Maximum PC - Reviews http://www.maximumpc.com/articles/40/feed en Intel Compute Stick Review http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_compute_stick_review_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Intel delivers an impressive first step in the ultra-small PC movement</h3> <p>When Intel announced the Compute Stick earlier this year at CES, we were excited. There are a handful of devices already on the market that get content onto your TV. Amazon's Fire Stick and Google's Chromecast are both competent devices, and then there are more powerful devices like the Roku. The main difference is that Intel's Compute Stick is a full-fledged x86 Windows 8.1 PC—and it makes a big difference.</p> <p>With any of the other content devices, you usually have to play by the rules negotiated between the device manufacturer and the content producers. If, for example, HBO doesn't license to Roku, you won't get to watch HBO programming on your Roku device. Having a full PC lets you skip through all that red tape. You can do almost anything you want, and that alone is worth the price of admission.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u191083/intel_compute_stick_1.jpg" alt="Intel Compute Stick" title="Intel Compute Stick" width="620" height="827" /></p> <p>The Compute Stick is going to be priced at $149, which isn't cheap. But what you're paying for really is the cost of Windows 8.1. We're sure Intel is getting a nice discount from Microsoft at the OEM level, but typically, Windows adds roughly $100 to a normal desktop computer. However, depending on device usage and price, Microsoft will offer special pricing in the range of $25 to the OEM. You can technically get another OS installed, but if you want the most flexibility, we recommend leaving the pre-installed Windows installation intact.</p> <p>Intel sent us a Compute Stick configured with 32GB of storage space and 2GB of memory. Now, when using the Compute Stick, one must be open-minded. It's not meant to be a powerful PC; it's not meant to run Crysis. It's meant to be a general computing device. Web browsing, chatting, emailing, movie watching, music listening. The Compute stick only has an Bay Trail 4-core Intel Atom Z3735F CPU running at 1.33GHz. This CPU is what usually gets put into tablets, so it competes with Qualcomm's Snapdragon family. For reference, the Snapdragon 600 runs at 1.7GHz and has a dual-channel memory controller versus the Atom's single-channel setup. Granted, the Atom runs x86 and thus supports the massive PC software ecosystem. So with that in mind, let's take a look.</p> <p>On the outside, the Compute Stick is minimalistic in design. It's slender and black and has slits for intake and a small fan that exhausts hot air. The fan isn't loud by any measure, but does emit a high-pitched whine. You won't notice it if you're playing music, but you will in a quiet environment. The sound isn't a show-stopper, but it's there. If you're just reading content and emailing, you won't hear it. Install an application, though, and it will spin up.</p> <p>On one side of the Compute Stick is a micro-USB port for charging, and a regular USB 2.0 port for accessories like a keyboard and mouse. The other side has a Micro-SD slot, if you feel 32GB is too&nbsp;claustrophobic. For light computing duties, we didn't feel the need to upgrade. The only outbound connector on the Compute Stick is the lone HDMI output. Plug the Compute Stick in a TV's HDMI input or a normal display and you're good to go. We opted for a 24-inch Dell LCD panel. Internet connectivity is handled by 802.11bgn. Unfortunately, no 802.11ac support is integrated, and the onboard Wi-Fi is only single channel 2.5GHz with no 5GHz support.</p> <p>On bootup, we went through the normal Windows 8.1 setup phases, and input our information and personal preferences. Once that was over, we landed on the desktop. It felt like a normal PC, which is awesome because the Compute Stick is so small. After all Windows updates were installed, we loaded our usual array of apps: Google Chrome, Skype, TeamViewer, VLC, Spotify, and Steam.</p> <p>Once Steam was installed, the Compute Stick became another beast entirely.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u191083/compute_stick.jpg" alt="Intel Compute Stick" title="Intel Compute Stick" width="620" height="349" /><br /><strong><em>Yep. It's a full-fledged PC.</em></strong></p> <p>Valve enabled Steam Home Streaming a while ago, and we realized that the Compute Stick would be a pretty great solution—and it was. We tested Ori and the Blind Forest, Grand Theft Auto V, and DOTA 2. All games played without fail through Steam Home Streaming and felt like we were playing on an actual desktop. We then attempted to play games natively on the Compute Stick—that was a futile exercise. Even Valve's original Portal was a miserable experience with all settings turned to low or off. Streaming is where the Compute Stick really excels, and we're happy to stick to that.</p> <p>Aside from streaming, performance on the Compute Stick was relatively good. With four or more casual applications open, you start to feel the effect of having only 2GB of RAM and limited CPU power. Chrome tab refreshes start to noticeably lag. General computing performance is on par with a netbook.</p> <p>We ran some basic benchmarks on the Compute Stick, since it can't really handle our usual array of desktop-class benchmarks. For reference, we included numbers from an Intel Core i7 4960X desktop with 8GB of RAM (thus showcasing a David vs. Goliath scenario):</p> <p><strong>GeekBench 3.3.2 32-bit<br /></strong><strong>Compute Stick (default BIOS settings)<br /></strong>Single-core: 781<br />Multi-core: 2195</p> <p><strong>4960X Desktop (optimum default BIOS settings)<br /></strong>Single-core: 3413<br />Multi-core: 20891</p> <p>As you can see, the Compute Stick isn't meant for heavy-duty PC chores or native gaming. It really is meant for casual work or content consumption and entertainment. For all intents and purposes though, that's fine by us.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u191083/compute_stick_portal.jpg" alt="Intel Compute Stick" title="Intel Compute Stick" width="620" height="349" /><br /><strong><em>Portal 1 running on low settings. Unplayable framerates at below 20FPS.</em></strong></p> <p>For those who do light workloads on their computers, the Compute Stick offers an attractive, low cost, and simple solution. Gamers who are looking for a light-weight streaming streaming solution should give the Compute Stick a serious look. Associate Editor Alex Campbell indicated that wiping the Windows installation and replacing it with a Linux install with Steam would make for a streaming solution with low OS overhead.</p> <p>There's a lot of promise in the Compute Stick platform. Consider this iteration a step in the right direction, pointing to a bright future for small computing machines. There will be a day when a device such as this will be able to hold its own as a full-fledged HTPC. For the&nbsp;<em>Maximum PC&nbsp;</em>reader looking for a powerful solution, though, today is not that day.</p> <p><strong><em>[Updated April 22, 2015: Clarified pricing for Windows licensing]</em></strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_compute_stick_review_2015#comments atom cpu compute stick intel Review streaming pc News Systems Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:58:42 +0000 Tuan Nguyen 29769 at http://www.maximumpc.com Func MS-3 (Revision 2) Mouse Review http://www.maximumpc.com/func_ms-3_revision_2_mouse_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>A solid mouse that's a little too smooth</h3> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">For a gaming mouse, the Func MS-3&nbsp;(revision 2) looks rather unassuming and unpretentious. It is pretty big as mice go, but that doesn't get in the way of its performance too much. The MS-3&nbsp;also brings features that you'd see in more expensive mice.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">Measuring nearly 5 inches long and almost 4 inches wide, the MS-3&nbsp;doesn't fit in your hand. Instead, your hand rides on top of it, filling your palm. For those who use a high finger arch (claw posture), your metacarpophalangeal joints (the joints at the base of the fingers) won't touch the surface, placing your hand weight on the ball of your hand. The mouse is really built to suit those who prefer a flatter hand posture; there's no adjustments here. Southpaws need not apply; this mouse is clearly designed for righties.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u200840/ms-3.2-size.jpg" alt="Func MS-3 sizing" title="Func MS-3 sizing" width="620" height="465" /></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><strong>The MS-3 has a sizable footprint, which may put off some.</strong></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">The right ring and pinky fingers get their own rests, which can feel a little awkward if you are used to holding the side of the mouse with those fingers. Again, these rests are built for a flatter posture, so a claw handed grip won't take advantage of the molding, and it will feel a bit out of place for the two fingers. The mouse's silky, yet slightly rubbery texture feels great on your hand. When you place your two fingers in the rests, you get the feeling that they're being hugged. Who doesn't like hugs? Crotchety old curmudegons sitting on the porch in a rocking chair with a shotgun, that's who.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">What we didn't like about the mouse's flatter profile and smoothness is that it feels like the mouse will slip out of your grip when you try to pick it up. This is only really an issue when you deliberately try to lift the mouse, as the low slope of the right side of the mouse results in reduced lateral grip. If you try to apply that lateral pressure with your little fingers, the fingers tend to want to slip out of the molded grooves. In the gaming situations that we tested, it wasn't really an issue, but if you lift up your mouse constantly, it will be something you notice.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u200840/ms-3.2-front-right-led.jpg" alt="Func MS-3 finger grooves" title="Func MS-3 finger grooves" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><strong>Those finger grooves both provide comfort and keep you from picking up the mouse easily.</strong></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">The mouse is also a bit on the heavy side, but not as heavy as other mice we've used. We weighed it while holding up the cable, and found that it is 4.2 ounces. That's a full 1.3 ounces more than a stock Dell M056UO laser mouse (2.9 ounces) we weighed using the same method. That means it will take a bit more force to flick the mouse around for quick movements, but the MS-3's high sensitivity of 5,670 DPI compensates for that. Response felt snappy and accurate while moving on a bare black IKEA desk.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">A gaming or high-end mouse wouldn't be complete without good configuration software, and Func did a solid job here. The driver software lets you set three profiles, each with its own macros, colors, and DPI settings. Each profile has three DPI settings that you can cycle through, with a fourth "Instant Aim" mode that is </span><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">by default</span> activated by pressing the illuminated thumb button. This is great for gamers who prefer a high DPI setting for most situations, but need to dial in the accuracy for some situations. FPS players who play as snipers will really appreciate this. Of course, you could also set the DPI higher to get an inverse effect. Each DPI setting can be set anywhere from 90 to 5,670 with 10 DPI increments. You can also separate DPI settings for the X and Y axes, so traverse and elevation for vehicle guns in games like Battlefield and Arma can function at different rates.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u200840/func-software.png" alt="Func MS-3 software" title="Func MS-3 software" width="620" height="465" /></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><strong>The MS-3's software offers a lot of configuration options, but is missing game detection and is only available for Windows.</strong></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">The software can "backup" (export) settings to and "restore" (import) settings from a file on the hard drive. There's also a tool to install new firmware, which will also perform a checksum on the firmware file to ensure you've got the official, intact file. It's also great for security since the</span><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">&nbsp;MS-3 stores its profiles and settings in the mouse's memory. The onboard memeory allows you to configure the mouse on one machine, plug it into another, and everything will work as you'd expect. Want to reinstall Windows or use the mouse in Linux? No problem.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">Want to use it with a gaming laptop when you travel? Go right ahead, globetrotter.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">We would've liked to see a per-game settings detection and import tool. Sure, you can effectively get the same result by restoring from a file, but an option to autodetect games and save or load profiles accordingly (like we see in Logitech Gaming Software) would be nice. Since this is a software-side issue, it would make a great addition in an update.