The NVIDIA Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Tweak Guide Is Now Live

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2011 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: tweaks, skyrim, nvidia, gaming, elder scrolls V

NVIDIA has put together a comprehensive tweak guide for getting the most from Skyrim. The tweaks themselves also apply to AMD GPUs so just because you aren't running an NVIDIA GPU right now doesn't mean you should skip checking out the information they've posted. Much of the information deals with the settings you find under the options menu, from choosing how you want autosaves to work to how far you should set your draw distance to.

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They focus on the effects of the graphical settings for the majority of the article as it will be there that most of the tweaking will be done. Results of combining FXAA and MSAA are covered, both in terms of visual quality and performance impact at several different resolutions. As well, textures and shadow quality are examined in depth, including object detail. There are settings which seem to give you improved visual quality with little to no impact on your frame rate, options such as reflections, anisotropic filtering and actor fade can be turned up without crippling your system.

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From there they get into the real tweaks, requiring you to edit .ini files (make a copy first) and become acquainted with the console. The steps to disable V-Sync to uncap your frame rates and ditch the annoying mouse stuttering, increase your field of view and fine tune the shadows of Skyrim are revealed. They also cover the console commands in the game, not just how to turn god mode on and off but also how to teleport, turn off grass and other effects for troubleshooting, setting up batch files that can be run during the game and even the 'triple q' quick quit to desktop.

Source: NVIDIA

Batman can clean up everything in Arkham City except for the new villain that goes by the name of DX11

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2011 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: dx11, batman arkham city, gaming

We have seen previously that at the time of release, Batman Arkham City was not really a DX11 game.  Sure you could enable DX11 but it would make the game unplayable.  [H]ard|OCP were one of the first to complain about the performance and recently they revisited the game now that we have some new drivers ... and were disappointed again.  Right now the best experience you can have is with a GTX580 and with DX11 effects disabled.  [H] feels this is truly sad as tessellation would bring a lot to the atmosphere of the game but until DX11 is fixed you simply won't be able to see the game as it should be.  Their recommendation is to hold off on purchasing this game until they have fixed it.

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"The Caped Crusader has returned to crack more skulls on the streets of Arkham City. Rocksteady has enhanced the venerable UE3 engine with DirectX 11 and PhysX support, but can this aging graphics engine really handle such large, richly detailed outdoor areas? You might be surprised."

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Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Mobile madness minus benchmarks; new mobile GPUs from AMD & NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2011 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: amd, mobile gpu, 7400M, 7500M, 7600M, nvidia, GT635M, GT630M, 610M, turks, Caicos, GF106, GF108, GF119

Before you start to get too excited when you read about the AMD Radeon 7000M announcement today; realize this is a rebranding of Turks and Caicos, not the arrival of Southern Islands.   While AMD might disappoint, at least the performance of the chips has been increased; NVIDIA went for a straight rebadge.  Even if you squint, the stats for the GT630M are the same as the GT540M and same with the 610M and 520MX.  There looks to be a slight difference in memory bandwidth between the 635M and 555M but AnandTech is doubtful that it is truly the case.

While we still don't know the exact frequencies that the so called 7000M chips will have in the end, they will be higher than the parts that they replace and will come in two flavours.  The less expensive part will be DDR3, with a DDR5 alternative for those who want a bit more performance.  Read on for all the gritty details or just look at the tables below.

AMD

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NVIDIA

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"We just covered the AMD side of things, but yesterday NVIDIA quietly refreshed their entry-level and midrange mobile GPUs in a similar manner. We weren’t briefed on the updates, most likely because there’s not much to say. Like AMD there are three "new" 600M parts. Here’s the overview of what NVIDIA is offering, with the previous generation equivalents listed for reference."

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Source: AnandTech

Just Delivered: Eaton 3S 750VA / 450 watt Battery Backup UPS

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2011 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: battery, ups, eaton, 3s, just delivered

Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Sometimes computer technology isn't sexy - but you need it anyway.  Just look at items like optical drives (debatable), floppy discs and ZIP drives?  Amiright?  An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is just one of those items.  You might not want to think about it, but you should have one, even for gamers and general PC users.

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Ever been working on a school document or maybe even a really detailed rage post on your favorite forum and had the power flicker and your PC reset, losing hours and hours of work you put into telling that moron why your GPU was better?  If so, or if you can imagine the frustration, then you know why having even just a few minutes of battery time on a desktop computer can be critical. 

We recently picked up the Eaton 3S battery backup which you can find online for as little as $70 - quite a steal for the peace of mind you'll get for having it.  Yes, if you are gaming on a PC using more than 450 watts when the power outage occurs, you are probably screwed.  If you are doing basically anything else, almost any desktop configuration should be good to go.

