Tech

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 G1 Gaming review

Dave James at

You’d maybe think playing second fiddle to the mighty Nvidia GTX 980 would be a pretty depressing existence for the young GTX 970. Your big brother’s the one every monitor wants to be with and every other graphics card wants to be. The GTX 970 might be the second-tier Maxwell card, but it’s one of the most impressive graphics cards I’ve tested in recent times—especially in the guise of Gigabyte’s overclocked version.


Corsair K70 RGB keyboard debuts with per-key backlighting for $170

Wes Fenlon at

Corsair has been making gaming gear for years: mice and keyboards, headsets and mousepads. Now they’re uniting their various gaming lines under one Corsair Gaming banner, and to mark the occasion they’re updating one of our favorite gaming keyboards, the Corsair Vengance K70. The new Corsair Gaming K70 RGB is still a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches, but it replaces the old red LEDs with full-color RGB backlighting under every key. We tested out the K70 RGB with Corsair’s new customization software to see how flashy the lighting can get.

Look below for a video of the RGB backlighting in action.


Oculus Rift Crescent Bay prototype hands-on: experiencing true VR presence for the first time

Wes Fenlon at

Wow. I thought I had experienced virtual reality before I put on Oculus VR’s new prototype Crescent Bay headset. I put on the original Rift when it was still a duct-taped prototype. I’ve played game demos on the higher resolution Crystal Cove prototype, which added positional tracking, and the polished version that is now shipping as DK2. Every one was amazing: an experience with a technology that was clearly on the cusp of changing gaming as we know it. Putting on Oculus VR’s Crescent Bay is a different experience altogether. Those previous headsets were just shadows of virtual reality, simulacra that asked you to fool your brain into believing in the magic. In some of the Crystal Cove demos, I found myself having to remind my brain that this wasn’t real, because all my senses were telling me otherwise.

In their keynotes at Oculus Connect, the brains behind Oculus kept talking about “presence”—what it takes to create total immersion in virtual reality. It sounded like a buzzword to me, until I strapped Crescent Bay onto my face, placed its integrated earpieces over my ears, and stood on the ledge of a skyscraper looking out over a virtual steampunk cityscape. I looked down, tried to step off the ledge, and my body recoiled. I was there.


DirectX 12's new rendering features are coming to DirectX 11.3 too

Dave James at

At this year’s Intel Developer Conference and Nvidia’s Maxwell Editor’s Day, Microsoft were busy banging the DirectX 12 drum. They were demonstrating its CPU efficiency boosts as well as talking up the new rendering features they’re implementing to show off the latest GPU hardware around.

Microsoft also announced the new rendering features are also going to be part of the DirectX 11.3 API, which is being shipped at the same time as DirectX 12. That sounds great, but it also fills me with fear. Back in 2007, DirectX 10 was exclusive to Vista, leaving popular Windows XP in the dust. The same thing could happen with Windows 7 and DirectX 12.


Nvidia's Dynamic Super Resolution is downsampling made easy

Wes Fenlon at

Back in April, Dark Souls modder Durante revealed a new tool he'd written called GeDoSaTo, or Generic Downsampling Tool. Downsampling is like the ultimate brute force anti-aliasing solution--it involves running a game at a high resolution, like 1440p or 4K or even 8K--and then using an algorithm to rescale that image to your monitor's native, like 1080p. Downsampled games look amazingly sharp, but downsampling usually requires some tricky hacks, like adjusting monitor timings or modifying game files. GeDoSaTo made it possible to downsample games more easily than ever before, but it's still a mod tool, and all mod tools require trial and error and tinkering.

Well, Nvidia's been paying attention. One of the major features coming to Maxwell GPUs like the GTX 980 is called Dynamic Super Resolution—and it's just downsampling, but with official driver support instead of hacking. The favorite technique of hardcore PC screenshotters is coming to the masses.


