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Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 01:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, nvidia
The second act of the NVIDIA keynote speech re-announced their Grid cloud-based gaming product first mentioned back in May during GTC. You have probably heard of its competitors, Gaikai and OnLive. The mission of these services is to have all of the gaming computation done in a server somewhere and allow the gamer to log in and just play.
The NVIDIA Grid is their product top-to-bottom. Even the interface was created by NVIDIA and, as they laud, rendered server-side using the Grid. It was demonstrated to stream to an LG smart TV directly or Android tablets. A rack will contain 20 servers with 240 GPUs with a total of 200 Teraflops of computational power. Each server will initially be able to support 24 players, which is interesting, given the last year of NVIDIA announcements.
Last year, during the GK110 announcement, Kepler was announced to support hundreds of clients to access a single server for professional applications. It seems only natural that Grid would benefit from that advancement: but it apparently does not. With a limit of 24 players per box, equating to a maximum of two players per GPU, it seems odd that a limit would be in place. The benefit of stacking multiple players per GPU is that you can achieve better-than-linear scaling in the long-tail of games.
Then again, all they need to do is solve the scaling problem before they have a problem with scaling their service.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | December 30, 2012 - 04:48 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webgl, w3c, html5
I use that title in quite a broad sense.
I ran across an article on The Verge which highlighted the work of a couple of programmers to port classic Realtime Strategy games to the web browser. Command and Conquer along with Dune II, two classics of PC Gaming, are now available online for anyone with a properly standards-compliant browser.
These games, along with the Sierra classics I wrote about last February, are not just a renaissance of classic PC games: they preserve them. It is up to the implementer to follow the standard, not the standards body to approve implementations. So long as someone still makes a browser which can access a standards-based game, the game can continue to be supported.
A sharp turn from what we are used to with console platforms, right?
I have been saying this for quite some time now: Blizzard and Valve tend to support their games much longer than console manufacturers support their whole platforms. You can still purchase at retail, and they still manufacture, the original StarCraft. The big fear over “modern Windows” is that backwards compatibility will be ended and all applications would need to be certified by the Windows Store.
When programmed for the browser -- yes, even hosted offline on local storage -- those worries disappear. Exceptions for iOS and Windows RT where they only allow you to use Safari or Trident (IE10+) which still leaves you solely at their mercy to follow standards.
Still, as standards get closer to native applications in features and performance, we will have a venue for artists to create and preserve their work for later generations to experience. The current examples might be 2D and of the pre-Pentium era but even now there are 3D-based shooters developed from websites. There is even a ray tracing application built on WebGL (although that technically is reliant on both the W3C and Khronos standards bodies) that just runs in a decent computer with plain-old Firefox or Google Chrome.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 28, 2012 - 02:43 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: opencl, nvidia, amd
The GPU is slowly becoming the parallel processing complement to your branching logic-adept CPU. Developers have been slow to adopt this new technology but that does not hinder the hardware manufacturers from putting on a kettle of tea for when guests arrive.
While the transition to GPGPU is slower than I am sure many would like, developers are rarely quick on the uptake of new technologies. The Xbox 360 was one of the first platforms where unified shaders became mandatory and early developers avoided them by offloading vertex code to the CPU. On that note: how much software still gets released without multicore support?
Phoronix, practically the arbiter of all Linux news, decided to put several GPU drivers and their manufacturers to the test. AMD was up first and their results showed a pretty sizeable jump in performance at around October of this year through most of their tests. The article on NVIDIA arrived two days later and saw performance trended basically nowhere since February with the 295.20 release.
A key piece of information is that both benchmarks were performed with last generation GPUs: the GTX 460 on the NVIDIA side, with the 6950 holding AMD’s flag. You might note that 295.20 was the last tested driver to be released prior to the launch of Kepler.
These results seem to suggest that upon the launch of Kepler, NVIDIA did practically zero optimizations to their older "Fermi" architecture at least as far as these Linux OpenCL benchmarks are concerned. On the AMD side, it seems as though they are more willing to go back and advance the performance of their prior generation as they release new driver versions.
