Can system RAM help out a mid-range GPU?

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2017 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: gaming

TechSpot took a look at the effect of system RAM on gaming performance when using a GPU with less VRAM than a game prefers.  They tested both the 3GB and 6GB models of the GTX 1060, with 4, 8, 16 and 32GB of system memory installed.  With the rising costs of RAM, their findings suggest paying for the extra VRAM is worth it as the 3GB model didn't really start to offer proper performance with less than 16GB of DDR in the system.  That extra RAM will often cost you more than purchasing a better GPU, though perhaps not enough to justify that GTX 1080 Ti.  Check out the full review to see what effect extra RAM has on your favourite games.

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"Measuring the impact that RAM capacity has on gaming is harder than it sounds because of all the factors at play. However we've tested different hardware configurations to determine how much memory is truly useful for gaming from 4GB up to 32GB."

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Source: Techspot

Valve's Triskaphobia strikes again

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2017 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: Bridge Constructor Portal, Bridge Constructor, Portal, valve, gaming

Bridge Constructor will be getting a new expansion, one which features GLaDOS as well as blue and orange portals.  The video below doesn't make it obvious if there is a vehicle mounted Portal gun but it certainly gets you thinking.  Incorporating portal physics into the physics of Bridge Constructor will certainly put this on a few Steam wishlists for purchase on Dec 20th.  Check out the video below, and pop over to Ars Technica for some tidbits of other games without the number 3 involved which Valve is currently working on.

"Remember when Valve used to make new games, instead of just making insanely popular platforms for selling games (and hats and skins)? Valve promised a partial return to those days today with the announcement of a brand-new Portal game... that just so happens to be built as an expansion to Bridge Constructor."

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Source: Ars Technica

AMD Is Very Pleased To Participate in Blockchain Technology

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 3, 2017 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: bitcoin, cryptocurrency, mining, gaming, lisa su, amd, Vega

AMD’s CEO Lisa Su was recently appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch Exclusinve interview segment where she answered questions about bitcoin, blockchain technology, the tax reform bill, and sexual harassment in the workplace.

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Of particular interest to PC Perspective readers, Dr. Lisa Su shared several interesting bits of information on cryptocurrency mining and how it is affecting the company’s graphics cards. Surprisingly, she stated that cryptocurrency miners were a "very small percentage" of sales and specifically that they represented a mid-single digit percentage of buyers (~4 to 6 percent). This number is hard to believe for me as I expected it to be significantly higher with the prices of graphics cards continuing to climb well above MSRP (it wasn’t too bad when writing our gift guide and shortly after but just as I was about to commit I looked and prices had shot back up again coinciding with a resurgence in mining popularity with the price of cryptocurrencies rising and improving ROI).

Further, the AMD president and CEO states that the company is interested in this market, but they are mainly waiting to see how businesses and industries adopt blockchain technologies. AMD is “very pleased to participate in blockchain” and believes it is a “very important foundational product”. Dr. Lisa Su did not seem very big on bitcoin specifically, but did seem interested in the underlying blockchain technologies and future cryptocurrencies.

Beyond bitcoin, altcoins, and the GPU mining craze, AMD believes that gaming is and continues to be a tremendous growth market for the company. AMD has reportedly launched 10 new product families and saw sizeable increases in sales on Amazon and Newegg versus last year with processor sales tripling and double digital percentage increases in graphics sales in 2017. AMD also managed to be in two of the three gaming towers in Best Buy for the holiday buying season.

Speaking for AMD Dr. Su also had a few other interesting bits of information to share. The interview is fairly short and worth watching. Thankfully Kyle over at HardOCP managed to record it and you can watch it here. If you aren't able to stream the video, PCGamer has transcribed most of the major statements.

What are your thoughts on the interview? Will we ever see GPU prices return to normal so I can upgrade, and do you agree with AMD’s assessment that miners are such a small percentage of their sales and not as much of an influencer in pricing as we thought (perhaps it’s a supply problem rather than a demand problem, or the comment was only taking their mining-specific cards into account?)?

