OK, we exeucted Order 66 ... now what?

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2019 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: Respawn Entertainment, ea, Star Wars, Jedi: Fallen Order, gaming

On April 13th the true power of the Fallen Order shall be demonstrated, as EA and Respawn Entertainment will reveal a demonstration of the new Star Wars game at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Chicago.  Along with the new game, there will also be an announcement involving Star Wars: The Old Republic, for those who are still playing that game. 

We don't know much about the new game, and with the developer of Titanfall and Apex Legends involved it could be just about anything.  You can see the official announcement of the pending announcement over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

starwars1313-920x584.jpg

"If you’ve been off in a galaxy far, far away, Fallen Order is set shortly after the prequel trilogy, and tells the story of a young Padawan who somehow survived Order 66, the backstabbilicious Jedi purge carried out by the Emperor’s loyal clone army."

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NVIDIA Announces GeForce 419.35 WHQL Driver, RTX Triple Threat Bundle

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 5, 2019 - 09:48 AM |
Tagged: Tom Clancy’s The Division II, RTX Triple Threat Bundle, rtx, ray tracing, nvidia, geforce, gaming, devil may cry 5, bundle, Apex Legends, 419.35 WHQL

GeForce Game Ready Driver 419.35 WHQL

NVIDIA has released their latest Game Ready driver today, 419.35 WHQL, for "the optimal gaming experience for Apex Legends, Devil May Cry 5, and Tom Clancy’s The Division II". The update also adds three monitors to the G-SYNC compatible list, with the BenQ XL2540-B/ZOWIE XL LCD, Acer XF250Q, and Acer ED273 A joining the ranks.

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Apex Legends World Overview (image credit: EA)

"Our newest Game Ready Driver introduces optimizations and updates for Apex Legends, Devil May Cry 5, and Tom Clancy’s The Division II, giving you the best possible experience from the second you start playing.

In addition, we continue to optimize and improve already-released games, such as Metro Exodus, Anthem, and Battlefield V, which are included in our new GeForce RTX Triple Threat Bundle."

RTX Triple Threat Bundle

NVIDIA's latest game bundle offers desktop and laptop RTX 2060 and 2070 buyers a choice of Anthem, Battlefield V, or Metro Exodus. Buyers of the high-end RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards (including laptops) get all three of these games.

geforce-rtx-triple-bundle.jpg

"For a limited time, purchase a qualifying GeForce RTX 2080 Ti or 2080 graphics card, gaming desktop, or gaming laptop and get Battlefield V, Anthem, and Metro Exodus (an incredible $180 value!). Pick up a qualifying GeForce RTX 2070 or 2060 graphics card, gaming desktop, or gaming laptop and get your choice of these incredible titles."

The free games offer begins today, with codes redeemable "beginning March 5, 2019 until May 2, 2019 or while supplies last." You can download the latest NVIDIA driver here.

Source: NVIDIA
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Cooler Master

The Pint-Sized Flagship

In November 2017, Cooler Master released their flagship keyboard, the MasterKeys MK750. With its successor, the MK850, just around the corner, they’ve released its little brother, the MK730. It’s a tenkeyless version of the original, but when I saw that, one, it was only $119.99, and two, we’d never reviewed the original MK750, I knew that we had to take a look. Is this the small form factor keyboard you’ve been waiting for? Let’s dig in and find out.

Cooler_Master_MK730_Hero.jpg

Specifications

  • Switch Type: CHERRY MX Red, Blue (reviewed), Brown
  • Material: Plastic / Aluminum / PU Leather
  • Color: Smoky Gunmetal Aluminum Brush
  • LED Color: RGB, 16.7 million colors
  • Polling Rate: 1000Hz
  • Response Rate: 1ms / 1000Hz
  • MCU: 32bit ARM Cortex M3
  • On board Memory: 512KB
  • On-the-fly system: Yes, for Multimedia, Macro Recording and Lighting Control
  • Multi-media Keys: Through Function (FN) Key
  • Smart cable manager: Yes, 3 Ways
  • Wrist rest: Removable magnetic with soft PU Leather
  • Cable: Detachable braided USB Type-C
  • Software Support: Yes, Portal
  • Connector Cable: USB 2.0
  • Cable Length: 1.8m
  • Dimensions: 360 x 192 x 41.5 mm, 360 x 183.5 x 41.5 mm (Without Wrist Rest)
  • Product Weight (without cable): 698g
  • Warranty: 2 years

