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Intro and Tech Specs
Courtesy of ASUS
Today we will be evaluating the ASUS P8Z77 WS motherboard on the test bench, evaluating its performance and functionality in various ways to ensure that the board works up to the standards we’ve come to expect from ASUS. At $339 a base price, this Intel Z77 chipset based board is part of the ASUS Workstation series, designed to meet the needs of the harsh corporate and server environments requiring optimal component functioning over a 24/7 timeframe.
Courtesy of ASUS
The P8Z77 WS is a feature-rich solution with dual Intel-based GigE NICs, an ASUS customized UEFI BIOS, and multi-GPU PCI 3.0 support offered innately through the Intel Z77 chipset as well as the integrated LicidLogix Virtu MVP chipset.
Courtesy of ASUS
Introduction and Features
Earlier this year Corsair added the Vengeance series to their enclosure lineup and in this review we will be taking a detailed look at the Vengeance C70 mid-tower gaming case. Corsair continues to bring a full line of high quality cases, memory components, power supplies, cooling components, SSDs and accessories to market for the PC enthusiast and professional alike. The new Vengeance cases come in three different colors: Gunmetal Black, Military Green, and Arctic White. Corsair designed the Vengeance cases for travelling gamers. They feature rugged steel construction with numerous case cooling options for going on the road to the next LAN party.
Here is what Corsair has to say about the Vengeance C70 Cases:
When it’s time to take your competitive gaming on the road, the Vengeance C70 mid-tower PC case is a great choice. It’s crafted out of solid steel and made to survive trips with less wear and tear, and the ergonomic carry handles help you move your gear with confidence.
High-performance gaming hardware requires high-performance cooling. Vengeance C70 is equipped with three 120mm fans out of the box, with mounting points for seven more to meet your exact air cooling demands.
…and Water Cover, too
Vengeance C70 is also outfitted for liquid cooling upgradability. You get 240mm radiator compatibility on top of the case, and if that’s not enough, you can remove the lower hard drive cage to fit a second 240mm radiator for a dual-loop setup.
A case is as much a part of your armory as any other component. With internal USB 3.0 connectors for modern motherboards, native SSD compatibility, eight expansion slots and room for long graphics cards, the C70 stands ready to take on any challenger.
Lock and Load
Easy access side panels come off with quick-release latches. The optical drive bays and 3.5” hard drive bays are tool-free. Thumbscrews secure your graphics cards, and the hard drive cages can be easily removed for better airflow or additional expansion room. Cable routing tie-downs and built-in clamps keep your system tidy.
With so many features, the Vengeance C70 does what it’s supposed to do – stay out of your way while you build or upgrade.
Today we are taking a look at MSI’s flagship Z77 motherboard, the Z77A-GD80. Beyond being the GD80 SKU, which for several generations now has been given MSI’s premiere options, this GD80 in particular is an innovative board. This is due to the Z77A-GD80 being the first Windows motherboard that was certified for Intel’s Thunderbolt technology.
As many of you may know, Thunderbolt has 10 Gbps of bandwidth, as well as integrates Mini DisplayPort for video. With all of this bandwidth, Thunderbolt is an exciting standard, which we will focus on in depth later in this review.
A simple device for a complex problem
Sometimes an odd product finds its way into our office and this week we have one of those very items. The xPrintServer Home from Lantronix is a networking device that easily configures existing printers on your home or office network to work with the AirPrint capability on your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It does this without the need for special applications on your phone, without having to buy new printers and without complex software based work arounds.
The unit itself is a small white plastic case that has an Ethernet connection, USB port and power connection. The Ethernet port needs to be connected to your router / switch and the USB port is for connecting one of more USB printers (via a USB hub). After attaching the power, the device goes through an incredibly simple, automatic configuration process.
After the orange light goes solid, you can simply go to an AirPlay enabled application like Safari, Photos, Notes, Mail and more and hit the print option; your network or USB printer should already be configured. The process is impressively easy!
Inside the device is a basic Atmel designed ARM926 core SoC running at 400 MHz - more than enough power for the print spooling that it does on the Lantronix device.
By far the most impressive part about the xPrintServer is the ease of setup; we were literally up and printing on an iPhone 5 within 2 minutes of opening the box. If you are the kind of person that would like the capability to print from your iPad or iPhone but without having to buy a new printer with AirPrint built in, definitely check out this product.
