Graphics performance out of this galaxy; benchmarking Mass Effect Andromeda

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2017 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: mass effect, andromeda, gaming

The new instalment to the Mass Effect series has arrived, with a lot of press both positive and negative.  What many want to know is not which bug is most amusing, but if their GPU has what it takes to run the game at 4k or if they are better at 1440p or 1080p.  [H]ard|OCP's testing shows RX 480 and GTX 1060 owners can manage 1440p with some graphical sacrifices which owners of GTX 1070s or 1080s will be able to enjoy.  For those looking for a playable experience at 4k the GTX 1080 Ti is the only card that can manage it and even that card struggles somewhat.  Pop by for all the details, including memory usage.

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"Let’s find out how various video cards perform in Mass Effect: Andromeda and what it takes to play this game smoothly at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. In this preview we’ll examine several video cards, compare apples to apples performance and find the highest playable game settings for each video card."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Move Over Nintendo Power GLove!

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: CaptoGlove, AR, VR, gaming, controller, bluetooth 4.0, BTLE 4.0, glove

There’s a new sheriff in town!  The jauntily named “CaptoGlove” promises to be a true game and VR controller in a handy glove.  Originally developed some five years ago by an Italian air force pilot for his recovering father, he has continued development of the unit so it is actually a useful game controller with a precise 3D space positioning system.  Codeveloped with the Reusch group in Italy, the CaptoGlove looks to be a pretty polished piece of gaming equipment useful in a wide variety of applications.

The glove features 10 degrees of freedom and a variety of potential actuations.  The glove caries about 10 hours of charge and can be quickly recharged.  It features Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 connectivity.  It is essentially plug and play and the user can assign functions to the different fingers.

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It is a somewhat stylish looking product, which is not surprising given that Reusch has been making sporting gloves for some 80 years.  The material looks robust and should last a long, long time.  There are no details about replacing the battery, in fact many of the specifications about the glove are still unknown.  It does look to be a pretty dextrous implementation that supersedes products coming before it.

This glove is on Kickstarter and they have almost achieved their goal in the past 6 days.  A single glove will be $160 through the Kickstarter and a pair will run $299.  The highest level includes two extra sensors that allow even more precision with gaming and VR/AR, but that comes at a steep $599.

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The gloves have been tested with all kinds of games and functionality is good.  The videos that CaptoGlove show off have decent performance and accuracy in many titles.  Currently there is no force feedback enabled nor announced.  This is not to say that it won’t show up in the future, but this first generation consumer product still has plenty of functionality to keep people interested.

AR/VR applications show the most promise for CaptoGlove.  It has been tested with all of the major projects out there and seems to work fine.  I will be very curious how well it works in applications like Tilt Brush!  If eventually they make a haptic version of the glove, it could be a killer application for it.

The Kickstart continues for the next 25 days and there are still many interesting bundles to be had.

Planescape: Torment, the 'it just works version'

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2017 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: gaming, planescape, GOG

Planescape: Torment is an RPG that has a special place in a lot of peoples memories as one of the games stood out as being the best example of its genre.  GOG have sold it for a while now, allowing people to revist the game or experience what exactly it is all the older gamers are reminiscing about.  The problem has been that in order to make it run on newer machines with screens with resolutions somewhat better than 640x480 you needed to apply a lot of mods and hope for a bit of luck as things would often go horribly wrong.  Today the Beamdog Enhanced Edition was announced, though places like Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have already had a chance to play it.

The graphics are upscaled to the resolution of your desktop but not overly polished so you will definitely notice this is not a modern game.  On the other hand the quests are still there and it is not like many recent games feature a tour through the Outer Planes?  You can grab it at GOG for 30% off if you already own the original, or pay $20 otherwise.  You should also check out the changelog RPS captured from the webpage, there are some rather amusing notes found within for those who have played the game before.

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"Not played PST before? PSTEE is all the invitation you need. Native high-res support, scaleable UI, a few helping hands and most of all it just works. Played PST before? Well, like me, the last time round you probably did it modded, and as such PSTEE, though a smoother ride, won’t feel particularly revelatory. If it’s your first time back since 1999, however, rest assured that it treats your memories well."

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X-Factor versus Delta Force; does your DX version matter right now?

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2017 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dx11, dx12

We are finally starting to see a diverse enough field of games capable of running in both DX11 and DX12 which makes it much easier to see performance pattern differences.  [H]ard|OCP tested out Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, BF1, The Division, Sniper Elite and AotS on AMD's RX480 and NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti.  In almost all cases the difference between the two APIs were negligible and neither offers significant performance benefits to owners of these cards.  The one exception was Sniper Elite 4 which did see some performance deltas, especially on the RX480.  Check out the full review to see for yourself.