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The Eaton 3S 750VA model includes 5 outlets for battery backup and 5 more that are surge protection only.  The power button light changes colors depending on the units status and is a very basic indicator of your current power situation.

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The 3S has network surge protection as well as a USB port to connect tor your PC should you wish to use the Eaton Intelligent Power Protector software that enables features like graceful shutdown (if you are away from your PC when the power outage occurs).   You don't have to use that software though, and the unit will operate on a completely plug-and-play fashion using Windows, Mac or Linux integrated power management software.

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The unit can be wall mounted which is nice if you have limited floor space.

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The battery in the unit is user replaceable which is a nice change of pace and could lower your maintenance costs down the road for this UPS.  Eaton actually offers a 3-year warranty on both the unit AND THE BATTERY; something that other companies like APC do not (as I have first had experience with). 

The amount of runtime you will get with a UPS like this will obviously vary based on your hardware setup and while Eaton estimates "between 10 and 30 minutes" I would wager it would be slightly less than that for our readers.  Still, a few minutes is better than NO minutes so consider this Just Delivered to double as a PC Perspective PSA.  

Go ahead, be a D-Pad on Battlefield 3

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2011 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: input, battlefield 3, gamepad, razer

As strongly as many feel about the keyboard and mouse interface others have been raised on the gamepad and have a strong preference to use them.  Razer is looking to attract that crowd with their Battlefield 3 branded D-Pad.  Red & Blackness Mods gave the USB gamepad a whirl on both the PC and XBox 360 and were quite happy with the performance offered on both.  So for those of you who do prefer PC gaming with a console style game pad, Razer has you covered.

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"Battlefield 3 is one of those killer titles which draws a lot of interest and aiming to offer those consumers something a little more interesting than the average peripheral is Razers BF3 Collectors Edition products. We have the BlackWidows Ultimate keyboard, Onza Tournament Edition controller, Imperator 2012 mouse and Scarab pad on our test bench today."

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Hate the platform; not the processor. XBox Next chip revealed

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2011 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: xbox next, oban, amd

The XBox Next will be another win for AMD as SemiAccurate has confirmation that the GPU portion of the console will be an AMD chip.  The supplier for the CPU portion is a little less clear.  SemiAccurate has it as an IBM PowerPC chip similar to the current generation which uses a Xenon processor.  The newer XBox360 S used a XCGPU which was a 45nm version of the Xenon processor and an AMD Xenos GPU on the same die along with eDRAM, all wrapped up into one small package.  It does make sense that Microsoft would go that route as it should make supporting the previous generation of games much easier than implementing a new architecture.  It is very unlikely to be Cell based, even though that architecture shares the same PowerPC roots.

[H]ard|OCP has a dissenting opinion, or at least rumour, pegging the new XBox as a complete win for AMD.   They suppose it is possible that Bulldozer might find its way into the new console along with the already known GPU core; a fully AMD designed APU.  This also makes quite a bit of sense as AMD will have no trouble pairing the GPU and CPU as they've had quite a bit of practice.  Plus, it gives them something to do with the Bulldozer chips.

Either way the new chip will be named after a lovely Islay Scotch.

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"Yeah, basically, the chip is ‘done’, and first silicon likely went in to the oven in the last two weeks. If this is true, Microsoft should have silicon back in time to give the families of XBox systems engineers a miserable holiday season, their loved ones will be doing breakneck bring-up work on Xbox Next."

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Source: SemiAccurate
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Introduction: Griefing the grieving

PC Gaming has been on its death bed for years -- if you believe the countless debates that have occurred most commonly over the last decade. The drum beat roared from the masses: “Why game on the PC anymore when you could just buy a console?” The focus of conversation was set upon the attack and defense of the PC as a viable platform at all, let alone the platform of choice. The question that swarms naggingly through my brain is quite the opposite: “In the long run, why game on a console?” The concept that consoles are better than PCs, given a fraction of the support that consoles receive, is about to die; console supporters are in various levels of grief.

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U mad Mario Bros.?

I am an avid, though this editorial may suggest livid, video game supporter. My first exposure to video gaming was mixed between the Nintendo Entertainment System and the family 80286. I have equally fond memories with the keyboard as with the gamepad. The balance between console and PC was level throughout my life until just a few years ago when I carefully thought the situation over. The PC is now my platform of choice.

Continue reading our editorial: The Five Stages of Griefing: Death of the Consoles!!