You can currently find the Lantronix xPrintServer Home for $95 at Newegg.com.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
It's been a short while since we've seen a consumer SSD release from Intel, and with pressure coming from Samsung in the form of lower cost/GB 20nm flash, it was high time Intel followed suit. The Intel 335 Series launches today, and is essentially the same SandForce-driven product as their SSD 520 Series released earlier this year. The key change is this time around that controller will be driving Intel 20nm flash. This should bring a much needed price reduction to the SSD arena, as the 335 is not being marketed as a 'Pro' unit (like the Samsung's 840 Pro). So long as this new model performs similarly to the 520 Series, we should be in for a good, low cost SSD just in time for the Christmass shopping season.
Windows RT: Runtime? Or Get Up and Run Time?
Update #1, 10/26/2012: Apparently it does not take long to see the first tremors of certification woes. A Windows developer by the name of Jeffrey Harmon allegedly wrestled with Microsoft certification support 6 times over 2 months because his app did not meet minimum standards. He was not given clear and specific reasons why -- apparently little more than copy/paste of the regulations he failed to achieve. Kind-of what to expect from a closed platform... right? Imagine if some nonsensical terms become mandated or other problems crop up?
Also, Microsoft has just said they will allow PEGI 18 games which would have received an ESRB M rating. Of course their regulations can and will change further over time... the point is the difference between a store refusing to carry versus banishing from the whole platform even for limited sharing. The necessity of uproars, especially so early on and so frequently, should be red flags for censorship to come. Could be for artistically-intentioned nudity or sexual themes. Could even be not about sex, language, and violence at all.
Last month, I suggested that the transition to Windows RT bares the same hurdles as transitioning to Linux. Many obstacles blocking our path, like Adobe and PC gaming, are considering Linux; the rest have good reason to follow.
This month we receive Windows RT and Microsoft’s attempt to shackle us to it: Windows 8.
To be clear: Microsoft has large incentives to banish the legacy of Windows. The way Windows 8 is structured reduces it to a benign tumorous growth atop Windows RT. The applications we love and the openness we adore are contained to an app.
I will explain how you should hate this -- after I explain why and support it with evidence.
Microsoft is currently in the rare state of sharp and aggressive focus to a vision. Do not misrepresent this as greed: it is not. Microsoft must face countless jokes about security and stability. Microsoft designed Windows with strong slants towards convenience over security.
That ideology faded early into the life of Windows XP. How Windows operates is fundamentally different. Windows machines are quite secure, architecturally. Con-artists are getting desperate. Recent attacks are almost exclusively based on fear and deception of the user. Common examples are fake anti-virus software or fraudulent call center phone calls. We all win when attackers get innovative: survival of the fittest implies death of the weakest.
Bulldozer to Vishera
Bulldozer is the word. Ok, perhaps it is not “the” word, but it is “a” word. When AMD let that little codename slip some years back, AMD enthusiasts and tech journalists started to salivate about the possibilities. Here was a unique and very new architecture that promised excellent single thread performance and outstanding multi-threaded performance all in a package that was easy to swallow and digest. Probiotics for the PC. Some could argue that the end product for Bulldozer and probiotics are the same, but I am not overly fond of writing articles containing four letter colorful metaphors.
The long and short of Bulldozer is that it was a product that was pushed out too fast, it had specifications that were too aggressive for the time, and it never delivered on the promise of the architecture. Logically there are some very good reasons behind the architecture, but implementing these ideas into a successful product is another story altogether. The chip was never able to reach the GHz range it was supposed to and stay within reasonable TDP limits. To get the chip out in a timely manner, timings had to be loosened internally so the chip could even run. Performance per clock was pretty dismal, and the top end FX-8150 was only marginally faster than the previous top end Phenom II X6 1100T. In some cases, the X6 was still faster and a more competent “all around” processor.
There really was not a whole lot for AMD to do about the situation. It had to have a new product, and it just did not turn out as nicely as they had hoped. The reasons for this are legion, but simply put AMD is competing with a company that is over ten times the size, with the resulting R&D budgets that such a size (and margins) can afford. Engineers looking for work are a dime a dozen, and Intel can hire as many as they need. So, instead of respinning Bulldozer ad nauseum and releasing new speed grades throughout the year by tweaking the process and metal layer design, AMD let the product line sit and stagnate at the top end for a year (though they did release higher TDP models based on the dual module FX-4000 and triple module FX-6000 series). Engineers were pushed into more forward looking projects. One of these is Vishera.
