Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2011 - 10:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rage, PC, id, gaming, carmack
Many of the PC Perspective staff members have been testing out RAGE this week, and were among the countless fans that had been waiting impatiently for id software’s RAGE (to be released) since the first Mega-texture screenshots surfaced of the first person shooter a few years ago. As the game finally unlocked (on steam) on Monday night; however, the game’s enemies were not the only thing catching fire. The Steam Users Forum started lighting up with numerous complaints, bug issues, crashes, and graphical woes and rolled into an uncontrollable wildfire.
id Software's RAGE, when it's working
The major issues of RAGE include the trusty “CTD,” a crash to desktop, after the initial cut scene in the campaign as you emerge into the game world, screen tearing, mouse super sensitivity, and texture pop-in. According to Maximum PC, Bethesda has stated that this error is caused when using AMD’s Battlefield 3 Beta performance drivers. I experienced this issue myself when testing out RAGE, and switching to these RAGE performance drivers fixed that particular crashing issue. There are also reports of crashing during other parts of the game; however, they are more varied than the previous crash issue and do not manifest themselves on all systems. On the mouse super sensitivity front, using a mouse on in game dialog menus can be problematic as well. The mouse sensitivity seems to skyrocket, making it difficult to hit the “accept” and “decline” options compared to the mouse speed when using guns or walking around in the game world. The same physical motions seem to be greatly magnified on the in-game menus, as shown in the video below.
The remaining major issues do not necessarily affect gameplay; however, they can be distracting and certainly can interrupt the immersion factor of the game. Specifically, there is currently a texture streaming problem such that when the player turns too fast (or at all in severe cases), the textures of the game “pop in.” What this means is that the game looks blurry and missing detail until the engine is able to “catch up” and present the gamer with the (correctly) detailed textures. Bethesda indicates that this texture lag/pop in problem is due moreso to driver issues than problems with the engine. It remains to be seen whether updated drivers will be able to fully fix the texture streaming issue, however. The video below shows the texture pop in issue quite well.
The texture issue is not only a PC issue, however. Giantbomb noted in their Quick Look of RAGE that the Xbox 360 version of RAGE also experiences the texture pop in issue, though not to the extent of the PC. Beyond texture pop in, the PC version also succumbed to screen tearing issues. As an example, when entering the Wasted Garage level, the left two-thirds of my screen became filled almost completely with a solid yellow color where the image was torn in multiple places. This image below is of another user’s screen tearing experience which was less severe than mine but still enough to cause problems in playing the game.
GameFront is having RAGE screen tearing issues as well.
Finally, RAGE does not play nicely with FRAPS, which saw a massive slowdown in framerate when recording (much more than the normal dip experienced in other games). (UPDATE: the new AMD driver (updated Rage Performance Driver) seems to have fixed this for the most part.)
Some of these graphical issues may be attributable to the automatically adjusting nature of the game’s graphical settings as the game may not be able to cache/reuse textures it has recently loaded if the engine determines that the graphical settings need to be lower or higher, resulting in the engine needing to reload textures, and thus having what feels like lagging textures even in areas you’ve recently looked around. The extent to which it happens though is likely caused by a number of factors, that many hope a patch will mitigate. On the other hand, Bethesda is indicating that the texture issue is not due to the engine but rather is due to graphics drivers.
Either way, gamers are not happy with RAGE and are waiting impatiently for drivers and/or a patch to fix the various issues, whichever the case may be. It may be prudent to take a "wait and see" approach to the game before jumping in, if you haven't already purchased it of course. Are you running RAGE right now, and if so what sorts of issues (and hopefully solutions) have you run into? Vent your rage about RAGE in the comments below!
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2011 - 11:53 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK107, GeForce 610M, GT 630M
VR-Zone spotted a string in the newest beta drivers from NVIDIA listing two new models of GPU, the NVIDIA GeForce 610M and GT 630M. From other rumours that we have collected from a variety of sources around the web we are fairly certain that these chips will be based on GK107, the low power version of the chip everyone wants to see, the GK100. While we are used to seeing both AMD and Intel to lead with mid to low range chips to simultaneously start off a new process size and chip family, NVIDIA doing so raises some eyebrows. NVIDIA's mobile graphics chips have to compete directly with the graphics portion of AMD and Intel's APUs and do so in a market where like it or not, you have already paid for the GPU portion of your processor. There will not only have to be an increase in performance, it will also have to justify the extra investment. We shall see what the final answer is early in 2012.
"In the latest unreleased 285 BETA drivers, the expected GeForce 600 branding has surfaced. The marketing names leaked are NVIDIA GeForce 610M and NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M. The GeForce 610M is likely to be an entry level GPU while the GeForce GT 630M could very well be a GK107 SKU."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 97: Sweet spot SSDs and Amazon's new Kindles
- "Intelligent" nanofluids could cool computer chips @ nanotechweb
- Asustek will not compete with price in the tablet PC market, says CEO @ DigiTimes
- Check your machines for malware, Linux developers told @ The Register
- Win a Jabra Clipper Bluetooth Stereo Headset @ Tech-Reviews
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2011 - 05:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
It is becoming difficult to discuss the quality of soundcards with anyone, since very few people use them. We've gone from needing a sound card to play back a reasonable amount of channels since the onboard audio could not handle it, to saving CPU cycles by pulling the responsibility of processing audio onto a sound card, to a point where they seem obsolete. Putting aside the fact that many PCs are outputting audio and video over a single HDMI cable or onto a USB headset, most non-audiophiles will be satisfied with the variety of outputs available on the back of a motherboard and the processing power that the onboard audio Codec needs is minuscule. At The Tech Report you can read about one technophiles experiences with sound cards and his recommendation focuses more on the importance of providing yourself with a decent sound system and top of the line speakers before in preference to upgrading your sound card.
"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated "In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan upgrades his integrated motherboard audio and wonders whether discrete sound cards are still relevant."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- V-MODA True Blood REVAMP Headphones Review @ Legit Reviews
- Tt eSPORTS Shock Gaming Headset @ TechwareLabs
- Jabra FREEWAY Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone Review @ Real World Labs
- Logitech Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 Review@ HardwareLOOK
- Arctic Sound E461-BM Earphones @ Computing on Demand
- Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset Review @ Tech-Reviews
- PocketBoom Portable Vibration Speaker Review @ Tech-Reviews
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2011 - 12:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: llano, APU, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, 28nm, 32nm, trinity, amd
Woe is AMD, as it becomes ever more obvious that Llano is not giving good yields at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. Back in July the market noticed that while the new Llano chips were great at providing good enough graphics for a great price, they were very hard to find. As a consumer you might be able to find a notebook to purchase for yourself but as a reseller who needs to buy processors in the thousands before considering that chip as a part of the new product line up you have been out of luck. According to DigiTimes this will change in 2012 with the arrival of Trinity which will still use GLOBALFOUNDRIES 32nm process, turning to TSMC for the 28nm graphical portion. The previous hope that the supply problems would be solved in September were obviously a little too optimistic.
"Supply of AMD's Llano APUs, affected by Globalfoundries's lower-than-expected 32nm yield rates, has been significantly limited and is unlikely to recover until the company's upcoming Trinity arrives in 2012, according to sources from motherboard players. When asked about the company's upcoming Trinity schedule, AMD Taiwan declined to comment on unannounced products.
AMD started suffering from Llano APU supply shortages in July due to the yield issues and the company originally expected the supply status to return to normal in September. However, judging from the current situation, the sources believe the company's supply volume is unlikely to meet client demand through the end of 2011.
The sources estimated that the yield rate issue should be resolved in 2012, when Trinity launches."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Fanless PCs with 95W CPUs shown off @ SemiAccurate
- Vulnerability in HTC smartphones exposes user data @ The Inquirer
- Mozilla releases Rescuefox prototype @ The Inquirer
- Pandemonium as Microsoft AV nukes Chrome browser @ The Register
- Btrfs File-System For Old Computers? @ Phoronix
- Virtual showdown: Parallels Desktop 7 and VMware Fusion 4 @ Ars Technica
- A Beginner’s Guide to Video Encoding @ t-break
- Real World Labs And Enermax Joint Contest
Although id Software’s RAGE and DICE’s upcoming shooter Battlefield 3 have been getting all the attention around the PC Per office lately, Portal 2 is about to receive some free DLC that just might hold gamers over while they wait impatiently for their Battlefield 3 and RAGE pre-orders! Dubbed “Peer Review,” the upcoming DLC has been delayed several times and missed its original “summer” release date; however, it is finally releasing and will be available on October 4th.
The Peer Review DLC (download-able content) will be available on the PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. According to Digital Trends, the free content will include new co-op modes for Atlas and P-Body in addition to new single play puzzles. Unfortunately, the single player puzzles will not extend the overall story of the Portal universe. Leader-boards and a new Challenge game mode will also be featured in the DLC.
One can be assured that GLaDOS is waiting. Whether gamers will finally get the promised cake is another matter, however.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 1, 2011 - 01:49 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: sli, gtx 570, gtx 460, bf3, battlefield 3
I know, we've been talking a lot about Battlefield 3 this week, but I have yet another set of numbers and results that I think you guys will want to see. Previously, all of our BF3 benchmarks have been run under the Ultra quality presets but it is obvious that not all GPUs or gamers are going to want to target the highest settings the game can accomplish. With that in mind I decided to test a couple of cards at Ultra, High, Medium and Low presets in order to guage how well the game scaled based on image quality.
For this round I wanted to use a high end card as well as an older, much more popular (and currently low cost) card; the result is tests on the GeForce GTX 570 1.25GB and the GeForce GTX 460 1GB reference platforms. We used the Operation Metro map and the initial outdoor section for our testing as it was the most strenuous in the beta thus far.
As a side note, if you want to see how the image quality actually changes from the Ultra, High, Medium and Low presets, check out this page of my previous performance article that included screenshots and even some animated GIFs as demonstration.
Here are the results:
On the more powerful GTX 570 you can see that BF3 scales pretty well from the Ultra settings through the Low options in even steps. By moving from Ultra down to High a gamer would see about 34% better performance and 22% better minimum frame rates. The jump to Medium gains another 41% while the move to Low gets another 25% on top of that. The gap between Low and Ultra is about ~2.3x.
The GTX 460 sees similar levels of performance grades though the move from Ultra to High only gains you about 28% and averages of 33.8 FPS or so. I would still consider that on the low side of a good game play experience and thus the move to Medium (which is 82% faster than Ultra) seems like the sweet spot for BF3.
I know we also had some requests for SLI scaling performance and, in particular, with the GTX 460 1GB cards. Since this card has been so incredibly popular we thought this would be the perfect candidate for the "SLI Upgrade Path" option and you can pick one up for $150 (or less with rebates). Let's see how well Battlefield 3 scales with multiple GPUs.
At the Ultra quality settings we saw a 60% scaling capability by adding in a second GTX 460 at stock speeds while at High settings we see that rate increases to 84%! That is pretty impressive and for the cost investment of a second GPU it looks like you are going to see better than average scaling. Considering this is with the first driver release and with a beta version of the game, I can only see multi-GPU scaling rates going up as the full retail release hits.
With these results and some others we have done through the week we are ready to put together our Battlefield 3 system build guide. Stay tuned!
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | October 1, 2011 - 01:55 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: FX, bulldozer, amd, am3+
AMD has not been too well received in the upper end of CPUs for quite some time now. Once Intel started pushing for performance with their Conroe core, AMD was forced to stay competitive in the mainstream market to survive and that is pretty much where we have been for the last 5 years. Also returning after a nearly 5-year hiatus is the FX moniker for AMD’s flagship products. According to leak(s) from Microcenter that floated past our desks we should see a resurgence of at least one of those two on October 12th, 2011:
"AMD is launching their new AM3+ FX series processors on 10/12/11. We currently have a number of AM3+ compatible motherboards in stock. These motherboards will support the new AM3+ FX processors as well as legacy AM3 processors."
Personally, I would shy away from the words "Bull" and "Dozer" in my product line.
Also from the memo we learned that the new AM3+ FX SKUs that will launch includes: FX-6100, FX-8120, and the FX-8150. The 6000-series parts constitute 6-core processors where the 8000-series parts constitute 8-core parts. To support those processors we shall see three Gigabyte motherboards, four ASUS motherboards, and four ASRock motherboards. Update Oct 1 @ 2pm: There may be more motherboards at launch but since this is a Microcenter leak it only considers their stock.
|ASRock||890FX Deluxe 5|
|ASRock||880G PRO 3*|
|ASRock||890GX PRO 3*|
Each of these motherboards will require a BIOS update to be serviceable though the leak suggests that the update would be performed by Microcenter themselves. If for some reason you have the board on your own you will need an older AM3 processor to perform the update. Also, the last two ASRock motherboards (asterixed) do not yet have a BIOS update for AM3+. AMD is expected to post an official blog about the topic on October 3rd at AMD.com.
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2011 - 06:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
The Tech Talk Forum captures a wide variety of topics, though a little more focussed than the spread you might find in the Off Topic Forum. For instance, at the same time that a poll inquires as to whether you think sound cards are even worth purchasing anymore there is another thread discussing a video rendering machine that does not even list a sound card in the build anywhere. One assumes the machine will not be making silent movies.
In the Motherboard Forum you can get a blast from the past, not only is a member having a problem with a Tyan board, another is inquiring about a DFI board. There is a good chance some of our members have never heard of those manufacturers, let alone seen a board from them; other members might get a wee trip down memory lane. If you are more interested in new hardware, how about windwithme's comprehensive look at the Gigabyte G1. Sniper?
In the Processor forum, you might want to keep an eye out on this thread as it might just get a little busier in the very near future. In the Cases and Cooling Forum you can read about the proper philosophy behind applying thermal paste (hint: no spatula required). If you are curious about the Vertex 3 series of SSDs, you should definitely hit this thread in the Storage Forum to get the real story instead of just hearsay. If you are more interested in Windows 8 and the developer version that was recently made available, then off to the Windows Forum with you.
If you are feeling more like finding entertainment on a Friday, then the Battlefield 3 thread has picked up, in part because of Ryan's virtual party last night. If not, there is The Lightning Round where you can vent your spleen about recent events or even The Trading Post where you can engage in a little swapping.
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2011 - 11:55 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: engenius, wireless router
If you have been asked to help someone pick a wireless router for their home you are likely familiar with the glazed look that comes to the eyes of the person who asked for your help when you try to figure out what their requirements are. EnGenuis might be a good way for you to look when offering them a model. The 300N Gaming router offers a simple interface and will prioritize media traffic to ensure that streaming video and gaming packets get the highest priority if there is a lot of traffic over the router. It also does not have a reset button, which means you can avoid reprogramming the router every time the user wants to do their own maintenance and resets the router back to factory defaults. Techware Labs would like to see a dual band version for enthusiasts but as it stands the EnGenius 300N is great for family use.
"EnGenius has answered the call of media enthusiasts and gamers alike with the Wireless 300N Gaming Router (ESR9855G). With 300Mbps (37.5 MBps) wireless and 1000Mbps (125 MBps) wired speeds this router is aimed at gaming and HD streaming. Lets take a dive and take a look if this router a step above the rest."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Destroy Hard Drives?
- Nerf's new Vortex blasters: who needs darts when you're shooting discs? @ Ars Technica
- Griffin HELO TC iOS-Controlled RC Helicopter Review @ Legit Reviews
- Google CIO and others talk DevOps and "Disaster Porn" at Surge @ Ars Technica
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 29, 2011 - 06:51 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, pcper live, nvidia, geforce, bf3, battlefield 3, amd
Look, there isn't any football on tonight, so what else are you going to do? Rather than watch a rerun of Seinfeld, why not stop by here at http://pcper.com/live to hang out and not only watch us play some Battlefield 3 but also participate yourself by calling in on Skype, using Google+ Hangouts or even just chatting on our IRC server (welcome back to 1998, amiright?).
We are going to start the show at 10:30pm EST and plan on running until midnight at least, but it all depends on participation levels from YOU!
What all do we have on the agenda? Well, it is going to be pretty informal as we are still getting our feet wet with this whole "live" thing but here is what we are planning:
- Watch Ryan and Ken get destroyed over and over in Battlefield 3 and watch as we attempt to sneak our way into the password protected Caspian levels with vehicles, 64 players and a new game type (oh my!).
- Skype call ins from readers and gamers that want to talk about BF3 and their experiences with the game so far. How does it run on your hardware? Discussion like this will help others that might not have the beta figure out what they might want to upgrade in the near future. (Be prepared to give us your Skype handle in the chat so we can call you!)
- Trying some group games via our PC Perspective Platoon, the Fragging Frogs! (Head over and apply to join or become a fan!) You can also find me on EA Origin or in the Battlelog system as "ryanshrout".
- We will discuss our brainstorming sessions for what hardware we will recommend for certain gaming resolutions and specific image quality settings in a future article...all live!
- Maybe some surprise guests from the PC Perspective staff and beyond...??
We will be streaming the festivities live on our Justin.tv channel (embedded below) and will have a chat widget here as well for those of you that would rather use IRC than the integrated Justin.tv chat.
In short, we are planning on having a good time playing some games and talking hardware so if you are into that, then I think you should be sure to stop by and say hello!! Let us know in the comments if you have anything else you want to see or any more ideas for our live show. Thanks!!!