There are very few instances where AMD beats out NVIDIA in terms of driver support -- it is often a selling point for the jolly green giant -- but this appears to be a definite win for AMD.
Subject: Editorial | December 24, 2012 - 11:36 PM | Ryan Shrout
As we near the hour of Christmas here in the United States I wanted to take a few minutes out of the evening to write a short note to the many fans and readers of PC Perspective. This past year has been one of wide variance both in terms of technology and the website. Without our faithful readers though we would not have been able to get through the last 12 months in as good of shape as we have - and for that we are VERY thankful!
We apologize for the slow release of new posts for you to read, but most of our staff is spending time with family, whether they want to or not, and while we have a couple of reviews queued up, it seems like a waste to post them when many of YOU are in the same boat. If you are looking for some interesting topics to hold you over in the meant time, here are a couple of suggestions:
- The PC Perspective Holiday Gift Guide - Hey, better late than never, right??
- Building a Hackintosh - Step by step guide. Ken and I walk you through the process of building a PC and installing Mac OS X. Might be neat to try in some of your free time this holiday!
- Cutting the Cord Series. Chris recently rebuilt his HTPC and walks through the decisions he made on the hardware, software and configuration. Maybe you too are tired of your cable bill?
- PC Perspective Podcast. What better way to waste some hours by listening to some our staff ramble about PC hardware for hours on end each week? And if you are already a subscriber, maybe you should check back to some OLD episodes and see what hilarity ensued.
- PC Perspective YouTube Channel. Did you know we make videos as well? Sometimes they are funny and sometimes they are about taking apart gadgets. Most of the time they are about hardware.
- And finally, the PC Perspective Forum! This community has some great people in it and if you are looking for help with a hardware problem are maybe just want to find some new friends for some PC gaming, we have a forum for you!
Again, regardless of what you celebrate and why, I want to wish you a great holiday season and be sure you join us on Wednesday night for the LIVE PC Perspective Podcast recording where we will very likely be a little drunk and will mix up the normal rants with some funny stories and predictions.
See you soon!
Subject: Editorial | December 19, 2012 - 06:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: live, video, planetside 2
Just a quick note to anyone that might want to join us, we are going to attempt to play some Planetside 2 after the podcast recording tonight. Planetside 2 is a free to play first person MMO. It is kind of complicated though so you might want to learn up some on the details if you haven't played before.
We are going to use Teamspeak for our in-game chat and you can get the details for the Fragging Frogs Main TS Server right here.
If you aren't interested in playing but would like to watch, you should head to our PC Perspective Live! Page for our live stream!
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | December 19, 2012 - 06:56 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, sweepstakes, sapphire, never settle, giveaway, contest, amd
Remember those really cool game streams we hosted with AMD on Medal of Honor Warfighter, Hitman: Absolution and Far Cry 3? Well can you believe that one of the winners from our Far Cry 3 event hasn't replied to our request for a shipping address which means only one thing:
We have an extra Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition FleX graphics card to hand out!
Lucky you! Since it is the holiday season, we wanted to make this EASY for you. Here is how you enter:
- First entry: Leave a comment in this very news post!
- Second entry: Subscribe to our YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/pcper) and leave a comment on this video on YouTube!
- Wait patiently.
We'll randomly pick a winner from anywhere in the world to get this kick ass prize on December 26th, so you'll have something to look forward to on the day after Christmas.
Good luck to all of you and our most heartfelt thanks to AMD, Sapphire and of course the fans of PC Perspective for a great 2012!!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 17, 2012 - 04:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: layoffs, amd
Personally, I am starting to get numb to AMD restructuring news -- and that is never good.
Less than a month ago we reported on the semiconductor design company’s decision to cut 15% of their workforce. The company still has life in it and has a respectable presence in all upcoming videogame consoles along with its inclusion within many consumer laptops and desktops but it is clearly not as much life as they need.