A curious new driver from AMD
In case you missed the news, AMD is going to be making a big push with their Radeon brand from now until the end of the year starting with an incredibly strong game bundle that includes as many as three full games and 20% off the new Medal of Honor. The second part of this campaign is a new driver specifically the 12.11 beta that will be posted to the public later this week.
AMD is claiming to have made some substantial improvements on quite a few games including the very popular Battlefield 3 and the upcoming Medal of Honor (both of which use the same base engine). But keep in mind that 15% is a LOT and this is the best case scenario in specific maps and you may not see benefits on others.
There are going to be some debates about the validity of these performance boosts from AMD until we can get some more specific details on WHAT has changed. Essentially the company line is that they have finally "caught up" to the GCN GPU architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 7970 in January of 2012. We traditionally see this happen with new GPU architectures from both vendors but for it to have taken this long is troublesome and will surely cause some raised eyebrows from gamers and the competition.
We decided to run through the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition with this new 12.11 beta driver to compare it to the 12.9 beta driver we had just completed testing on a few weeks ago. AMD claims performance advantages for all the GCN cards including the 7700/7800/7900 cards though we only had time to test a single card for our initial article. The results are on the following pages...
Some computer components get all the glory. Your normal lineup of FPS crushing GPU’s, Handbrake dominating CPU’s, and super-fast Memory end up with most of the headlines. Yet behind the scenes, there are some computer components we use that are pivotal in our use and enjoyment of computers and receive very little fanfare. Without networking we wouldn’t have file sharing, LAN parties or even the Internet itself. Without routers and network adapters, we wouldn’t have networking.
ASUS recently sent a whole slew of networking components our way and we’ve decided to take them for a spin and see if they’re worth your hard earned dollars. Our box of ASUS goodies included:
- ASUS RT-N66U Gigabit Router – Dual Band Wireless-N900
- ASUS PCE-N10 - Wireless N PCI-E Adapter Wireless-N
- ASUS PCE-N15 - Wireless N PCI-E Adapter Wireless-N
- ASUS USB-N53 - Dual Band Wireless N Adapter
- ASUS USB-N66 - Dual Band Wireless-N900 Adapter
Without further ado, let’s jump in and tackle each one.
ASUS RT-N66U Gigabit Router – Dual Band Wireless-N900
Routers are one of those components that most of us don’t really think about unless something goes horribly wrong. Most people will buy one they find on a big box store shelf (or even worse, just use their ISP’s router), pull it out of the box, plug a few cables into it and then forget about it in a closet for a few years.
A look outside and in
We handle a fair amount of system reviews here at PC Perspective and use them mainly as a way to feature unique and interesting designs and configurations. We know how the hardware will perform for the most part; doing extensive CPU and GPU testing on nearly a daily basis. Sometimes we'll get systems in that are extremely budget friendly, other times vendors pass us machines that have MSRPs similar to a Kia automobile. Then there are times, like today, we get a unique design that is a great mix of both.
AVADirect has had a Mini Gaming PC design for a while now but recently has gone through a refresh that adds in support for the latest Ivy Bridge processors, NVIDIA Kepler GPUs all using a new case from BitFenix that combines it in a smaller, mini-ITX form factor.
The quick specifications look like this:
- BitFenix Prodigy chassis
- Intel Core i7-3770K CPU, Overclocked at 4.4 GHz
- ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Z77 Motherboard
- EVGA GeForce GTX 680 2GB GPU
- OCZ 240GB Vertex 3 SSD
- Seagate 2TB SATA 6G HDD
- 8GB Crucual DDR3-1866 Memory
- Cooler Master 850 watt Silent Pro PSU
You'll also see a large, efficient Prolimatech cooler inside along with a Blu-ray burner and Windows 7 for a surprisingly reasonable $2100 price tag.
The BitFenix Prodigy chassis is a unique design that starts with sets of FiberFlex legs and handles surrounding the mini-ITX case. The minor flexibility of the legs absorbs sound and impact on the table while the handles work great for picking up the system for LAN events and the like. While at first I was worried about using them to support the weight of the rig, I had no problems and was assured by both BitFenix and by AVADirect it would withstand the torture.
Check out our video review before continuing on to the full article with benchmarks and pricing!
Wireless storage for PC, Mac, iOS and Android
Today we are taking a look at the new Patriot Gauntlet 320 external USB 3.0 and wireless hard drive, available starting at $149 at Newegg.com.