Cooler_Master_MK730_Box.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Cooler Master MK730 TKL mechanical keyboard

BioWare sings the Anthem

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2019 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: antem, BioWare, gaming

There once was a time when a new BioWare game caused great excitement among gamers, now it creates excitement for critics.  Anthem has jetted onto the scene and the reception has been mixed, in part because it isn't a new Mass Effect game though there are other reasons offered as well.  Combat involves rocket packs and somewhere short of a billion different types of weapons, and Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN describes it as similar to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s rocket jumping shooty bang.  Your home base, Fort Tarsis offers some interesting story lines and interactions when you want a break from combat to do a bit of shopping and talking which may appeal to you more.

Of course, with games such as this, Destiny and that other unmentionable one, things are subject to change and this could be a whole different ball of whacks in a few months.

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"Hello, it’s me, the resident BioLiker, here to tell you wot I think of Anthem, a game about which you probably already have opinions, whether you’ve played it or not."

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Every NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti on Amazon (So Far)

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 23, 2019 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: zotac, video card, turing, nvidia, msi, gtx 1660 ti, graphics, gpu, gigabyte, geforce, gaming, evga, asus, amazon

NVIDIA partners launched their new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards yesterday, and we checked out a pair of these in our review and found these new TU116-based cards to offer excellent performance (and overclocking headroom) for the price. Looking over Amazon listings today here is everything available so far, separated by board partner. We've added the Boost Clock speeds for your reference to show how these cards are clocked compared to the reference (1770 MHz), and purchases made through any of these Amazon affiliate links help us out with a small commission.

1660_Ti_Cards_Stack.jpg

In any case, this list at least demonstrates the current retail picture of NVIDIA's new mainstream Turing GPU on Amazon, so without further preamble here are all currently available cards in alphabetical order by brand:

ASUS

ASUS Phoenix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC

ASUS Dual GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC

ASUS Strix Gaming GTX 1660 Ti OC

EVGA

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black Gaming

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Gaming

GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC 6G

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Windforce OC 6G

MSI

MSI GTX 1660 Ti VENTUS XS 6G OC

MSI GTX 1660 Ti ARMOR 6G OC

MSI GTX 1660 Ti GAMING X 6G

ZOTAC

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Already we are seeing many cards offering factory overclocks, ranging from a small 30 MHz bump at $279.99 from GIGABYTE (GTX 1660 Ti OC 6G, 1800 MHz Boost Clock) to 100 MHz+ from the MSI GTX 1660 Ti GAMING X 6G (1875 MHz Boost Clock) we reviewed at $309.99.

We will update the list as additional cards become available on Amazon.

Source: Amazon.com

Forget the GTX 1660 Ti, let's start speculating about the other GTX 1660

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 22, 2019 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: video card, Turin, tu116, rtx, ray tracing, nvidia, msi, gtx 1660 ti, gtx, graphics, gpu, geforce, gaming, asus, DLSS, palit

Today is the day that the GTX 1660 Ti moves from rumour to fact as the NDA is finally over and we can share our results! Sebastian's testing compared the overclocked and slightly above base price MSI GTX 1660 Ti GAMING X against the interestingly shaped EVGA GTX 1660 Ti XC Black.  Performance-wise, the rumours were fairly accurate, the card offers comparable performance to the 1070 Ti, and at at ~$280 price point it is certainly less expensive but still shows evidence of the upwards trend in price for GPUs.