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">The thumb rest on the left side of the mouse provides access to four buttons, all of which are well spaced to prevent accidental clicks. The round center button lights up, and defaults to "Instant Aim," which will be described a bit later. The two upper thumb buttons default to the usual forward and back in Windows, while the button at the base of the thumb rest defaults to an audio mute button. The top of the mouse has six buttons, including the standard left and right buttons and clickable scroll wheel. The two buttons behind the scroll wheel default to change DPI presets, while the button to the front-right will switch profiles. All of the buttons on the MS-3</span><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">&nbsp;are highly configurable, and can be set to keys, macros, or OS functions, depending on user preference.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">We also liked that the mouse's subtle, yet effective LED lighting illuminates the scroll wheel and side button. The LEDs are bright enough to be effective accents, but won't signal aircraft or keep you awake in a dark bedroom. The lighting is fully customizable in Func's software, including saturation and brightness, not just color. There are also three orange LEDs on the top left of the mouse that indicate which profile is being used. They're pretty small and understated, but viewable between the thumb and index finger.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u200840/ms-3.2-hand.jpg" alt="Func MS-3 rev. 2 with hand" title="Func MS-3 rev. 2 with hand" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2; text-align: center;"><strong>Thumb buttons on the MS-3 are accessible and uncluttered. Orange LEDs in between the thumb and index finger indicate which profile is active, and are visible while using the mouse.</strong></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">The scroll wheel itself makes it very clear that this is a gaming mouse. Each click with a wheel turn feels deliberate, and won't have you switching weapons by mistake. Clicking the mouse wheel button doesn't make you feel like you're going to move the wheel mid-click. Sometimes, we can be hesitant to bind actions to MOUSE 3 in games because of unintended wheel scroll; that's not a problem with the MS-3. Clicks feel solid and stable, without unintended weapon or spell switch.</span></p> <p style="orphans: 2; widows: 2;"><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">The price point is what really sells us on this mouse. For under $60, you get a top-tier gaming mouse that delivers on looks and response, even if it is on the big side.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Tahoma; font-size: small;">We definitely recommend this gaming mouse for righties who don't mind a few minor shortcomings and don't violently lift up their mice like a crane operator with a coke habit.</span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/func_ms-3_revision_2_mouse_review#comments gaming mouse Hardware Mice Reviews Wed, 15 Apr 2015 21:49:57 +0000 Alex Campbell 29738 at http://www.maximumpc.com Bastron Glass Keyboard: All Form, Little Function http://www.maximumpc.com/bastron_glass_touch_keyboard_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Buy one for looks, and nothing else</h3> <p>These days, keyboards are a dime a dozen. There are scads of options from scads of companies. So, how does one distinguish the good ones from the bad? Unfortunately, much of what makes a keyboard good or bad is a matter of personal preference; a plank that works well for someone else won't necessarily get your typing juices flowing.</p> <p><a title="Bastron site" href="http://www.bastron.com.cn/product.asp?id=226" target="_blank">Enter the Bastron glass keyboard</a>, a keyboard that actually doesn't have any keys at all. The entire typing surface is a single pane of glass, with touch-sensitive points in place of actual key caps. The glass is completely transparent, which is definitely a conversation starter, and the frame is made from aluminum, but only ships in one color: gold.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u191083/bastron1.jpg" alt="Bastron Glass Keyboard" title="Bastron Glass Keyboard" width="620" height="447" /></p> <p>The real attention grabber with the Bastron keyboard though, is its lighting. From inside the top frame, LEDs light up the pane of glass and render the print in the glass visible. The keyboard only ships with two color options as two different keyboard models: blue, and pinkish-purple. You're not able to change the colors on the keyboard, which would have been a nice addition to a product that focuses heavily on aesthetics.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u191083/bastron2.jpg" alt="Bastron Glass Keyboard" title="Bastron Glass Keyboard" width="620" height="465" /></p> <p>So, how about typing performance?</p> <p>Let it be known, this keyboard isn't for typists. It's for those who lean heavily on appearances, which again are subjective, but we see where Bastron is going with this. The problem is that you need to constantly look at the keyboard in order to type. If you try typing without looking down, be sure to run your spell checker! Also, you can't really rest your fingers on the keyboard, as it'll register keystrokes, so your fingers have to be in the air if not in the act of typing. Lastly, Bastron includes a cleaning cloth for the inevitable smudges that you'll make on the keyboard's surface.</p> <p>This article was typed using the Bastron, and it was a frustrating experience. However, if you're one of those still pecking at individual keys with one finger on each hand, this keyboard will do just fine. For most users though, you're better off getting a keyboard, any keyboard, with normal keys.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/bastron_glass_touch_keyboard_2015#comments bastron bastron keyboard glass keyboard News Keyboards Features Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:04:13 +0000 Tuan Nguyen 29703 at http://www.maximumpc.com Razer Leviathan Review http://www.maximumpc.com/razer_leviathan_review_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>More than just a Bluetooth speaker</h3> <p>If you were to tell us three years ago that Razer was going to make a Bluetooth speaker, we would have been interested, but now that we’re inundated with Bluetooth speakers everywhere, it’s pretty hard to get excited. But while Razer’s Leviathan sound system is far from perfect, it’s also more than just a pair of Bluetooth speakers. &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/razer_leviathan.jpg" alt="razer leviathan" title="razer leviathan" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p>Technically speaking, the Leviathan is in the “sound bar” family of Bluetooth speakers. The sound bar here features two 2.5-inch full-range drivers and two .74-inch tweeters. Spec-wise, the sound bar has a total power output of 30 watts, an impedance of eight ohms, and a frequency response rate between 180Hz and 20KHz. Weighing 4.4 pounds and measuring 19.5 inches wide, the sound bar is small enough to be tucked under your monitor or placed underneath your HDTV. Its black chassis is sexy to boot, though it would have been sexier if the Razer logo on the front was also an LED that would be able to light up with the company’s signature green color, but alas, that’s a small quibble.&nbsp;</p> <p>Razer is also touting the Leviathan as a 5.1 setup, and the extra kick comes by way of a passive 5.1-pound matte-black subwoofer, which has a 5.25-inch downward-firing subwoofer with a 30-watt output. The subwoofer features an impedance of eight ohms and a frequency response rate between 20Hz and 180Hz.&nbsp;</p> <p>Setup was relatively painless and took less than 10 minutes. In addition to the sound bar and subwoofer, inside the box you’ll find an optical cable, 3.5mm auxiliary cable, power adapter, subwoofer-to-sound bar connector, and two pairs of detachable feet that allow you to adjust the tilt angle of the sound bar to either 0, 15, or 18 degrees. Some may be happy to hear that the back of the sound bar also has room for wall-mount screws.&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, there are several ways to get music out of this box. The Leviathan supports Bluetooth 4.0, and there’s even a spot on the top-right of the sound bar that allows you to tap your phone and pair it via NFC. Bluetooth here should allow you to move your phone 30 feet from the sound bar, which is plenty. If you want to replace your crappy HDTV speakers with Razer’s sound bar, you can switch over to the Leviathan’s optical mode. Finally, there’s auxiliary mode if you want to hook up the speakers up to your PC’s mobo or sound card. In terms of audio inputs, the Leviathan supports all modern mainstream solutions.&nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of features, the Leviathan supports Dolby Digital Surround, but we didn’t really notice much of a difference when we toggled it on and off. The same thing can be said with the Leviathan’s different presets, which includes movie, music, and game modes.&nbsp;</p> <p>For the most part, the Leviathan really accentuates whatever bass it can pick up, which has become a popular trend for which you can thank Beats Audio. No joke, the Leviathan has a ton of volume firepower at max volume and we thought we were experiencing a minor earthquake when we cranked it all the way up. It’s that thunderous. While the audio still manages to sound clean at higher volumes, we initially thought there was no way to crank down the subwoofer, which can sound overwhelming at times, but luckily you can do that by holding down the Dolby button and adjusting the volume buttons. Finally, if you’re expecting a true, all-encompassing 5.1 setup from these speakers, you’re going to be disappointed. Razer marketing talk aside, all of these drivers are still coming directly in front of you, so it would be unfair to expect musical magic here. Still, all in all, the Razer Leviathan never sounded distorted or unclean, and sounded great overall.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/razer_leviathan_2.jpg" alt="razer leviathan" title="razer leviathan" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p>As much as we like Razer’s Leviathan, it’s certainly not without faults. It’s a little annoying that there is no volume indicator on the device; heaven forbid that you forget you had the speakers on blast the last time you turned them on. Speaking of turning them on, you’ll have to do that a lot, considering the Leviathan shuts off after 20 minutes of being idle. While this might allow you to cut down on your power bill, having the option to disable this feature would be greatly appreciated as it can be annoying to try and watch TV from across the room, and then be bothered with having to walk back across the room to wake up the box. And on that note, yes, you’re going to have to manually press down on the Leviathan’s power button since it has no remote control. This isn’t that big of a deal if you’re using them as PC speakers right in front of your monitor, but it can be grating if you’ve got them set up for your HTPC across the room. Finally, another very small gripe we had with the sound bar is that it doesn’t have a built-in battery pack and needs to be tethered to a wall. It would be cool if there were at least a little battery pack inside so you could take it on camping trips or something. We hope Razer makes a second-gen Leviathan and corrects some of these quirks.</p> <p>Still, for under 200 bones, the Leviathan is fairly priced, sounds much better than your cheapo 2.1 hand-me-down speakers, and supports a variety of devices and audio inputs.&nbsp;</p> <p>$197, www.razerzone.com</p> <p><em>UPDATE: The review has been updated to reflect that you can adjust the intensity of the bass by pressing down on the Dolby button.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/razer_leviathan_review_2015#comments analog bluetooth speaker HDMI leviathan nfc optical razer sound bar subwoofer Reviews Speakers Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:44:06 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29669 at http://www.maximumpc.com PC Gaming Week: Maximum PC Editors' Rigs http://www.maximumpc.com/pc_gaming_week_maximum_pc_editors_rigs_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>We invite you in to check out our personal systems</h3> <p>In celebration of <strong>PC Gaming Week</strong> by our sister publications, we at Maximum PC thought it would be good to contribute to the cause, with an article dedicated to exploring the rigs of our editors. The bunch of us gathered together, and you could tell it was a battle of testies. Truth be told, it wasn’t really about who had what system, but rather, why did things get built that way and for what purpose. We hope you’ll see how diverse we are in terms of builds, and each build will be accompanied by the editor’s comments, on why they put together what they did.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u99720/maxpc_bros.png" alt="MaxPC Staff" title="Maximum PC Staff recording a podcast" width="619" height="473" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;">In the media world, people like to talk about how we should remain unbiased. But truth be told, there’s some amount of bias in everything. And you know what? That’s great, because if you didn’t want valuable insights and opinions, you would read an article written by a robot. Bias, under appropriate moderation, allows you as a reader to come away with a level of awareness that help lead you toward either a better buying decision, or a better understanding of what helps and what’s just garbage.</p> <p>We hope you enjoy reading about each of our personal rigs and the insights into why we picked the stuff we have.