The premise is quite simple: take a portable hard drive with USB 3.0 support and add in the ability to share the unit wirelessly with up to 8 different machines and power it by a lithium-ion battery. Not only does the Gauntlet show up in your network as a mountable drive in Windows and Mac OS, the Gauntlet supports using free applications for iOS devices and Android devices to share and stream media.
There are some limitations that you might want to consider including the inability to access network-based devices when using the pass through Internet capability the Gauntlet provides. Also, data transfer performance on the wireless connectivity that the Gauntlet provides seemed pretty low, even with the 802.11n support.
Potential uses cases for the Gauntlet include any time you need a shared data source like working on group projects for school or the office, on-the-go storage for devices like Ultrabooks with smaller hard drives and users that have large media collections they want to use with smart phones and tablets.
Check out our full video review below!
Note that in the video, our early sample of the Gauntlet 320 has the "node" label on it; the Gauntlet Node is a separate device that is only a DIY enclosure WITHOUT an included hard drive. Originally there was a sticker cover the "node" label but incorrectly removed it before filming. Just a heads up!
And Why the Industry Misses the Point
I am going to take a somewhat unpopular stance: I really like stereoscopic 3D. I also expect to change your mind and get you excited about stereoscopic 3D too - unless of course a circumstance such as monovision interferes with your ability to see 3D at all. I expect to accomplish where the industry has failed simply because I will not ignore the benefits of 3D in my explanation.
Firstly - we see a crisp image when our brain is more clearly able to make out objects in a scene.
We typically have two major methods of increasing the crispness of an image: we either increase the resolution or we increase the contrast of the picture. As resolution increases we receive a finer grid of positional information to place and contain the objects in the scene. As contrast increases we receive a wider difference between the brightest points and the darkest points from a scene which prevents objects from blending together in a mess of grey.
We are also able to experience depth information by comparing the parallax effect across both of our eyes. We are able to encapsulate each object into a 3D volume and position each capsule a more defined distance apart. Encapsulated objects appear crisper because we can more clearly see them as sharply defined independent objects.
Be careful with this stereoscopic 3D image. To see the 3D effect you must slowly cross your eyes until the two images align in the center. This should only be attempted by adults with fully developed eyes and without prior medical conditions. Also, sit a comfortable distance away so you do not need to cross your eyes too far inward and rest your eyes until they no longer feel strained. In short - do not pull an eye muscle or something. Use common sense. Also move your mouse cursor far away from the image as it will break your focusing lock and click on the image to make it full sized.
Again, be careful when crossing your eyes to see stereoscopic 3D and relax them when you are done.
The above image is a scene from Unreal Tournament 3 laid out in a cross-eyed 3D format. If you are safely able to experience the 3D image then I would like you to pay careful attention to how crisp the 3D image appeared. Compare this level of crispness to either the left or right eye image by itself.
Which has the crisper picture quality?
That is basically why 3D is awesome: it makes your picture quality appear substantially better by giving your brain more information about the object. This effect can also play with how the brain perceives the world you present it: similar to how HDR tonal mapping plays with exposure ranges we cannot see and infrared photography plays with colors we cannot see to modify the photograph - which we can see - for surreal effects.
Introduction and Internals
The Western Digital RAID Edition line of hard drives has been around for some time now, and has largely impressed us with each subsequent release. Since the launches of the RE4-GP and later, the faster spinning RE4, WD's enterprise line had been capped at the 2TB mark. Now that has changed with the introduction of a new line: simply named the RE Series:
Yup, that's right. 4 TeraBytes! With the Green and Red series capped at 3TB, this new RE is the largest capacity drive available from Western Digital. The catch is that, since it's tailored and built for enterprise use, it comes at a rather hefty price premium.
Introduction and Features
Seasonic has a well earned reputation for producing some of the best PC power supplies on the planet. Over the years, Seasonic has been the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) of choice for companies like Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, and XFX to name just a few. But Seasonic also markets power supplies under their own brand name. The new X-Series 1050W and 1250W are Seasonic's newest and most powerfull PSUs to date. Both power supplies are based on Seasonic's X-Series line, which has brought several major advancements to the standard PC power supply platform since its introduction three years ago.