Nvidia GTX 980 tested: SLI, 4K, and single-GPU benchmarks and impressions

Wes Fenlon at

The Nvidia GTX 980 is here—as in, Nvidia has announced it, you'll be able to buy one soon, and it's also physically here in the PC Gamer offices. I've been playing games on the GTX 980 and benchmarking the card with the help of Maximum PC. We've put our cards together to test dual-GPU SLI performance and thrown the 980s up against a 4K monitor to see how they compare to the GTX 780 Ti, Radeon R9 290X, and other top-of-the-line graphics cards.

The big question: is the Nvidia GTX 980 worth its $550 price tag? According to our benchmarks, absolutely.


Astro A38 bluetooth headset impressions

Cory Banks at

Astro makes some of my favorite gaming headsets. They’re comfortable for long play sessions, their boom microphones sound clear when I’m calling out new objectives, and they sound pretty damn good—balanced enough for serious music listening but dynamic enough to catch every bullet snap in a Battlefield 4 match. So I was excited to try the company’s newest model, the Astro A38 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Headset. Astro bills it as an all-in-one gaming headset that can be used on your desktop PC, a gaming laptop, or even your smartphone. After two weeks of use, I think it’s a great set of cans, but I’m not sure it belongs at your gaming rig.


"There are 711 million PC gamers in the world today" says Intel

Dave James at

This is the first time I can remember that PC gaming was mentioned at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) without me having to remind an exec that we existed. Unprompted, Intel's Kirk Skaugen took to the stage in the main keynote proclaiming “desktop is alive and well. It's innovating, whether it's small form factors, all-in-ones, portable all-in-ones or extreme gaming.”

"There are 711 million PC gamers in the world today, that's one in ten people on the planet,” he enthused.


MSI demonstrates their GS30 2-in-1 desktop gaming PC/laptop

Dave James at

Is it a bird, is it a laptop, is it a desktop? No, it's MSI's GS30...er...entertainment system? At the moment it's just a pre-production sample but the bundled laptop and dock ought to allow bona fide desktop performance via a laptop. On the road, you've got a thin and light notebook and plugged in, at home you've effectively got a full desktop running from the same system.


DuoScreen wants to give your laptop monitor a sidekick

Wes Fenlon at

The desktop has so many advantages over the laptop: power, price, multiple monitors. A powerful gaming laptop has the advantage of portability, but we hate giving up the productivity of two (or three) side-by-side monitors. So do the creators of a soon-to-be Kickstarter called the DuoScreen, apparently: they’ve built a prototype laptop dock that, true to its name, houses a fold-out second screen.


Intel's affordable hex-core chip could future-proof your PC

Dave James at

Intel’s eight-core i7 5960X super chip may have grabbed a lot of headlines for its unprecedented multi-threading capabilities, but as a $1,000 CPU it was effectively irrelevant for most PC gamers. Their significantly cheaper Core i7 5820K, though, is a serious step up in performance from the Devil’s Canyon quad-core, and I’ve just got my hands on it for the first time.


The best gaming laptops for any budget

PC Gamer at

Gaming laptops are the perfect solution for a very specific group of people—they’re ideal for serious gamers who need a rig that can play demanding games while remaining somewhat portable for frequent travel or LAN parties. They aren’t slim battery life champions, and building a desktop will always get you more raw gaming power for less money, so gaming laptops aren’t the most practical solution for all gamers. That said, a great gaming laptop can play the latest games on high to ultra settings with a good 1080p screen, keyboard, and cooling system.

At $1800 (~£1130), the Asus G750JS-DS71 is our pick for best gaming laptop. The JS-DS71 configuration has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M graphics card, a quad-core Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, and 16GB of RAM, along with a 256GB solid state drive and a 1TB hard drive to store games and other media.


Intel Core i7 5960X review

Dave James at

Hot damn this is some quick, expensive silicon. But even though this brand new, $1,000 eight-core, sixteen thread, Core i7 5960X processing monster is capable of some serious number-crunching, it’s probably not the CPU you’re really looking for.

