Windows 10 Update Details

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

We have been expecting a relatively major update to Windows 10 in the October-ish (which at some point the rumors slipped to November-ish) time frame since the OS launched in July. We already know much of what will be in it, based on the preview builds being sent to Windows Insider participants, so the contents are not really a surprise either. It will update a few user interface elements, tweak how System manages memory, and allow clean installs using Windows 7 and 8.1 product keys that qualify for Windows 10 upgrades.


Really, the major news is how the update will be delivered. I was honestly expecting to do the in-place upgrades that each new Insider build forced upon users. This made sense to me. If you have installed Windows 7 recently, you will know that it is a several-hour updating process that involves several reboots and gigabytes of patches. The build metaphor makes sense in a “Windows as a Service” universe, where all PCs are pushed from milestone to milestone with a few incremental patches in between.

Apparently, it will just be pushed down Windows Update in an item named “Windows 10 November 2015”. That's it. Pretty much the same experience as downloading service packs over Windows Update in previous versions. Oddly familiar, especially given the effort they put into the in-place upgrade interface over the last year and a bit.

Maybe we'll see that in future feature-updates?


Batman: Arkham Knight Being Re-Released on PC October 28

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2015 - 10:54 PM |
Tagged: warner bros, steam, release, re-release, pc gaming, batman arkham knight

Four months after being pulled from sale due to performance woes, Batman: Arkham Knight is being re-released for PC (along with a new patch containing all of the fixes) on October 28.


Image credit: Warner Bros.

From the official statement:

At 10 am PDT, Oct. 28th, Batman: Arkham Knight will be re-released for the PC platform. At the same time we’ll also be releasing a patch that brings the PC version fully up-to-date with content that has been released for console (with the exception of console exclusives).

This means that next week, all PC players will have access to Photo Mode, Big Head Mode, Batman: Arkham Asylum Batman Skin, and character selection in combat AR challenges.”

After such a terrible introduction and long absence after its unprecedented removal from sale on Steam, is there any chance Warner Bros. will still attempt to charge full price for the re-released game? Such a move might be considered controversial, but we will have to wait and see as pricing was not announced.

Shame if something happened to all your content; better try YouTube Red

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2015 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: google, youtube, youtube red

Google is taking advantage of its near monopoly of online streaming once again.  Earlier this year they dropped ad revenue for content creators down to 55%, significantly lower than competitors such as Spotify.  Now they are essentially repeating what they did just over a year ago with independent artists, either you sign up for YouTube Red or your content will no longer be visible to anyone.  This will only effect those content contributors who make a fair amount of ad revenue, the average uploader will not need to pay the $10/month to enusre their videos are not blocked.  One question that doesn't seem to be answered at either The Register nor Techcrunch is the effect YouTube Red will have on ad revenue, if you sign up for the service as a viewer you will no longer see ads, so how exactly will content creators make anything from ads that no longer show up or generate revenue?


"YouTube Red is Google's ad-free subscription service, and rolls up both music and video for $9.99 a month. Google Play subscribers will be opted in, and find that Red videos will be available offline too. Amateur uploaders aren't affected: what Google wants to do is nail down producers who have drawn an audience, and who already draw a tangible quantity of shared advertising revenue."

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Source: The Register

AMD releases a new POS processor; with DDR4 support

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2015 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: Merlin Falcon, Excavator, carrizo, amd

On your latest flight you may have noticed some branding on the displays powering the schedules and in-flight entertainment, or perhaps if you were flying to Vegas you didn't notice it until you were playing the slots.  If you were paying attention you would have noticed that the display was powered by AMD, as are many POS, medical and even military displays.  A new series of Excavator based processors was announced today, the Merlin Falcon which has four Excavator cores, a Radeon third-gen GCN GPU and support for both DDR3 and DDR4 RAM. 

Yes that is right, the first DDR4 chip from AMD is arriving but you won't be running it in your desktop.   You should probably be jealous as this processor will have HSA 1.0, hardware based HEVC/H.265 video decode,  DirectX 12 support and even the ARM co-processor that provides AMD's new Secure Processor feature.  There is more at The Register if you follow the link.