• Proprietary circuit design delivers High efficiency (80Plus Gold or Platinum certified)
• Full modular DC Connector Module features integrated VRMs (3.3V and 5V)
• Hybrid Silent Fan Control (3 modes of operation: Fanless, Silent and Cooling)
• High-quality Sanyo Denki SanAce120 dual ball bearing fan with PWM
• High-reliability 105°C grade A capacitors and solid polymer capacitors
Here is what Seasonic has to say about their new X-Series Gold 1050W and 1250W power supplies:
"The X-1050 and X-1250 are the newest additions to one of our most successful retail lines currently available. Now the X-Series will extend from 400 and 460 watt fanless and then 560, 660, 760, 850 watt and now 1050 and 1250 watts for top end systems; a total of eight X-Series models in all.
80Plus Gold The X-1050W and X-1250W PSUs are certified in accordance to the 80PLUS organization's high standards, offering the newest technology and innovation for performance and energy savings with up to 90% efficiency and a true power factor of greater than 0.9 PF.
Full Modular Design (DC to DC) Common to all X-Series power supplies, the new X-150 and X-1250 feature the unique integrated DC connector panel with onboard VRM (Voltage Regulator Module) that enables not only near perfect DC-to-DC conversion with reduction of current loss/impedance and increase of efficiency but also a fully modular DC cabling that enables maximum flexibility of integration and forward compatibility.
Seasonic Hybrid Silent Fan Control An industry first, advanced 3 phased (Fanless, Silent and Cooling Mode) thermal control balances between silence and cooling. In addition, a selector switch is provided to allow you to select between Seasonic S2FC control, without fanless mode or S3FC fan control with fanless mode.
Sanyo-Denki San Ace Silent Fan The world-renowned Sanyo Denki ball bearing fans are made of the highest quality components to insure maximum quality and performance. The use of spoon shaped high-density plastic fan blades with smoothed leading edges, strict tolerance ball bearings and precision copper axel are just some features to ensure ultra-low noise performance and quality."
Another GK106 Completes the Stack
It has been an interesting year for graphics cards and 2012 still has another solid quarter of releases ahead of it. With the launch of AMD's 7000-series back in January, followed by the start of NVIDIA's Kepler lineup in March, we have had new graphics cards on a very regular basis ever since. And while AMD's Radeon HD 7000 cards seemed to be bunched together a bit better, NVIDIA has staggered the release of the various Kepler cards, either because of capacity at the manufacturing facilities or due to product marketing plans - take your pick.
Today we see the completion of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 stack (if you believe the PR at NVIDIA) with the release of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, a $150 graphics card that fills in the gap between the somewhat anemic GTX 650 and GT 640 cards and the most recently unveiled card, the GTX 660 2GB that currently sells for $229.
The GTX 650 Ti has more in common with the GTX 660 than it does the GTX 650, both being based on the GK106 GPU, but is missing some of the unique features that NVIDIA has touted of the 600-series cards like GPU Boost. Let's dive into the product and see if this new card will be the best option for those of you with $150 graphics budgets.
Thoughts about Interface Design in General
I have been in several situations where a variety of people claim the gamepad is superior for gaming because that is what it was designed for. No elaboration or further justification is given. The controller is designed for gaming and is therefore clearly better. End of – despite often being start to – discussion in their minds.
Really it is a compromise between the needs of popular games and the environment of a couch.
Interface design is complicated. When you design an interface you need to consider: the expected types of applications; the environment of the user; what you are permitted to use; what tolerances are allowed; what your audience is used to; and so on, so forth. There is a lot to consider when you design an application for a user and I could make an educated guess that it is at least as hard to design the input device itself.
The history of keyboard design is a great example of tradeoffs in input devices.
Sometimes it is better to be worse...
The first wave of keyboards were interfaces to the mechanical typewriter. These keyboards were laid out in alphabetical order because as long as each key is accessible and the user could find the letter they wanted – who cares, right? We already have an order for the alphabet that people understands so the users should not have too much difficulty in finding the letter they need.
Another constraint quickly game to light: typists were too fast and the machines jammed.
The engineers now needed to design an input method which could keep up with the typist. Correcting the machine itself was somewhat futile so the solution was to make the typist as slow as possible. The most common letters in the English language were spread all over the place and – while possibly by fluke – the left hand is favored, as in made do more work, over the often dominant right hand.
The problem required making the most aggravating keyboard layout engineers could imagine. QWERTY was born.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
It's been a couple months since we've had a chance to evaluate a Z77-based motherboard, so we are taking this opportunity to throw ASUS's P8Z77-V Deluxe on our test bench to put it through our comprehensive real-world and synthetic benchmarks. This $279 board has been available for several months and supports the LGA 1155 platform that includes Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors.