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If you want to jump to different systems, click one of these links to check them out:</p> <ul> <li>Alex Campbell's system (this page)</li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/pc_gaming_week_maximum_pc_editors_rigs_2015?page=0,1">Tom McNamara's system</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/pc_gaming_week_maximum_pc_editors_rigs_2015?page=0,2">Jimmy Thang's system</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/pc_gaming_week_maximum_pc_editors_rigs_2015?page=0,3">Tuan Nguyen's system</a>&nbsp;</strong></li> </ul> <h3>First up: Alex Campbell, Associate Editor</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">CPU: AMD A8-5600K 3.6GHz<br />CPU cooler: ARCTIC Freezer 7 Pro<br />Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A88X-D3H<br />GPU: EVGA 01G-P3-1556-KR NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 1GB<br />RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3<br />SSD: Kingston HyperX 3K SH103S3/120G 120GB<br />HDD: Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB 7200RPM x 2, Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 6,200rpm<br />Audio: Creative Labs SoundBlaster X-Fi<br />PSU: Rosewill RX850-S-B Extreme Series 850W<br />Case: CM Storm Scout 2 Advanced<br />Keyboard: Logitech K800<br />Mouse: Logitech M310<br />Display: An unimpressive 1080p display<br />Accessories: None</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p><p><img src="/files/u99720/alex_campbell_pc_1.jpg" alt="Alex Campbell home rig" title="Alex Campbell home rig" width="620" height="465" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Alex Campbell's home rig.</strong></p> <p>My machine at home is a bit of a Frankenstein monster that I built in early 2014, from a combination of new-ish parts and cannibalized bits from my old desktop built in 2010. In early 2014, I was still in school finishing up my bachelor’s, which was focused on photojournalism.</p> <p>In case I turned photography into a business, I needed a new machine to handle some photo editing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I also wanted a machine that could handle some video editing. I knew my budget wouldn’t be able to handle a 4K load, so I didn’t even try to reach that level. Instead, I focused on making sure I had enough storage to keep all the hefty RAW files from my Nikon D90.</p> <p>I play games, too, so I needed a card that could render decent framerates with a some RTS and FPS games I could find on Steam. Primarily, though, my goal was to create a midrange digital workstation to produce media. </p> <p>I’ve been an AMD builder most of my life, so I looked for a decent mid-range FM2 chip to do the number crunching, and settled on an AMD A8-5600K Trinity Quad-Core 3.6GHz. I dropped it into a GIGABYTE GA-F2A88X-D3H that I chose for its price, USB 3.0 ports, and decent reviews on Newegg. The fact that it sports 8 SATA 3 ports was a big plus, as I was planning on packing it full of spinning drives. I transplanted my ARCTIC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2 CPU Cooler onto my new chip, and used the stock AMD fan for my old CPU, which is now the heart of a SAMBA file server.</p> <p>Video is powered by an EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti, which was a solid card, and can still play many games at a decent framerate. While it’s still a great card for what I paid, the 550 Ti doesn’t support many of the latest features of NVIDIA’s drivers and software.</p> <p>I grabbed a couple of 8GB DDR3 1866 GSKILL Ripjaw X Series RAM sticks to run my apps. Sure, 1866 wasn’t the fastest speed available, but again, my starving-student budget didn’t give me much wiggle room.</p> <p>Storage was the name of the game for this build, so I nabbed a 120GB Kingston HyperX 3K SH103S3 SSD for my system partitions. The SSD houses both Windows 8.1 and Arch Linux. A pair of 500GB Seagate Barracudas house my “active” video and photo files. One drive serves as the “main” working disk and the other is the backup. In case you’re wondering, they’re not linked in RAID 1, because RAID is not a backup scheme, it’s a drive redundancy scheme. Using the second drive as a backup ensures that if something happens to my work, I can get the next most recent version of my working files back.</p> <p>Media and personal live on a 1TB Barracuda, which is split between an NTFS partition for Windows and an Ext4 partition for my Linux /home directory.</p> <p>I threw all of this into a CM Storm Scout 2 Advanced case. The case is nice because the built-in front LEDs have their own toggle switch and the carrying handle on top is quite comfortable to use. When I moved up to the Bay Area, it was much easier to pack into my car than my server was. It also has decent space for cable management on the back panel and plenty of fan-mounting options.</p> <p>I powered the rig with a 850W Rosewill RX850-S-B Xtreme Series I transplanted from the server box. The power supply is 80 Plus Bronze, which helps with my power bill. The thing is also surprisingly silent, which is nice if I sleep with the computer on in my room.</p> <p>My storage solution also includes my server, running on a quad-core Athlon X2 Black Edition with two cores unlocked in BIOS. The server’s Arch Linux image lives on a 60GB SanDisk SSD. A pair of 2TB Barracudas serve as photo-archive drives. One drive serves as the primary and the other as backup, just like the working drives in my main box. Backups are automated with rsync and cron. The server also has a 3TB Barracuda for NAS use and is encrypted with dm-crypt/LUKS. I really should buy a couple more for a RAID array, though. The server is powered by a 650W Cooler Master GX.</p> <p>My peripherals and display are rather lackluster and in dire need of replacement, but I do like my illuminated Logitech K800. It’s not mechanical or great for gaming, but the backlighting is gentle and fades in and out as you move your hands over it, which is great for working at night, or just adjusting the system volume while watching Netflix from across the room.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Tom McNamara, Technical Editor</h3> <p>CPU: Intel Core i7 3770K @ 4.2GHz<br />CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken X40<br />Motherboard: Gigabyte GX-Z77-UD5H<br />GPU: MSI Gaming 4G NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980<br />RAM: Corsair LP 16GB (4x 4GB) DDR3<br />SSD: Crucial M500 480GB<br />HDD: Seagate Desktop HDD 4TB <br />Audio: Onboard<br />PSU: Thermaltake TPG-675M Toughpower 675W<br />Case: Fractal Design Define XL R2<br />Keyboard: Logitech G710+<br />Mouse: Logitech M310<br />Display: Dell S2340M 23-inch<br />Accessories: None</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u99720/tom_mcnamara_pc_1.jpg" alt="Tom McNamara's home rig" title="Tom McNamara's home rig" width="620" height="836" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Tom McNamara's home rig.</strong></p> <p>My overall strategy with this system was to create something that would be fairly quiet, spacious, and understated. I don't go for case windows because they let more noise through, and I get over looking through them after a few days anyway. So, the Fractal Design Define XL R2 fit the bill. It has sound-absorbing panels and three 140mm fans pre-installed.</p> <p>For the CPU, I wanted something with eight threads, so I went with the Intel Core i7-3770K. It gets me better performance than AMD's FX-8350, and it draws much less power. I cool it with an NZXT Kraken X40, since I'm not going for particularly high clock speeds. I still use the original "Kraken Control" software instead of CAM, because I prefer the simpler interface. The radiator is mounted in the top of the case. The GA-Z77-UD5H motherboard has served me pretty well so far. I might try an Asus board in the future, because I like their fan control software, and I tend to get pretty high overclocks out of them, and with less fiddling in the BIOS. I use low-profile RAM because you never know when you might need the physical clearance, and I don't need fancy heatsinks. DDR3 just doesn't get hot enough to warrant them, in my experience.</p> <p>I went with the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G because I wanted something beefy, but not noisy. This GPU is rated to pull around 165 watts under load, so the card's cooling fans don't have to make much noise. I can also add a second 980 without stressing out my 675-watt power supply, whereas two Radeon R9 290Xs would call for about 850 watts.</p> <p>For storage, I got a good deal on a 480GB Crucial M500, but I ended up running out of room for my Steam games, so I got a 1TB Samsung 840 EVO to give me some breathing room. I was using my 4TB Seagate HDD to copy games over when I needed room; copying them back later is much faster than re-downloading. It's also good to have for system and file backups.</p> <p>For input, I've been using the Corsair M65 for a while now. Its finish doesn't rub or flake off, which I've had happen with other mice. That flaking makes the texture feel weird and like the mouse is dirty even though it looks fine. I'll probably be trying out the Logitech G303 soon, though, for some variety.</p> <p>I got a good deal on the Dell S2340M monitor, and I liked it so much that I bought another. The back of it is a bit awkward, though; bulky DVI connectors simply can't fit. It also doesn't do HDMI. The image quality is great, and the bezels are thin, but 23 inches is just a bit too small for my tastes. I'll probably be getting a 2560x1440 monitor soon, now that we're going to be getting things like 144Hz IPS and FreeSync. Unfortunately, the S2340M doesn't rotate into portrait mode, and I don't currently have enough desk space for two of those and a 1440p display. First-world problems.</p> <p>I've had good luck with Logitech's keyboards, so I bought a G710+ a while back. It has white LED backlighting, Cherry MX brown mechanical switches, and some macro keys that I never use. But it's quiet and hasn't let me down yet. I tried the Corsair RGB keyboard, but I found its keys too springy for my taste. Before this, I was using a Tesoro Durandal G1NL, which is also Cherry MX Brown, but with a reddish-orange backlight similar to the Sidewinder X4 that I had before that. I stopped using the G1NL because it wouldn't initialize until Windows had booted, meaning I couldn't access the BIOS. No amount of tweaking would fix it. I keep hoping that Microsoft will enter the mechanical keyboard fray, but they don't seem to be interested in enthusiast keyboards or mice anymore.</p> <p>I play a variety of games on this rig. Lately, it's been Cities: Skylines, which some people have described to me as the de facto sequel to Sim City 4. I think it's pretty great, especially for $30. I've also been dabbling with Star Citizen; its very transparent and publisher-free development process has been fascinating to watch. Shadow of Mordor has also been great fun, and I'm looking forward to testing my system's limits with The Witcher 3.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Jimmy Thang, Online Managing Editor</h3> <p>CPU: Intel Core i7 3770K<br />CPU cooler: Hyper 212<br />Motherboard: Something useful<br />GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan<br />RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3<br />SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB<br />HDD: Seagate Desktop HDD 4TB <br />Audio: Creative Sound Blaster Z<br />PSU: A car battery<br />Case: Fractal Design Define R4<br />Keyboard: Razer Black Widow<br />Mouse: Logitech Daedalus Prime<br />Display: ASUS VG248QE 24-inch 144Hz</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u99720/jimmy_thang_pc_1_s.jpg" alt="Jimmy Thang's home rig" title="Jimmy Thang's home rig" width="420" height="682" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Jimmy Thang's home rig.</strong></p> <p>At the heart of my current home rig, I’m using a 3770K CPU, GTX Titan GPU, and 16GB of Corsair Vengeance RAM. In addition to gaming, I dabble in photo and video editing, and my i7 processor and 16GB of RAM are good enough for my amateur needs there. I’ve also got a 4TB Seagate HDD that allows me to store the copious assets. Of course, that isn’t my only storage drive. For the OS, I’m running a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD, which allows my PC to boot up in under 15 seconds. All of this is wrapped in a white Define R4 chassis, which I like because of its clean aesthetics. </p> <p>Currently, my main display is a 24-inch 144Hz 3D panel from Asus. I don’t use the 3D features at all, but I do like having super high framerates (for when 60fps simply won’t do). I also have a separate 24-inch IPS display from Dell, which I use as a secondary monitor to help with productivity work. My GeForce GTX Titan may seem overkill for a 1080p display, but I’m also playing around with an Oculus Rift DK2, which has demos render 1080p scenes twice for each eye, and demands experiences be a consistent 75fps. VR games like space simulator Elite Dangerous really put my Titan to work here.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u99720/jimmy_thang_pc_2_s.jpg" alt="Jimmy Thang's displays" title="Jimmy Thang's displays" width="620" height="362" /></p> <p>When I’m not running around in VR, I find myself playing a lot of different indie games like Darkest Dungeon or Transistor. I was also really into League of Legends for a while. Yes, these games don’t tax my hardware at all, but I’ll occasionally play more demanding games, such as Evolve or Shadow of Mordor, and I like knowing that I have a relatively future-proof rig capable of maxing out any game I throw at it. This, of course, will change when I make the eventual move to a 4K monitor (I’m mostly waiting for the scaling issues to be resolved before I dive in). </p> <p>The accessories I’m using to play these games include Razer’s Black Widow mechanical keyboard (I like the really loud and clicky feel of it) and Logitech’s Daedalus Prime mouse, which was originally designed for MOBAs with its quick click-actuation time. For audio, I’m using Corsair’s Vengeance 2100 wireless headset. It can be a burden to charge every now and then, but the audio quality and sound isolation are great, and I really enjoy the freedom of being able to walk around my room untethered as I listen to music. I’m also using a wireless Xbox 360 controller, which I feel is the best controller for PC gaming at the moment, but that could change with Valve’s Steam Controller that’s coming out this November.