The i7 5960X is the first, and the most powerful, of the new Haswell E range of Intel CPUs. They represent the processors of a whole new PC platform, comprising new motherboards and the next generation of system memory, namely X99 and DDR4 respectively. But all this is designed to power servers, rather than drive gaming performance.


Intel introduces affordable six-core CPU behind its $1,000 behemoth

Dave James at

If you’ve been eyeing up the eight-core, sixteen-thread Intel Core i7 5960X with jealous peepers, but lack the big wallet of the CEO of the ALS Association, there is still a way to top the four cores of a Devil’s Canyon i7.

There’s a six-core, twelve-thread, unlocked Intel Haswell E processor on its way that doesn’t cost a lot more than the Core i7 4790K.


6 portable Windows tools for USB thumb drives

PC Gamer at

A USB thumbdrive can be a lot of things—a backup of important photos, a quick transfer device for big files, a cheap way to give out documents. It can also be a Swiss Army knife of portable software, filled with software that runs straight off the USB drive. These tools can be useful for working with computers you can’t install your own software on, or laptops that have dropped the CD drive for a thinner chassis. Our colleagues at TechRadar have covered a variety of portable tools, and we’ve put together six we recommend below. Make your own USB Swiss Army knife.


AMD gears up for a hardware fight on all fronts with cheaper chips, graphics cards and SSDs

Dave James at

Whether it’s a new bunch of processors, cheaper chips, new graphics cards or even the arrival of a new range of solid state drives, AMD are trying to build a bit of a buzz about their new hardware at the moment.Considering its Intel and Nvidia-shaped competition are on the verge of releasing brand new, super-exciting products themselves, AMD know they’ve got some serious work to do. The latest slew of announcements should help.


Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury review

Dave James at

However disgruntled I’m becoming about the amount of gaming hardware being named after classical Greek characters, I have to admit to being seriously impressed by the latest Logitech mouse.

It’s being marketed as ‘the world’s fastest gaming mouse’ and to be fair Logitech have got a point. It’s not trading on the sort of crazy-high DPI settings it’s bigger sibling, the G502 Proteus Core, can manage, but it’s capable of tracking your movements however quickly you hurl your gaming rodent around the desktop.


Windows 9 preview set to arrive late September

Dave James at

We're ready for Windows 9 to wash away the sins of Windows 8, and it looks like Microsoft is, too. According to ZDNet's veteran Microsoft reporter, a "technology preview" version of the OS is coming in late September or October, with the final release scheduled for spring 2015. More tantalizing: that technology preview may be freely available to the public.


10 essential Windows 7 applications

PC Gamer at

Windows 8.1 has been out since October 2013, but we still cling to our installs of Windows 7. We love its reliability, even if it's missing some of Windows 8's under-the-hood improvements. If you're also still using Windows 7, your gaming PC is probably loaded with years of accumulated software. But are you using the best? Our colleagues at TechRadar put together a list of the best free programs for Windows 7, and we've boiled that list down to the 10 programs we think are essentials. If you don't have these programs installed already, here's why you should download them.


LG's 34-inch 21:9 monitor has convinced me that ultrawide is better than 4K

Dave James at

Having spent a long time using 4K monitors I’ve become a bit jaded about next-gen gaming resolutions. They don't tangibly deliver anything above what you can get from a beautiful 27-inch IPS 1440p screen. The problem is, while 4K does deliver a huge upgrade in terms of pixel count, it doesn’t make a huge difference in games where the texture resolution hasn’t changed. All you’re really doing is shanking your frame rate in return for the possibility of being able to knock your anti-aliasing settings down a notch. If you want a dramatic upgrade of your gaming monitor you should have a good think about the new ultrawide 34-inch 21:9 screens trickling out of all good monitor manufacturers’ factories at the moment.