcement.

The beta for Overwatch will be shut down on December 10th for the holidays. It is expected to reopen in January. I'm guessing that they have an update planned, but they don't want to push it until after the holidays for support reasons. Thus, rather than leave an old build open for a month, where people begin to judge its already-fixed quirks with holiday binge-gaming, they decided to just pull it. They might as well let anticipation build, and welcome back users with something new after the holidays. This is just speculation, though.

Source: Blizzard

Soundcards are no longer an easy sell ... can the ASUS STRIX Soar tempt consumers?

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2015 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: STRIX Soar, sound card, audio, asus

Ever since the NFORCE2 chipset's onboard audio codec we have seen a huge increase in the quality of integrated sound on motherboards and we have hit a point where you no longer need a soundcard for general usage.  This has sparked an interesting competition among soundcard makers, searching for a way to make their product relevant to users.  We have seen the return of tubes, programmable and replaceable OPAmps, powered headphone ports and a variety of other features.

ASUS has released the STRIX Soar 7.1 PCIe card recently and Kitguru got a chance to review the board.  It certainly looks as pretty as the cards which come with high end motherboards and is thin enough not to encroach on systems with multiple cards already installed but does it offer compelling reasons to purchase the card?  Kitguru gave it their "Must Have" award so there must be something attractive about the card, check out the full review to hear more about it.

asusstrixstock1.jpg

"Today we look at the most affordable of the STRIX sound cards, the Soar. Although it has much the same hardware and features as its bigger brothers, it is more affordable which could be the real kicker in convincing potential buyers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: Kitguru

Meet the new Ninja, Scythe's fourth generation cooler

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 7, 2015 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: scythe, Ninja 4, air cooling

The Scythe Ninja series of coolers have been around for a while and they have recently updated their design with the Ninja 4.  Including the packaged PWM fan the cooler measures 130x155x155mm (5.1x6.1x6.1") and weighs 900g, hopefully not heavy enough to bend your pins.  The cooling performance that Modders-Inc saw was impressive at high speed but even more impressive at the meduim setting which saw temperatures within 3C of the high speed results but with reduced noise generated by the fan.  Keep your eyes out for more on this cooler as it will appear in an upcoming review right here on PCPer.

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"If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. Nobody gets things right the first time and even if done well, needs change over time so a revision is almost always guaranteed to happen. It is not about striving for perfection because what that is cannot be a clearly defined point, but it can be approached."

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CASES & COOLING

 

Source: Modders Inc

Is the Pi Zero powerful enough for your project?

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2015 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: SoC, raspberry pi zero

It can't play Crysis but if you want to know if the new Raspberry Pi Zero has what it takes to power your latest projects then look no further than this article at Phoronix in which they benchmark the new low cost SoC.  The $5 Zero is powered by a 1GHz single-core ARM processor with 512MB of RAM and a Broadcom BCM2708, outputs include mini HDMI and USB OTG ports, and a 40-pin header which you are going to be populating if you want networking.  As you would expect the Zero does sit at the bottom of the benchmark tables, however at this price point you are shopping for "just good enough", not top of the pack performance.  Check it out here.

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"For those curious about the performance of the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, here are some benchmarks I've just finished up for this low-end, low-power ARM development board compared to other ARM, MIPS, and x86 hardware."

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Tech Talk

 

Source: Phoronix

Asetek Sends Cease and Desist for Water-Cooled GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2015 - 11:29 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, cooler master, asetek, amd

AMD and Gigabyte have each received cease and desist letters from Asetek, regarding the Radeon Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Water Force, respectively, for using a Cooler Master-based liquid cooling solution. The Cooler Master Seiden 120M is a self-contained block and water pump, which courts have ruled that it infringes on one of Asetek's patents. Asetek has been awarded 25.375% of Cooler Master's revenue from all affected products since January 1st, 2015.

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This issue obviously affects NVIDIA less than AMD, since it applies to a single product from just one AIB partner. On AMD's side, however, it affects all Fury X products, but obviously not the air-cooled Fury and Fury Nano cards. It's also possible that future SKUs could be affected as well, especially since upcoming, top end GPUs will probably be in small packages adjacent HBM 2.0 memory. This dense form-factor lends itself well to direct cooling techniques, like closed-loop water.

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Even more interesting is that we believe Asetek was expecting to get the Fury X contract. We reported on an Asetek press release that claimed they received their “Largest Ever Design Win” with an undisclosed OEM. We expected it to be the follow-up to the 290X, which we assumed was called 390X because, I mean, AMD just chose that branding, right? Then the Fury X launched and it contained a Cooler Master pump. I was confused. No other candidate for “Largest Ever Design Win” popped up from Asetek, either. I guess we were right? Question mark? The press release of Asetek's design win came out in August 2014 while Asetek won the patent case in December of that year.

Regardless, this patent war has been ongoing for several months now. If it even affects any future products, I'd hope that they'd have enough warning at this point.

Source: GamersNexus