Courtesy of ASUS
There are many features to drool over about the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe, but my favorite ones include the board's unique power management features, Wi-Fi functionality with remote access, and customized UEFI BIOS. This board also includes other enhancements that focus on support for faster USB 3.0 and PCIe 3.0 integration as well as extra SATA 6GB/s ports that provide double the bandwidth of current bus systems.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Last week, Samsung flew myself and a few of my fellow peers in the storage review community out to Seoul, Korea. The event was the 2012 Samsung SSD Global Summit:
At this event, Samsung officially announced their new 840 Pro, which we were able to obtain early under NDA and therefore publish in concert with the announcement. The 840 Pro was largely an incremental inprovement over their 830 Series. Newer, faster flash coupled with a higher clocked controller did well to improve on an already excellent product.
As the event closed, we were presented with the second model of the lineup - the 840. This model, sans the 'Pro' moniker, is meant more for general consumer usage. The first mass marketed SSD to use Triple Level Cell (TLC) flash, it sacrifices some write speed and long-term reliability in favor of what should become considerably lower cost/GB as production ramps up to full capacity. TLC flash is the next step beyond MLC, which is in turn a step after SLC. Here's a graphic to demonstrate:
Trinity Finally Comes to the Desktop
Trinity. Where to start? I find myself asking that question, as the road to this release is somewhat tortuous. Trinity, as a product code name, came around in early 2011. The first working silicon was shown that Summer. The first actual release of product was the mobile part in late Spring of this year. Throughout the summer notebook designs based on Trinity started to trickle out. Today we cover the release of the desktop versions of this product.
AMD has certainly had its ups and downs when it comes to APU releases. Their first real APU was Zacate, based on the new Bobcat CPU architecture. This product was an unmitigated success for AMD. Llano, on the other hand, had a pretty rocky start. Production and various supply issues caused it to be far less of a success than hoped. These issues were oddly enough not cleared up until late Spring of this year. By then mobile Trinity was out and people were looking towards the desktop version of the chip. AMD saw the situation, and the massive supply of Llano chips that it had, and decided to delay introduction of desktop Trinity until a later date.
To say that expectations for Trinity are high is an understatement. AMD has been on the ropes for quite a few years in terms of CPU performance. While the Phenom II series were at least competitive with the Core 2 Duo and Quad chips, they did not match up well against the latest i7/i5/i3 series of parts. Bulldozer was supposed to erase the processor advantage Intel had, but it came out of the oven as a seemingly half baked part. Piledriver was designed to succeed Bulldozer, and is supposed to shore up the architecture to make it more competitive. Piledriver is the basis of Trinity. Piledriver does sport significant improvements in clockspeed, power consumption, and IPC (instructions per clock). People are hopeful that Trinity would be able to match the performance of current Ivy Bridge processors from Intel, or at least get close.
So does it match Intel? In ways, I suppose. How much better is it than Bulldozer? That particular answer is actually a bit surprising. Is it really that much of a step above Llano? Yet another somewhat surprising answer for that particular question. Make no mistake, Trinity for desktop is a major launch for AMD, and their continued existence as a CPU manufacturer depends heavily on this part.
PhysX Settings Comparison
Borderlands 2 is a hell of a game; we actually ran a 4+ hour live event on launch day to celebrate its release and played it after our podcast that week as well. When big PC releases occur we usually like to take a look at performance of the game on a few graphics cards as well to see how NVIDIA and AMD cards stack up. Interestingly, for this title, PhysX technology was brought up again and NVIDIA was widely pushing it as a great example of implementation of the GPU-accelerated physics engine.
What you may find unique in Borderlands 2 is that the game actually allows you to enabled PhysX features at Low, Medium and High settings, with either NVIDIA or AMD Radeon graphics cards installed in your system. In past titles, like Batman: Arkham City and Mafia II, PhysX was only able to be enabled (or at least at higher settings) if you had an NVIDIA card. Many gamers that used AMD cards saw this as a slight and we tended to agree. But since we could enable it with a Radeon card installed, we were curious to see what the results would be.
Of course, don't expect the PhysX effects to be able to utilize the Radeon GPU for acceleration...
Borderlands 2 PhysX Settings Comparison
The first thing we wanted to learn was just how much difference you would see by moving from Low (the lowest setting, there is no "off") to Medium and then to High. The effects were identical on both AMD and NVIDIA cards and we made a short video here to demonstrate the changes in settings.