Original rumors stated that cuts could be on the order of 10-30% which 15% would be on the lighter side of. With rumors of more cuts coming in January I wonder if this was a last minute decision to break up the layoffs into two less dramatic installments.
One of the beauties of the tech industry is the low cost of starting or turning a company around; it would be irresponsible to completely count out a player while it still has access to millions of capital. AMD is also sitting upon lots of assets which could be liquidated and their employees have ridiculous talent to be employable elsewhere. I have been noticing that most chatter about the topic is not based in concern with AMD and their employee’s future but with concern about an x86 competitor to Intel.
This is pretty much the same concern which I have been having about Windows 8: the house of cards may be standing but it is still a house of cards. We rely upon the proprietary standards which Intel and others impose upon the art, the word being used both in literal and “artisan / practical art” contexts which includes utensil applications.
Concern mounts but practically no-one grafts it to similar instabilities in other platforms.
No I am not saying abolish technology patents or anything like that: I am simply saying that this is yet another drop in the torrent of concerns with content upstream to proprietary platforms.
These issues rightfully cause alarm but are not isolated events.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 12, 2012 - 10:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, microsoft
Our regular viewers know that I am not too fond of Microsoft’s recent vision; I will get that out of the way right at the start. I am a major proponent of open platforms for uncensored art with perpetual support and Windows 8 shows all the signs of Microsoft turning its back on that ideology.
And Steven Sinofsky, the one who allegedly came up with that vision, is no longer with Microsoft: effective immediately.
Not much in the line of reasoning is known about why Steven Sinofsky parted ways with his long-term career as head of Windows division. He had a clear and concise vision for his products and it was evident both in Windows 7 and in Windows RT.
Rumors exist that his fellow executives were not on pleasant terms with him. All Things D claims to have sources which suggest that his colleagues were unhappy with his conduct in terms of collaboration.
But that is all hearsay.
What it means for Microsoft is that the face that set sail is no longer at the helm. Microsoft could revert back to their twitchy attempts to appease everyone and abandon their vision. On the other hand it is entirely possible that the company could continue off on the last bearing set by Sinofsky.
No-one knows, but I stand behind my previous assertions that the PC industry will get messy in the next few years as things boil over at Microsoft.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | November 10, 2012 - 04:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: piracy, kinect
We do not like straying from our usual topics into the music, movie, and console gaming industries although I will make an exception for this. It has a computer hardware angle, I assure you.
So I came across an article this morning regarding a patent which Microsoft filed about a year and a half ago. This patent describes a process where a device can monitor the number of people viewing a copyrighted work and permit “remedial action” should that number increase beyond some arbitrary level. In other words, the technology would prevent or adjust the price of consuming content based on the number of people in your private residence.
Hey if you want to bring your significant other over -- that’ll cost you!
Hey did I tell you about this awesome DRM we're working on? Huge success.
It routinely frustrates me when people side with the content industry because they know that one-or-so unapologetic pirating acquaintance who they feel is ripping off the whole system. The problem is that all evidence which I have seen to suggest whether or not a pirate has actual damages actually shows sales increases or is wholly based on junior high school-level statistical errors.
The content industry does not demand for you to pay them for their content: they demand that you pay them for their content under specific conditions. There were no less than two services present at CES 2011 which allowed users to input a movie title to find out where it is legally available. If it was in Vudu, Hulu+, Netflix, in Theatres, which theatre, what show-times, as a DVD or BluRay on Amazon, on TV soon, and so forth.
Everyone I discussed those services with, thus far, were amazed with how useful that would be.
I then ask them: Why is it so hard to give them money that we need services to instruct people how to legally license content?
What if the person watching the content at a friend’s house ends up purchasing it? They are attempting to open up extra streams of revenue by controlling the system more aggressively. When the system gets too convoluted for users to abide by they blame that loss in revenue on piracy.