If you are interested in other models, take a peek at The Guru of 3D who reviewed not one or two, but four different 1660 Ti's.  From the tiny little Palit StormX model pictured below through MSI's dual fan VENTUS XS and Gaming X to the full sized ASUS ROG STRIX with three fans you have a fair number of charts to go through!

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"We have four new reviews to present today. NVIDIA is launching the 279 USD GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. We've talked about it a lot, it is the more affordable offering, Turing GPU based, yet stripped from RT and tensor functionality."

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Source: Guru of 3D
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

The TU116 GPU and First Look at Cards from MSI and EVGA

NVIDIA is introducing the GTX 1660 Ti today, a card build from the ground up to take advantage of the new Turing architecture but without real-time ray tracing capabilities. It seems like the logical next step for NVIDIA as gamers eager for a current-generation replacement to the popular GTX 1060, and who may have been disappointed with the launch of the RTX 2060 because it was priced $100 above the 1060 6GB, now have something a lot closer to a true replacement in the GTX 1660 Ti.

There is more to the story of course, and we are still talking about a “Ti” part and not a vanilla GTX 1660, which presumably will be coming at some point down the road; but this new card should make an immediate impact. Is it fair to say that the GTX 1660 Ti the true successor to the GTX 1060 that we might have assumed the RTX 2060 to be? Perhaps. And is the $279 price tag a good value? We will endeavor to find out here.

1660_Ti_Boxes.jpg

RTX: Off

It has been a rocky start for RTX, and while some might say that releasing GTX cards after the fact represents back-peddling from NVIDIA, consider the possibility that the 2019 roadmap always had space for new GTX cards. Real-time ray tracing does not make sense below a certain performance threshold, and it was pretty clear with the launch of the RTX 2060 that DLSS was the only legitimate option for ray tracing at acceptable frame rates. DLSS itself has been maligned of late based on a questions about visual quality, which NVIDIA has now addressed in a recent blog post. There is clearly a lot invested in DLSS, and regardless of your stance on the technology NVIDIA is going to continue working on it and releasing updates to improve performance and visual quality in games.

As its “GTX” designation denotes, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti does not include the RT and Tensor Cores that are found in GeForce RTX graphics cards. In order to deliver the Turing architecture to the sub-$300 graphics segment, we must be very thoughtful about the types and numbers of cores we use in the GPU: adding dedicated cores to accelerate Ray Tracing and AI doesn’t make sense unless you can first achieve a certain level of rendering performance. As a result, we chose to focus the GTX 1660 Ti’s cores exclusively on graphics rendering in order to achieve the best balance of performance, power, and cost.

If the RTX 2060 is the real-time ray tracing threshold, then it's pretty obvious that any card that NVIDIA released this year below that performance (and price) level would not carry RTX branding. And here we are with the next card, still based on the latest Turing architecture but with an all-new GPU that has no ray tracing support in hardware. There is nothing fused off here or disabled in software with TU116, and the considerable reduction in die size from the TU106 reflects this.

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card!

NZXT Announces H500 Overwatch Edition Mid-Tower Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 19, 2019 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: special edition, overwatch, nzxt, H500 Overwatch Edition, H500, gaming, enclosure, chassis, case

NZXT is announcing today that they have teamed up with Blizzard Entertainment for "the First Overwatch-themed PC chassis" with the new Overwatch Edition of their H500 mid-tower enclosure.

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"The new, special edition H500 Overwatch Edition midtower showcases NZXT’s signature design with a sleek look that any hero would be proud to have in their arsenal. Featuring an all-steel construction in black, a cable management system for streamlined building, and a luminous Overwatch logo on the front panel, this special H500 chassis is perfect for the Overwatch player looking to outfit their rig for battle."

H500-Overwatch_System-front.jpg

The Overwatch logo on the front panel is illuminated

NZXT lists these features for the H500 Overwatch Edition mid-tower case:

  • Features the iconic Black, White, and Orange colors of Overwatch
  • A luminous Overwatch logo brightly displayed on the front panel
  • Modern design and builder-friendly features
  • Premium, all-steel construction with the sleek H Series aesthetic
  • Tempered glass side panel showcases your build
  • Wire management is made easy with an intuitive, patent-pending cable management system
  • Water-cooling installation is simplified using a removable bracket for either all-in-one CPU coolers or custom loop configurations

H500-Overwatch_System-Main2.jpg

The new H500 Overwatch Edition mid-tower case is available globally from NZXT, with U.S. pricing set at $149.99.

Source: NZXT

It's an Epic post-apocalyptic GPU Exodus

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2019 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: Metro Exodus, gaming, nvidia, amd, DLSS, ray tracing

The Guru of 3D took over two dozen cards on the Metro, with a focus on the DX12 render path with DX-R support which does make the NVIDIA results a bit more interesting for now.  If you are looking to play at 1080p with every bell and whistle on, you can scrape by on a GTX 1080 or Vega 56 but you should really consider bumping that to an RTX 2070 or Vega 64.  For 1440p gamers the new Radeon VII is capable of providing a good experience but you are far better off with an RTX 2080 or better. 

At 4k, well, even the RTX 2080 Ti can barely make 50fps, with the rest of the pack reaching 40fps at best.  As to the effects of DLSS and ray tracing on the visual quality and overall performance? Read on to see for yourself.

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"A game title of discussion and debate, yes Metro Exodus for the PC is here, and we're going to put it to the test with close to 30 graphics cards in relation to framerates, frame times and CPU scaling."

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Source: Guru of 3D

NVIDIA GeForce 418.91 WHQL Driver Enables DLSS in Battlefield V and Metro Exodus

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 13, 2019 - 12:17 PM |
Tagged: whql, rtx, raytracing, nvidia, Metro Exodus, graphics, gpu, geforce, gaming, driver, DLSS, battlefield V, 418.91

NVIDIA's GeForce 418.91 WHQL drivers have brought DLSS support to Battlefield V and both real-time ray tracing and DLSS to the upcoming Metro Exodus, which will be the first game to support the technologies from day one when it is released (now exclusively on Epic's game store) on February 15.

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From NVIDIA:

Battlefield V - This stunning World War II combat game, created by EA and DICE, was the first to support real-time ray-traced reflections and has now added support for DLSS — giving a performance boost of up to 40 percent with ray-tracing reflections enabled.

Metro Exodus - The third installment in the haunting Metro franchise, developed by 4A Games and Deep Silver, will support RTX-enabled real-time ray tracing — the first time it has been used in a game for global illumination. At launch, the game will also support DLSS, boosting performance up to 30 percent, as well as a host of other NVIDIA gaming technologies, including HairWorks, PhysX, Ansel and Highlights.

NVIDIA has posted a video showcasing the performance improvement with DLSS vs. real-time ray tracing in BFV, where gains of up to 40% are advertised:

As to Metro Exodus, with the additional ray traced components it would seem the upcoming game will end up being a popular benchmark for the technologies, after we have seem most of the ray tracing and DLSS discussion surround BFV to this point (Port Royal notwithstanding). At some future date Shadow of the Tomb Raider will enter the mix as well, but this is still awaiting ray tracing and DLSS support via a planned update.

For its part Metro is only gaining 30% with DLSS (vs. real-time ray tracing + TAA) according to NVIDIA, which is obviously lower than the boost to BFV. We have seen a preview of real-time ray tracing and DLSS performance in the latest Metro game over at Tom's Hardware, where they look at the performance differences and perceived quality between the two. It's also worth noting that both BFV and Metro Exodus are not fully ray traced games, as Tom's explains:

"Battlefield applies ray tracing to reflections. Metro Exodus uses it for global illumination from the sun/sky, modeling how light interacts with various surfaces. Local light sources are not ray traced, though."

The Battlefield V DLSS update is now rolling out, with some early performance numbers already available. Metro Exodus will be released on February 15, and is the latest title to eschew Steam in favor of Epic's new platform.

Source: NVIDIA