Well done virtual 7.1 surround from Corsair's H1500

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, H1500, gaming headset, 7.1 headset

Corsair's H1500 Dolby 7.1 headset has a pair of 50mm drivers with a response of 20Hz to 20kHz which uses software to emulate 7.1 and 5.1 Dolby surround as well as simple 2.0 audio.  The headset comes with software but not a dedicated soundcard which is why they were able to keep the price to $70.  Benchmark Reviews used the headset in Battlefield 4 and found it quite useful in preventing enemies from sneaking up from behind them with a knife though the stiff padding and narrow head band did tire them out after a while.  Music and movies also sounded great after a little tweaking of the equalizer and the noise cancellation feature on the microphone was effective at reducing background noise while speaking into the mic.  Overall if you want a good set of surround headphones are on a bit of a budget the H1500 are worth adding to your short list of possible purchases.

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"Longevity is very important in any industry. It is extremely likely that, when the longevity moniker is affixed to an organization's label, consumers can buy with confidence. Corsair is one of those labels that can has been doing it well since 1994 and in this industry, 20 years is a VERY long time. Whether you are buying a power supply or a gaming mouse, you know that if it wears the Corsair logo, it is a quality device that will withstand the test of time and perform brilliantly."

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Audio Corner

Need extra storage space for Thanksgiving?

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sale

The only thing better than a new SSD is one you picked up on sale and The SSD Review would like to help you with that.  They have put together a list of SSD sales that have already kicked off, from the lovely price of $370 for a 960GB SanDisk Ultra II SSD which might not be the fastest on the market but is a great bargain to a Samsung 840 EVO 1TB at $360 for those who are willing to run the restoration tool to ensure they don't experience a slow down in performance.  They also list M.2 drives for those wanting to use the new interface.  They have their own Amazon affiliate code which I am sure they would appreciate you using but don't forget that PC Perspective does as well so please consider sharing the proceeds from your purchases ... or not, up to you.

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"It's that time of the year again, when online retailers are dropping prices on products left and right. Over the past few days there have been some okay deals when it comes to SSDs in anticipation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, today there are some very good deals on drives from all the big boys in the industry, mainly Samsung, SanDisk Crucial, and Intel."

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Tech Talk

Torchlight Free on Arc Client

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:34 AM |
Tagged: ARC, torchlight

Okay so, before we begin, I have read a few comments regarding the Arc Client. I am not sure how much of it is gamers not wanting to install extra clients on their machines (see: Origin, Uplay, and so forth) or whether there is an actual, legitimate complaint against this one. Privacy concerns were mentioned a couple of times, but spoken in a vague and general tone. The service normally deals with free-to-play titles, like Star Trek: Online, Blacklight: Retribution, and APB: Reloaded.

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Now on to the announcement: if claimed before November 30th, you can receive Torchlight for free; you may also purchase the sequel for $5. Both of these prices are a $15 reduction (the original is regularly $15 and Torchlight II is normally $20). By now, it is a little old, being released in late 2009, but it has a dedicated following. It was also available for free last year from GoG, which is obviously a better option. I mean, no offense to Arc, but it is really hard to beat free software that is also completely DRM-free.

Source: Arc

Windows 10 Could Actually Be Windows 10.0

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:17 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10, windows 6.4

Windows Vista broke away from the NT 5.x version number that was shared between Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Since then, each major OS release from Microsoft has incremented the minor version by one: Windows 7 was 6.1, Windows 8 was 6.2, and Windows 8.1 was 6.3. The current Windows 10 previews register as Windows 6.4, but screenshots suggest that Microsoft is considering a bump to 10.0 before release.

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Seriously, this time?

This leads to two discussions: “compatibility” and “why”.

First, because some applications query the Windows version number and adjust their behavior, there is some concern that 10.0 could lead to problems. For instance, if an installer checks that Windows' major version is 6, rather than at least 6, it could simply refuse to load (at least without compatibility mode). In fact, I remember Microsoft speaking about this issue back when Vista launched, saying that spoofing incorrect versions fixed (I believe) most problems. Peter Bright at Ars Technica notes that changes to application architecture, instituted with Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, makes this change more safe than when Vista bumped it to 6.x, for instance. Applications will be given an earlier version number unless they claim higher-level support in its manifest.

And then we get to the “Why”. There really isn't any reason to keep the version number in lockstep with the branding. It could be a sign that Microsoft is pushing for branding with this release, which makes sense. Windows 10, from a technical standpoint, is shaping up nicely (although I am still concerned about WinRT-based app sideloading). It would not surprise me if they would go this petty to further cement a good brand image.