16GB of DDR3-1600? Corsair has a couple of kits for that

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2011 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: corsair, vengeance, vengeance lp, ddr3-1600, quad channel

With the arrival of quad-channel memory on the X79 chipset, 16GB kits are arriving on the shelves of suppliers.  This amount of memory was once only found on servers but why shouldn't you benefit from a huge pool of RAM on your enthusiast machine.  Corsair has two Vengeance kits on the market, the $90 Vengeance kit @ 9-9-9-24 and the Vengeance LP kit with low profile heatspreaders and timings @ 8-8-8-24 which will cost you about $150.  Interestingly the timings did not seem to effect the benchmarks in a meaningful way, the extra bandwidth available hides the difference though kits with much looser timing may well have an effect.  Speed does still matter as there were improvements on most of the benchmarks once the kits were overclocked.  Read on to see the numbers.

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"Corsair's quad-channel Vengeance memory modules are designed to work with Intel's new Sandy Bridge-E platform. We put two Vengeance kits to the test to see if running DDR3 memory in quad-channel really make all that much of a difference in practical applications like gaming."

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Memory

 

Source: Neoseeker

Remember the Phoenix BIOS screen?

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2011 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: bios, phoenix, win8, qualcomm, texas instruments, windows on arm, WOA

American Megatrends Inc., aka AMI, pretty much rules the world of the PC BIOS after virtually booting Phoenix and Award from the market.  A recent post on DigiTimes shows that Phoenix is planning on making a splash with the arrival of Windows 8.  It is not just the PC market that Phoenix intends to rise again in; they are working with ARM to develop a BIOS for Windows on ARM as well as talking with Qualcomm and Texas Instruments about designing BIOS for their devices.  Could it be that they will indeed fire up a new age of competition in the BIOS market?

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"BIOS player Phoenix Technologies has recently announced its latest Phoenix SCT 2.2 solution to assist its PC partners to develop systems based on Windows 8, according to the company.

Currently, American Megatrends (AMI) is dominating in the desktop BIOS market, with Insyde Software and Phoenix accounting for 55% and 45% of the notebook BIOS market, respectively.

President of Phoenix Greater China, Kelly Wu pointed out that the company's new solution has more than 60 new functions to support Windows 8 and is optimized for system performance, security, connectivity, mobility and user experience."

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Source: DigiTimes

Apple May Build New Data Center In Oregon

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2011 - 10:28 PM |
Tagged: server farm, Internet, data center, cloud, apple

CNet is reporting that Apple is currently considering constructing a new data center outside of Prineville, Oregon. The 31 Megawatt facility would be built on 160 acres outside of the small Oregon town and would join other prominent tech companies’ data centers including those of Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

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According to Oregon Live, it is the area’s mild climate (meaning lower cooling costs compared to naturally warmer climates in addition to all the heat from servers), low electricity costs, and certain “rural enterprise zones” that exempt computers and equipment from normal business property taxes. They state that such exemptions could save Apple several million dollars.

Although Apple has so far declined to comment, city officials have commented that the company looking to purchase the land for the data center codenamed “Maverick” appears to be serious about going through with the purchase. Two major issues stand in the way of Apple building a large data center in the area, however. The company is concerned about tax issues against their intangible assets. Due to Apple putting a great deal of stock (er, the other kind :P) in their brand name, trademarks, and patents, they could face further taxes in the way Oregon’s State Department of Revenue taxes data centers. The largest issue; however, lies in power concerns. In order to supply enough electricity to the various data centers in the area (including Apples should they indeed be building one), Bonneville Power Administration would need to upgrade the Ponderosa Substation, construct an additional substation, and add further transmission lines. This is because the utility company’s transmission capacity to the area is currently nearly maxed out. A 31 Megawatt data center would consume enough electricity to power approximately 22,000 homes and that kind of capacity is not available in an area where towns are a fifth of that size.

The upgrade to the areas electrical subsystems would cost nearly $26.5 million and would take almost three years. Member Services Director for the Central Electric Cooperative, Jeff Beaman, believes that after the appropriate upgrades, a new data center “seems doable.”

Whether this elusive “Maverick” is indeed Apple, and whether the company decides to build a data center remains to be seen; however, it is certainly plausible. Now that Apple is moving more services to the Internet, and the increased adoption of IOS devices thanks to the iPhone being available on all the major US carriers, the company would definitely benefit from having another facility on the other side of the country as their current North Carolina based data center for performance as well as redundancy and stability reasons. What are your thoughts on the reports, is Apple looking to put more cloud (server horsepower) in your icloud?

Source: Oregon Live