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Tuan Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief</h3> <p><strong>System 1, The Workhorse:</strong><br />CPU: Intel Core i7 3970X<br />CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken X41<br />Motherboard: ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition<br />GPU: EVGA 04G-P4-2986KR NVIDIA GTX 980<br />RAM: Samsung “Green” Low-profile (8 x 4GB) DDR3 <br />SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 256GB x 2<br />HDD: Western Digital Black WD4003FZEX 4TB x 4<br />Audio: Onboard + Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1, Astro Gaming A40 headset<br />PSU: Seasonic Platinum-1000 1000w<br />Case: NZXT H440 Black/Blue<br />Keyboard: Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate<br />Mouse: Logitech MX Master<br />Display: Dell UltraSharp U3011 30-inch, Dell UtraSharp 2311h 23-inch<br />Accessories: APC Smart-UPS 1500 UPS, Fujitsu U2300 Magneto-Optical drive, Logitech C920 webcam</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u99720/tuan_nguyen_pc_3.jpg" alt="Tuan's workhorse" title="Tuan's workhorse PC" width="620" height="827" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Gigabyte X79A-UD5 mobo has since been replaced with an ASUS Rampge IV Black Edition.</strong></p> <p><strong>System 2, The Decapitator:</strong> <strong>Digital Storm Bolt 3</strong><br />CPU: Intel Core i7 4790K<br />CPU cooler: Digital Storm HydroLux Liquid<br />Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VII Impact<br />GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X<br />RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum (2 x 8GB) DDR3 <br />SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 512GB<br />HDD: Western Digital Black WD4003FZEX 4TB<br />Audio: Onboard + [Below], Astro Gaming A50 headset<br />PSU: Seasonic Platinum-1000 1000w<br />Case: Digital Storm Bolt 3<br />Keyboard: Das Keyboard 3 Ultimate<br />Mouse: Logitech G502<br />Display: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB Projector<br />Accessories: APC Smart-UPS 1000 UPS, Xbox 360 controller (wired)<br />Audio: Pioneer Elite VSX-82TXS receiver, Aperion Audio Verus Grand HD speakers</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u191083/tuan_nguyen_pc_4.jpg" alt="Digital Storm Bolt 3" title="Digital Storm Bolt 3" width="620" height="776" /><br /><strong>Tuan's Decapitator:</strong><span style="text-align: start;">&nbsp;</span><strong>Digital Storm Bolt 3</strong></p> <p>I’ve been a gamer for as long as I could remember. I gamed on Atari’s old systems, 286 PCs with yellow monochrome CRT monitors, and a huge array of everything available, up until today. I grew up on all the consoles. I actually don’t own any of the recent consoles, but I do own a first-generation Sony PlayStation running over SCART RGB video into my receiver—I know, it’s pretty nerdy, but I love it. The last console I bought was an Xbox 360. There just aren’t enough great games on the current consoles to warrant getting them. But there are many, many great games on the PC. My setup consists of two different PCs for two different purposes, although one could argue that the two systems could swap duties just fine.</p> <p>The first system is called The Workhorse. It’s used for… you guessed it, work. I’d wager though, that it could play games decently, too. I do play a limited number of games on it, but I save the real entertainment for another system. </p> <p>I went with an NZXT H440 chassis because I enjoy having a minimalistic and clean setup, at least on the outside. On the inside, however, I’ve crammed just about the best components that I could into the system. It’s using a Sandy Bridge Extreme Edition only because I haven’t the chance to move into the new CPUs, but the Core i7 3970X is still a beastly six-core CPU. The motherboard is a loaded ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition, and I chose it because I ended up preferring ASUS’s EFI over Gigabyte’s. Previous to the Rampage, I was using a Gigabyte X79A-UD5 board, which wasn’t quite as stable. And honestly, Gigabyte really needs to do a better job with their firmware. One of the photos shows my old Gigabyte motherboard, but the more recent photo of the entire computer shows the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition.</p> <p>I’d like to point out that the RAM you see in the photo doesn’t look like much. In fact, it may even look like old DIMM sticks before heatsinks became all the rage. In the overclocking community, these Samsung DDR3 sticks are considered the “golden” standard. They run so cool and clock so fast, you don’t even need heatsinks. I’ve never been a fan of decorative heatsinks, instead I prefer simple ones with actual fins that are efficient at removing heat. A lot of the stuff that’s out there today is all about grabbing your attention. Give me stability over that any day.</p> <p>Other than that, the components I picked are what I feel are best in class. From the SSD to HDD, to GPU and PSU, the components I have in The Workhorse are essentially the best. The Dell UltraSharp U3011 was the company’s previous flagship 30-incher. Dell now has the U3014, which delivers a 30-inch display backed by LED instead of the CCFL backlighting in the U3011. Still, it’s a beauty, but it’s not a “gaming” display by any means. It doesn’t do any of the faster refresh rates, nor does it have the best response time for some types of games, and it doesn’t come with G-Sync either. I use an Acer XB280HK 4K 28-inch display at work that has G-Sync, and I can honestly say, I want G-Sync or FreeSync in all my future displays. </p> <p>To round out the system, I use a Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate for input nirvana. I actually have 3 of these keyboards. Once for this system, one for the entertainment system, and one for my PC at the office. I’m just a really big fan of Cherry MX blue switches. And yes, all the keys are blank on these keyboards.</p> <p>OK, enough work, let’s play.</p> <p>For my entertainment duties, I was really attracted to Digital Storm’s Bolt series of PCs. No only does Digital Storm build really good PCs, they do so with the best components that you and I can buy. Thus exists the Bolt 3. </p> <p>Digital Storm co-designed a chassis, with Lian Li, that I feel is an excellent fit for the living room—that is, not too big, and looks great laying horizontally. At this point, you might be asking why didn’t I just build another rig. Good question. My answer is, this publication is called Maximum PC, not Maximum DIY. I think as fans of PCs, and fans of technology in general, <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/its_ok_buy_pre-built_column_2015">we should appreciate and embrace all types of technology</a>. There are plenty of reasons why someone would choose to build or not to build. Since I’ve been building all my life, I figured: why not see what’s going on the other side? And you know what? It’s awesome! Funny how life works.</p> <p>The Bolt 3 is loaded to the gills with the best parts: an NVIDIA Titan X, Core i7 4790K, Samsung 850 Pro SSD, and more. The best part of the rig, though, is the design. It’s sleek, black, and has a huge plane of dark tempered glass covering one side of the system. It’s slightly larger than the outgoing Bolt 2, but the slight increase in volume allows better airflow, as well as maintenance. In fact, there’s space for two Titan X cards, but I have yet to figure out how to cram that second card in.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u191083/tuan_nguyen_pc_5.jpg" alt="Digital Storm Bolt 3" title="Digital Storm Bolt 3" width="620" height="574" /></p> <p>For its duties as a home-theater gaming rid, the Bolt 3 is connected via HDMI to my Pioneer receiver, which in turn is connected to a monster of a projector: an Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB. This is one of the best prosumer 1080p projectors you can buy. It’s extremely highly rated, and outputs a mind-blowingly good picture, even with ambient lighting. </p> <p>I play (or have played): Battlefield 4, Titanfall, League of Legends, Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, Supernova (alpha), and a bunch of other titles. Right now though, the game I enjoy playing the most is Ori and the Blind Forest. If you haven’t played it, get it. If you don’t know it, get it. My game library is a mixed bag of different genres, and we know that different games require different hardware to get maximum fidelity. So, going with a Bolt 3 configured as it is allows me to enjoy any title on the market in my living room without fuss. Of course, we’d be just as happy and supportive if you built your own, too.</p> <p>Other than games, I use the Bolt 3 for all other duties, such as movie playback, and the occasional web browsing.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 10px;"><strong>And that's a wrap</strong></span></p> <p>We hope you enjoyed having a deep look into what we use for our own personal systems at home. We try to keep things varied, and all of us have different things that we do with our PCs. No matter what each of us use though, one thing is clear: we love to build stuff. I'd like to point out though that Alex only showed a photo of his PC from the outside because his system is horrendously dusty on the inside. Awful!</p> <p>We're interested in what you guys have in your builds, or if you bought a pre-built, what did you configure it with and why? Why one CPU over another? Why 64GB of RAM instead of 32GB? Is there a brand favorite you have and why? And, if you have questions for our editors about their specific setup, hit us up in the comments!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/pc_gaming_week_maximum_pc_editors_rigs_2015#comments amd build PC Campbell intel McNamara Nguyen nvidia Thang Gaming Editor Blogs Systems Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:36:26 +0000 Maximum PC Staff 29636 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD Announces Four New FreeSync Monitors http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_announces_new_freesync_monitors_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/benq_xl2730z.jpg" alt="benq xl2730z" title="benq xl2730z" width="200" height="216" style="float: right;" />AMD claims that Nvidia G-Sync technology can negatively affect FPS</h3> <p>Shore up your homes everyone, it appears that another battle is about to be waged between AMD and Nvidia consumers. The resulting storm is going to be over AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync technologies. While&nbsp;<strong>AMD announced that four new monitors with FreeSync support are now available</strong>, it didn’t stop there. The company went on to claim that Nvidia’s G-Sync can negatively affect a game’s FPS.</p> <p>Simply put, both technologies allow graphics cards to synchronize the display of a video game’s frame with the output of a video card. In addition, they both eliminate tearing and stuttering in games though AMD claims that, through internal studies, Nvidia’s G-Sync can negatively affect a game’s FPS by 1.14 percent (Alien: Isolation was the game used for the study). For the same study, the company claimed that FreeSync saw an improved affect of 0.16 percent FPS. Another issue that AMD pointed out is that consumers can disable FreeSync (or adaptive sync) off on FreeSync monitors while G-Sync monitors cannot turn off VSync which can reduce the mouse’s latency.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/amd_gsync_chart.jpg" alt="amd gsync chart" title="amd gsync chart" width="600" height="226" /></p> <p>The company didn’t stop there as it pointed out some of the benefits of manufacturers using its technology compared to Nvidia’s. AMD’s FreeSync will not require a proprietary module, will have no licensing fees, is open source, use DisplayPort, be compatible with standard monitor features (audio, scaling, OSD), and have a refresh rate range of 9-240Hz. All of which would make the tech more appealing to manufacturers compared to Nvidia’s G-Sync which AMD points out requires a proprietary module, charges a licensing fee, is not open source, and has a refresh rate range of 30-144Hz.</p> <p>But while fanboys can argue to their hearts content about these differences, there are four new monitors that are currently available that supports AMD’s FreeSync tech. The cheapest monitor will be the LG 29UM67 29-inch monitor featuring an In-Plane Switching panel that will start at $449 with 2560x1080 (21:9 ultrawide) resolution and 48-75Hz refresh rate. For $499, there is the Acer XG270HU 27-inch monitor with TN Type Panel, 2560x1440 (16:9) resolution, and 40-144Hz refresh rate. Next is the BenQ XL2730Z 27-inch monitor with a TN Type Panel, 2560x1440 (16:9) resolution, and 40-144Hz refresh rate that will retail for $599. Finally, there is the LG 34Um67 34-inch monitor IPS with 2560x1080 (21:9 ultrawide) resolution and 48-75Hz refresh rate for a starting retail price of $649.</p> <p>Additional monitors supporting FreeSync will be available soon.