Source: Ars Technica

For those who dare to taunt the honey badger

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2014 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: far cry 3, amd, nvidia, gaming

Far Cry 4 uses the same engine as the previous game, Dunia Engine 2, albeit updated and modified for the new features GPUs can handle, especially NVIDIA's Gameworks features.  This gives you some idea of how your system will handle the game but for a definitive look at performance just check out this review at [H]ard|OCP.  For their testing they used the GeForce 344.75 WHQL on their GTX 980 and 970 and the Catalyst 14.11.2 Beta for the R9 290X and 290.  On the Ultra preset running at 1440p the performance differences between the AMD and NVIDIA cards were negligible, once they started testing the new features such as the enhanced godrays and AA options there were some significant differences which you should educate yourself about.  It is worth noting that even two GTX 980s in SLI at 3600x1920 are not capable of handling 8x MSAA, thankfully SMAA is supported in the game.

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"Far Cry 4 is here, and we take an early look at how current video cards stack up in performance, and which quality settings are graphically demanding. We will also look at some image quality comparisons and talk about the state of this game at launch. Will it measure up to Far Cry 3 in terms of graphic fidelity?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Even more suggestions for your shopping list

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2014 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: gift guide, holiday guide

If you read through our holiday gift guide and still haven't found something for everyone then perhaps The Tech Report can help out.  While there is some similarities such as the impressive ASUS ROG Swift and NVIDIA's Shield there are also other suggestions which might intrigue you.  We did not delve into the mice and mechanical keyboards that were released this year and they offer a few more camera suggestions than our list not to mention the light bulb.  Check it out to see if there is something else you left off your list.

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"It's that time of year again. The big man to the north is making his list—and checking it twice—while shoppers to the south contemplate what to get for the beloved techies on their lists. Our staff has compiled a stack of suggestions based on our favorite PC hardware, mobile devices, and other gadgets."

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Tech Talk

NVIDIA SHIELD Gets Two New Games for GRID: Psychonauts and Red Faction: Armageddon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 25, 2014 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, shield, grid, shield tablet, Psychonauts, red faction: armageddon

Last Tuesday, NVIDIA launched the November SHIELD update with Android 5.0 Lollipop, The Green Box promotion, and a refreshed GRID service. Regarding the last part, which is a game streaming service, they also committed to adding at least one extra title per week. Now, seven days later, they pushed two titles to the service: Psychonauts and Red Faction: Armageddon.

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While I have never played Red Faction: Armageddon, I did purchase Psychonauts for the Xbox and, later, the PC. It is a fun, linear narrative about kids in a summer camp that specializes in telekinetic/telepathic education for gifted individuals. If you have a SHIELD device, and you are able to play it on GRID, try it. Like it or not, it's free and does not require an installation.

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As will be the case until June 30th, access to the service is free for owners of the SHIELD and SHIELD Tablet. Future titles are expected to be announced on Twitter via the “#GRIDTuesday” hashtag. We will probably have a news post about them, too.

Source: NVIDIA

Run softly and carry a big GPU

Subject: Systems | November 25, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: asus, STRIX GTX 980, i5-4670K, scythe, Kotetsu, quiet computing, Z97-PRO

Silent PC Review has put together their recommendations on how you can build a powerful computer which runs very quietly.  The recommended component list certainly lives up to a high powered gaming machine, a STRIX GTX 980, a 3.4GHz i5-4670 and 8GB of DDR3-1866 running on the Asus Z97-PRO.  For cooling they chose an air cooler, specifically the Scythe Kotetsu as in their opinion most of the AIO watercoolers have loud fans on their radiators which defeats the purpose of this build.  The enclosure of choice is the sound dampened Fractal Design Define R4 with a be quiet! Straight Power 10 600W as opposed to a passively cooled PSU as the excess heat would mean the rest of the fans would need to spin faster to dissipate it.  Check out the full article for their alternative suggestions as well as the finished results of the builds. 

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"The first of our quiet gaming build guides for the season is an ATX tower featuring the highly efficient NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980. Join us as we plan, build, and stress test this beast, while trying to keep it quiet enough to satisfy our own high standards. A sneak preview: We managed to keep it under 20 dBA@1m under all test conditions!"

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Revisiting an old favourite, Corsair's H60 is still going strong

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 25, 2014 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: corsair, h60, AIO, water cooler

It is somewhat surprising to realize that the Corsair H60 has not been updated since 2013 and even more surprising that it remains relevant even after what equates to a huge slice of time in the component industry.  It retails for $60 and is compatible with every modern AMD and Intel socket and thanks to its compact design it can fit in smaller systems that the competitions larger coolers cannot.  The H60 now falls towards the middle of [H]ard|OCP's performance charts with larger coolers providing a better result but only in systems which they can fit into and also commanding a much higher price than the H60. It may no longer be at the top of the cooler rankings but when you look at the price to performance and flexibility the H60 remains a viable choice for those shopping for an aftermarket cooler.