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"We play latest games with DX12 support and find out which is faster, DX12 or DX11? We use the latest drivers from NVIDIA and AMD to find any advantages in this GPU focused review. We’ll get to the bottom of the question, "Should I be running this game in DX12 or DX11 in order to get the best real world gaming performance?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Topre

Ultimate Topre

There are cars that get you from point A to point B, and then there are luxurious grand touring cars which will get you there with power, comfort, and style - for a price. Based on the cost alone ($269.99 MSRP!) it seems like a safe bet to say that the REALFORCE RGB keyboard will be a similarly premium experience. Let’s take a look!

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There is as much personal taste at issue when considering a keyboard (or dream car!) as almost any other factor, and regardless of build quality or performance a keyboard is probably not going to work out for you if it doesn’t feel right. Mechanical keyboards are obviously quite popular, and more companies than ever offer their own models, many using Cherry MX key switches (or generic ‘equivalents’ - which vary in quality). Topre keys are different, as they are a capacitive key with a rubber dome and metal spring, and have a very smooth, fast feel to them - not clicky at all.

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“Topre capacitive key switches are a patented hybrid between a mechanical spring based switch, a rubber dome switch, and a capacitive sensor which, combined, provide tactility, comfort, and excellent durability. The unique electrostatic design of Topre switches requires no physical mechanical coupling and therefore key switch bounce/chatter is eliminated.”

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Continue reading our review of the Topre REALFORCE RGB Keyboard!

Eurocom's Sky X9E3 Is a Fully Upgradable Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 17, 2017 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: Sky X9E3, nvidia, notebook, MXM, modular, laptop, Intel Core i7, geforce, gaming, eurocom

Fancy a desktop processor in your laptop? How about dual MXM graphics card slots? While such a machine is likely not as 'portable' as the laptop designation would make it seem, it is interesting to see a notebook product built specifically for upgradability, and that is exactly what Eurocom has done with the Sky X9E3.

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"The Sky X9E3 is an SLI Ready and VR capable super high-performance supercomputer laptop. With an upgradeable desktop CPU and two upgradeable desktop GPUs cooled with high-quality copper heatsinks and IC Diamond thermal paste, and controlled by an unlocked system BIOS for the ultimate in overclocking capability."

One of the things detractors of gaming laptops will point out is the limited lifespan of a product that is often far more expensive than a high-end gaming desktop. Granted, gaming laptops generally do not follow the soldered memory trend from thin-and-light machines, allowing users to swap SODIMMs for more memory down the road, and storage is generally upgradable as well. But what about the most expensive parts of a laptop, namely CPU and (even more expensive) GPU? The use of desktop CPUs in the X9E3 is novel, and translates to ready availability for future upgrades; but MXM graphics is still a very expensive route, though I have ended up at Eurocom's website when researching MXM GPU upgrades in the past, so they are at least readily available.

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What are the specifications? Eurocom sells the machine configured to order, and lists basic specs as follows:

  • Chipset: Intel Z270 Express (Kaby Lake)
  • Processor: socketed desktop LGA1151 CPU, up to Intel i7 7700K
  • Memory: up to 64GB; DDR4-2400/2666/3000/3200; 4 RAM Sockets
  • VGA Technology: NVIDIA Pascal GeForce GTX 1080 8GB DDR5X and GeForce GTX 1070 8GB DDR5; single or Dual SLI; two MXM 3.0 slots; up to 190W per slot
  • Display Technology: supports total of 4 displays including LCD via 2x DP 1.3, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x HDMI 2.0 or DP1.2 (via USB 3.1 type C port); Nvidia Surround View
  • Storage: up to 14TB or storage with 5 drives; 2x HDD/SSD (SATA3) + 3x M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4/SATA3; RAID 0/1/5; supports NVMe SSDs
  • Communications: two 1GbE Killer E2400 RJ45 ports + M.2 WLAN/Bluetooth; Killer DoubleShot X3
  • Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows: 10, 8.1 and 7
  • Card Reader: 6-in-1 MMC/RSMMC/SD/miniSD/SDHC/SDXC up to UHS-II
  • Keyboard: Illuminated, backlit with customizable 7-colours
  • Security: TPM 2.0, Fingerprint and Kensington Lock
  • Audio System: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5; external 7.1CH audio output; headphone out, microphone in, S/PDIF and Line-in port; two built-in FOSTER Speakers (2W)+ Subwoofer (2.5W)
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.1 type C (HDMI 2.0/DP 1.3/Thunderbolt 3); 2x miniDP 1.3; 1x HDMI 2.0; 5x USB 3.0 (1x Powered USB AC/DC); S/PDIF; Headphone; Mic; Line-in; 2x RJ45 (LAN)
  • Weight and dimensions: 5.5kg / 12.1lbs; WxDxH 428x308x47.2mm / 17.12x12.32x1.88-inch

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Pricing begins at $2499, which makes this a hefty proposition at the outset. But for someone looking for desktop experience in a notebook, and wants the ability to purchase faster CPUs and GPUs down the road, it may be worth it.