"AMD will today unveil Merlin Falcon, its latest R-series processor aimed at industrial systems, medical devices, gambling machines, digital signs, military hardware, and so on."

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"The 8-Bit Guy" Discusses Game Audio

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2015 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, audio

Over the last couple of months, we highlighted the work of The iBook Guy because it's very interesting. He also announced a rebrand to “The 8-Bit Guy” because he hasn't published an iBook video “in quite some time”. If you have been a long time follower of PC Perspective, you'll know that we have a history of changing our name to slightly less restrictive titles. Ryan initially named this site after the K7M motherboard, then Athlon motherboards in general, then AMD motherboards, then PC Perspective. I guess we shouldn't cover mobile or console teardowns...

Anywho... back to The 8-Bit Guy. This time, his video discusses how old PCs played (or, more frequently, synthesized) audio. He discusses the early, CPU-driven audio, which were quickly replaced by dedicated sound cards in the 1980s. They could drive audio waves that were either square, triangle, noise, or PCM (microphone-sampled). These four types were combined to make all of the music and sound effects of the time.

This brings us to today. He notes that, with today's modern computers having so much storage and RAM, we end up just mixing everything as an audio file and play that. This is where we can expand a little. Until around the Vista era, sound cards have been increasing in voice count. One of the last examples was the Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi. This card implemented their EAX 5.0 standard, which allowed up to 128 voices in games like Battlefield 2, and that was about it. When Microsoft released Vista, they replaced the entire audio stack with a software-based one. They stated that sound card drivers were a giant cause of bluescreen errors, and thus almost everything was moved out of the kernel.


At around this time, voice limits were removed. They don't make sense anymore because mixing is no longer being done in hardware. Nowadays, even websites through Web Audio API can play thousands of sounds simultaneously, although that probably will sound terrible in practice.

Audio processing doesn't end here, though. Now that we can play as many sounds as we like, and can do so with complete software control over the PCM waves, the problem is shifted into an algorithmic one.

This is an area that I, personally, am interested in.


See the source and demo at my GitHub

Earlier this year, I created a demo in WebCL that rendered 20,000 - 30,000 sounds on an Intel HD 4600 GPU, with stereo positioning and linear distance falloff, while the system's main NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 was busy drawing the WebGL scene. The future goal was to ray-trace (high frequency) and voxelize (low frequency) sound calls based on the environment, to simulate environmentally-accurate reverbs and echoes. Over the summer, I worked with a graduate student from Queen's University to offload audio in the Unity engine (I preferred Unreal). We have not yet introduced geometry.

At this year's Oculus Connect, Michael Abrash also mentioned that audio is interesting for VR, but that it needs to wait for more computational horsepower. A lot more. He also discussed HRTF, which is the current way of adding surround to stereo by measuring how an individual's ears modify sound depending on location. It gets worse if sounds are closer than a meter away, or the actual user's ears differ too much from the experiment subject.

Anyway, enough about me. The 8-Bit Guy's videos are interesting. Check them out.

Podcast #372 - Steam Controller and Steam Link, Acer XR321CK Ultrawide Freesync Display, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2015 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: yoga 900, xr321ck, western digital, video, valve, ultrawide, steam link, Steam Controller, sandisk, podcast, Lenovo, freesync, acer, 3440x1440

PC Perspective Podcast #372 - 10/22/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Steam Controller and Steam Link, Acer XR321CK Ultrawide Freesync Display, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

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

Tencent Buys Stake in Artillery Games

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 09:48 PM |
Tagged: webgl, tencent, atlas, artillery games

The Chinese investment and Web company, Tencent, has taken interest in many American video game companies. In a couple installments, Tencent purchased chunks of Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, which now total up to over 90% of the game studio. They later grabbed a “minority” (~48%) stake in Epic Games, which creates Unreal Engine, Unreal Tournament, Fortnite, Infinity Blade, the original three Gears of War games, and a few other franchises.


This time, they purchased an undisclosed share of Artillery Games. Artillery has not released a title yet, but they are working on a WebGL-powered engine. In other words, titles created with this technology will run directly in web browsers without plug-ins or extensions. At some point, Artillery Games decided to make a native client alongside their web engine, which was announced in September. This was apparently due to latency introduced in the Pointer Lock API and networking issues until WebRTC matures. (WebRTC brings P2P network sockets to web browsers. While people mentally equate it to video conferencing, it is also used for client-to-client multiplayer. There is even a BitTorrent client that runs in a web browser using it.)

Unfortunately, the real story would be how much of Artillery they have purchased, and we don't know that yet (if ever). They are buying up quite a lot of formerly-independent studios though, considering how many are left.

Sword Coast Legends; more Dungeon Siege than Dungeons & Dragons?

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: gaming, sword coast legends

Sword Coast Legends was just released and you should probably take a look at this quick preview of the game at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN if you are hoping this will fill your time until Baldurs Gate: Siege of Dragonspear is released.  They have not yet had time to complete a full review including the multiplayer and Dungeon Master modes but the overall initial impression that this game feels more like Dungeon Seige than previous D&D games.  You can still pause the game to order your party in combat but it seems less necessary as you are using a small pool of abilities to hack and slash your way to victory.  The review is not primarily negative and it sounds like there is fun to be had but if you were hoping for something more intricate and involved then you may be disappointed.   Then again, it may prove that the multiplayer mode with a DM overseeing a custom adventure may make this title worth picking up.


"We’ll have some thoughts on the multiplayer portion of just-released, latter-day Dungeons & Dragons RPG Sword Coast Legends [official site] – including the all-important DM mode – very soon, but while RPS gathers its party to sally forth, I thought I’d share some initial impressions on singleplayer."

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Patriot's new gaming headset, the Viper V360

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: patriot, Viper V360, gaming headset, 7.1 headset, audio

Patriot has expanded into the gaming headset market with the Viper 360, which has two 40mm Neodymium drivers and two 30mm sub-drivers which use software to emulate 7.1 surround sound.  The earcups have the volume control, a button to toggle the Ultra Bass Response feature and a switch to turn the large LED lights on and off, should you desire a glow in the dark head for some reason.  The frequency response matches the competition at 20Hz- 20KHz, the two sub-drivers are enabled in UBR mode and do add some vibration along with more bass volume.  At $60 it is reasonably priced and the the two year warranty should ensure you get your money's worth.  Check out the full review at Modders Inc.


"Patriot is known for its memory and mobile products, and has just recently started selling peripherals. It might seem like an unusual jump, but their new headset proves that Patriot is prepared to expand and succeed in this new market. Patriot's initial headset offering is the Viper V360, a virtual 7.1 capable gaming peripheral that plugs in via USB."

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Audio Corner

Source: Modders Inc

The Killer NIC through the years

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2015 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: killer nic, bigfoot

When the Killer NIC was first released in 2006 the PC Perspective crew were not overly impressed, it seemed a solution in search of a problem and initially it was far more expensive than it was effective.  Over the years the way the solution was implemented changed from running on an embedded Freescale PowerPC SoC to using part of the CPU to handle the processing which both reduced the price as well as offering better overall performance.  More recently the acquisition by Qualcomm has helped Bigfoot develop a far more effective product, the one seen on many Z170 boards and which has received far more positive reviews.  The Tech Report recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Killer's CEO Mike Cubbage and the Chief Marketing Officer Bob Grim about how their product has changed over the years.  You can read about what they learned as well as learn more about how the current generation of Killer NIC performs its various tasks in their article here.


"Killer-powered Gigabit Ethernet ports can be found on many gaming-focused motherboards and laptops these days. We talked to Killer Networking about the details of its latest hardware and software, and then we put those features to the test with a Killer-equipped motherboard."

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