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"Today we are re-reviewing an older All-in-One CPU from Corsair that is surely a stalwart in the CPU cooling industry. The H60 AIO CPU cooler is a cost effective choice for those enthusiasts looking for a good solution at a good price. The redesigned H60 has been in the market place for 2 years now, which is saying something if it is still competitive."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Comparing Apples to Unicorns

Subject: General Tech | November 25, 2014 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: osx, ubuntu 14.10, linux, apple, OS

Over at Phoronix you can see a comparison between the new Apple OS X 10.10 and the newest release of Ubuntu 14.10.  This offers an interesting comparison in performance as both OSes were tested on the same system, a 2013 Macbook Air with a Haswell i5-4250U with onboard HD 5000, 4GB of DDR3-1600MHz and the Apple branded SSD.  For content creators and those with no interest in running Windows it highlights the contrasts you can expect between the two operating systems in data transfer and graphics applications.  Right from the start you can see that the contest is somewhat one sided, the first benchmark, PostMark, showed the disk with Ubuntu installed performing three times as fast as with OSX.  The results get a little closer in some benchmarks but overall Linux outpaces OSX significantly.

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"While I delivered some OS X 10.10 Yosemite preview benchmarks back in August, here's my first tests of the official release of Apple OS X 10.10.1 compared to Ubuntu 14.10 Linux. Tests were done of OS X 10.9.5 and OS X 10.10.1 against Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn when running the benchmarks under both GCC and LLVM Clang compilers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

The Corsair Neutron Series XT could be a mid-range contender, depending on the price

Subject: Storage | November 24, 2014 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, PS3110-S10, phison, Neutron XT, corsair, 256GB

Allyn recently reviewed the Corsair Neutron Series XT but as it is a brand new controller it is always worth a second opinion.  The Tech Report also recently tested this SSD, with its four core PS3110 controller and A19 variant of Toshiba's 19-nm MLC NAND.  Three of those cores are devoted to behind the scenes tasks such as garbage collection which should help performance when the drive starts to approach full capacity.  When testing performance they did see improvements from the first Phison controlled drive, the Force Series LS which sits at the bottom of their performance ranking.  That was not all that held back this drive, lack of support for features which have become common such as Microsoft eDrive put this drive behind the top competition and if Corsair is to make this drive a contender they are going to have to think very carefully about what the MSRP will be.

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"Corsair's new Neutron Series XT pairs a quad-core Phison controller with Toshiba's latest MLC NAND. We've taken the 240GB version for a spin to see if it can hang with the big boys."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

A professional class monitor on a reasonable budget, BenQ BL3200PT

Subject: Displays | November 24, 2014 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: 2560x1440, mva, benq, BL3200PT, 32, professional monitor

Displays using Multi-domain Vertical Alignment, aka MVA, offer better response times than standard IPS panels and better viewing angle and colour than ones using TN, sitting somewhat in the middle of these two standards in quality and price. BenQ has released an 32", LED backlit 2560x1440 A-MVA display called the BL3200PT with a 100% colour gamut and 1.07 billion colours, aimed at the professional designer on a bit of a budget.  The MSRP of $800 makes it far more affordable than many of the 4K monitors on the market and the use of MVA instead of IPS also helps lower the price without sacrificing too much quality.  The connectivity options are impressive, HDMI, DisplayPort, dual-link DVI, and D-Sub, along with audio, two USB plugs and a card reader should ensure that you can connect this display to the necessary resources and it can be adjusted vertically as well as tilt and swivel and is capable of portrait mode.  Check out Hardware Canucks full review here.

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"BenQ's BL3200PT combines a massive screen size with an Advanced-MVA panel to create a monitor that's a perfect fit for optimizing workflow while delivering good color reproduction."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

1 terabyte of storage in 2mm

Subject: General Tech | November 24, 2014 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Intel, 3d nand

Great news flash fans, Intel will be increasing the storage density of SSDs quite significantly over the next few years.  They will be using the 3D NAND technology we have just been introduced to to stack flash memory with 32 planar layers for 32GB per cell with MLC and 48GB per cell if TLC flash is used.  This increased density could lead to 10TB SSDs by 2017 as well as mobile devices with 1TB of local memory that runs at higher speeds than the current generations as well.  As The Register noted this will have to be accompanied by price reductions as at $1.00/GB no one would even dream of a 10TB drive and even at $0.50 it would be far too expensive.  Perhaps Ryan's dreams of low cost flash storage are not as far out there as some seem to feel, indeed he may not be aiming low enough for price per GB.  You can also get a peek at what Samsung, Hynix and Sandisk will be up to in the same article.