Source: Eurocom

This is System Shock, not to be confused with System Shock

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: system shock 3, gaming, starbreeze

We have gone from no new System Shock to a pair of them, good news for fans of the series.  The Kickstarter reboot we already know about, with many mixed opinions about the move to the Unreal Engine, however the recently announced System Shock 3 is a totally different beast.  This sequel is being produced by Starbreeze and will not involve crowd sourcing.  Having migrated from a space station to starship it will be interesting to see what location is chosen for the third; as it is in early development they did not let Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN in on the secret.  We anxiously await examples of the art style and other details from Starbreeze and will let you know as they arrive.

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"Starbreeze are putting $12 million towards System Shock 3 [official site] in a publishing deal, the Swedes announced today. Publishing deals are rarely exciting enough for us to mention but this means ..."

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The System Shock Reboot is Unreal

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2017 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Kickstarter, system shock, unreal engine 4, Nightdive Studios

It was just announced to backers and the public that the System Shock reboot from Nightdive Studios has moved from Unity to Unreal Engine 4 and they have a pre-alpha video that shows off what that will look like.   The reasoning they gave was perhaps poorly worded, suggesting that this is because the choice was solely to make the game look good in the console version.  They gave backers, such as myself, reassurance that "PC is the main target for everything we do" and that the console version was already planned in Unity.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN feels the change makes the quality of the visuals better, but perhaps not as true to the original as the previous example they showed using Unity.  Check out the pre-alpha video below to see for yourself.

"In this matter at least, I am confident my sanity is unaffected. For as well as an apparent shift in its art direction to something more traditionally sci-fi/horror, SSR has hopped from Unity to the Unreal engine, resulting in a very different-looking game."

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Introduction and Specifications

The G533 Wireless headset is the latest offering from Logitech, combining the company’s premium Pro-G drivers, 15-hour battery life, and a new, more functional style. Obvious comparisons can be made to last year’s G933 Artemis Spectrum, since both are wireless headsets using Logitech’s Pro-G drivers; but this new model comes in at a lower price while offering much of the same functionality (while dropping the lighting effects). So does the new headset sound any different? What about the construction? Read on to find out!

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The G533 exists alongside the G933 Artemis Spectrum in Logitech’s current lineup, but it takes most of the features from that high-end wireless model, while paring it down to create a lean, mean option for gamers who don’t need (or want) RGB lighting effects. The 40 mm Pro-G drivers are still here, and the new G533 offers a longer battery life (15 hours) than the G933 could manage, even with its lighting effects disabled (12 hours). 7.1-channel surround effects and full EQ and soundfield customization remain, though only DTS effects are present (no Dolby this time).

What do these changes translate to? First of all, the G533 headset is being introduced with a $149 MSRP, which is $50 lower than the G933 Artemis Spectrum at $199. I think many of our readers would trade RGB effects for lower cost, making this a welcome change (especially considering lighting effects don’t really mean much when you are wearing the headphones).Another difference is the overall weight of the headset at 12.5 oz, which is 0.5 oz lighter than the G933 at 13 oz.

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Continue reading our review of the Logitech G533 Wireless 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset!

Logitech Introduces G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: romer-g, mechanical keyboard, logitech g, logitech, keyboard, key switches, gaming

Logitech G has announced the new Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, which features a compact tenkeyless (TKL) design, short-throw mechanical switches, and RGB lighting effects.

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In addition to the TKL form-factor the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard features the company's exclusive Romer-G switches, which Logitech says "register key presses up to 25 percent faster than standard mechanical switches" and have "a short-throw actuation point 1.5 mm".

The keyboard also features keyboard durable construction with a steel back plate, and the cable is actually is a detachable micro-USB design, though not your typical micro-USB connector as this implementation features a wide three-pronged connection with support arms. Naturally, there are (optional) RGB effects for those who want them, which can be controlled via Logitech Gaming Software.

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These RGB effects are per-key, which means seemingly endless levels of customizaiton considering each one can be set to one of "more than 16.8 million colors" and preferences saved to the onboard memory.

As to pricing and availability, the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard should be available later this month with an MSRP $129.99.

Source: Logitech