You could imagine this occurring for video games as well: what if a publisher decides that split-screen gaming is a premium service to be licensed on a per-controller basis? The content industry is attempting to focus their licensing arrangements as granularly as possible. This is bad for you, it is often bad for them, and it is terrible for society.
Do not assume that a copyright holder will act sensibly. It is not about cheap people. It is often not even about revenue despite whether they believe it is or not. Just look at Ubisoft’s DRM “success”. An exodus of 90% of your customers should never be called a success and yet they genuinely believed it was.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 9, 2012 - 03:40 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tahiti, radeon, never settle, live, amd
UPDATE: Did you miss the live stream yesterday? Well don't fret - you can still watch the single player and multi-player action of Medal of Honor Warfighter in the video below. Sorry, all the prizes have been handed out though but check back in at pcper.com for two more upcoming game streams!!
This afternoon on our PC Perspective Live! page we will be streaming some single player and multi-player game action of latest title to use the Frostbite 2 engine, Medal of Honor Warfighter. You can stop in and watch us take on a bit of the campaign in the game and then view my likely repetitive demise in some multi-player matches as well.
Medal of Honor Warfighter Game Stream
12pm PT / 3pm ET - TODAY
The stream today will be sponsored by AMD and their Never Settle game bundles which we previously told you about here. Depending on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU that you buy this holiday season you could get as much as $170 in gaming content including:
- FREE Sleeping Dogs
- FREE Hitman: Absolution
- FREE Far Cry 3
- 20% off Medal of Honor Warfighter
AMD's Robert Hallock (@Thracks on twitter) will be joining us via Skype to talk about the game's technology, performance considerations as well as making fun of while I get sniped from the windows.
Of course, just to sweeten the deal a bit we have some prizes lined up for those of you that participate in our Medal of Honor Game Stream today as well.
- 3 x Complete Never Settle Bundles (Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, Far Cry 3, 20% Off MoH)
- 5 x Sleeping Dogs keys
- 5 x Hitman: Absolution keys
- 5 x Far Cry 3 keys
Pretty nice, huh? That's a LOT of games and all you have to do to win is be present on the PC Perspective Live! Page during the event as we will announce both the content/sweepstakes method AND the winner!
Stop in today for some PC gaming fun!!
Subject: Editorial | November 8, 2012 - 12:23 PM | PCPer Staff
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Canon PowerShot SX230 HS 12MP Digital Camera for $217 with free shipping (normally $280 - Use coupon code L1F77MQNT2?H21).
Subject: Editorial | November 7, 2012 - 07:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: stealth, space sim, games
There are two types of games that are near and dear to my heart which have been sadly lacking recently, stealth FPSes and space sims, which seems to be changing. Until very recently the best way to solve your stealth fetish was to take advantage of the compatibility patches for Thief 2 or to play Thief: The Dark Mod, neither new releases nor officially sanctioned. Deus Ex:HR had some stealth elements depending on how you wanted to play it but for the most part it was a straight out superpower shooter. The release of Dishonored was a good start, while it is another superpower shooter it is one with far more emphasis on stealth, both in the powers you can gain and utilize as well as the fighting mechanics which ensure your death if you attract too many enemies at the same time. Next to come is a game entitled Abduction, which is being built on CryEngine 3 and as you can see by the trailer it is very much focused on dark places to hide, proper shadows for you to keep track of guards with, silent take downs and a silenced pistol for those who run out of patience and need turn off a light or to drop someone quickly. Sound also plays a part, over and above the AI swarming gun shots, for instance the instruction to run and let the sound cause a distraction. Also worth checking out is Hitman, again a game which incorporates stealth as a major gameplay mechanic and not just an option in some missions.
Space Sim fans have long been bemoaning the early demise of the FreeSpace series, for as much fun as the incredible X series is, it is far more than a space shooter and that can turn many fans off. Babylon 5: I've Found Her is an amazing free game which has continued to receive updates and new missions, however it uses Newtonian physics which can be difficult to get used to and frustrating to some players. Also recently released was the Wing Commander Saga, more than just a remake of Wing Commander 3 while still incorporating many of the assets which made that game special then and still does today.
