Don't head out on a wild goose chase when buying a GPU to play Witcher 3

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: gaming, The Witcher 3, VLAN party, fragging frogs

[H]ard|OCP has taken the guesswork out of GPU performance on the current version of Witcher 3 in this round up featuring 10 GPUs, five from each company.  Of course only NVIDIA supports lips occluded by PhysX powered mustachios but not everyone is obsessed with perfect hair.  Indeed when it takes a $1000 video card just to enable the lowest options on HairWorks at 1440p without disabling every other feature one wonders why HairWorks had gamers tied up in knots.  Check out the full review for performance comparisons and even some HairWorks nitpicking.

This weekend also marks the 11th Fragging Frogs VLAN party, which kicks off on Saturday August 29 10:00 AM ET and will go until the last frog has been fragged.  Sign up in this thread if you haven't already and if you are new to the Fragging Frogs follow the links to the FAQ threads for information on which patches or mods you will need to apply to your games to get playing as soon as possible. 


"We take The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, using the 1.08.2 patch and latest drivers, find the highest playable settings and examine apples-to-apples performance with and without GameWorks across 10 video cards. We put a focus on NVIDIA HairWorks and how it impacts performance and find out which video cards provide the best gaming value."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:


Source: [H]ard|OCP

SilverStone's small and portable SG12 SFF case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 26, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: SFF, micro-atx, mini-itx, SG12, Silverstone

The SilverStone SG12 is an SFF case which dreams big, built for Mini-ITX through Micro-ATX motherboards it is still large enough to fit a GPU over a foot long.  Overall it is 266x210x407mm (10.5x8.3x16") in size, still small enough to fit in a living room or cart around with you thanks to the built in handle but large enough to fit high end components.  Bjorn3D installed an i7-4790K on an ASUS Z97M-PLUS with a GTX 970 powered by a SilverStone SST-ST55F-G PSU which is about 40mm shorter than the majority of PSUs.  For a cooler they used the SilverStone SST-ST55F-G, the 140x82x139mm size comes close to the maximum size you can fit into the case.  Check out their full review here.


"Here at Bjorn3D we are no strangers to the SilverStone brand. They have been creating awesome cases, power supplies, coolers and more since 2003, and we have been fortunate enough to take a look at many of their offerings over the years. Early on in their history, they created the Sugo series of cases, a line which caters to those that wish to build a small form factor PC."

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


Source: Bjorn3D

Grand Theft Auto V Mods Don't Disappoint

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2015 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: GTA5, GTAV, pc gaming

Triple-A games with a long shelf life, regardless of how pretty they are, will probably get a graphics mod on the PC. A ridiculous number of them exist for Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV, which make them (arguably at the very least) look better than titles a whole generation ahead of them. Sometimes this raises controversy, as seen in the Watch_Dogs launch fiasco, but most of the time it is just hobbyists remaking the wheel (sometimes literally) to take advantage of newer hardware.

Toddyhancer, which is apparently a mod for Grand Theft Auto V, already looks impressive. It is not yet released, and the developer claims that it has a significant performance impact of ~10-30 FPS, which would be more useful in units of frame time (ms), but it makes its point. The above video seems to focus on shader effects to give a film feel.


Other screenshots exist, but it is difficult to figure out everything that has, and has not, been changed. The developer claims, “Don't go bananaz! its just Reshade Shaders, ENB series, simple tweaks and some tonemapping with class!”. Still, check it out if interested.

Source: Imgur

SanDisk's Ultra II; SSD bargain or not?

Subject: Storage | August 25, 2015 - 06:30 PM |
Tagged: sandisk, Ultra II, Marvell 88SS9189, Marvell 88SS9190

We've seen Sandisk's Ultra series before but the Ultra II is relatively new to the market.  If anything, they have made the pricing even more attractive, the top end 960GB model is a mere $310, $0.32/GB is getting closer to Ryan's preferred SSD pricing.  As far as the advertised speeds, sequential read and write remain constant at 550MB/s and 500MB/s but IOPS vary by the size of the drive from 81K/80K random read/write for the 120GB model to 99K/83K for the 960GB model.  [H]ard|OCP's testing shows performance more or less in line with the OCZ Trion 100 but somewhat slower than the Samsung 850 EVO, both of which are almost the exact same price.  Check out the full review to see the exact differences, or simply rejoice in the fact that SSDs are approaching prices below $0.30/GB.