</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="https://plus.google.com/+SeanKnightD?rel=author" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="https://twitter.com/SeanDKnight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="https://www.facebook.com/seandknight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_announces_new_freesync_monitors_2015#comments amd FreeSync FreeSync monitors g-sync monitors nvidia Gaming News Monitors Fri, 20 Mar 2015 01:45:47 +0000 Sean D Knight 29616 at http://www.maximumpc.com Nvidia Titan X Review http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_titan_x_review_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A new hero descends from the heights of Mount GeForce</h3> <p>In ancient Greek mythology, the Titans are the immediate descendants of the primordial gods. So it is with the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan, descended from the company's top-shelf professional workstation GPUs. <a title="Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/evga_geforce_gtx_titan_review" target="_blank">First debuting in March 2013</a>, the original Titan was nearly the most powerful video card that the company could offer. They sealed off a couple items that would be of little interest to gamers, which also prevented professionals from using these much less expensive gamer variants for workstation duties.</p> <p>In the two years since, the company has iterated on this design, adding more shader processors (or "CUDA cores," as Nvidia likes to call them), and even adding a second GPU core on the same card. Now the time has come for it to deliver the Maxwell generation of super-premium GPUs, this time dubbed the <strong>GTX Titan X</strong>. And it's a beast. Despite being stuck on the 28nm process node for several years now, the company continues to extract more and more performance from its silicon. Interestingly, the card goes up for sale today, but only at Nvidia's own online storefront. There is currently a limit of two per order. The company tells us that you'll be able to buy it from other stores and in pre-built systems "over the next few weeks." First-world problems, right?</p> <p><img src="/files/u99720/nvidia_titan_5159.png" alt="Titan X" title="Titan X" width="620" height="401" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>These days, you can use the number of shader cores as a rough estimate of performance. We say "rough" because the Maxwell cores in this Titan X are, according to Nvidia, 40 percent faster than the Kepler cores in the earlier Titans. So when you see that the Titan X has "only" 3072 of them, this is actually a huge boost. It's about 30 percent more than the GTX 980, which is already a barnstormer. For reference, the difference in shader count between <a title="Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_rog_poseidon_gtx_780_review" target="_blank">the GTX 780</a> and the original Titan was about 16 percent. The Titan X also has an almost ridiculous 12GB of GDDR5 VRAM. We say "almost" because Nvidia has some ambitious goals for the resolution that it expects you to be able to play at with this card.</p> <p>At the Game Developers Conference two weeks ago, its reps pitched the Titan X to us as the first GPU that could handle 4K gaming solo, at high settings. They demoed Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, which wasn't a solid 60fps, as they readily acknowledged. But we did see all the graphics settings cranked up, and gameplay was smooth at about 45fps <a title="G-Sync introduction video" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/acer_4k_g-sync_monitor_tested_gtx_980_video" target="_blank">when paired with a G-Sync monitor</a>. As its name implies, G-sync synchronizes your monitor's refresh rate to the frame rate being delivered to your video card, which vastly reduces tearing. They also enabled motion blur, which can help mask frame rate drops.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/titanx3.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>For our review, we used seven high-end cards that have come out in the same two-year time frame as the original Titan. Some of these are no longer sold in stores, but they still provide an important frame of reference, and their owners may want to know if upgrading is going to be worth it.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Note that the clock speeds in the charts on the next page are not all for the reference versions. These are for the particular models that we used for this review. The GTX 980 is the MSI Gaming 4G model; the GTX 970 is the Asus GTX970-DCMOC-4GD5; the GTX 780 is the Asus&nbsp;STRIX-GTX780-OC-6GD5 (and the reference model also has 3GB of VRAM instead of 6GB); and the Radeon R9 290X is the MSI Lightning edition. We used the prices for the reference versions, however.</p> <h3 style="text-align: right;"><a title="GeForce Titan X Review Page 2" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_titan_x_review_2015?page=0,1" target="_self">Click here to turn to page 2 for the specs!</a></h3> <hr /> <p>Let's take a look at their specs:</p> <div class="spec-table orange" style="font-size: 12px; font-weight: normal;"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td></td> <td>Titan X</td> <td>Titan&nbsp;</td> <td>GTX 980</td> <td>GTX 970</td> <td>GTX 780 Ti</td> <td>GTX 780</td> <td>R9 290X</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Generation</td> <td>&nbsp;GM200</td> <td>&nbsp;GK110</td> <td>&nbsp;GM204</td> <td>&nbsp;GM204&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;GK110&nbsp;</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;GK104</td> <td>Hawaii</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Core Clock (MHz)</td> <td>&nbsp;1,000</td> <td>&nbsp;837</td> <td>&nbsp;1,216</td> <td>&nbsp;1,088</td> <td>&nbsp;876</td> <td>&nbsp;889</td> <td>"up to" 1GHz</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Boost Clock (MHz)</td> <td>&nbsp;1,075</td> <td>&nbsp;876</td> <td>&nbsp;1,317</td> <td>&nbsp;1,228</td> <td>&nbsp;928</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;941</td> <td>N/A</td> </tr> <tr> <td>VRAM Clock (MHz)</td> <td>&nbsp;7,010</td> <td>&nbsp;6,000</td> <td>&nbsp;7,000</td> <td>&nbsp;7,000</td> <td>&nbsp;7,000</td> <td>&nbsp;6,000</td> <td>5,000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>VRAM Amount</td> <td>&nbsp;12GB</td> <td>&nbsp;6GB</td> <td>&nbsp;4GB</td> <td>&nbsp;4GB</td> <td>&nbsp;3GB</td> <td>&nbsp;6GB</td> <td>4GB</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bus</td> <td>&nbsp;384-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;384-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;256-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;256-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;384-bit</td> <td>&nbsp;384-bit</td> <td>512-bit</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ROPs</td> <td>&nbsp;96</td> <td>&nbsp;48</td> <td>&nbsp;64</td> <td>&nbsp;56</td> <td>&nbsp;48</td> <td>&nbsp;48</td> <td>64</td> </tr> <tr> <td>TMUs</td> <td>&nbsp;192</td> <td>&nbsp;224</td> <td>&nbsp;128</td> <td>&nbsp;104</td> <td>&nbsp;240</td> <td>&nbsp;192</td> <td>176</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Shaders</td> <td>&nbsp;3,072</td> <td>&nbsp;2,688</td> <td>&nbsp;2,048</td> <td>&nbsp;1,664</td> <td>&nbsp;2,880</td> <td>&nbsp;2,304</td> <td>2,816</td> </tr> <tr> <td>SMs</td> <td>&nbsp;24</td> <td>&nbsp;15</td> <td>&nbsp;16</td> <td>&nbsp;13</td> <td>&nbsp;15</td> <td>&nbsp;12</td> <td>N/A</td> </tr> <tr> <td>TDP (watts)</td> <td>&nbsp;250</td> <td>&nbsp;250</td> <td>&nbsp;165</td> <td>&nbsp;145</td> <td>&nbsp;250</td> <td>&nbsp;250</td> <td>290</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Launch Date</td> <td>March 2015</td> <td>March 2013</td> <td>Sept 2014</td> <td>Sept 2014</td> <td>Nov 2013</td> <td>May 2013</td> <td>Oct 2013</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Launch Price</td> <td>&nbsp;$999</td> <td>&nbsp;$999</td> <td>&nbsp;$549</td> <td>&nbsp;$329</td> <td>&nbsp;$649</td> <td>&nbsp;$699</td> <td>$549</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p>You probably noticed that the Titan X has a whopping 96 ROPs. These render output units are responsible for the quality and performance of your anti-aliasing (AA), among other things. AA at 4K resolutions can kill your framerate, so when Nvidia pitches the Titan X as a 4K card, the number of ROPs here is one of the reasons why. They've also made a return to a high number of texture mapping units. TMUs take a 3D object and apply a texture to it, after calculating angles and perspectives. The higher your resolution, the more pixels you're dealing with, so this is another change that serves 4K performance well.</p> <p>"SM" stands for "streaming multi-processor." Stream processing allows a GPU to divide its workload to be processed on multiple chips at the same time. In Nvidia's architecture, each one of these SMs contains a set of CUDA cores and a small amount of dedicated cache memory (apart from the gigabytes of VRAM listed on the box). Having 50 percent more SMs than your next-fastest card should give you an impressive jump in performance. The result won't be linear, though, becuase the Titan X has lower clock speeds—those extra one billion transistors on the Titan X generate additional heat, so lowering clocks is the main way of dealing with that. Its siblings the GTX 980 and 970 have "only" 5.2 billion transistors each, so they can set their clocks much higher.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/titanx2.jpg" width="620" height="390" /></p> <p>Despite all the silicon crammed into the Titan X, it still uses Nvidia's reference dimensions; it's only about 10.5 inches long, and it's not taller or wider than the slot bracket. If not for its darker coloring, you could easily confuse it for any baseline Nvidia card released in the past couple years. Its fan is noticeably quieter than the Titans that have come before, but it won't disappear into the background like we've seen (heard) when Nvidia's partners install their own cooling systems. If you want reliable quietude, you'll have to wait for EVGA's Hydro Copper version, which attaches to a custom water-cooling loop, or try your hand at <a title="Accelero Hybrid GTX 680 Review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/arctic_cooling_accelero_hybrid_gtx_680_review" target="_blank">something like Arctic Cooling's Accelero Hybrid.</a></p> <p>One card arguably missing from our lineup is the Titan Black. However, <a title="Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/gigabyte_gtx_780_ti_oc_review" target="_blank">the GTX 780 Ti</a> is basically the same thing, but with a 3GB frame buffer instead of a 6GB frame buffer, and slightly lower clock speeds.</p> <p><a title="AMD Radeon R9 290X review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/gigabyte_radeon_r9_290x_oc_review" target="_blank">The Radeon R9 290X</a> is the fastest GPU that AMD currently has available, so we thought it would make for a good comparison, despite being about a year and a half old; and the MSI Lightning edition is arguably the beefiest version of it.</p> <p>Before we show you the benchmarks, here's the system that we used to test these cards:</p> <div class="spec-table orange" style="text-align: center;"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td><strong>Part</strong></td> <td><strong>Component</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">CPU</td> <td class="item-dark">Intel Core i7-3960X (at stock clock speeds; 3.3GHz base, 3.9GHz turbo)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU Cooler</td> <td>Corsair Hydro Series H100</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Mobo</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus Rampage IV Extreme</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>4x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X, 2133MHz CL9</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Power Supply</td> <td>Corsair AX1200</td> </tr> <tr> <td>SSD</td> <td>1TB Crucial M550</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>Windows 8.1 64-bit</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Case</td> <td>NZXT Phantom 530&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <p>Our Sandy Bridge-E system is getting a little long in the tooth, but the Intel Core i7-3960X is still quite a beefy chip and fine for benchmarking video cards. We'll probably be moving to the Haswell-E platform soon.</p> <p>We test with every game set to its highest graphical preset and 4x multi-sampled anti-aliasing (MSAA). Sometimes individual settings can be increased even further, but we leave these alone for more normalized results. That's because these settings are usually optimized for a specific brand of cards, which can end up skewing results. For example, we leave PhysX disabled. We did make one exception, to show you how much of an impact certain niche settings can have: At 3840x2160, we tested Tomb Raider with TressFX on, and TressFX off. Since this hair-rendering tech is an open spec, both Nvidia and AMD can optimize for it.</p> <p>MSAA is not an available setting in Tomb Raider, so we use 2x super-sample antialiasing (SSAA) instead. This form of AA generates a higher resolution frame than what the monitor is set at, and squishes the frame down to fit.</p> <p>All Nvidia cards in this roundup were tested with the 347.84 drivers, which were given to us ahead of release and are scheduled to be available for everyone to download on March 17th. The Titan X is also scheduled to hit retail on this day. We tested the R9 290X with <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amds_year_end_gift_gamers_catalyst_omega_special_edition_driver_2014" target="_blank">AMD's Omega drivers released in December</a>.