Frog Fractions 2 finally uncovered!

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2016 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: frog fractoins 2, gaming, kick ass

If you missed the wonderfully brilliant insanity which was Frog Fractions you can still play it over here, and you should!  It won't make sense at first and frankly you will still be befuddled at the end, but the trip is worth it, no matter how odd the task you are required to perform happens to be.  In order to play the second you must pick up Glittermitten Grove, as Frog Fractions 2 is now hidden within the game; the was released a while back but as of Christmas you can now find Frog Fractions 2 hidden within.  Cheers to Ars Technica for the news; have fun trying to figure out the new Frog Fractions and keep an eye out as it may appear in other places.

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"Crawford took Frog Fractions 2 in a different direction from Frog Fractions, explaining that its release would be a complex and hidden process—there might be multiple games that came together to form Frog Fractions 2, like some kind of weird Voltron; or the game might be released and hiding in plain sight for months before anyone discovers what it really is."

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Source: Ars Technica

Enderel, the total Skyrim conversion, is to get an expansion

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2016 - 06:53 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, Enderal, mod. expansion, gaming

If you have yet to try out the total conversion mod for Skyrim, Enderal: The Shards of Order you are missing out.  A world not quite as large as Skyrim but every bit as beautiful and full of lore is yours for free, all you need is Skyrim.  The skill trees are very different, paths are unlocked by meditation after levelling and they have added new balance to the game to prevent you from becoming easily overpowered by wandering around and bashing low level monsters.  In order to increase main skills like One Handed Weapons or secondary skills like Lockpicking, you need to purchase a training book in order to use the points gained from levelling, and they become very expensive.

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have been informed that the lead writer of Enderal, Nicolas Samuel and a few helpers, will be creating an expansion to the game, adding new quests and subplots.  Check out the mood trailer below.

"SureAI’s huge Skyrim total conversion Enderal: The Shards of Order [official site], which builds a whole new game upon Bethesda’s foundations, is getting an expansion of its own in 2017."

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Das Keyboard

Premium Minimalism

Das Keyboard describes their products as "the ultimate experience for badasses", and the Austin, TX based company has delivered premium designs since their initial (completely blank) keyboard in 2005. The Prime 13 is a traditional 104-key design (with labeled keys), and features Cherry MX Brown switches and simple white LED backlighting. So it is a truly "badass" product? Read on to find out!

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"Das Keyboard Prime 13 is a minimalist mechanical keyboard designed to take productivity to the next level. Free of fancy features, the Prime 13 delivers an awesome typing experience by focusing on premium material and simple design. Featuring an anodized aluminum top panel, Cherry MX switches with white LEDs, USB pass-through and an extra-long braided cable, the Prime 13 is the ideal mechanical keyboard for overachievers who want get the job done."

I don't need to tell prospective mechanical keyboard buyers that the market is very crowded, and it seems to grow every month. Just about PC accessory maker offers at least one option, and many have tried to distinguish themselves with RGB lighting effects and software with game-specific profiles and the like. So is there still room for a simple, non-RGB keyboard with no special software involved? I think so, but it will need to be quite a premium design to justify a $149 price tag, and that's what the Prime 13 will run at retail. First impressions are very good, but I'll try to cover the experience as well as I can in text and photos in this review.

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A close look at the MX Brown switches within the Prime 13

Continue reading our review of the Das Keyboard Prime 13 mechanical keyboard!!

Who's a pretty Dog? Watch what the graphics settings do to image quality

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2016 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, watch dogs 2

[H]ard|OCP have already gone through the highest quality video settings in Watch Dogs 2 which are still playable at a reasonable frame rate, now they are investigating how these settings actually effect the visual quality. The High Resolution Texture Pack does indeed make a difference to the world, much like it did in Skyrim but how do the two NVIDIA only  shadow options differ from the Ultra setting?   The Extra Details slider seems to be a renamed draw distance slider with the effect you would expect and there is a long look at the variety of AA options offered.  If you are curious which of these options most appeal to you, take a long look.

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"In Part 3 of our Watch Dog 2 series we focus on the image quality aspects of this game. We will compare high resolution textures, shadows, ambient occlusion, extra details slider and AA. If you are curious what those features look like, how they compare between quality levels, this article will give you an idea what to expect."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA GeForce GTX, HTC VIVE Bundle Deal at GeForce.com

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, nvidia, geforce, htc vive, VR, game bundle

AMD's RX 480 and Fury X are capable of providing decent performance in VR applications and will save you some money for the VR headset, dongles and games.  However NVIDIA upped the ante today, giving away three games to anyone who purchases a GTX 1080, 1070 or 1060 and an HTC Vive. 

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The giveaway encompasses more than North America, as long as you can purchase the bundle from either Microsoft or NewEgg where you happen to live you should be able to get your three free games.  They are redeemable on Steam and should be available immediately, a peek at Sports Bar VR is below.

 

Source: NVIDIA

Watch Dogs 2, in two parts

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2016 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, amd, gaming, watch dogs 2, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, rx 480x, rx 470

[H]ard|OCP have spent a lot of with Watch Dogs 2 recently, enough to create three articles covering the game of which two are now published.  The first article focuses on performance at ultra settings and finding the highest playable settings that the GPUs they tested were capable of, without installing the high resolution texture pack.  As it turns out, the game is much more graphically demanding than many other recent releases, so much so that only the Titan X and GTX 1080 was able to perform at 4k resolutions, the GTX 1070 and 1060, as well as the RX 480 and 470 only feature at lower resolutions. 