"Most of you know that the easiest way to get a performance boost from your old mechanical hard drive is to get rid of it and replace it with a shiny new SSD. SanDisk's Ultra II offers a lot of capacity for the money and comes with a 3 year warranty. Is that enough to compete in a market where prices are falling across every category?"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:


Source: [H]ard|OCP

VAIO PCs Are Coming Back to the US in the Fall

Subject: Systems | August 25, 2015 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: vaio, z canvas

Sony's PC manufacturing division, VAIO, was spun out and sold off to Japan Industrial Partners last year. In the process, it shrunk down to about 250 employees and exited every market besides Japan. While it wasn't profitable last year, which makes sense for a restructure of this size, it expects to be floating on its own for this one.

This sounds like a SquareEnix ad...

They are also confident enough to expand back into the US.

This Autumn, which Paul Thurrott narrows down to October, VAIO will begin selling PCs through Microsoft's retail stores and website. The VAIO Z Canvas will be the first model to hit North America, which will have a PCIe 3.0-based SSD. The compute specs are less extraordinary as it is built around Intel Haswell-H and Iris Pro graphics. This is likely because the machine was previously released a few months ago in Japan, but it targets creative professionals so it should be sufficient in those areas. The high speed, PCIe SSD might even mask its weak points in typical usage.


We then get to the price. The VAIO Z Canvas will launch above $2000, which is much more expensive than the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It comes with a stylus, keyboard screen protector, and no bloatware under the “Microsoft Signature PC” branding. We will probably need to wait and see if any pricing or last minute specification adjustments occur before launch, but this seems like it will have some issues unless the SSD is much larger than 256 GB as rumored.

Source: VAIO

A hint of what to come from Hot Chips

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2015 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, hot chips, SK Hynix

Thanks to DigiTimes we are getting some information out of Hot Chips about what is coming up from AMD.  As Sebastian just posted we now have a bit more about the R9 Nano and you can bet we will see more in the near future.  They also describe the new HBM developed in partnership with SK Hynix,  4GB of high-bandwidth memory over a 4096-bit interface will offer an impressive 512Gb/s of memory bandwidth.  We also know a bit more about the new A-series APUs which will range up to 12 compute cores, four Excavator based CPUs and eight GCN based GPUs.  They will also be introducing new power saving features called Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling (AVFS) and will support the new H.265 compression standard.  Click on through to DigiTimes or wait for more pictures and documentation to be released from Hot Chips.


"AMD is showcasing its new high-performance accelerated processing unit (APU), codenamed Carrizo, and the new AMD Radeon R9 Fury family of GPUs, codenamed Fiji, at the annual Hot Chips symposium."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Detailed Photos of AMD Radeon R9 Nano Surface (Confirmed)

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 25, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: Radeon R9 Nano, radeon, r9 nano, hbm, graphics, gpu, amd

New detailed photos of the upcoming Radeon R9 Nano have surfaced, and Ryan has confirmed with AMD that these are in fact real.


We've seen the outside of the card before, but for the first time we are provided a detailed look under the hood.


The cooler is quite compact and has copper heatpipes for both core and VRM

The R9 Nano is a very small card and it will be powered with a single 8-pin power connector directed toward the back.



Connectivity is provided via three DisplayPort outputs and a single HDMI port

And fans of backplates will need to seek 3rd-party offerings as it looks like this will have a bare PCB around back.


We will keep you updated if any official specifications become available, and of course we'll have complete coverage once the R9 Nano is officially launched!

NZXT Introduces Razer Edition of Source S340 Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 25, 2015 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: Source S340, razer, nzxt, mid-tower, enclosure, case

NZXT has created another modified enclosure in conjunction with Razer gaming, and this time it's a new take on the excellent Source S340 mid-tower (reviewed on this very website!).


As expected given the Razer branding this is a matte black enclosure with no shortage of green lighting, including a green underglow light. It's a look those familiar with the Razer edition of the H440 will be quite familiar with.

"Forged to match your Razer arsenal, the new custom design features a backlit Triple-Headed Snake logo, tinted window, illuminated LED power button, underglow, and green USB ports."


The special Designed by Razer edition of the S340 is up for pre-order today at the NZXT store, and this version is listed at $99.99 - a considerable jump from the standard S340's $69.99 price tag.

Source: NZXT

The great GTX 950 review roundup

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 24, 2015 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, moba, maxwell, gtx 950, GM206, geforce, DOTA 2

It is more fun testing at the high end and the number of MOBA gamers here at PCPer could be described as very sparse, to say the least.  Perhaps you are a MOBA gamer looking to play on a 1080p screen and have less than $200 to invest in a GPU and feel that Ryan somehow missed a benchmark that is important to you.  One of the dozens of reviews linked to below are likely to have covered that game or specific feature which you are looking for.  They also represent the gamut of cards available at launch from a wide variety of vendors, both stock and overclocked models.  If you just want a quick refresher on the specifications and what has happened to the pricing on already released models, The Tech Report has handy tables for you to reference here.


"For most of this summer, much of the excitement in the GPU market has been focused on pricey, high-end products like the Radeon Fury and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Today, Nvidia is turning the spotlight back on more affordable graphics cards with the introduction of the GeForce GTX 950, a $159.99 offering that promises to handle the latest games reasonably well at the everyman's resolution of 1080p."

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

Graphics Cards

We could tell you what was in that update but then we would have to terminate your process

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

The more we learn about Windows as a Service the less we seem to know.  Already many have discovered that a fresh install with license from an upgraded Windows install is not as simple as it sounded, the license has far more to do with your current hardware than the OS license you once purchased.  Now it seems that figuring out what updates are being installed on your computer will also be obfuscated, where before you could see the number of the relevant Knowledge Base article now you will simply receive generically labelled updates.  This should worry home users as it will make it difficult to avoid Windows Updates with known compatibility issues and terrify any businesses which were considering moving to Windows 10 as releasing untested patches into a production environment is verboten and this makes the testing process more, not less difficult.

Windows Insiders may actually end up knowing more about the updates than the regular users who will only hear details of a limited number of updates.  Build 10525 has recently been released to insiders on the Fast Release ring with Microsoft's Gabe Aul went into detail about what changes were made in this new build, as well as the new issues present in this version. Build 10512 of Windows 10 Mobile was also just recently released for those few souls running on Windows Mobile and testing the newest incarnation of the OS.  The Register did try out the new version, you can read about their experiences here.


"The Register asked Microsoft for clarification on the policy after the company issued a new cumulative update for Windows 10 and refused to say what it does other than to say it offered “improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.”"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: The Register

Report: Leaked Slide From AMD Gives Glimpse of R9 Nano Performance

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 24, 2015 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, Radeon R9 Nano, R9 290X, leak, hot chips, hbm, amd

A report from German-language tech site Golem contains what appears to be a slide leaked from AMD's GPU presentation at Hot Chips in Cupertino, and the results paint a very efficient picture of the upcoming Radeon R9 Nano GPU.


The spelling of "performance" doesn't mean this is fake, does it?

While only managing 3 FPS better than the Radeon R9 290X in this particular benchmark, this result was achieved with 1.9x the performance per watt of the baseline 290X in the test. The article speculates on the possible clock speed of the R9 Nano based on the relative performance, and estimates 850 MHz (which is of course up for debate as no official specs are known).

The most compelling part of the result has to be the ability of the Nano to match or exceed the R9 290X in performance, while only requiring a single 8-pin PCIe connector and needing an average of only 175 watts. With a mini-ITX friendly 15 cm board (5.9 inches) this could be one of the more compelling options for a mini gaming rig going forward.

We have a lot of questions that have yet to be answered of course, including the actual speed of both core and HBM, and just how quiet this air-cooled card might be under load. We shouldn't have to wait much longer!


Phanteks Announces Enthoo EVOLV ITX SE Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 24, 2015 - 11:35 AM |

Phanteks today announced the second edition of the mini-ITX member of the EVOLV enclosure family, the new Enthoo EVOLV ITX SE.


The new Mini-ITX variant retains the aesthetic from the prior version, and supports full-size graphics cards up to 13 inches and dual-width liquid CPU coolers via the removable upper radiator bracket.


There is certainly an added dose of style with this new editon as it is being offered with two interesting color combos, with your choice of either a white exterior with black interior, or a black exterior with red interior.


The enclosures will carry a 5-year warranty and retail pricing has been announced as $69.99 for the black/red version and $79.99 for white/black. The Enthoo EVOLV ITX SE will be availabile in October.

Source: Phanteks

Introducing the Intel Box Master System with Color-enabled Gaming!

Subject: Editorial | August 21, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: video, Skylake, master system, Intel, 6700k

Sometimes you get weird boxes in the mail and you just know they are going to be up to no good. This time, Intel just launched the Intel Box Master System gaming system...with COLOR!


You really need to watch the video, but if you MUST sneak a peek at what we're talking about, check out the images below!

Visit Intel at

Source: Intel

GPU Market Share: NVIDIA Gains in Shrinking Add-in Board Market

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 21, 2015 - 11:30 AM |
Tagged: PC, nvidia, Matrox, jpr, graphics cards, gpu market share, desktop market share, amd, AIB, add in board

While we reported recently on the decline of overall GPU shipments, a new report out of John Peddie Research covers the add-in board segment to give us a look at the desktop graphics card market. So how are the big two (sorry Matrox) doing?

GPU Supplier Market Share This Quarter Market Share Last Quarter Market Share Last Year
AMD 18.0% 22.5% 37.9%
Matrox 0.00% 0.1% 0.1%
NVIDIA 81.9% 77.4% 62.0%

The big news is of course a drop in market share for AMD of 4.5% quarter-to-quarter, and down to just 18% from 37.9% last year. There will be many opinions as to why their share has been dropping in the last year, but it certainly didn't help that the 300-series GPUs are rebrands of 200-series, and the new Fury cards have had very limited availability so far.


The graph from Mercury Research illustrates what is almost a mirror image, with NVIDIA gaining 20% as AMD lost 20%, for a 40% swing in overall share. Ouch. Meanwhile (not pictured) Matrox didn't have a statistically meaningful quarter but still manage to appear on the JPR report with 0.1% market share (somehow) last quarter.

The desktop market isn't actually suffering quite as much as the overall PC market, and specifically the enthusiast market.

"The AIB market has benefited from the enthusiast segment PC growth, which has been partially fueled by recent introductions of exciting new powerful (GPUs). The demand for high-end PCs and associated hardware from the enthusiast and overclocking segments has bucked the downward trend and given AIB vendors a needed prospect to offset declining sales in the mainstream consumer space."

But not all is well considering overall the add-in board attach rate with desktops "has declined from a high of 63% in Q1 2008 to 37% this quarter". This is indicative of the overall trend toward integrated GPUs in the industry with AMD APUs and Intel processor graphics, as illustrated by this graphic from the report.


The year-to-year numbers show an overall drop of 18.8%, and even with their dominant 81.9% market share NVIDIA has still seen their shipments decrease by 12% this quarter. These trends seem to indicate a gloomy future for discrete graphics in the coming years, but for now we in the enthusiast community will continue to keep it afloat. It would certainly be nice to see some gains from AMD soon to keep things interesting, which might help lower prices down from their lofty $400 - $600 mark for flagship cards at the moment.

Podcast #363 - DX12 Benchmarking, Skylake News from IDF, Intel Optane Storage and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2015 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, video, Skylake, podcast, Optane, ocz, NVMe, kingston, Intel, idf2015, fms2015, dx12, ashes of the singularity

PC Perspective Podcast #363 - 08/20/2015

Join us this week as we discuss DX12 Benchmarking, Skylake News from IDF, Intel Optane Storage 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: - 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, and Allyn Malventano

*sorry for the audio problems with Ryan's Skype, still not quite sure what the issue was*

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

IDF 2015: OCZ RevoDrive 400 PCIe NVMe Spotted in HHHL and M.2 Packaging

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2015 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: IDF 2015, ocz, revodrive, RevoDrive 400, M.2, HHHL, pcie, NVMe, ssd

While roaming around at IDF, Ryan spotted a couple of new OCZ parts that were strangely absent from Flash Memory Summit:


You are looking at what is basically a Toshiba NVMe PCIe controller and flash, tuned for consumer applications and packaged/branded by OCZ. The only specific we know about it is that the scheduled release is in the November time frame. No specifics on performance yet but it should easily surpass any SATA SSD, but might fall short of the quad-controller-RAID RevoDrive 350 in sequentials.

As far as NVMe PCIe SSDs go, I'm happy to see more and more appearing on the market from every possible direction. It can only mean good things as it will push motherboard makers to perfect their UEFI boot compatibility sooner rather than later.

More to come on the RevoDrive 400 as November is just around the corner!