</p> <h3 style="text-align: right;"><a title="GeForce Titan X Review Page 3" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_titan_x_review_2015?page=0,2" target="_self">Click here to see the benchmarks and analysis!</a></h3> <hr /> <p>We test with a mix of AMD-friendly and Nvidia-friendly titles (it seems like you're either one or the other, these days); Metro: Last Light, Hitman: Absolution, and Tomb Raider usually favor AMD; Batman: Arkham Origins, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and Unigine Heaven favor Nvidia. In all cases, we use their built-in bechmarks to minimize variance.</p> <h3>1920x1080 Bechmark Results, Average Frames Per Second</h3> <h4 style="font-size: 12px;"> <div class="spec-table orange" style="font-weight: normal;"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> <td> <p>Metro:</p> <p>Last Light</p> </td> <td> <p>Arkham</p> <p>Origins</p> </td> <td> <p>Hitman:</p> <p>Absolution</p> </td> <td> <p>Shadow of</p> <p>Mordor</p> </td> <td> <p>Tomb</p> <p>Raider</p> </td> <td> <p>Unigine</p> <p>Heaven</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Titan X</td> <td>&nbsp;93</td> <td>&nbsp;127</td> <td>&nbsp;84</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;106</td> <td>&nbsp;205</td> <td>&nbsp;97</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Titan</td> <td>&nbsp;63</td> <td>&nbsp;80</td> <td>&nbsp;63</td> <td>&nbsp;67</td> <td>&nbsp;129</td> <td>&nbsp;57</td> </tr> <tr> <td>980</td> <td>&nbsp;86</td> <td>&nbsp;99</td> <td>&nbsp;70</td> <td>&nbsp;93</td> <td>&nbsp;164</td> <td>&nbsp;79</td> </tr> <tr> <td>970</td> <td>&nbsp;71</td> <td>&nbsp;81</td> <td>&nbsp;59</td> <td>&nbsp;72</td> <td>&nbsp;132</td> <td>&nbsp;61</td> </tr> <tr> <td>780 Ti</td> <td>&nbsp;72</td> <td>&nbsp;84</td> <td>&nbsp;70</td> <td>&nbsp;77</td> <td>&nbsp;142</td> <td>&nbsp;69</td> </tr> <tr> <td>780</td> <td>&nbsp;67</td> <td>&nbsp;77</td> <td>&nbsp;65</td> <td>&nbsp;71</td> <td>&nbsp;122</td> <td>&nbsp;62</td> </tr> <tr> <td>290X</td> <td>&nbsp;82</td> <td>&nbsp;111</td> <td>&nbsp;64</td> <td>&nbsp;84</td> <td>&nbsp;143</td> <td>&nbsp;65</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </h4> <p>You probably noticed that the GTX 780 trades blows with the original GTX Titan, despite the Titan having better specs. The 780 benefits from a higher clock speed and an enhanced cooler designed by Asus. Historically, Nvidia has not allowed its partners to use vendor-specific coolers on the Titan cards, so the other cards with slightly lower specs and better cooling could catch up with some overclocking. However, Nvidia says that the Titan X was highly overclockable despite using a reference cooler, so we'll be exploring that soon.</p> <p>The 780 Ti handily beats the original Titan despite also using reference clock speeds, because the Ti variant is basically a Titan Black, which is the sequel to the original Titan and came out about a year later. (And the Titan X is a physically black card, while the Titan Black is not. It can get a little confusing.)</p> <p>Meanwhile, the R9 290X beats all the Kepler generation cards, except in Hitman: Absolution, which is usually a bastion for AMD's GPUs. It looks like Nvidia has figured out some driver optimizations here.</p> <p>In general, the Titan X says to the other cards, "Get on my level." It's clearly operating on a different tier of performance.&nbsp;<a title="Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_review2014" target="_blank">The GTX 980</a> also stays generally ahead of the 290X by a comfortable margin.</p> <h3>2560x1440 Bechmark Results, Average Frames Per Second</h3> <h4 style="font-size: 12px;"> <div class="spec-table orange" style="font-weight: normal;"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> <td> <p>Metro:</p> <p>Last Light</p> </td> <td> <p>Arkham</p> <p>Origins</p> </td> <td> <p>Hitman:</p> <p>Absolution</p> </td> <td> <p>Shadow of</p> <p>Mordor</p> </td> <td> <p>Tomb</p> <p>Raider</p> </td> <td> <p>Unigine</p> <p>Heaven</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Titan X</td> <td>&nbsp;64</td> <td>&nbsp;90</td> <td>&nbsp;60</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;77</td> <td>&nbsp;129</td> <td>&nbsp;61</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Titan</td> <td>&nbsp;44</td> <td>&nbsp;58</td> <td>&nbsp;43</td> <td>&nbsp;49</td> <td>&nbsp;77</td> <td>&nbsp;38</td> </tr> <tr> <td>980</td> <td>&nbsp;59</td> <td>&nbsp;71</td> <td>&nbsp;46</td> <td>&nbsp;67</td> <td>&nbsp;105</td> <td>&nbsp;48</td> </tr> <tr> <td>970</td> <td>&nbsp;47</td> <td>&nbsp;59</td> <td>&nbsp;39</td> <td>&nbsp;51</td> <td>&nbsp;81</td> <td>&nbsp;36</td> </tr> <tr> <td>780 Ti</td> <td>&nbsp;51</td> <td>&nbsp;62</td> <td>&nbsp;48</td> <td>&nbsp;56</td> <td>&nbsp;86</td> <td>&nbsp;42</td> </tr> <tr> <td>780</td> <td>&nbsp;47</td> <td>&nbsp;59</td> <td>&nbsp;44</td> <td>&nbsp;52</td> <td>&nbsp;80</td> <td>&nbsp;40</td> </tr> <tr> <td>290X</td> <td>&nbsp;54</td> <td>&nbsp;83</td> <td>&nbsp;54</td> <td>&nbsp;63</td> <td>&nbsp;91</td> <td>&nbsp;40</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </h4> <p>As we ratchet up the resolution (while keeping all other graphical settings the same) we see the performance separation begin. While everyone comfortably sustained 60-plus fps at 1080p, older GPUs struggle to maintain that threshold at 2560x1440, as does the GTX 970. We're pushing 77 percent more pixels onto the screen, and the original Titan's relatively low number of ROPs, low clock speeds, and Kepler-generation CUDA cores combine to make an obstacle that the other cards don't have to deal with. The new Titan X is producing well over 50 percent more frames in some of these tests, despite generating less noise, about the same amount of heat, and costing about the same. Wringing these kind of gains from the same 28nm process node is pretty impressive. It comfortably beats AMD's best card in every test. Tomb Raider and <a title="Batman: Arkham Origins review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/batman_arkham_origins_review_2014" target="_blank">Batman: Arkham Origins</a> distinguish themselves as two particularly well-optimized games.&nbsp;</p> <p>The R9 290X remains ahead of Nvidia's Kepler cards and pulls away in Hitman. AMD's 512-bit bus provides a wide pipe for memory bandwidth, and that advantage emerges once you move past 1080p. It's not until we encounter newer premium cards like the GTX 980 and Titan X that we find a competitive alternative from Nvidia. And when the Titan X arrives, it makes a statement, decisively maintaining 60-plus fps no matter what we threw at it. We'd want nothing less from a card that costs nearly three times as much as the 290X. The GTX 980 gets more mixed results here, but it still looks like a great card for playing at this resolution.</p> <h3>3840x2160 Bechmark Results, Average Frames Per Second</h3> <h4 style="font-size: 12px;"> <div class="spec-table orange" style="font-weight: normal;"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p>&nbsp;</p> </td> <td> <p>Metro:</p> <p>Last Light</p> </td> <td> <p>Arkham</p> <p>Origins</p> </td> <td> <p>Hitman:</p> <p>Absolution</p> </td> <td> <p>Shadow of</p> <p>Mordor</p> </td> <td> <p>Tomb</p> <p>Raider*</p> </td> <td> <p>Unigine</p> <p>Heaven</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Titan X</td> <td>&nbsp;35</td> <td>&nbsp;53</td> <td>&nbsp;33</td> <td class="item-dark">&nbsp;44</td> <td>&nbsp;44/60</td> <td>&nbsp;26</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Titan</td> <td>&nbsp;24</td> <td>&nbsp;34</td> <td>&nbsp;22</td> <td>&nbsp;25</td> <td>&nbsp;26/37</td> <td>&nbsp;18</td> </tr> <tr> <td>980</td> <td>&nbsp;32</td> <td>&nbsp;41</td> <td>&nbsp;24</td> <td>&nbsp;37</td> <td>&nbsp;36/48</td> <td>&nbsp;20</td> </tr> <tr> <td>970</td> <td>&nbsp;24</td> <td>&nbsp;32</td> <td>&nbsp;19</td> <td>&nbsp;28</td> <td>&nbsp;27/37</td> <td>&nbsp;15</td> </tr> <tr> <td>780 Ti</td> <td>&nbsp;27</td> <td>&nbsp;38</td> <td>&nbsp;23</td> <td>&nbsp;32</td> <td>&nbsp;29/40</td> <td>&nbsp;19</td> </tr> <tr> <td>780</td> <td>&nbsp;26</td> <td>&nbsp;35</td> <td>&nbsp;23</td> <td>&nbsp;30</td> <td>&nbsp;27/38</td> <td>&nbsp;18</td> </tr> <tr> <td>290X</td> <td>&nbsp;28</td> <td>&nbsp;41</td> <td>&nbsp;29</td> <td>&nbsp;37</td> <td>&nbsp;31/43</td> <td>&nbsp;17</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </h4> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-weight: normal;">*<em>TressFX on/TressFX off</em></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: normal;">When you look at these results, it's important to keep in mind that our review process does not aim for playable framerates. We want to see how these cards perform when pushed to the limit. Despite this demanding environment, the Titan X remains a viable solo card to have at 4K, though it's still not ideal (putting aside for the moment <a title="4K Monitors: Everything You Need to Know" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/4k_monitor_2014" target="_blank">the technical resolution difference between DCI 4K and Ultra HD 4K</a>). The good news is that 4xMSAA is arguably not needed at a resolution this high, unless you're gaming on a big 4K HDTV that's less than a couple of feet from your eyes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: normal;">Those with screens that are 32 inches or smaller will probably be fine with 2xMSAA, or some version of SMAA (</span><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1em;">Enhanced Subpixel Morphological Antialiasing), which is known to be quite efficient while producing minimal blurriness and shimmering. Nvidia's TXAA (Temporal Anti-Aliasing) can be a good option when you have one of the company's cards and are playing a game that supports the feature. And with the Maxwell generation of cards (the Titan X, GTX 980, and GTX 970), you also have MFAA, or&nbsp;Multi-Frame Sample Anti-Aliasing. The company claims that this gets you 4xMSAA visual quality at the performance cost of 2xMSAA.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1em;">The GTX 780 nearly catches up with the 780 Ti at this resolution, again demonstrating the importance of clock speeds, although the difference is pretty modest in this scenario. At 4K, this GTX 780's additional 3GB of VRAM also comes into play. The 6GB card spends less processing power on memory management. However, the 780 does not support 4-way SLI, if that's your thing. It's limited to 3-way SLI. The GTX 970 and 980 have the same difference with their SLI support. The GTX 960 is limited to only 2-way SLI. This is one of the methods that Nvidia uses to encouraging the purchase of their more expensive cards. All Titans support 4-way SLI.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1em;">The R9 290X maintains its lead over Kepler, though it shrinks inside the margin of error at times. It's weakest in Unigine Heaven, because this benchmark makes heavy use of tessellation (dynamically increasing surface complexity by subdividing triangles in real time), and that's something that Kepler and Maxwell do much better. In general, it's a very respectable performer, especially for the price, which has fallen to roughly that of a GTX 970. Since the 290X is meaningfully faster in every single benchmark that we used, and it bumps up against the GTX 980 when we get to 4K, it makes for a pretty good spoiler until the Titan X arrives and leapfrogs everyone in the contest.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1em;"><img src="/files/u160416/titanx1.jpg" width="620" height="393" /></span></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1em;">Conclusion</span></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1em;">Overall, things are looking pretty rosy for the Titan X. Since it's packed with a huge amount of ROPs, SMs, shader processors, and VRAM, it's able to overcome the limitation of the aging 28nm process. The Maxwell-generation CUDA cores are also about 40 percent faster than the older Kepler version (by Nvidia's estimation, at least), and the company improved color compression for additional performance gains. It's not the Chosen One if you want to game with a single GPU at 4K, but you can get pretty close if you're willing to tweak a few graphical settings.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1em;">Also keep in mind that it was about one year ago when Nvidia debuted the GTX Titan Z, which has two Titan Black GPUs on a single card. So they may plan to drop a dual Titan X sometime soon, as well. And there's room in the lineup for a "980 Ti," since there's quite a spec gap (and price gap) right now between the GTX 980 and the GTX Titan X. If that's not enough, <a title="AMD Radeon R9 370 Core Edition Leaked" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/xfx_radeon_r9_370_core_edition_leaks_web_higher_end_r300_series_cards_follow" target="_blank">rumors around AMD's next generation of video cards are reaching a boiling point</a>. There's always something new around the corner, isn't there? But if you're comfortable with this price tag, and you don't care about what AMD's got cooking, the Titan X is the fastest thing you'll find for gaming beyond 1080p.</span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_titan_x_review_2015#comments Gaming gpu Hardware Nvidia Titan X sli Video Card Reviews Tue, 17 Mar 2015 19:00:13 +0000 Tom McNamara 29579 at http://www.maximumpc.com Intel NUC5i5RYK Review http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_nuc5i5ryk_review_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Need Ultrabook components in a tiny desktop?</h3> <p>Intel’s quasi-barebones NUC PC is back for round three, with the sexy-named “NUC5i5RYK” SKU leading the charge. Equipped with Intel’s i5-5250U dual-core CPU, clocked at 1.6GHz, the processor still comes soldered to the NUC’s motherboard. And once again, owners will have to bring their own OS to the party.&nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of form factor, the NUC is still extremely portable—it measures 4.5x4.3x1.3 inches and weighs one pound, 4 ounces. Ports include four USB 3.0, one Mini HDMI 1.4a, one Mini DisplayPort 1.2, and an Ethernet jack. In addition to the new Broadwell proc, there are several upgrades to the NUC5i5RYK. This NUC now supports up to 16GB of 1866MHz SO-DIMM RAM, with its two memory slots. This addition is appreciated, considering the old NUC D54250WYKH SKU would only support 1,600MHz RAM. For the purposes of this review, Intel provided us with 8GB of HyperX DDR3L RAM clocked at 1,600MHz, but you’ll have to BYO if you want to join in on the NUC party. In addition, this NUC does away with both SATA and mSATA slots and replaces them with the faster M.2 standard, previously known as the Next Generation Form Factor. For review purposes, Intel provided us with its own 530 series M.2 SSD and Samsung’s more expensive XP941 series 256GB drive, to give us an idea of how an enthusiast M.2 SSD could take advantage of the speedier slot. Finally, another nice addition to this is an 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 combo adapter. With previous SKUs, you bought your own.&nbsp;</p> <h3><img src="/files/u154082/intel_nuc_broadwell.png" alt="intel nuc broadwell" title="intel nuc broadwell" width="620" height="461" /></h3> <p>Accessing all of these components is just as easy as unscrewing four screws on the bottom of the NUC. Owners may be happy to hear that the base uses captured screws, which means they won’t fall out. Users will be able to install their M.2 drives by unscrewing a single screw, which anchors the drive in place (we had to use a small Phillips head screwdriver here because our standard screwdriver was too big). You can also pry open and change the top cover. The default black lid pops out easily enough with a thin flathead screwdriver. Intel says there will be different color options available, but we don’t really see this catching on in much of a big way outside of the enthusiast NUC community.&nbsp;</p> <p>Considering that Broadwell is a “tick” on Intel’s tick-tock roadmap and equates to a new 14nm manufacturing process, our CPU is focused more on power efficiency than pure performance gains. Oddly enough, however, we saw a bit of the reverse to be true in our test. Measuring the wattage, this NUC5i5RYK soaked up roughly one watt less at idle than the <a title="Haswell nuc review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_nuc_d54250wykh_review" target="_blank">D54250WYKH Haswell NUC</a> we reviewed last year, but consumed roughly five more watts when we stressed it under Prime95 and Furmark. Thankfully, this Broadwell NUC made up for it in performance, where it bested its Haswell cousin by roughly 7–10 percent in our CPU benchmarks.&nbsp;</p> <p>While the CPU gains were admirable, we saw a bigger delta in our graphics benchmarks. The NUC5i5RYK uses Intel’s HD Graphics 6000, and while it doesn’t hold a candle to the <a title="Gigabyte Brix Pro" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/small_PCs_2014?page=0,2" target="_blank">Gigabyte Brix Pro</a> we reviewed last year, which uses Intel’s top-of-the-line Iris Pro graphics, it is a step up compared to Intel’s HD Graphics 5000 series, beating it by 10–45 percent in our graphics tests.&nbsp;</p> <p>Considering that the box is quite small, you might be wondering how hot or loud it gets. When the NUC is sitting idle, it’s both cool and quiet. Under the onslaught of our benchmarks, however, the fan did rev up, but it was hardly offensive. The box also got a little warm to the touch, but nowhere near as scorching as the Gigabyte Brix Pro, which is an enthusiast NUC gunning for performance.</p> <p>The real story here pertains to the included M.2 slot, which allows for some ridiculous storage speeds. With Intel’s 530 Series M.2 SSD installed, we saw sequential-read and -write speeds of 419MB/s and 213.6MB/s, respectively, using our CrystalDiskMark benchmark. Those numbers aren’t super impressive, but considering that a 180GB drive will run you $105, it isn’t a super high-end SSD either. When we plopped in Samsung’s more expensive ($254) XP941 256GB M.2 drive, however, we got stupid sequential-read and -write speeds of 1,089MB/s and 798MB/s, respectively. You’re grandmother’s traditional 2.5-inch SSDs can’t touch those numbers, as they are limited to SATA III’s 6Gb/s bandwidth cap. What makes M.2 drives interesting is that they come in different sizes and even have different connectors. Interesting tidbit aside, the downside of M.2 SSDs at the moment is that they aren’t as plentiful as traditional 2.5-inch SSDs, and are still quite expensive. Alas, this is the price you pay for being an early adopter.</p> <p>If you can stomach the extra cashola that the M.2 slot currently demands, then you’ll appreciate some of the tweaks that this NUC brings to the table. The included Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are greatly appreciated, and we like that you can stuff speedier RAM in the box, which could further bolster the integrated graphics. Like other NUCs, we still feel that it’s going to be a pretty niche product at the end of the day. It’s certainly not hard to build into, and could be a good first step for the noob PC builder. That said, the fact you have to purchase your own storage, RAM, OS, and install all the drivers yourself may turn off PC noobs from picking up what is essentially a pretty cool Ultrabook tossed into a small desktop form factor.&nbsp;</p> <p>$400</p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/nuc_broadwell_specs.png" width="620" height="189" /></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/nuc_broadwell_benchmarks.png" width="620" height="358" /></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_nuc5i5ryk_review_2015#comments broadwell Desktop Hardware intel NUC next unit of computing NUC5i5RYK Review small pc Windows News Reviews Mon, 16 Mar 2015 23:12:02 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29591 at http://www.maximumpc.com CyberPower PC Syber Vapor Review http://www.maximumpc.com/cyberpower_pc_syber_vapor_review_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A Steam box for the enthusiast</h3> <p>Much like what <a title="alienware" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/alienware" target="_blank">Alienware</a> did with its <a title="alpha" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_alpha_review2015" target="_blank">Alpha</a> console, <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/cyberpower">CyberPower PC</a> is transforming its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/steam_machine">Steam Machine</a> into a Windows box (you can thank <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/controller_tweaks_prompt_valve_delay_steam_machines_until_2015">Valve’s delay</a> of its hardware initiative for that). CyberPower PC is branding its new line of PCs under its Syber Vapor line, which is an obvious nod to Valve’s “Steam” nomenclature. Unlike the Alienware Alpha, however, there is no proprietary 10-foot UI here. Rather, the Vapor boots directly into Steam’s <a title="big picture mode" href="http://store.steampowered.com/bigpicture" target="_blank">Big Picture Mode</a>. CyberPower PC is billing the Vapor as “the ultimate PC gaming console,” and with some minor quibbles aside, we think the company makes a pretty compelling argument.&nbsp;</p> <p>Arguably, our biggest issue with the Vapor is that it’s... well, pretty big. Don’t get us wrong, at 13.8x13.5x3.8 inches it’s certainly a lot smaller than most gaming desktop PCs, but unlike Alienware’s much smaller Alpha, the Vapor is much too big for backpacks. It wouldn’t even fit in our Everki Beacon backpack, to which, as you might remember, we awarded a 9 Kick Ass and praised for being able to carry large 17-inch gaming notebooks. The portability problem is also exacerbated by the Vapor’s weight—it’s heavy. Whereas the Alpha was a tiny bundle of joy to lug around at 4.5 pounds, the Vapor is likely to strain backs, weighing in at 15 pounds.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/cyberpower_pc-2.jpg" alt="syber vapor review" title="syber vapor review" width="620" height="367" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>There are seven LED color schemes to choose from.</strong></p> <p>While it is a bit larger than Microsoft’s Xbox One, it looks more like a console than a PC. The version that we got is white with black trim, but it also comes in an all-black chassis. Even though we like the look of both, we prefer the black and white version a bit more for its contrasting hues. Both color variants offer LED lights on the front, with six colors schemes to choose from via a physical button on top of the case. The colors include red, blue, green, light-green, light-blue, and purple. There’s also an option to have the case cycle through all the colors automatically. There’s something of a Tron vibe to the chassis, but we kind of like it in this case (no pun intended). You can also turn off the LEDs if they don’t appeal to you.</p> <p>Even though Alienware’s Alpha was somewhat modular and allowed you to swap out the storage, RAM, and CPU, that’s about all you could change. With the Syber Vapor, it’s much less proprietary and just about as modular as any Mini-ITX system. It can take a single full-length graphics card, handle up to 16GB of RAM, and can house a standard SFX PSU up to 800 watts.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EFrL6-OhN94" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Syber Vapor boots directly into Steam Big Picture Mode</strong></p> <p>While CyberPower PC comes with a wireless controller, instead of going with the wireless Xbox 360 controller (like the Alienware Alpha), the Vapor includes a Logitech F710 gamepad. The button layout is similar to Microsoft’s equivalent, but the shape of the controller feels similar to Sony’s Dual Shock offering, in that there are dual sticks toward the bottom-middle of the controller. The F710 works OK, but we prefer the Xbox 360 controller, as it contours better to our hands. The F710 isn’t the only peripheral that CyberPower PC included with our unit, however. While some of the more affordable models in the Vapor line include a wireless mini QWERTY keyboard, our system came with Logitech’s K400 wireless keyboard. The K400 has a little touchpad to the right of the keys, so you can mouse around. CyberPower PC opted to include this because, unlike Alienware, it didn’t program its controller to emulate a mouse-and-keyboard setup. While we would have really appreciated this feature, and feel it’s sort of a cheap shortcut on CyberPower PC’s part, the inclusion of the K400 keyboard does open up the system as both a Steam box and a full-fledged Windows PC (You can get to the Windows desktop by exiting Steam). Whereas it was a bit of a chore having to rely solely on a wireless Xbox 360 gamepad to control the Alpha, the Vapor’s included K400 does go a long way to mitigate annoying installation pop-ups in Steam Big Picture Mode. On a related note, as hard as Valve has worked on BPM, it still has some issues to iron out.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/cyber_vapor.jpg" alt="Vapor PC" title="Vapor PC" width="620" height="620" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The case also comes in black.</strong></p> <p>When it came to our Vapor’s specs, we had little to complain about. While there are a couple of different configurations to choose from, CyberPower PC sent us its super-decked-out SKU, which includes components such as Intel’s 4GHz quad-core i7-4790K CPU coupled with Zalman’s CNPS8900 Quiet CPU cooler, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980, and 8GB of Corsair Vengeance lower-power DDR3 RAM clocked at 2,133MHz. All of this is sitting on top of an MSI Z97I AC Mini-ITX mobo and has a 450-watt Silverstone ST45SF-G SFX PSU. And for storage, our Vapor has a 120GB Kingston SSD and a 1TB 2.5-inch 7,200rpm HDD. All in all, this is nearly as much computer power as CyberPower PC can cram into this box. The cost of our unit? At the time of print, our particular SKU retails for $1,638 and while that certainly prices it well beyond the consoles, it’s actually quite a bargain. As a matter of fact, when we searched for all the individual components on Newegg to try and replicate the build ourselves, the total tab came out to be $1,807. So, you’re easily saving over $150 here, and you’re getting CyberPower PC’s one-year warranty on top of that. That’s some OEM voodoo right there.</p> <p>To see how it compares to a full-tower DIY system with the same components, we look at the desktop featured in the cover story of our February 2015 issue, which conveniently has the same CPU and GPU. As would be expected, the bigger chassis allowed our desktop to perform slightly better overall, with the Vapor trailing behind one to five percent in our graphics tests. The only graphics benchmark where the Vapor was actually able to outperform our desktop equivalent was in Batman: Arkham Origins, but we suspect it’s because of the newer GeForce drivers we’ve got running compared to the build we originally set up for the February issue. As a gaming machine, our Vapor is a beast and should be able to max out any game you throw at it with smooth framerates. If anything, our unit is overkill for 1080P, with the upside being that it’s a bit more “future proof.” One of our complaints about Alienware’s Alpha is that it didn’t support GeForce Optimal Playable Settings, which is great for console noobs who don’t want to finagle with adjusting graphics settings. With our Vapor, users can simply set everything to max. It’s a brute-force way of tackling a complex problem, but hey, in this case, it works.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/k400.jpg" alt="k400 keyboard" title="k400 keyboard" width="620" height="371" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Our Syber Vapor came with Logitech's K400 wireless keyboard</strong></p> <p>When it came to the CPU benchmarks, the Vapor trailed the desktop by 5 to 10 percent, but we suspect that mostly has to do with our desktop’s Kraken X61, which is a great CPU liquid cooler. The Vapor is definitely running high-end desktop parts, but its form factor tames its components ever so slightly. But let’s be honest here, a 4790K is overkill for gaming today.</p> <p>Considering the Vapor is meant to connect to your HDTV, all of the power in this box is moot if the user experience isn’t good. Because the Vapor runs Windows 8.1, users will have to go through the annoying Windows 8.1 setup process. Once we got that out of the way, we noticed that the Vapor scaled perfectly to our 1080p Samsung HDTV over HDMI. We couldn’t say the same about the Alienware Alpha, which required us to rejigger our display to fit the confines of the screen. Unfortunately, some games like SpeedRunners boot up in windowed mode, which takes you out of the illusion that you’re playing on a console. And speaking of booting, the startup process took 16 seconds to get to Windows, but then the Vapor automatically boots into Steam Big Picture Mode after that and kicks up the timer to 30 seconds overall. That’s not super-fast, but it’s much faster than the Alienware Alpha, which takes more than three times as long to boot. We have to say that we really missed being able to use the gamepad to emulate the mouse and keyboard, however, as that did work for Alienware’s box in a pinch. Really, who wants to go looking for their wireless keyboard whenever you’re playing a Steam game with only partial controller support? One thing that we really liked about the experience, however, is that our Vapor ran very quietly under load.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/f710.png" alt="Logitech F710" title="Logitech F710" width="498" height="319" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>CyberPower includes Logitech's F710 wireless controller</strong></p> <p>We had some relatively small minor issues with the build quality. The unit we tested was actually our second unit; the first unit we received was dead on arrival. But hey, that stuff happens every now and then. The replacement unit reviewed here had its top lid pretty much fall off out of the box; its single screw wasn’t secured all the way. We tightened it easily enough, but then when we placed the Vapor flat on its side (which is one of the ways you can orient the box), one of the rubber feet came off (there was enough adhesive on it to stick it back in place). Little issues like these make us question CyberPower PC’s assembly line.</p> <p>The Syber Vapor certainly isn’t perfect, and neither is Steam’s Big Picture Mode, but as a Mini-ITX gaming PC, it rocks, especially for the price. At this point, you literally cannot beat its price if you tried to DIY. In addition, it’s got enough horsepower to eat any 1080p game you throw at it. Yes, it’s relatively big and heavy, and a part of us would have preferred a smaller, cheaper, and more portable unit with a short GTX 970, but as it stands, this is still one pretty kick ass gaming PC.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Syber Vapor Specs</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/syber_vapor_specs.png" alt="syber vapor specs" title="syber vapor specs" width="615" height="273" /></p> <p><strong>Syber Vapor Benchmarks</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/syber_vapor_benchmarks.png" alt="syber vapor benchmarks" title="syber vapor benchmarks" width="587" height="333" /></p> <p><em>Our full-tower desktop PC uses an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 and an Intel Core i7-4970K CPU.&nbsp;</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/cyberpower_pc_syber_vapor_review_2015#comments alienware big picture mode console cyberpower pc Review Steam steam machine syber vapor Valve Gaming News Reviews Tue, 17 Feb 2015 22:40:49 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29436 at http://www.maximumpc.com An Inside Look at How Logitech Designs Its Gaming Mice http://www.maximumpc.com/inside_look_how_logitech_designs_its_gaming_mice2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/dsc01600.jpg" alt="logitech gaming mouse" title="logitech gaming mouse" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />The science and testing behind Logitech’s gaming mice</h3> <p><em>This is part two of our in-depth tour of Logitech’s facilities in Switzerland. This article focuses on how Logitech designs and develops its gaming mice. For an inside look at how the company is attempting to reinvent the mechanical keyboard, click <a title="logitech mechanical keyboard" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/how_logitech_reinventing_mechanical_keyboard2014" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p> <p>While Logitech is generally viewed as a peripheral manufacturer, the company views itself as a technology company. In an attempt to show PC gamers that it uses cutting-edge design methodologies, Logitech invited us to its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland to show us how the company designs and tests it gaming mice.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/I-Aq-KBMPEs" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech explains how its G402 mouse uses two sensors</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><img src="/files/u154082/g402_hyperion_fury.jpg" alt="logitech g402 hyperion fury" title="logitech g402 hyperion fury" width="200" height="214" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury<br /></strong>The company’s most interesting mouse today is arguably the G402 Hyperion Fury, which it claims to be “the world’s fastest gaming mouse.” Logitech boasts that the G402 can move a blistering 12.5 meters a second. To achieve this, Logitech says it uses a combination of two sensors. At slow-to-moderate speeds, the mouse uses a traditional optical sensor. Optical sensors are arguably the most common sensors used in gaming mice and use high-speed cameras to take blazing-fast images of the surface it rests upon. From here, the sensor then overlaps the images to create a movement map. While the cameras used in Logitech’s optical sensors are magnitudes faster than the traditional point-and-shoot cameras you find at your camera store (think about 12,000 shots a second), the company says that even they have detectable lag when you’re trying to move a mouse at 12.5 meters a second. Therefore, beyond a certain speed threshold, the G402 switches over to an accelerometer/gyroscope solution. It uses a small ARM processor that can switch on the fly, and Logitech claims less than a millisecond of delay results from the switch. While a gyroscope solution isn’t the most accurate sensor at low speeds, Logitech says they excel when there is a quick burst of movement, thus the G402 uses a hybrid solution that aims to leverage both sensor’s strengths to achieve its speed.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/63jEXIwiFHk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>An indepth interview with Logitech's mouse expert Chris Pate</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/logitech_g302.jpg" alt="Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime" title="Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime" width="200" height="166" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" /></p> <p><strong>Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime<br /></strong>While this hybrid sensor seems advantageous for the end user, we were surprised to hear that the company’s even newer G302 Daedalus Prime mouse opts instead to support a more traditional optical solution. Logitech told us the reason the hybrid solution wasn’t included was because the G302 was designed to be a smaller, lighter MOBA mouse, and trying to house two sensors along with the G402’s ARM processor wasn’t ideal to achieve this compact form factor. This isn’t to say the G302 doesn’t have its element of uniqueness, however.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1JgJyTegDqc" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech says its mice are good for at least 20 million clicks</strong></p> <p>Because MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2 feature tons of clicking, the Daedalus Prime is largely focused on eliminating the travel between the mouse’s buttons and its microswitches that activate commands. The G302 is able to do this by separating the left and right mouse buttons from the body of the mouse (Logitech says most mice use a monolithic design), and having them rest directly on top of the microswitch. This means that there is no air travel between the button and the switch at all. In the absence of air travel, Logitech designed a new metal spring tensioning system that rests between the button and the switch. When we asked Logitech if this could potentially add unwanted tension, which could theoretically create microscopic amounts of lag in and of itself, the company assured us that it didn’t, but rather aided in a consistent clicking experience.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VKmfG_Wv14Q" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A Logitech contraption that measures mouse accuracy</strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u152332/buildit-12387_small.jpg" alt="logitech g602" title="logitech g602" width="200" height="165" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" /></p> <p><strong>Logitech G602<br /></strong>One of the best-selling mice that Logitech currently offers is its G602 wireless mouse. According to Logitech, when you look at the mouse industry as a whole, wireless mice outsell wired ones. This might not be true for gaming, but with the G602, Logitech worked to overcome many of gamers’ fears.</p> <p>The most obvious concern for gamers is lag. According to Logitech, lag on the G602 is imperceptible. The company ran an experiment where it asked a group of gamers if they could detect any noticeable lag using its wireless gaming mouse. People said they believed it felt laggier than a traditional wired mouse. When Logitech plugged in a faux wired cable (that did nothing), the same users said it felt much more responsive. Essentially, Logitech asserts that it was merely the placebo effect at play. According to Logitech, the G602 is capable of delivering a two millisecond response time. The company says that most people can only detect latency at four milliseconds and beyond. According to its own studies, some people can’t even perceive 40 milliseconds of lag.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GcFGIFAhAqg" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech has a special room that removes all wireless signals to detect wireless dead zones for its wireless mice.</strong></p> <p>Logitech claims it could have gotten the G602’s response time under two milliseconds, but at the cost of battery life, which is actually the true obstacle of a wireless gaming mouse. By scaling it back to two milliseconds, Logitech says it was able to get much more battery life out of the G602, which it asserts is able to get 250 hours of use out of a single charge. How is the company able to achieve those figures? Logitech says that it designed the G602 with battery in mind and created a sensor specifically for gaming wirelessly. The G602 also uses Logitech’s proprietary USB interface. When we asked them why it didn’t use Bluetooth, the company informed us that the response rate of Bluetooth devices are at the mercy of the host (computer) device. The G602, in particular, uses a 1,000Hz polling rate through USB.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/V3Aro0DNpGk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech proving that there is no added acceleration to its mice.</strong></p> <p>Other interesting things we learned about mice from Logitech is that no sensor is 100 percent accurate. You might see that terminology used to market mice from other vendors, but Logitech asserts that these claims are simply false.</p> <p>Another question we had pertained to laser mice. Several years ago, laser mice were quite popular because they tracked on a wider range of surfaces compared to optical. While laser mice aren’t terrible, optical mice have one key advantage over them, and that comes down to accuracy variance, more commonly referred to as “mouse acceleration.” Mouse acceleration is undesired for gaming and generally equates to an inconsistent movement experience. According to Logitech, with laser mice, you get about a five to six percent variance, making for an inconsistent experience, compared to an optical sensor’s one percent equivalent.</p> <p>One final interesting tidbit that we learned is that many gamers prefer braided cables on their mice, but Logitech’s data shows that more pros actually prefer plastic cables as they tend to offer more flexibility. So if you want to play like a pro, you might want to consider ditching the braided cable.</p> <p>For more pictures and information from the event, check out our image gallery below.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/inside_look_how_logitech_designs_its_gaming_mice2015#comments Daedalus Prime esports G302 G402 g602 gaming mice Hardware hyperion fury logitech moba mouse shooter wireless Gaming News Mice Features Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:35:46 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29321 at http://www.maximumpc.com