The creator of Wing Commander, Chris Roberts, also had an announcement for space sim fans who have long been awaiting his return to game design. He is currently working on a monstrous space game in two forms, a single player version called Squadron 42 and a online multiplayer version with a fully perpetual universe with an accompanying story arc reminiscent of the fall of Rome called Star Citizen. While both games will essentially be the same, the online version will obviously not evolve in the same way as the single player version since once you let player characters near your campaign you might as well toss your carefully planned story arc out the window as it will not survive contact with those stubborn, misguided fools (to put it politely).
If that is not enough to send a tingle down your spine then perhaps the possible return of another old friend will. If David Braben has his way, Elite will be making a comeback and as his Kickstarter already has over £300,000 in backing. Not only was this an incredible game to play, they were the first to develop procedural generation of a game world or universe in this case. How else could they fit 8 galaxies each with 256 planets onto a Cassette, Floppy disk or Cartridge and then run it on an 8-bit computer? Now imagine what those twistedly gifted minds can do with today's 64bit OSes and the GPU power available to them. Jameson never had it so good, even after upgrading his docking computer so as to no longer have to manually match rotation with space stations!
It is a damn fine time to be a PC gamer who likes a little variation in the types of games they play ... now I wonder if that X-Com squaddie is healed up enough to go on another mission yet?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 26, 2012 - 02:46 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8, video, system build, live
Today at 3pm EDT we are going to be doing a live stream of a system build and Windows 8 installation on our PC Perspective Live! page. Won't you come and join us?
UPDATE: Did you miss the event? Well then, we have you covered with the replay of the two and a half hour stream right here!
Sorry, no, I won't be doing it blindfolded this time...
If you are looking to learn how to build a PC, how the Windows 8 setup goes along with initial Windows 8 experiences, or just want to hang out during a lazy Friday, click on the link above or on the flashing radio tower to the left and join us!!
Subject: Editorial, Storage | October 24, 2012 - 08:26 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: hybrid, fusion drive, fusion, apple
Dubbed 'Fusion Drive', this tech enables the late 2012 Mac Mini and iMac models to have a pseudo-hybrid drive. There's been a lot of speculation today on just how this technology will work, but I've cut through the chaff to try and shed some proper light on just how this new thing works, and how it is so different than any other 'hybrid' solution out there.
First, it's not a hybrid drive. The iMac or Mac Mini comes with an SSD and a HDD. Two individual SATA devices. Both devices appear as individual drives, even in Disk Utility. Where the magic happens is that OSX can be configured (and is pre-configured in these new systems) to combine the two drives into one drive that presents itself to the user as a single logical volume. The important point is that the drives are 'fused' together, not merged or mirrored. The SSD and HDD each have their own partition, and OSX can reach beneath the Fusion layer and shift files back and forth between the two as it sees fit. Frequently used apps and files can be shifted back and forth between the SSD and HDD, as seen in the below pic:
The biggest differences are in that since it's not a mirrored hybrid solution, where the SSD space is not available, and a failure of the HDD causes loss of all data. Fusion Drive combines the two volumes and *adds* the space together, and the apps or files will sit on either device (but not both). All files written go to the SSD first and are later shifted to the HDD in the background. This is actually a very smart way to handle things. The entire OSX install always stays on the SSD, so there is no concern of OS files 'rolling off' of the SSD cache, causing intermittent slowdowns. More (perhaps most) importantly, if the HDD fails on a Fusion Drive setup, OSX should theoretically just keep on chugging, albeit without access to the files or apps that were stored on the HDD. On the flip side, if the SSD were to fail, the HDD could simply be mounted in Target Mode under another Mac, and all files stored to that drive could then be recovered. Sure you won't get everything back in these scenarios, but it provides *much* more flexibility for data recovery, and it's worth repeating the fact that an HDD failure in any other hybrid solution results in the loss of ALL data.