IDF 2015: Updated: Kingston NVMe PCIe Prototype Shown With New Phison E7 Controller

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2015 - 09:26 PM |
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, kingston, IDF 2015

**Edit** There was some speculation about which controller was in this SSD. It has since been solved. Here's a shot of the top of the PCB:


Now lets compare that with a shot I caught at FMS 2015 last week:


...from the Phison booth. I hadn't wirtten up my Phison post yet but this new Kingston SSD is most certainly going to be using the Phison E7 controller. Here's the placard stating some high level specs:


***end edit***

We saw a draft copy of Kingston’s HyperX Predator at CES 2014. That demo unit was equipped with a SandForce 3700 series controller, but since SandForce never came through on that part, Kingston had to switch gears and introduce the HyperX Predator with a Marvell 88SS9293 controller. The Marvell part was very capable, and the HyperX Predator turned out to be an attractive and performant PCIe SSD. The one catch was that Marvell’s controller was only an AHCI part, while newer NVMe-based SSDs were quickly pushing the Predator down in our performance results.

Kingston’s solution is a newer generation PCIe SSD, this time equipped with NVMe:


We have very little additional information about this new part, though we can tell from the above image that the flash was provided by Toshiba (toggle mode). They also had Iometer running:


We were not sure of the exact workload being run, but those results are in line with the specs we saw listed on Silicon Motion’s SM2260, seen last week at Flash Memory Summit.

We’ll keep track of the development of this new part and hope to see it in a more disclosed form at CES 2016. Kingston's IDF 2015 press blast appears after the break.

Source: Kingston

Intel (Allegedly) Plans DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | August 19, 2015 - 08:03 PM |
Tagged: Intel, freesync, DisplayPort, adaptive sync

DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is a VESA standard, pushed by AMD, that allows input signals to control when a monitor refreshes. A normal monitor redraws on a defined interval because old CRT monitors needed to scan with an electron gun, and this took time. LCDs never needed to, but they did. This process meant that the monitor was drawing a frame whether it was ready or not, which led to tearing, stutter, and other nasty effects if the GPU couldn't keep up. With Adaptive-Sync, GPUs don't “miss the train” -- the train leaves when they board.


Intel has, according to The Tech Report, decided to support Adaptive-Sync -- but not necessarily in their current product line. David Blythe of Intel would not comment on specific dates or release windows, just that it is in their plans. This makes sense for Intel because it allows their customers to push settings higher while maintaining a smooth experience, which matters a lot for users of integrated graphics.

While “AMD FreeSync” is a stack of technologies, VESA DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync should be all that is required on the monitor side. This should mean that Intel has access to all of AMD's adaptive refresh monitors, although the driver and GPU circuitry would need to be their burden. G-Sync monitors (at least those with NVIDIA-design modules -- this is currently all of them except for one laptop I think) would be off limits, though.

Interesting Breakdown of OLD Computer Graphics

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2015 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

While just the first episode has been released, The iBook Guy is creating a series of videos that explains the limitations of “oldschool” graphics. When you have just a handful of kilobytes of RAM, it is impossible to even store a full-quality frame buffer that the TV requires, which means that something will need to be thrown away.

The first video talks about adding color to frames with tiling and sprites. Using just ~1K of RAM, software developers were able to define background colors on a tile-by-tile basis. This allowed “black and white” to be an arbitrary “foreground and background” combination, which could even vary from one tile to the next as long as each tile only used two colors. This concept is expanded on to allow four colors per tile at a slight reduction in resolution. The video then goes into sprites, and how they are used for movable actors atop the tiles.


Image Credit: The iBook Guy

I don't know when Part 2 will be published, but it seems like they release about once per week.

Mod Tools for The Witcher 3 Released

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED

As CD Projekt Red promised before the game launched, The Witcher 3 received mod tools last week. This was done in partnership with Nexus Mods, allowing users to install and configure user content using the Nexus Mod Manager. Note that this only applies to mods that were created with the official mod kit, not any arbitrary mod that has been created since release.


CD Projekt Red has also provided four simple samples (serves you right for trying to read my news posts aloud) as a tutorial. “Witcher The Slav” retextures “Geralt's starting outfit”. “Fabulous Roach” modifies the meshes and textures that make up Geralt's horse. “Petard sWitcher”, and the more mundanely named Custom Equipment Sets Mod, each introduces game scripting concepts.

Go forth and mod.

Source: CD Projekt