Source: HardOCP

Need for GPU Speed

Subject: General Tech | November 22, 2017 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: gaming, need for speed payback, nvidia, amd

The new Need for Speed Payback uses the familiar Frostbite 3 game engine, so we have some general idea how various cards will perform.  There is a feature used in the game that changes how AMD cards perform however, this game makes use of the AMD GPU Services (AGS) library which should make their cards more effective.  [H]ard|OCP's testing did show a close race, apart from the unmatched GTX 1080Ti AMD's cards offer competitive performance and even offering taking the lead at some resolutions.  Drop by to take a look at the details.

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"Need for Speed Payback is out, we’ll look at feature performance and video card performance comparisons in today’s latest video cards. We’ll find what’s playable, and examine graphics quality setting performance among eight video cards. We will also find out VRAM and CPU usage of this new game so you pick the right video card for gaming. "

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

Keeping a Low Profile

Havit is a Chinese company with a unique product for the enthusiast PC segment: the thinnest mechanical keyboard on the market at 22.5 mm. Their slim HV-KB395L keyboard offers real mechanical switching via Kailh low-profile blue switches, and full RGB lighting is thrown in for good measure. For a keyboard that retails for $79.99 this is certainly an interesting mix, but how in the world does low-profile mechanical feel? I will attempt to translate that experience into words (by… typing words).

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Specifications:

  • 104-key Mechanical Keyboard
  • Customizable RGB backlighting
  • Kailh PG1350 Low Profile Blue Switch
  • 3mm of total travel, 45g of operating force
  • N-Key Rollover
  • Detachable USB Cable
  • Weight: 0.57 kg
  • Dimensions: 43.6 x 12.6 x 2.25 cm

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First impressions of the keyboard are great, with nice packaging that cradles the keyboard in a carton inside the box. The keyboard itself feels quite premium, with a top panel that is actually metal - unusual for this price-point.

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Continue reading our review of the HAVIT HV-KB395L RGB mechanical keyboard!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Is this the new budget champion?

True to their name, Corsair’s new HS50 STEREO gaming headsets offer traditional 2-channel sound from a similarly traditional headphone design. These are certainly ready for gaming with a detachable microphone and universal compatibility with both PCs and consoles, and budget friendly with an MSRP of only $49.99. How do they stack up? Let’s find out!

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Specifications:

  • Driver: 50mm Neodymium
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 111 dB (± 3 dB)
  • Mic Type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling
  • Mic Impedance: 2.0k Ohms
  • Mic Frequency: Response 100Hz – 10kHz
  • Mic Sensitivity: -40 dB (± 3 dB)
  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 160 x 100 x 205 mm
  • Weight: 319g
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Available Colors: Carbon, Green, Blue

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Nothing about these say “budget” when you look at the packaging and first unbox them, and they have a substantial feel to them like a pair of premium headphones - not at all like an inexpensive gaming headset.

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair HS50 STEREO gaming headset!

The Wolfensteins of Vulkan in the spotlight

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2017 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Wolfenstein 2, vulkan, amd, nvidia

[H]ard|OCP took a close look at the new Wolfenstein game, covering the new graphics options which appear in the menus as well as the bugs that could be caused by then, not to mention the benchmarking.  For this Vulkan game they chose three AMD cards and four NVIDIA cards to test with a variety of thsoe options enabled as well as looking at the effect resolution has on your performance.  As we have seen in other recent games, AMD's Vega 64 is a strong contender at 4K resolutions, surpassing the GTX 1080 but not quite matching its 1080 Ti brother.  It is also worth noting this game loves VRAM, in fact 8GB is not enough for Uber settings.  Read through the full review for performance numbers as well as insight into the best graphics settings to chose.

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"Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is out; this new game uses the id Tech 6 game engine and Vulkan API to give you a great gaming experience on the PC with today’s latest GPUs. We will compare performance features, see what settings work best, find what is playable in the game and compare performance among several video cards."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

A win for the rebels against EA's Empire

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2017 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, Star Wars Battlefront 2

Loot boxes may look good on paper as a way to generate extra revenue from a game but in reality they are incredibly unpopular with those who buy games.  Originally EA had set the price of unlocking your first playable hero at 60,000 in game credits.  According to the math done in the article Slashdot linked to, that would entail around 40 hours of gameplay assuming you never used any for the various other unlocks EA charges credits for.  As EA limits the amount of credits you can earn at one time in arcade mode, most of those hours would need to be spent in multiplayer games as opposed to enjoying the game in peace and quiet.  Of course, you could always pay money for them, $450 or so would unlock a hero.

In this case EA actually listened to their prospective customers, dropping the credit requirements for heroes by 75%; the loot boxes remain of course.

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"Most importantly, Electronic Arts today announced that they are reducing the number of credits needed to unlock top characters in the game by 75 percent. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader will now cost 15,000 credits. Emperor Palatine, Chewbacca and Leia Organa will now cost 10,000 and Iden will cost 5,000."

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Source: Slashdot
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Iceberg Interactive

A quiet facade

Iceberg Interactive, whom you may know from games like Killing Floor or the Stardrive series have released a new strategy game called Oriental Empires, and happened to send me a copy to try out.

On initial inspection it resembles recent Civilization games but with a more focused design as you take on a tribe in ancient China and attempt to become Emperor, or at least make your neighbours sorry that they ever met you.  Until you have been through 120 turns of the Grand Campaign you cannot access many of the tribes; not a bad thing as that first game is your tutorial.  Apart from an advisor popping up during turns or events, the game does not hold your hand and instead lets you figure out the game on your own.

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That minimalist ideal is featured throughout the entire game, offering one of the cleanest interfaces I've seen in a game.  All of the information you need to maintain and grow your empire is contained in a tiny percentage of the screen or in a handful of in game menus.  This plays well as the terrain and look of the campaign map is quite striking and varies noticeably with the season.

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Spring features cherry blossom trees as well as the occasional flooding.

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Summer is a busy season for your workers and perhaps your armies.

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Fall colours indicate the coming of winter and snow.

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Which also shrouds the peaks in fog.  The atmosphere thus created is quite relaxing, somewhat at odds with many 4X games and perhaps the most interesting thing about this game.

In these screenshots you can see the entire GUI that gives you the information you need to play.  The upper right shows your turn, income and occaisonally a helpful advsor offering suggestions.  Below that you will find a banner that toggles between displaying three lists.  The first is of your cites and their current build queues and population information, the second lists your armies compositions and if they currently have any orders while the last displays any events which effect your burgeoning empire.  The bottom shows your leader and his authority which, among other things, indicates the number of cities you can support without expecting quickly increasing unrest. 

The right hand side lets you bring up the only other five menus which you use in this game.  From top to bottom they offer you diplomacy, technology, Imperial edicts you can or have applied to your Empire, player statistics to let you know how you are faring and the last offering detailed statistics of your empire and those competing tribes you have met.

Next, a bit about the gameplay mechanics.

What is the best GPU to beat Nazis with?

Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2017 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Wolfenstein 2, the new colossus, nvidia, amd, vulkan

Wolfenstein II The New Colossus uses the Vulkan API which could favour AMD's offerings however NVIDIA have vastly improved their support so a win is not guaranteed.  The Guru of 3D tested the three resolutions which most people are interested in, 1080p, 1440p and 4K on 20 different GPUs in total.  They also took a look at the impact of 4-core versus 8-core CPUs, testing the i7-4790K, i7-5960K as well as the Ryzen 7 1800X and even explored the amount of VRAM the game uses.  Drop by to see all their results as well as hints on dealing with the current bugs.

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"We'll have a peek at the PC release of Wolfenstein II The New Colossus for Windows relative towards graphics card performance. The game is 100% driven by the Vulkan API. in this test twenty graphics cards are being tested and benchmarked."

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Source: Guru of 3D