A couple of other quick gotchas: You can still dual boot with boot camp under a Fusion Drive setup, but the boot camp partition will only be at the end of the HDD, not on the SSD. Windows will not only run slower because it's on the spinning disk, it will run slower because the latter portions of a HDD typically see about half of the throughput as compared to the start of that disk. Also, you are only allowed *one* additional (non-Fusion) partition on the HDD, which can be used for another OSX install *or* for the Boot Camp Windows install. Users who prefer to boot greater than two operating systems on their newer Mac will have to do so with Fusion Drive disabled.
More to follow as more data comes in. For now I'm only working off of the other speculation and the Apple Support Page on the matter.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 06:22 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: asus, vivo tab rt, tegra 3, nvidia, video, live
If you happen to be free tomorrow afternoon and would like to be one of the first to see the upcoming ASUS Vivo Tab RT based on the Windows RT operating system and the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, you should set your calendar for 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT and join me on the PC Perspective Live! page.
While we won't have any insight on our long term experiences with the device at that time tomorrow, you can see our initial impressions and anything/everything that occurrs with our intial setup and usage!
If you have questions or thoughts on the device that you want addressed during the live stream, you can leave them here in our comments or hang around in our chat room during the event as well. We want this to be interactive so your input is requested!
Again, that is 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT at the PC Perspective Live! page.
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | October 20, 2012 - 12:33 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: hitman, amd, extravalanza, hitman: absolution, video
We are at the first AMD ExtravaLANza today getting some hands on time with some cool new hardware as well as new games like Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution. We attended a session with the Hitman developer IO Interactive where some interesting information about the DX11 features. I recorded a video of the presentation for those interested in seeing it in its entirety.
The brand new Glacier2 engine has some impressive new features including:
- DX11 hardware tessellation on character models
- A global illumination engine using light propagation volumes
- AA options including FXAA and MSAA 2x-8x
- Eyefinity and HD3D
There is more, but you can hear it all in the video above. IO Interactive wanted to assure PC gamers that they are developing the game to be a first class PC title with higher quality imaging, controls and texture detail; this doesn't look to be a standard console port.
Subject: Editorial | October 19, 2012 - 01:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: deals, deal of the day
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Subject: Editorial, General Tech | October 18, 2012 - 08:09 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: contest, video, giveaway, amd, llano, APU
In a self-serving attempt to increase awareness about the PC Perspective YouTube channel, we are running another contest where you can win one of four AMD Llano A8-3870K APUs simply by leaving a comment and being a subscriber.
That's right, there are two steps:
We'll pick our winners on October 24th! Good luck!
Subject: Editorial | October 18, 2012 - 01:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deals, deal of the day
Crucial M4 2.5" 256GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD for $180 with free shipping@ TigerDirect (normally $250 - Use coupon code DigFallSave5).
EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB Memory Video Card for $90 with free shipping @ NewEgg (normally $135 - Use this form).
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Cooler Master Elite 371 ATX Mid-Tower Case for $20 plus shipping @ TigerDirect (normally $45 - Use this form).
Sharper Image HD Camcorder Watch for $154.99 @ Sharper Image (normally $169.99 – use coupon codeENT2010).
Subject: Editorial | October 17, 2012 - 02:50 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deals, deal of the day
Pre-order: Microsoft Windows 8 + $30 Amazon Credit for $69.99 @ Amazon (normally $199.99).
Dell Vostro 270s Core i5 Ivy Bridge Slim Tower Desktop for $529.00 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $849.00 - use coupon code W9D06J14FX10WM).
Intel 330 Series 2.5" 180GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD for $99.99 plus shipping @ TigerDirect (normally $170 - use this form).
Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset for $100 with free shipping @ NewEgg (normally $150 - Use coupon code EMCJNJD73 and Usethis form).
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