The second article looks at performance with the texture pack installed, which did not have much effect on overall performance but significantly increased VRAM usage.  Even the mighty Titan X struggled with this game, we will need a new generation of GPUs to utilize all the available graphics features available in this game.  The last review will be up soon and will focus on what effect each of the graphical settings have on the visual appearance of the game.

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"Watch Dogs 2 has been released on the PC. We will have a three part evaluation of performance and image quality starting today with performance comparisons. We will also find the highest playable settings for each graphics card and the gameplay experience delivered. Finally, a graphically demanding game."

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Gaming

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

Introduction and First Impressions

Aukey, a prominent seller of mobile accessories on Amazon, has an interesting product for PC enthusiasts: an RGB mechanical gaming keyboard for $59.99. The price is definitely right, but is it any good? We’ll take a look!

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“The AUKEY KM-G3 mechanical keyboard takes the gaming experience to a new level. Tactile, responsive mechanical keys put you in control for an outstanding typing or gaming experience. The KM-G3 offers preloaded multi-color RGB backlit lighting effects and patterns. Ideal for FPS, CF, COD, LOL and Racing games - Just use the Function key to easily switch between gaming presets.”

The KM-G3 keyboard is a standard 104-key design, using blue switches (presumably a generic switch as no brand is listed), and there is RGB lighting which can be cycled between various colors and patterns, or switched off if desired. Aukey is also offering a 2-year warranty on the keyboard, which should help allay any fear about a purchase.

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Continue reading our review of the AUKEY KM-G3 RGB mechanical gaming keyboard!

Serious Sam VR, now with tag teaming NVIDIA cards

Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2016 - 08:31 PM |
Tagged: serious sam vr, nvidia, gaming, pascal

Having already looked at AMD's performance with two RX 480's in a system, the recent patch which enables support for multiple NVIDIA GPUs have dragged [H]ard|OCP back into the game.  Lacking a pair of Titan X cards, they tested the performance of a pair of GTX 1080s and 1070s; the GTX 1060 will not be receiving support from Croteam.  It would seem that adding a second Pascal card to your system will benefit you, however the scaling they saw was nowhere near as impressive as with the AMD RX 480 which saw a 36% boost.  Check out the full results here and yes ... in this case the m in mGPU indicates multiple GPUs, not mobile.

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"Serious Sam VR was the first commercial enthusiast gaming title to include multi-GPU support with AMD's RX 480 GPU. Now the folks at Croteam have added mGPU support for NVIDIA cards as well. We take a look at how well NVIDIA's VRSLI technology fares in this VR shooter title."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

A Holiday Project

A couple of years ago, I performed an experiment around the GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card to see if we could upgrade basic OEM, off-the-shelf computers to become competent gaming PCs. The key to this potential upgrade was that the GTX 750 Ti offered a great amount of GPU horsepower (at the time) without the need for an external power connector. Lower power requirements on the GPU meant that even the most basic of OEM power supplies should be able to do the job.

That story was a success, both in terms of the result in gaming performance and the positive feedback it received. Today, I am attempting to do that same thing but with a new class of GPU and a new class of PC games.

The goal for today’s experiment remains pretty much the same: can a low-cost, low-power GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card that also does not require any external power connector offer enough gaming horsepower to upgrade current shipping OEM PCs to "gaming PC" status?

Our target PCs for today come from Dell and ASUS. I went into my local Best Buy just before the Thanksgiving holiday and looked for two machines that varied in price and relative performance.

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  Dell Inspiron 3650 ASUS M32CD-B09
Processor Intel Core i3-6100 Intel Core i7-6700
Motherboard Custom Custom
Memory 8GB DDR4 12GB DDR4
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 530 Intel HD Graphics 530
Storage 1TB HDD 1TB Hybrid HDD
Case Custom Custom
Power Supply 240 watt 350 watt
OS Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit
Total Price $429 (Best Buy) $749 (Best Buy)

The specifications of these two machines are relatively modern for OEM computers. The Dell Inspiron 3650 uses a modest dual-core Core i3-6100 processor with a fixed clock speed of 3.7 GHz. It has a 1TB standard hard drive and a 240 watt power supply. The ASUS M32CD-B09 PC has a quad-core HyperThreaded processor with a 4.0 GHz maximum Turbo clock, a 1TB hybrid hard drive and a 350 watt power supply. Both of the CPUs share the same Intel brand of integrated graphics, the HD Graphics 520. You’ll see in our testing that not only is this integrated GPU unqualified for modern PC gaming, but it also performs quite differently based on the CPU it is paired with.

Continue reading our look at upgrading an OEM machine with the GTX 1050 Ti!!

Async Compute turning the Gears of War

Subject: General Tech | November 23, 2016 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gears of war 4, gaming, dx12, async compute, amd

[H]ard|OCP sat down with the new DX12 based Gears of War 4 to test the performance of the game on a variety of cards, with a focus on the effect of enabling Async Compute.  In their testing they found no reason for Async Compute to be disabled as it did not hurt the performance of any card.  On the other hand NVIDIA's offerings do not benefit in any meaningful way from the feature and while AMD's cards certainly did, it was not enough to allow you to run everything at maximum on an RX 480.  Overall the game was no challenge to any of the cards except perhaps the RX 460 and the GTX 1050 Ti.  When playing at 4K resolution they saw memory usage in excess of 6GB, making the GTX 1080 the card for those who want to play with the highest graphical settings.  Get more details and benchmarks in their full review.

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"We take Gears of War 4, a new Windows 10 only game supporting DX12 natively and compare performance with seven video cards. We will find out which one provides the best experience at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p resolutions, and see how these compare to each other. We will also look specifically at the Async Compute feature."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP