Tech

AMD and VESA take on Nvidia's G-Sync anti-stutter tech

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The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) have just announced the addition of Adaptive-Sync to the 1.2a specification of the DisplayPort connection. Now, if that isn’t an attention-grabbing opening to a story I don’t know what is. Bear with me though, as this new ingredient to the DP recipe should be quite a neat thing for PC gamers, as it ought to completely eradicate the problems we have with either frame-tearing or stuttery gaming performance under V-Sync.


Gigabyte announce new slimline gaming laptop

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Taiwanese tech giant, Gigabyte, announced this week their latest slimline gaming notebook, the 14-inch P34G v2. It’s a thin ‘n’ light laptop that's supposedly "perfect for any corporate worker who needs a reliable laptop by day and then wants to play demanding games after work."

The GTX 860M inside should handle demanding games well. My feelings on the choice of graphics card are a bit mixed—on one hand the 860M is rocking the same GK104 GPU as the impressive GTX 775M of the last generation, but on the other it isn’t the version of the 860M that comes with the new Maxwell GPU.


GTX Titan Black vs. GTX 780 Ti: which is the ultimate gaming GPU?

Dave James at

Nvidia’s GTX Titan Black was released to the public a few months back. I'll admit that it didn’t interest me much. With standard GTX 780 Ti cards retailing for some £300 / $500 less than the price of the GTX Titan Black, and with almost identical specs, I got the feeling that it was only really relevant for the homebrew 3D rendering crowd.

But Nvidia have been marketing it as the “the ultimate gaming GPU for a pure gaming experience—the perfect balance of sleek design, uncompromising performance, and state-of-the-art technologies.” That would seem to indicate that it had been designed for PC gamers, so let's take a look.


Logitech's G502 Proteus Core can run at 12,000 dpi: just because you can doesn't mean you should

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Logitech’s latest mouse, the G502 Proteus Core, arrived recently with the world’s first 12,000dpi-capable laser sensor at its heart. I’ve been playing around with it a lot over the last week or so and have been really impressed with the solid little rodent. However, I’ve not had a good time running the mouse at anything like its top speed.


First look at Asus' new Z97-A motherboard

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Asus have blinked first on the new 9-series motherboard launch, and their Z97-A is the first of the new boards to arrive in the labs. These new mobos are appearing in preparation for the launch of a slew of updated Intel processors, offering some key new features. The Asus Z97-A is one of their mid-range offerings, and should offer decent price/performance numbers.


Saitek's X-55 Rhino flightstick is a lovely, chunky thing

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In preparation for a hefty flightstick roundup in the magazine, I’ve just been sent the new Saitek X-55 Rhino H.O.T.A.S. (that's Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick, acronym fans) and it’s a lovely, chunky thing. The X-55 has been put together to give Thrustmaster, and their beautiful Warthog setup, a run for their money. I should be getting the Warthog in the next couple weeks so we'll be able to have a proper head-to-head dogfight between the controller heavyweights.


AMD Never Settle Forever scheme offers new batch of games and indie bundles with cards

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AMD have just refreshed their freebie-touting Never Settle program for giving away games in return for spending cash on Radeon silicon. The Never Settle Forever program is extending the range of AMD’s generosity and is including the low-end Radeon R7 cards as well as the standard Radeon R9 cards.

We’ve now got three tiers of rewards depending on what graphics card you end up selecting for your home rig. The top-end Radeon Gold Reward is there for anyone who picks up a new R9 290 or 280 series graphics card, which includes anyone wealthy enough to have spent £1,100 on a new Radeon R9 295X2. With the Gold Reward coupons you get to choose three free games from AMD’s pool of titles.


How I got my GTX 750 Ti running silently with an old cooler and some simple surgery

Dave James at

I've spent a lot of time recently playing around with some old hardware to see if any old parts still have use. Thanks to a mixture of Nvidia’s latest Maxwell GPU, in GTX 750 Ti reference form, and an expired Sapphire HD 6670 Ultimate I found something very good indeed: an efficient, relatively powerful, silent gaming graphics card.


AMD double down against Titan Z with the R9 295X2

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The graphics card arms race has always been a tit-for-tat battle since it became a tale of two companies. Not surprisingly then, this week AMD release a brand new, dual-GPU, ultra-enthusiast graphics card: the Radeon R9 295X2.

Two weeks ago, Nvidia’s CEO flashed their brand new, dual-GPU, ultra-enthusiast graphics card on stage at its GPU Technology Conference. But which of these pricey new cards will turn out to be the tat, and which the proverbial... well you get where I’m going.


Nvidia have gone a bit Mantle with their latest GeForce driver release

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The green side of the graphics card divide are today releasing a new driver that aims to grab a little more gaming performance back for their GPUs. They’re doing it in much the same way AMD’s proprietary Mantle API is boosting things for the red team.

The new release, named 337.50, is available today, and has been designed to make the existing DirectX 11 API much more efficient for Nvidia graphics cards. They are doing this by reducing the CPU overhead that the driver and API generate, which in turn means you get all the performance your graphics card can muster without being hobbled by DirectX distracting your CPU.


Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available from April 8th

Dave James at

If you've made the move to Microsoft’s much-maligned operating system, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available on the 8th April. This is the update set to improve the OS and its interface for Microsoft’s core audience: us keyboard and mouse-using folk.

The big changes seem to revolve around the taskbar. With Update 1, it's possible to pin Modern UI apps to the taskbar—the Store icon is pinned there by default—and it will also appear within the Modern UI interface. This should give you a bit more consistency in your experience if you're moving between interfaces.


Beyond Maxwell: Nvidia announce their next next-gen Pascal GPU

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Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference keynote was full of announcements this week. In addition to revealing the $3000 Titan Z, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang updated Nvidia's graphics architecture roadmap with a first look at the Pascal GPU.


The GTX Titan Z: $1000 more than two Titan Blacks, and probably slower

Dave James at

Because lots of people paid serious money to buy up all the GTX Titans Nvidia could make, they've decided to push things further. The twin-GPU GTX Titan Z is a $3,000 graphics card announced at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose. According to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang it exists simply because “the market just wanted so much more performance,” but is it really worth all that money?


Intel talks up new processor releases and celebrates an anniversary

Dave James at

After having tried to make me care about all-in-one PCs at GDC (sorry guys, I just can’t), Intel have announced a bunch of new processor toys that are on their way either this year or next. From Haswell, to Broadwell, to Haswell-E, we’re looking at a raft of new chips for our machines.

First up we’ll be seeing a bunch of new Haswell parts, code-named Devil’s Canyon. They’ll be slightly higher-clocked versions of the parts we’ve already got - so expect maybe an extra 100MHz on top of the K-series chips.


The first SSDs of 2014 have been announced

Dave James at

Crucial have unveiled their new M550 series of SSDs, hot on the heels of Intel’s SSD 730 drives. These are the first new SSDs of the year, and represent two of the big boys in SSD manufacturing.

Crucial’s M550 is an update to their incredibly successful M500 series, and as such still retains the same commitment to performance and pricing. The M550 drives are competitive with the top SSDs on both of these fronts.

Crucial are using a slightly revised Marvell memory controller in their new drive, along with parent-company Micron’s 20nm NAND Flash to provide the storage. The M550 range comes with a little more space than their M500 counterparts, shifting from 480GB to 512GB, and from 960GB to a full 1TB for the relevant drives.


Razer sharpens up their new Blade gaming laptop

Dave James at

Razer have announced their new thin and light gaming notebook will have a hefty screen upgrade along with the new Nvidia 800M series GPU.

We’re not quite talking 4K resolutions here but the 3200 x 1800 native resolution of the Indium Gallium Oxide (IGZO) panel isn’t far off the resolution we’ve seen from the beautiful, similarly IGZO-based 4K screen from Asus. Razer is calling the screen QHD+, because the world needs more display-based acronyms.


Thief's Mantle update incoming on March 18th

Dave James at

So far, the only real world example of AMD’s new graphics API, Mantle, is some less-than-convincing performance in Battlefield 4. Now though, AMD have teamed up with Eidos and are set to release a new update to the latest Thief game, wrestling it away from the Microsoft clutches of DirectX and giving it some Mantle lovin'.

For the uninitiated Mantle is a rival graphics layer AMD have created to replace DirectX on their Graphics Core Next graphics cards. Its promise is of giving developers much closer access to the hardware they’re coding for, and reducing the processor overheads that have recently become synonymous with Microsoft’s API.


The API wars continue: Valve launches free OpenGL translator

Dave James at

We’ve seen Microsoft teasing the GDC announcement of the latest installment in their popular DirectX series — subtitled "A Storm of Low-Level Hardware Interaction" — and now it seems the open source brigade are countering this new Microsoft offensive. Valve have freely released a software layer, ToGL, which will translate Direct3D calls to OpenGL.


DirectX 12 is incoming, is this a return to the API wars?

Dave James at

We’ve already spoken about the possibility of Microsoft changing their DirectX API to be more like AMD’s new Mantle API - bringing developers more access to the actual performance hardware. Now it looks they are going to be announcing a whole new iteration of the Microsoft API and not just an update.

A new Twitter account has appeared, called DirectX12, and has teased an announcement set to take place at the Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco in a couple weeks time.


Is Microsoft going Mantle?

Dave James at

Over on the Neogaf forums one of their members has dug up a couple of interesting sessions from the next Games Developer’s Conference (GDC) taking place in a couple of weeks in sunny San Francisco. Both of which are talking about bringing Microsoft’s DirectX API a lot closer to the metal.

That means giving developers much more open access to the actual hardware that’s available inside modern PCs, without hiding it behind layers and layers of performance-sapping software code.

If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s exactly what AMD have been trying to do - relatively successfully by what I’ve seen in the StarSwarm demo and high-end Battlefield 4 benchmarks.