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"IMFT, Intel Micron Flash Technologies, a partnership between Intel and Micron, has a 3D MLC NAND technology, which will be used to build 10TB SSDs in two years."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Far Cry 4 Does Not Support Dual-Core Processors: Is the Budget Landscape Shifting?

Subject: Processors | November 21, 2014 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: quad core, pentium, gaming, far cry 4, dual-core, dragon age inquisition, cpus, budget, athlon

A new report covering dual-core woes with Far Cry 4 paints a "bleak future" for budget gamers.

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Image credit: Polygon

For a while now the dual-core Pentium processors have been a great option for budget gaming, with the Pentium G3220 and newer G3258 Anniversary Edition taking center stage in a number of budget gaming builds. Today, we may be nearing the end of the road for dual-core CPUs entirely as a couple of high-profile games now require a quad-core CPU.

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Is the anniversary really...over?

Far Cry 4 won't even open with a dual-core CPU installed, and while the game will load when using dual-core CPU's with hyper-threading enabled (for 4 total "cores") the performance isn't very good. PC World's article points to users "reporting that Far Cry 4 flat-out refuses to work with 'straight' dual-core PCs - chips that don’t use hyperthreading to 'fake' having additional cores." The article references a "black-screen 'failure to launch' bug" being reported by users with these dual-core chips.

This should come as good news for AMD, who has embraced quad-core designs throughout their lineup, including very affordable offerings in the budget space. 

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Image credit: AMD

AMD offers very good gaming performance with a part like the Athlon X4 760K, which matched the Pentium G3220 in our budget gaming shootout and was neck and neck with the Pentium in our $550 1080p gaming PC article back in April. And the Athlon 760K is now selling for just under $77, close to the current best-selling $70 Pentium.

Ubisoft has made no secret of their new game's hefty system requirements, with an Intel Core i5-750 or AMD Phenom II X4 955 listed as the minimum CPUs supported. Another high-profile new release, Dragon Age: Inquisition, also requires a quad core CPU and cannot be played on dual-core machines.

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Image credit: Origin

Looks like the budget gaming landscape is changing. AMD’s position looks very good unless Intel chooses to challenge the under $80 price segment with some true quad-core parts (and their current 4-core CPUs start at more than twice that amount).

Source: PC World

The ASUS ROG Gladius, the mouse you can disembowl

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2014 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: gladius, ASUS ROG, gaming mouse

ASUS has tried something new with their Gladius mouse, detachable USB cables and swappable switches.  The mouse ships with a 2 meter braided cable and a 1 meter rubber cable which uas a standard microUSB connector to connect to the mouse, theoretically allowing a wide variety of other possible cabling choices.  As well the switches for the top and side buttons are also changeable, you can replace them with a variety of Omron D2F and D3FC Series switches if you so desire.  This is definitely aimed at games, the mouse supports 2000Hz USB polling rates and the Pixart 3988 optical sensor has a 6400dpi resolution.  Read Benchmark Reviews article here to see what they thought of this mouse that should fit most right hands.

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"The ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) line of products is no stranger to gaming peripherals, however recently, ASUS has turned to it’s newer product line, Strix, to release most of it’s gaming oriented products. This made the release of the ASUS ROG Gladius mouse confusing at first, but after realizing that this is ASUS’ premium mouse option it only made sense to put it in ASUS’ most prominent line of products. In this article, Benchmark Reviews takes a look at the ASUS ROG Gladius Gaming Mouse."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Well This Could Be a Colossal Failure, But... I'm Jamming

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2014 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine 4, game jam

Update 3: Day 3 is live. Clearly not going to be done before the Game Jam, but it sounds like this should be a regular thing that I do.

Update 2: Day 1 is starting just after 2 PM EST (~10-15 minutes from now). Stream is up. Link in first update.

Update: Live in less than five! Join me at Twitch.tv/ScottMichaud

It is all for fun, right?

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Last week, the official Unreal Engine Twitter account tweeted about an online game jam being held, which starts this Friday (November 21st) at midnight and ends just 72 hours later. In that time, participants will attempt to create a full video game. All art, music, code, and so forth must be created in that short window. Existing engines, libraries, and utilties are allowed though, and they are actively encouraged with several license of Unreal Engine 4, Unity Pro, Clickteam Fusion, and GameMaker: Studio being provided to contestants. There are no prizes, except that the top ten, highest-voted entries will be featured in a PewDiePie YouTube video. He is the host of this game jam.

The theme of this game jam is, “Fun to play and fun to watch”. Funny is a bonus.

Oh why not? I have an idea for a quick-ish Unreal Engine 4-based game. While expectations should be kept low, I will enter the jam and I intend to stream the whole development process live on Twitch. Whether or not I am successful, I hope that it will be fun and entertaining for everyone involved. Drop in! Talk in the chat room! Say your opinion! Give suggestions! Embrace exclamation points!

I am not, by any metric, a professional game developer, but it should be a good weekend!

Barring technical issues, the stream will start at around 11:55 PM on Thursday, November 20th, 2014. I will probably work for a few hours that night outlining the concepts and creating assets. I hope you will attend! (Details will be available before the event both here and on Twitter).

Are these the bits and bobs you want to be given?

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2014 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: christmas

The Tech Report have put together a collection of what they have found to be the most interesting mobile devices you can get your hands on for yourself or to give to others.  With the new Broadwell based Core-M available they've recommended a few convertible laptops for your gifting needs in addition to more traditional style laptops including a very inexpensive Bay Trail powered model.  If you would rather a device which is neither fish nor fowl then their four tablet recommendations which includes NVIDIA's Shield or the recommended phablets would intrigue you more than a convertible laptop.  In keeping with their tradition, no one is recommended to injure themselves or others with the purchase of a Chromebook thanks to the continued draconian limitations on application support on these ChromeOS powered devices.

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"Quite a lot has changed since we spun off the mobile section of the TR System Guide into our first mobile staff picks. In just five months, we've seen the arrival of the Core M, Android 5.0, iOS 8.0, and a fresh batch of Nexus hardware and iDevices. All of this calls for a new edition."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Mozilla Partners with Yahoo! for Five Year Search Deal

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2014 - 10:10 PM |
Tagged: yahoo, mozilla, google, firefox

Mozilla, developer of the Firefox web browser, has been mostly funded by Google for the last decade. Between 2005 and 2011, the search giant slowly ramped up its contributions from around $50 million USD for a single year to just over $100 million for the last year. All of this money was to keep the default search engine set to Google for the location and search bar. At that time, journalists were voicing their concerns that Mozilla would be cut off after the success Google saw with their Chrome browser.

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In December 2011, Google and Mozilla surprised the world with a different announcement, $300 million dollars per year until November 2014, or almost three times their previous annual contributions. I could not help but feel it was like a light bulb that flares before it extinguishes, although later rumors claimed that Microsoft and Yahoo drove up Google's bid with high counter-offers. Of course, that deal ends this month and Google is no longer the winning bid, if they even proposed a deal at all.

This time, Yahoo won for the next five years (in the US) with a currently undisclosed sum. Yandex will be the default for Russia, and Baidu has been renewed as the default in China.

Yahoo also committed to supporting the Do Not Track (DNT) header for Firefox browsers. If your settings have DNT enabled, the search engine will adjust its behavior to acknowledge your request for privacy. One thing that has not been mentioned is how they will react to your request. This could be anything from treating you as completely anonymous, to personalizing your search results but not your ads, to personalizing your ads but not your search results, to only looking at the geographic location of your IP address, and so forth.

The search experience is not what you will get by going to the Yahoo homepage today; the new site was developed in collaboration with Mozilla and will launch for Firefox users in December. It will go live for every other Yahoo user in 2015.

Source: Mozilla

GTX 970 in SLI, $700 of graphics power

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 20, 2014 - 07:08 PM |
Tagged: sli, NVIDA, GTX 970

The contestants are lined up in [H]ard|OCP's test bench, at around $700 you have a pair of GTX 970's and in the same weight class are a pair of R9 290X cards, next weighing in at just under $550 are two R9 290s, and rounding out the completion are a pair of GTX 780's who punch somewhere between $800 to $1000 depending on when you look.  The cards are tested for their ability to perform on a 4K stage as well as in the larger 5760x1200 multi-monitor event.  After a long and gruelling battle the extra work the 290X put into trimming its self down and fitting into a lower weight class has proven to be well worth the effort as they managed to show up the 970's in every performance category although certainly not in power efficiency.  Any of these pairings will be powerful but none can match a pair of GTX 980's who are also in a price class all by themselves.

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"We take 2-Way NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 SLI for a spin and compare it to R9 290X CF, R9 290 CF, GTX 780 SLI at 4K resolution as well as NV Surround on a triple-display setup. If you want to see how all these video cards compare in these different display configurations we've got just the thing. Find out what $700 SLI gets you."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP