Maximum PC - Reviews http://www.maximumpc.com/articles/40/feed en Sapphire Radeon R7 265 Dual-X Review http://www.maximumpc.com/sapphire_radeon_r7_265_dual-x_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u163784/sapphire_radeon_r7_265_dualx_2gb.jpg" alt="Sapphire Radeon R7 265 Dual-X" title="Sapphire Radeon R7 265 Dual-X" width="250" height="190" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Meet the new king of Budget GPUs</h3> <p>In the roundup of budget GPUs from the May 2014 issue, the Sapphire Radeon R7 275 is the odds-on favorite due to its impressive specs and the fact that it consumes more than twice the power of <a title="Nvidia GTX 750 Ti Benchmarks" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/GTX_750ti_Benchmarks_2014?page=0,0" target="_blank">Nvidia cards. </a>Sure, it's an unfair advantage, but hate the game, not the player. This board is essentially a rebadged Radeon HD 7850, which is a Pitcairn part, and it slides right in between the $120 R7 260X and the $180ish R7 270.&nbsp;</p> <p>The R7 265 Dual-X actually has the same clock speeds as the R7 270, but features fewer streaming processors for reduced shader performance. It has the same 2GB of memory, same 925MHz boost clock, same 256-bit memory bus, and so on. Its TDP is a very high 150w, or at least it seems high given the fact that GTX 750 Ti costs the exact same $150 and is sitting at just 60w. Unlike the lower-priced R7 260X Bonaire part though, the R7 265 is older silicon and thus does not support TrueAudio and XDMA CrossFire (bridgeless CrossFire basically). It will support the Mantle API however, some day.</p> <p>The Sapphire card delivered the goods in testing, boasting top scores in many benchmarks and coming in as the only GPU in this roundup to hit the magical 60fps in any test, which was a blistering turn in Call of Duty: Ghosts where it hit 67fps at 1080p on Ultra settings. That's damn impressive, as was its ability to run at 49fps in Battlefield 4, though the GTX 750 Ti was just a few frames behind it. Overall though, this card cleaned up, taking first place in seven out of nine benchmarks. If that isn't a Kick Ass performance, we don't know what is. The Dual-X cooler also kept temps and noise in check too, making this the go-to GPU for those with small boxes or small monitors.</p> <p><strong>$160,&nbsp;</strong><a title="Sapphire Technology" href="http://www.sapphiretech.com" target="_blank">www.sapphiretech.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/sapphire_radeon_r7_265_dual-x_review_2014#comments amd computer hardware Kick-Ass Award R7 265 radeon Review sapphire Video Card Reviews Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:12:56 +0000 Josh Norem 27662 at http://www.maximumpc.com Three Kickstarter Alternatives In-Depth http://www.maximumpc.com/three_kickstarter_alternatives_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Crowdfunding sites have made it possible to raise money for a business venture from your computer. While Kickstarter is king in this realm, there are other noteworthy alternatives. We kick the tires on three of them</h3> <p>What do Bret Easton Ellis, Ricki Lake, and Whoopi Goldberg all have in common? Believe it or not, they have all successfully launched projects through Kickstarter—the world’s largest crowdfunding site. They’re not alone, either; since the site first debuted in 2009, more than 5 million users have made donations, funding over 50,000 individual ventures that otherwise would never have seen the light of day. It is fair to say that Kickstarter has been a modern phenomenon, helping to fund a wide variety of different projects, from video games to fashion labels and even multi-million dollar feature films. It truly is an entrepreneur’s playground.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/153832911_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/153832911_small.jpg" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p>But while <a title="kickstarter" href="kickstarter.com" target="_blank">Kickstarter</a> is number one for a reason, being top dog doesn’t necessary mean it’s the right choice for you. Competition is rich in the crowdfunding sector, with literally hundreds and hundreds of sites out there all vying for your attention, so you are hardly stuck for choice when it comes to alternatives.</p> <p>If you are keen to get involved with crowdfunding, either by donating and supporting projects, or by seeking financial backing for you own brilliant idea, it’s really worth your while to explore many avenues before making any commitments. Indeed, you may already have used Kickstarter and found it difficult to raise funds, and are wondering which other sites have a good track record of raising money. The problem is, there are just so many to choose from. Which ones should you consider?</p> <p>Leaving aside the specialist sites that concentrate on one particular area or industry, here at Maximum PC we have done all the hard work for you, whittling down the hundreds of Kickstarter alternatives to three main contenders: Indiegogo, Rockethub, and Fundable. Read on, to find out how they differ from Kickstarter and why they might be worthy of your attention.</p> <p>A word of caution: Unfortunately, there are no guarantees with crowdfunding that you will be able to safeguard your ideas or any investments you make. Any money you decide to commit to a project is done at your own risk.</p> <h3>Indiegogo</h3> <p><strong>Pioneering crowdfunding site boasts openness</strong></p> <p>Arguably Kickstarter’s biggest and longest running rival, <a title="indiegogo" href="https://www.indiegogo.com/" target="_blank">Indiegogo</a> started life in 2007 when Danae Ringelmann met fellow business partners Eric Schell and Slava Rubin while attending the Haas School of Business at the University of California. They shared a common goal of creating a fund-raising model that would allow people a means of raising revenue for their business ideas. They officially launched Project Keiyaku—an early version of Indiegogo that, to begin with, focused purely on funding movies—at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008.</p> <p>Since those early days, the site has changed its name to Indiegogo and diversified the projects it hosts to cover just about any venture an entrepreneur can think of. In the ensuing five years, the site has emerged as one of the perennial crowdfunding ventures, having launched over 50,000 campaigns. Indiegogo removed the middleman and helped pioneer the way for the “modern” crowdfunding solution, influencing numerous other sites, including Kickstarter itself.</p> <p>Indiegogo doesn’t just limit itself to business ventures; it covers pretty much everything—you will find just as many private causes, such as appeals to raise money for charity or helping the needy, as you will more commercially minded projects. The site prides itself in its openness; you can take part no matter what country you come from—as opposed to Kickstarter’s limits on residents of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—and over a third of Indiegogo’s business is conducted globally, making it a truly international venture.</p> <h4>How It Works</h4> <p>Open to any industry and any idea (as long as it’s legal), Indiegogo isn’t fussy when it comes to what you can raise money for—unlike many of its rivals that impose restrictions on what type of campaigns you can run, Indiegogo is free of rules, no matter how serious or trivial your idea. You can even raise money for personal needs if so desired, although your needs would probably have to be pretty compelling to get people to part with their money.</p> <p>To get started at Indiegogo, you have to set up an account and a funding page. You then decide on a list of perks to offer users who donate, depending upon their level of investment. It’s then up to you to promote your Indiegogo page through social networking platforms in order to gain publicity.</p> <p>You keep all of the money a campaign generates until its target revenue is achieved, and there is no limit to the amount you can raise. Once your campaign has reached its goal, a charge of 4 percent is levied to Indiegogo. Should your campaign not reach its goal, then you have the choice of keeping all of the money raised thus far, but paying a 9 percent fee to Indiegogo because you didn’t reach your stated goal, or simply refunding all of the money back to your donors.</p> <h4>Benefits over Kickstarter</h4> <p>More favorable rates and a greater diversity of projects allowed on the site are the two main reasons you might opt for Indiegogo. Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo distributes your funds immediately when contributions are taken through a donor’s PayPal account. On the flipside, payments made by credit card are held by Indiegogo until the end of the campaign. Indiegogo’s 4 percent charge for funds (when the target is reached) also bests Kickstarter, which charges a 5 percent commission on successful campaigns. As mentioned above, you can even keep the money if your project doesn’t reach its goal, for a nominal 9 percent charge. Kickstarter users don’t have this option—if a project doesn’t reach its goal, they will receive no money at all.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/indiegogo1_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/indiegogo1_small.jpg" alt="Setting up a new project on Indiegogo is both quick and easy—the step-by-step guide takes you through everything you need to do in order to get your project up and running. " title="Indiegogo" width="620" height="338" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Setting up a new project on Indiegogo is both quick and easy—the step-by-step guide takes you through everything you need to do in order to get your project up and running. </strong></p> <p>As mentioned earlier, Indiegogo tends to support any project, no matter what it is. If your project doesn’t meet Kickstarter’s criteria—such as not allowing you to raise money for causes—then chances are Indiegogo will accept it.</p> <p>Size really does matter when it comes to running a successful publicity campaign, and Indiegogo scores high in this area, too. Half the battle when running a promotion is finding an audience with which you can engage. Being the second-largest crowdfunding site on the Internet, Indiegogo ensures your project will be part of a vibrant community that will share your project with their friends and grow a following organically.</p> <h4>Notable Projects</h4> <p>With tens of thousands of successful campaigns under its belt, it is not surprising to find that Indiegogo boasts a number of famous projects. Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum was launched to establish a science museum in Long Island, New York, and sparked a surge of public interest, with the campaign taking home $1.7 million in just six days.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/indiegogo2_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/indiegogo2_small.jpg" alt=" An Indiegogo project in action: Genesis 3D Movie is going great guns, and thankfully has nothing to do with the Phil Collins band of the same name." title="Indiegogo" width="620" height="336" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>An Indiegogo project in action: Genesis 3D Movie is going great guns, and thankfully has nothing to do with the Phil Collins band of the same name.</strong></p> <p>Canary: the First Smart Home Security Device for Everyone broke the Indiegogo record for most money raised for a project, at $1.9 million. Its original goal of a modest 100K was met within a few hours of its launch in July this year, and it went on to gather contributions from nearly 8,000 users across the world.</p> <p>Indiegogo’s most famous project, however, was Let’s Give Karen – the Bus Monitor – H Klein a Vacation! After a number of disturbing videos were posted online depicting a hapless bus monitor being ruthlessly bullied by students, a campaign was set up to give Karen a well-deserved vacation. The original goal was to raise $5,000, yet all in all $703,833 was raised by people sickened by what they saw. The victim of the videos said she planned on using $100,000 of the money toward setting up an anti-bullying foundation.</p> <h3>5 Steps to Getting Attention</h3> <p>Your project may be the best thing since sliced pizza, but no matter how innovative it is, unless you attract the attention of others, you will struggle to find the financial backing needed to get it off the ground. After all, your project is just one of hundreds on a given site. So, how do you make your project stand out from the crowd and get the attention it deserves? Here are our five top tips for crowdfunding glory.</p> <p>Best Practices Before you rush headfirst into a campaign, take your time and study what others have done first. Look at what projects have been successful, and find out how they set about attracting publicity and backing. Follow their lead and use their success as an inspiration.</p> <p>Be Prepared to Change Devise a flexible business plan that will allow you to adapt should your original idea need tweaking. If things are not going to plan, you will need to be prepared to make changes so you can appeal to your target audience. By repositioning your product if needed, you could achieve greater results and more backing.</p> <p>Plan Ahead Even before you have reached your goal, make sure you have all eventualities covered should you get asked any tricky questions about your project’s launch and long-term future.</p> <p>Embrace Social Media Twitter and Facebook are powerful tools when it comes to promoting your ideas. Not only can they help spread the word, but they can also be a useful forum for gathering feedback from your fans and followers.</p> <p>Be Ready to Go Prepare for your project’s completion. You should devise a marketing plan that you can start using straight away, along with lining up any suppliers you may need to use once your project is launched. This way you will hopefully be able to eliminate long delays after you reach your goal.</p> <p><em>Click the next page to read about Rockethub.</em></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Rockethub</h3> <p><strong>Links to a cable TV network give it an edge</strong></p> <p>Founded by Brian Meece, Jed Cohen, and Vladimir Vukicevic, (with a forth owner, Alon Hillel-Tuch, joining a year later), Rockethub officially launched back at the start of 2010 as a means of raising money for creative projects. The owners were all from creative fields themselves, and the site came about partly because of the frustration they experienced in trying to find backing for their own individual interests. The idea was to establish a free market where artists could easily be put in touch with the financial backing they needed.</p> <p>In layman’s terms, this very loose remit means that Rockethub could cover any industry or idea in order to encourage as many entrepreneurs as possible. That said, however, there tends to be a much stronger focus on science and technology projects compared to many of Rockethub’s crowdfunding rivals. So don’t be surprised to find an in-depth planned study of microbes sitting alongside more commercial projects, such as a fashion label or music album, as you explore the site.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Rockethub announced a partnership agreement with the A&amp;E television network. Together they created <a href="http://www.aetv.com/real-life-change">www.projectstartup.com</a>, a multiplatform website produced in conjunction with the cable television channel that features handpicked projects from Rockethub entrepreneurs.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/rockethub1_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/rockethub1_small.jpg" alt=" Rockethub’s Success School teaches all you need to know about mastering the fine art of crowdfunding, so your project has a better chance of reaching its goal." title="Rockethub" width="620" height="335" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Rockethub’s Success School teaches all you need to know about mastering the fine art of crowdfunding, so your project has a better chance of reaching its goal.</strong></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">How It Works</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">For newcomers to crowdfunding, Rockethub has an introductory site called the Crowdfunding Success School, which takes you through each and every aspect of running a successful campaign. A crowdfunding 101, it shows you how to network your idea, decide upon goals, and best practices to help attract and manage the expectations of the people who fund you. It makes for compelling reading, even if you eventually decide to use another site.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Rockethub encourages its users to spread the word about projects and complete set tasks, such as voting on others’ projects to increase exposure, and it rewards contributors with badges for their efforts. The more badges you gain, the greater your status as a power user, who others will turn to for advice.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As with other crowdfunding websites, after setting up a campaign, you decide on how much you are looking to raise and the time frame for your goal. You then decide what rewards you will give to donors in return for their backing. You will be charged a 4 percent fee (along with a 4 percent credit card handling fee) for the total money you raise should your campaign prove to be a success. Rockethub also allows you to keep the money raised even if you don’t meet your goal, at a rate of 8 percent (plus a 4 percent processing charge).</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">Benefits over Kickstarter</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">Rockethub is a fast-growing site, and is developing at a rapid rate. Like Indiegogo, Rockethub is much more open about what you can cover in terms of projects, so if you find you cannot get featured in Kickstarter, Rockethub may be the answer. In particular, you should consider using Rockethub if you have a scientific or technical project, as there seems to be a greater emphasis on those industries than on other sites.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Unlike Kickstarter, Rockethub allows you to keep all the funding you raise even if you do not make your set financial goal. Granted, if you choose to do this you still have a charge to pay (8 percent), but if you feel your project is still viable even without all of the money you originally wanted, this could be the better option for you.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Rockethub also has a partnership with the A&amp;E television channel. If your idea is innovative enough and you decide to apply for it, your project may be handpicked to feature on A&amp;E’s special project startup website, thus earning even more exposure and the potential for donations. In addition to that, A&amp;E will also offer funding and specialist coaching for your project, which means success is almost guaranteed.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/rockethub2_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/rockethub2_small.jpg" alt="The Project Startup website is run in conjunction with A&amp;E Networks to showcase the very best projects on Rockethub." title="Rockethub" width="620" height="335" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Project Startup website is run in conjunction with A&amp;E Networks to showcase the very best projects on Rockethub.</strong></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">Notable Projects</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">The gaming and web culture video series Extra Credits is Rockethub’s most successful venture yet. The comedic web series discusses video games, with an emphasis on game design and using them as teaching tools. The idea proved to be incredibly popular, with the original goal of $15,000 ending up at a staggering $103,814 raised. The creators have vowed to use a portion of the money raised to help other like-minded businesses grow.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">AFIA: Save the World… One Dress at a Time, is one of the most noble projects to find funding, having raised $4,790, which is going to help people in Ghana. The project funds dressmakers in the African country, helping poor yet talented seamstresses acquire a fair wage and a larger market for their dresses, allowing them to be sold in the United States and other places.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">A special mention must also go to Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!, a clever idea that combines an illustrated children’s book with a tie-in app. The highly educational app includes a system that encourages young children to read—a page of text is shown before they are rewarded with a picture. The goal was met, with the project having raised a grand total of over $15,000.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Click the next page to read about Fundable.</em></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Fundable</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>The first site to offer the option of equity backing</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The most recent crowdfunding option here, Fundable was launched just last May, but has already experienced incredible growth and success during that short period of time. The site began life as a donation-only platform, but a few months later, taking advantage of President Obama’s 2012’s JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, founders Wil Schroter and Eric Corl started allowing users the option to purchase equity in projects featured on the site. The JOBS Act legitimized equity crowdfunding and allowed budding entrepreneurs the ability to publicize that they were looking for backing. As a result, Fundable became one of the first crowdfunding sites to take full advantage of the act, and now runs as a dual-funding model. Fundable offers either donations or project equity, largely depending upon how much money a project’s goal has been set to—for larger projects looking to raise more than $50,000, Fundable recommends the equity option.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><a title="fundable" href="http://www.fundable.com/" target="_blank">Fundable</a> is a serious crowdfunding company, and as such it carefully vets its users. Only accredited investors—people with a net worth of over $1 million or an income of $200,000 in the past two years—are able to take part in offering equity funding to a project. Although in theory anyone can start a project, they will still have to apply in order to be approved for the site by the powers-that-be. No charitable projects are allowed, nor are any forms of gambling or money services, among other prohibited campaigns. Many more crowdfunding sites surely will follow Fundable’s lead and venture into equity crowdfunding, but by being the first to do so, Fundable has gained a priceless foothold in the market.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">How It Works</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">As mentioned above, there are two models you can choose from for raising money on Fundable—either from donations or through equity backing for your business. For both methods, you will need to apply to be featured on the site. Once approved, you then create a profile page that covers your project overview, your goals, and rewards for investment. Additionally, along with their public profile, equity-based projects will also need to create a private page that contains your business terms and related documents. Along with being featured on the site itself, you will also promote your page through the normal social media channels in order to gain interest.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">In terms of costs, entrepreneurs are charged a $99 fee each month that a campaign is running. The flipside of this is, should a project reach its goals, then no final fees are applied. You will only be able to collect your money once your pre-determined goal has been reached. This monthly charge may put a lot of people off, especially if you have the slightest doubt about raising enough capital to get your company started, but this just reinforces Fundable’s place in the market for serious businesses only.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">Benefits over Kickstarter</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">Fundable has been dubbed the Kickstarter for the corporate community. The equity fund-raising option is the obvious difference from Kickstarter, allowing you to sell shares in your business as opposed to offering rewards for donations. You can decide whether to go this route or stick with the more traditional crowdfunding method of raising money, although you could argue that equity is more suited to business startups. Donations are fine for creative projects, but do not offer the long-term investment possibilities that equity backing does. As more and more crowdfunding sites start to take advantage of the JOBS Act, expect to see equity fund-raising grow in popularity.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/fundable1_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/fundable1_small.jpg" alt="Looking for equity backing? Fundable is the place to go, being one of the first websites to take advantage of the JOBS Act." title="Fundable" width="620" height="335" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Looking for equity backing? Fundable is the place to go, being one of the first websites to take advantage of the JOBS Act.</strong></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">Notable Projects</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">There are a number of projects of note that have used Fundable to establish financial backing. The Fleksy app closed at $900,000, and this revenue was part of a $3 million investment raised by parent company Syntellia to develop and market a software keyboard that helps to improve typing accuracy. The company used the $900K to release the app onto iOS and plans to release versions for Android and Windows 8 in the near future.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Celebrity Webchefs does what it says on the box and uses well-known celebrities to explain their culinary secrets in a series of easy-to-follow videos. Famous faces that have lent their names and cooking expertise to the videos include Gretchen Rossi from The Real Housewives of Orange County and Alan Thicke, the star of Growing Pains. It’s a bold and innovative idea that, thanks in part to the star power behind it, has gained a lot of media attention. The venture was funded for $435,000 in total.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">When Crowdfunding Goes Bad…</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">On the surface, crowdfunding seems like a great idea. But while the success stories get trumpeted for all to hear, there are even more tales of woe. It can be a risky business, not to mention a potentially humiliating one. Be it stolen ideas, poor planning, or a rushed campaign, here are the main pitfalls you should be wary of.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Exposing your Business Plan: They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in the crowdfunding world, a good idea is there for your competitors to see and steal for themselves. There is nothing to stop them from taking your idea and presenting a similar one themselves, so be aware that when you launch your campaign that it may only be a matter of time before it is emulated. Depending on your idea, it may well be worth taking your time to complete an IP (intellectual property) process.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Tax Problems: The money you raise from crowdfunding isn't necessarily all yours to spend. Just as with any other business, you will need to declare your earnings to the appropriate authorities, and depending on what country you live in, this money may well be taxable. A qualified accountant will be able to help you here, although remember they will want payment for their services, too.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Keeping Control: Should you choose an equity-based crowdfunding model, be careful to keep a controlling stake in the company you are raising money for, whether it’s a new or existing business. Your stakeholders have a vested interest in your project; just make sure they do not wrestle the whole thing away from you.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Be Realistic: While the temptation is always there to exaggerate to potential investors just how great your idea is, try not to build up hopes too much. You don’t want your backers to feel lied to or disillusioned; at the very worst, you could end up in court as they try to claim their money back.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/three_kickstarter_alternatives_2014#comments crowdfunding sites feature fundable indiegogo January issues 2014 kickstarter maximum pc project startup rockethub Office Applications Features Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:25:08 +0000 Mark Pilkington 27519 at http://www.maximumpc.com PAX East 2014: Cooler Master Unveils NovaTouch TKL Mechanical Keyboard [Video] http://www.maximumpc.com/pax_east_2014_cooler_master_unveils_novatouch_tkl_mechanical_keyboard_video <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/novatouch.jpg" alt="NovaTouch TKL" title="NovaTouch TKL" width="200" height="100" style="float: right;" />New feature dampens the sound of typing</h3> <p><strong>Cooler Master has unveiled the NovaTouch TKL mechanical keyboard an Pax East</strong>. Maximum PC’s Jimmy Thang was able to see the new keyboard that features a silicon-based injection around the mechanical key switches.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gjIH4dKNg2s" width="620" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>The silicon-based injection helps absorb the friction and shock when two mechanical pieces are rubbing against each other. Sound is kept to a minimum as well &nbsp;when a user is typing. As for the feel of the switch it is similar to, according to the rep, the Cherry MX Brown key switches.</p> <p>One other interesting feature is that the key stems are backwards compatible with Cherry MX key caps. A major plus for keyboard enthusiasts who like to switch out the caps with their own.&nbsp;</p> <p>The NovaTouch TKL is expected to come out sometime in the third quarter of 2014. No set price has been determined.&nbsp;</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/pax_east_2014_cooler_master_unveils_novatouch_tkl_mechanical_keyboard_video#comments Cooler Master Cooler Master NovaTouch Hardware mechanical keyboard NovaTouch NovaTouch TKL Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:35:52 +0000 Sean D Knight and Jimmy Thang 27623 at http://www.maximumpc.com PAX East 2014: Logitech Showcases Its G502 Proteus Core Gaming Mouse [Video] http://www.maximumpc.com/pax_east_2014_logitech_showcases_its_g502_proteus_core_gaming_mouse_video <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/logitech_g502.jpg" alt="Logitech G502" title="Logitech G502" width="200" height="153" style="float: right;" />A Mouse with a 12,000DPI sensor</h3> <p>If you have been looking for a mouse that will let you shoot the wings off of a fly, then <strong>Logitech’s G502 Proteus Core gaming mouse</strong> might be the one for you. Maximum PC’s Jimmy Thang got to see the&nbsp;<a title="MPC Logitech G502" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/logitech_g502_proteus_core_gaming_mouse_packs_customizable_12000_dpi_sensor" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Proteus Core</span></a>, which features a 12,000DPI sensor, up close and personal at PAX East.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/lK4ueindDmQ" width="620" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Of course, if 12,000 DPI is too much for a user to handle then the sensor can be adjusted as low as 200. Aside from the high DPI the Proteus Core has 11 programmable buttons, comes with five 3.6g weights, the sensor can be adjusted for various surfaces, and it has a dual-mode hyper-fast scroll wheel.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Logitech G502 Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse will be out sometime this month for $79.99 in the U.S. and Europe.</p> <p>So who would want to try and shoot the wings off of a fly at 500 feet with that mouse?&nbsp;</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/pax_east_2014_logitech_showcases_its_g502_proteus_core_gaming_mouse_video#comments gaming mouse Hardware logitech Logitech G502 Logitech G502 Proteus Core Proteus Core Sun, 13 Apr 2014 18:29:33 +0000 Sean D Knight and Jimmy Thang 27618 at http://www.maximumpc.com PAX East 2014: HyperX Showcases Gaming Headset and RAM [Video] http://www.maximumpc.com/pax_east_2014_hyperx_showcases_gaming_headset_and_ram_video <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/hyperx_fury.jpg" alt="HyperX Fury" title="HyperX Fury" width="200" height="198" style="float: right;" />Meet the HyperX Cloud gaming headset and Fury RAM</h3> <p><strong>HyperX is showing off its HyperX Cloud headset at PAX East</strong>. A division of Kingston, HyperX has added quite a few interesting features to this headset which Maximum PC’s Jimmy Thang was able to learn about.&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, the headset comes with two interchangeable earcups. One set is made of leather and the other is a red, velour earcup that will change the sound profile of the device. HyperX also considered making its product an on-the-go type of headset that comes with a detachable microphone and adapters so that it can be used with a desktop, notebook, mobile phones, and Sony’s PlayStation 4.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/bgh0RmGvmfQ" width="620" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Retail price for the HyperX Cloud headset is $99.99 and is available for pre-order.</p> <p>In addition to the headset, Jimmy learned a little about <strong>HyperX’s Fury RAM</strong> which features automatic overclocking up to 1866MHz, requires 1.5V, and comes in 8GB or 16GB modules.&nbsp;</p> <p>The HyperX Fury is available for purchase at $84.99 or $159.99 depending on if you are purchasing it individually or as a kit.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-style: italic;">Follow Sean on&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="https://plus.google.com/+SeanKnightD?rel=author" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a><span style="font-style: italic;">, </span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="https://twitter.com/SeanDKnight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-style: italic;">, and </span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="https://www.facebook.com/seandknight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/pax_east_2014_hyperx_showcases_gaming_headset_and_ram_video#comments Fury RAM Hardware hyperX HyperX Cloud headest HyperX Fury ram Headphones Sun, 13 Apr 2014 00:51:40 +0000 Sean D Knight and Jimmy Thang 27617 at http://www.maximumpc.com PAX East 2014: Intel Booth Tour [Video] http://www.maximumpc.com/pax_east_2014_intel_booth_tour_video <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/auros_x7.jpg" alt="Auros X7" title="Auros X7" width="200" height="123" style="float: right;" />A 4K gaming laptop and the Aorus X7 gaming notebook</h3> <p>With 4K monitors on the shelves, it is only a matter of time before 4K laptops start to reach into the wallets of tech enthusiasts. Maximum PC’s Jimmy Thang got to see an<strong> Alienware</strong>&nbsp;<strong>18-inch laptop</strong><strong>&nbsp;running in 4K </strong>during his Intel booth tour at Pax East.</p> <p>Hardly any information was provided on the laptop’s specs, though it was revealed that it has an Intel Core i7 4940MX Extreme Edition processor. The rep was also eager to point out that, while the stock processor speed is at 3.1GHz, it has been overclocked to 5.2 GHz.&nbsp;</p> <p>To show off its abilities, Batman: Arkham Origins was being used to demo the impressive piece of hardware in 4K although Jimmy noted that the framerate was choppy.</p> <p>No price or release date was provided.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/4q75oB-wrow" width="620" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the tour Jimmy was also able to see the <strong>Aorus X7 gaming notebook</strong>. The 17.3-inch notebook features a metal chassis, dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M cards, and an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor encased within a metal chassis. For storage, the notebook comes with one 1TB HDD and two 128GB SSDs&nbsp;</p> <p>The Aorus X7 is 1.9-inches thick and weighs 6.39lbs. To keep it cool, it also has five cooling pipes, four vents, and two fans which have been designed to be at the rear, along with the GPUs, so that the consumer’s palms and fingers don’t get heated while using it.&nbsp;</p> <p>Those wishing to purchase the Aorus X7 can do so for the starting price of $2,099.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OYpCtwGxmsU" width="620" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></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/pax_east_2014_intel_booth_tour_video#comments 4K gaming 4K gaming laptop Aorus X7 Auros X7 gaming notebook dual sli cards gaming notebook Hardware intel News Sat, 12 Apr 2014 23:56:11 +0000 Sean D Knight and Jimmy Thang 27616 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD Unleashes the Dual-GPU Radeon R9 295X2 http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_unleashes_dual-gpu_radeon_r9_295x2 <!--paging_filter--><h3>AMD's $1,500, 500w TDP monster GPU arrives</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/radeon_r9fan_watercooler_product_shot_birdseye_5in300dpi_4c_small.jpg" alt="R9 295X2" title="R9 295X2" width="250" height="189" style="float: right;" />Today AMD is pulling the wraps, or the briefcase as it were, off its new flagship GPU - the massively badass Radeon R9 295X2. Packing two fully-loaded R9 290X GPUs, this air-and-water cooled $1,500 GPU is the new "fastest single GPU" on the planet, and sets new records for both benchmark performance as well as sticker price.</p> <h3>Project Hydra</h3> <p>When we first heard whispers about a dual-Hawaii card coming out of AMD's Skunk Works, we figured a few things had to happen to make this card a reality. We thought perhaps it would tone down its R9 290X core a bit to keep temperatures somewhat below "thermonuclear," because just one R9 290X GPU needs a cooler the size of Montana to keep it from getting so hot it begins to throttle. Since one of these GPUs runs hotter than Russell Crowe, we figured if AMD had the cajones to put two of them on a PCB it would either need to be liquid-cooled, or severely underclocked so as to not overwhelm whatever massive cooler it had designed. As it turns out, we were sort of wrong, and sort of right, and we couldn't have asked for anything more with the final card we now know as the Radeon R9 295X2.</p> <p>Instead of making compromises, lowering clock speeds, or both, AMD said "F that" and went all-in, shoving two *overclocked* R9 290X GPUs into a massive 12-inch shroud that is cooled by both liquid and air, then slapping the highest MSRP we've ever seen on a retail GPU in our hardware-watching lives, at least until the GTX Titan Z arrives at some point in the future.</p> <p><img src="/files/u302/radeon_r9fan.jpg" width="650" height="490" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Radeon R9 295X2 is over 12 inches long. Insert "that's what she said" joke here.</em></p> <h3>GPU Specs</h3> <p>Since we've already covered the Radeon R9 290X in the past, this rundown of the specs will be quick and dirty. Okay, so you take one R9 290X GPU, then take another one, and put them on the same card. There you have it! The only difference between these GPUs and stand-alone R9 290X GPUs is that most of them would hit a boost clock of 1,000MHz if given enough thermal headroom, whereas the GPUs on the R9 295X2 are designed to hit a slightly faster 1,018MHz. Not only that, but due to the increased cooling performance made possible by the Asetek-designed apparatus, you can actually overclock these GPUs as well, which was not possible on a reference R9 290X. Otherwise, specs are exactly double compared to the R9 290X, so there are 5,632 Stream Processors, 12.4 billion transistors, 8GB of RAM total, dual 512-bit memory bus, a 500w TDP, and 11.5Tflops of compute performance. If you're the type who doesn't like reading, and wants to look at a chart, we feel you. Here is a spec chart provided by AMD:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9295x2_specs.jpg" alt="R9 295X2 Specs" title="R9 295X2 Specs" width="557" height="538" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Hybrid Cooling</h3> <p>Since the Hawaii core at the heart of the R9 295X2 runs hotter than the surface of the sun, AMD had to enlist the expertise of Asetek to build a custom closed-loop liquid cooling mechanism to keep the GPUs colder than Gwyneth Paltrow's heart. Each GPU gets its own water block to dissipate heat, with liquid entering the system via one tube, swishing around a bit, then squirting over to the second GPU via a connecting tube underneath the shroud. Once it makes its rounds in the second water block it is sent back to the radiator where it's cooled by a 120mm fan. Here's a picture of the whole shebang:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/amdrad_r9_watercooler.jpg" width="650" height="434" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The Asetek cooler is maintenance-free and uses Kool Aid inside. Not really.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Compared to the Titan Z</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">The Radeon R9 295X2 is a natural competitor to the GTX Titan Z, but just because both of them sport two of each company's current flagship GPUs, AMD with its R9 290X and Nvidia with its Titan Black. Since the Radeon card costs half the price of a Titan Z they will exist in separate worlds, with the Radeon strictly for gaming and mining, and with the Titan Z for gamers/developers. Also, we still have not seen official specs for the Titan Z, and Nvidia doesn't have it listed on its website, so some of this comparison is pure speculation. That said, let's speculate via this handy chart comparing the two cards:</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9295x2_titanz.jpg" width="339" height="430" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">*The Titan Z's compute ability is unknown, so this is a guess based on 2X Titan Black.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Two Interesting Tidbits</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Before we get to the benchmarks, there are two unique attributes of this card we want to point out. The first is that the R9 295X2 has a glowing red logo on its side and a red LED-lit center fan; a first for an AMD GPU. Those who have been green with envy (heh) over Nvidia's glowing GeForce logo will surely appreciate this edition. AMD says it was added as part of the card's "no compromise" design. A second part of that design philosophy extends to the dual eight-pin power connectors, which must each provide 28A of power to the card. This means you can't just run one cable with two eight-pin PCIe connectors on it to the GPU, so you'll essentially need an SLI/CrossFire capable PSU to run this bad boy. It is, after all, a CrossFire GPU.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/fan.jpg" width="400" height="383" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>AMD brings the bling with a glowing logo and LED fan.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Ok, enough jibber jabber. Hit the next page for benchmarks and our final thoughts.</p> <hr /> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Benchmarks</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">We tested the R9 295X2 on our standard GPU test bench, which is a high-end machine running an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard, Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition CPU, 16GB of DDR3/1600 memory, a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050 PSU, and Windows 8 Enterprise. We did not have two GTX 780 Ti cards to use for testing, so we compared it to a dual R9 290X cards in CrossFire running at 4K resolution to get things started.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3840x2160 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/crossfire_comparison.jpg" width="341" height="422" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Overall, there's not much surprise here, except for the fact that this is the first single-GPU card we've tested that is actually playable at 4K resolution. Also what you can't experience by looking at this benchmark chart is how loud the R9 290X cards are when run under load in tandem. They make some noise, whereas the R9 295X2 is very, very quiet. There is still a tiny bit of fan noise under load but it's night-and-day compared to a stock R9 290X</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Next we compared the R9 295X2 to the GTX 780 Ti, also at 3840x2160.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3840x2160 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/780ti-comparison.jpg" width="342" height="393" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Compared to the single-GPU competition, well, there is no competition. The R9 295X2 lays the smack down plain and simple, which is to be expected given its numerous advantages.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Next up, the R9 295X2 versus <strong>GTX 780 SLI</strong>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3840x2160 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img src="/files/u302/sli_4k.jpg" width="343" height="436" /></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The Radeon R9 295X2 is still holding its own against two GTX 780 GPUs. It's a shame we don't have a second GTX 780 Ti though, because it would most likely eat the Radeon's lunch, for less money out the door too. Of course, you have two cards and a lot more heat and noise, but that's the price you pay for extreme performance with this particular config.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finally, let's have a look at the Radeon R9 295X2 versus the GTX 780 Ti at<strong> 2560x1600 with 4XAA enabled</strong>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 4XAA Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/2560_benches1.jpg" width="340" height="377" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Best scores are bolded</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Another smackdown - what a surprise.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Final Thoughts</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">It's not often in the GPU game that we have such a one-sided battle, but we certainly do have just that with the powerful R9 295X2. This card kicks all kinds of ass, no doubt about it. It's easily the fastest single-card GPU we've ever tested, and by a healthy margin too. Of course, we don't have dual GTX 780 Ti cards to test it against, so that's unfortunate. Regardless, that would still not change the Radeon's "single card champion" status, which it now claims, unquestionably. Not only is it fast, but it's very quiet and cool too, which are words we never thought we'd say about a fire-breathing Hawaii card, but AMD has certainly done its homework on this one and it delivers on all promises.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Without getting too hyperbolic, in many ways this is essentially the perfect GPU. It offers record-breaking performance, only takes up two-slots, is cool and quiet, and it overclocks. Of course, the one chink in its armor is its $1,500 price tag, which seems insanely high in a market where $1,000 used to be the upper echelon. However, compared to the $3,000 GTX Titan Z the Radeon is actually a bargain, which is another sentence we never thought we'd write, but here we are. Naturally, Nvidia won't take too kind to this type of aggression, so all it has to do now is release a gamer-oriented dual-GPU card such as the mythical GTX 790, hopefully with two GTX 780 Ti cores onboard, and price it at $1,500 and it'll be game, set, match Nvidia. Right after the R9 290X came out and stole the GTX 780's thunder, Nvidia pounced immediately with the GTX 780 Ti to reclaim the "fastest single card" crown, so we expect them to respond to the R9 295X2, and to respond with vigor.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_unleashes_dual-gpu_radeon_r9_295x2#comments Hardware project hydra r9 295x2 radeon Gaming Videocards Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:20:20 +0000 josh norem 27585 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Build a Fish Tank PC http://www.maximumpc.com/fish_tank_PC_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Operation Mineral-Oil Submersion</h3> <p>Lately, we've been tossing around the idea of doing a Build It story that uses a custom liquid-cooling loop just because they are fun to play with, and when properly designed, have many tangible performance benefits. But since this is Maximum PC, we asked ourselves, “Why not take it one step further and submerge everything in liquid?” After all, what could possibly go wrong?</p> <p><a class="thickbox" style="text-align: center;" href="/files/u152332/build_it_fish_tank_jimmy_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/build_it_fish_tank_jimmy_small.jpg" width="620" height="574" /></a></p> <p>You've probably seen aquarium-style case mods like this before, but this time we're taking advantage of a pre-fabbed kit from <a title="puget system" href="http://www.pugetsystems.com/" target="_blank">Puget Systems</a>. It incorporates items that will be familiar to liquid-cooling aficionados, such as a Swiftech pump, compression fittings, and a 240mm radiator. However, what’s different is that this kit combines familiar bits with more exotic items, like an acrylic frame/container, an integrated temperature gauge, and the star of the show—several gallons of mineral oil.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/sp-WkG0MMO4" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Click play on the video above to see how we finalized the fish tank PC.</strong></p> <p>Water would kill everything it touches, but mineral oil doesn't conduct electricity and is nonreactive—you can dunk a running power supply into a bucket of the stuff and it will keep running. We’ll walk you through the build, detail our mistakes, and show you how it all works. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it certainly makes a great conversation piece.</p> <h4>Exploratory Drilling</h4> <p>This actually isn't the biggest mineral-oil system Puget offers, as the one we used is designed for microATX motherboards ($445, <a href="http://www.pugetsystems.com/">www.pugetsystems.com)</a>. There’s a bigger kit that allows an E-ATX board ($690), but we like the fact that this kit requires "only" eight gallons of oil. A single one-gallon jug of the stuff weighs 7.3 pounds, so even this little build will be pushing more than 50 pounds once we’re up and running. As you can imagine, this makes the system quite difficult to move around safely. Since our needs included being able to move the system to the photography studio, shuffle it to different ambient temperature ranges for thermal testing, and dangle it over a misbehaving intern's head, we opted for Puget's more manageable mATX option.</p> <p>Puget does not sell mineral oil directly, but the company is affiliated with STE Oil, which sold us the eight gallons for $160, plus another $180 for three-day shipping (what can we say, we’re not the best planners). UPS Ground would have still cost $52, since shipping fees scale according to weight, and shipping 58.4 pounds of anything isn’t cheap. So, we recommend you get it locally to save yourself some cheddar.</p> <p>Since this is the first time we've attempted a mineral-oil submersion Build It, we're being conservative with our hardware. We’d rather not destroy expensive gear, and almost all of it is on loan from vendors anyway, so it’s not even ours to destroy. Since our build is mediocre, we won't be testing for performance, but instead just seeing how it all fits together, what pitfalls exist, and reporting on temps and whether or not we’d ever do it again. We also hope to produce a PC that looks seriously cool.</p> <h4>1. The Kit and Kaboodle</h4> <p>Puget’s microATX kit is made of custom-shaped Plexiglas machined in small batches. It also includes some premium parts, such as a $57 240mm Swiftech radiator, a $100 Swiftech MCP35X pump, several nickel-plated compression fittings, pre-cut tubing, and a thermometer with an LCD readout. Storage devices are mounted on the outside of the thing in order to keep them dry, and the kit includes extension cables and brackets to accommodate that setup. The included documentation is meticulous, and the bags of screws are even color-coded to avoid confusion. The radiator does not come with fans, but you can buy a pack from Puget or bring your own. We chose the latter, pulling some Scythe Gentle Typhoons from our basket of Dream Machine parts.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/image_a_small_4.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/image_a_small_3.jpg" title="Image A" width="620" height="314" /></a></p> <h4>2. Making a Case</h4> <p>When you see all the separate components of the case laid out, it looks like it would take days to assemble. In practice, however, the interior rack that holds all the components comes together like Lego pieces, except with screws. The instruction manual has very clear diagrams for every step, leaving little question about what to do next. The case itself is one piece, and the parts you assemble end up with a pair of handles, so when it's all finished, you can carry the assembly via the handles and lift it in and out of the case.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/a_small_21.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/a_small_20.jpg" title="Image B" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Click the next page to read about installing the graphics card in the system and more.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>3. Getting Graphic</h4> <p>Since we intended to test how well mineral oil can dissipate heat compared to air or conventional liquid-cooling systems, we wanted to use some reasonably hot hardware to put the system to the test, and we had exactly that with the triple-slot Asus Radeon HD 7970 DirectCU II GPU. It's as hot as it is huge, measuring 2.25 inches thick and 11 inches long, but Puget's case had no trouble accommodating its length. This GPU gets so hot Asus had to stick a condo-size cooler on it, so we wondered if the oil would be able to handle all the heat this card gives off.</p> <p>It should, because, in theory, even though the fans will spin more slowly since oil is more viscous than air, the lack of fan movement shouldn’t matter since the oil is sucking up the heat given off by the card, and the fans don’t play a major role in the cooling loop. Once the oil gets warm, it’s pulled out of the case by the pump and sent to the external radiator.</p> <p>The only thing we didn’t like about the GPU setup is that it’s across from where the PSU is mounted, so we had to drape the cables through the acrylic case.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/b_small_16.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/b_small_15.jpg" title="Image C" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <h4>4. Pumping Up the Volume</h4> <p>The Swiftech MCP35X pump included with this kit is not the standard unit that we used in this year’s Dream Machine. It's PWM-controlled, so it can adjust its speeds dynamically according to instructions given by the motherboard that it's plugged into. When the system is idle, the pump operates very quietly. When needed, it can crank up to 4,500rpm, so it's very powerful for its size (and you'll need that extra horsepower to offset the thickness of mineral oil). It also takes standard G1/4 fittings and can directly integrate specific reservoirs, which saves on space. At $100 when purchased separately, it's one of the more expensive pumps you'll find. But our oil-based setup benefits from a pump that has premium features.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/c_small_20.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/c_small_19.jpg" title="Image D" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <h4>5. Taking a Dip</h4> <p>Our oil came in one five-gallon jug and three one-gallon jugs. The big jug needed a pipe wrench to get the cap off, and it did not have a built-in tube like a gas can. So there was some spillage there. Mineral oil has the clarity and consistency of corn syrup. It also has no odor, thankfully. We began by emptying the large jug into the tank, which filled a little more than half its capacity. Then we inserted our rack of parts, and topped off the tank with one of the gallon jugs of oil. We ended up needing just six gallons since the rest of the container's capacity was displaced by the hardware and the pebbles. It got pretty heavy after everything was poured in, but there are silicone feet underneath the aquarium, so you can at least get your hands underneath to lift it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/f_small_16.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/f_small_15.jpg" title="Image E" width="620" height="930" /></a></p> <p>The instruction manual recommends using bubble bars to simulate an aquarium, which requires a second set of pumps, valves, and tubing. We thought that was just a bit too complicated for our first time with mineral oil. But rocks and other typical fishy decorations are an easy add, as long as it's all clean. Any dust will cloud the oil and potentially clog the circulation system, or at least reduce its effectiveness.</p> <h4>6. The Heat of Battle</h4> <p>The pump is just one part of the oil circulation system, of course. The Swiftech MCRx20-XP radiator uses brass tubes and copper fins, and a self-purging plenum, which is a chamber that helps maintain equal pressure throughout the loop and can suppress noise. The radiator is hung outside the case on a bracket. It's big enough to fit three fans if you wanted to; one up top and two down below. But the bracket is a bit too bulky to fit four fans, thus eliminating the possibility of a full “push-pull” configuration. The Scythe fans are 120mm units that spin at a fixed 1,850rpm, but they're surprisingly quiet and good at forcing air through a radiator. The fan cables aren't braided, so they're not very pretty. We also needed to add a power distribution block because the motherboard has just one case fan header, and we wanted to minimize the number of cables leading out of the case.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/d_small_16.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/d_small_15.jpg" title="Image F" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_small1_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_small1.jpg" title="Main Image" width="620" height="495" /></a></p> <h3>Striking Oil</h3> <p>Trying something truly novel in Build It is exciting, but that excitement was tempered by several “oh, crap” moments and hardware failures. For example, it wasn't until all the hardware was dipped into the oil for the first time that we realized we probably should have made sure it at least booted first. Luck was not on our side, and on our first try the machine would not POST. We hoped the issue was related to the monitor, or the monitor cable, or some small thing, but no combination of parts outside the machine had any impact. We did have some luck, in that there was a plastic tub available in the Lab that was large enough to place the oil-soaked rack in temporarily. So we hauled it out and proceeded to methodically replace one part at a time until we got the machine to boot. The problem appeared to be a motherboard fried at some earlier point by static, or physically damaged in a way that's difficult to detect with the naked eye. Once we swapped the board, the system booted right up and remained stable.</p> <p>The pump was initially a little noisy as it filled up and started circulating oil through the radiator, but the overall acoustics eventually settled down to a gentle whir, even when spinning at a reasonably high 4,500rpm. The loudest element was actually the oil pouring back into the case from the radiator, which was like a pleasantly babbling brook.</p> <p>Overall temps seemed fine, so we ran FurMark's thermal test for a little while to get some heat into the oil, and the case temperature eventually leveled off at 37 degrees Celsius, comfortably below its rated maximum of 50 C. The Asus HD 7970 stayed around 60 C, though we did have to manually increase fan speed to compensate for the thickness of mineral oil. We found that temps are highly dependent on the fans you use on the radiator; random $5 case fans won't get the kind of result that you will get with $20 Gentle Typhoons (or Corsair SP120s, or Noctua CPU fans), because the higher-end units have a combination of high pressure, high durability, and relatively low noise. We didn't try overclocking the AMD chip, since it was using a stock cooler, and Puget warns against overclocking systems in the oil due to heat concerns.</p> <p>The radiator fan wires were not long enough to reach the motherboard headers, so we used a power distribution block, which is like a power strip for case fans. You can power them up with Molex, SATA, or PCI Express power cables. The Gentle Typhoons we used spin at a constant RPM, but the noise is low enough that we don’t need variable speed PWM control.</p> <p>Aside from human error, the system itself was a great success. People around the office who aren't even into computers stopped to admire our aquarium PC, with its bubbling liquid and eerie blue glow (provided by a 30cm BitFenix Alchemy Connect LED Strip). It’s obviously not for everyone, but if you’re looking for a fun DIY project that’s "different," it doesn’t get much better than this.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/fish_tank_PC_2014#comments fish tank pc how to build January issues 2014 maximum pc mineral oil pc pudget systems water Systems Features How-Tos Mon, 07 Apr 2014 21:05:07 +0000 Tom McNamara 27535 at http://www.maximumpc.com Nvidia Takes on Mantle with Enhanced DX11 Driver http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_takes_mantle_enhanced_dx11_driver_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Nvidia releases enhanced DX11 drivers</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/geforcegtx_titan_3qtr1a_medium.jpg" alt="GeForce" title="GeForce" width="250" height="188" style="float: right;" />Today Nvidia is releasing an all-new driver for customers of its Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell GPUs that it claims offers significant performance gains in DirectX11 titles. It told us this driver is reminiscent of its "Detonator" drivers from back in the day, and it's claiming the driver can provide "<strong>up to 64 percent faster single GPU performance</strong>" as well as "up to 71 percent faster SLI performance."</p> <h3>The Driver</h3> <p>The <a href="http://www.geforce.com/drivers/results/74636">driver</a> is labeled 337.50 Beta and it's an "optimized DX driver." Interestingly, no details were given by <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia">Nvidia</a> on what specifically was optimized or different from previous drivers, which is a departure for Team Green. Usually big updates like this include a white paper of some sorts, but for this particular update it just provided general terms like "Dramatic Improvements." This is clearly a driver aimed at AMD's Mantle though, as the majority of the presentation we received from Nvidia pointed out how a DX11 GeForce card and this new driver is faster than AMD cards running Mantle. It then provided these specific numbers comparing a GeForce 780 Ti vs. an R9 290X on Mantle:</p> <p>StarSwarm - 16% faster</p> <p>Battlefield 4 - 12% faster</p> <p>Thief - 7% faster</p> <p>In other words, Nvidia is saying, "We don't need a custom Nvidia-specific API, we can optimize DX11, which a lot of games already support," unlike Mantle which is only supported in StarSwarm, Thief, and Battlefield 4 currently. Here's one of the slides Nvidia offered to us:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/bf4_337.jpg" alt="BF4 337 Drivers" title="BF4 337 Drivers" width="650" height="414" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to being faster than AMD's Mantle API, Nvidia is also claiming that its driver improves SLI performance. Since a CPU can easily bottleneck a multi-GPU setup this makes sense, but let's look at the numbers Nvidia has provided.</p> <p>As you recall, earlier Nvidia claimed "up to 71 percent faster SLI performance." In the accompanying chart, it showed one game receiving that level of improvement, and that game is Total War: Rome 2. On the other end of the spectrum is Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which received around 15-20 percent improvement. Here is that slide:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/sli_337_driver.jpg" width="650" height="410" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, none of those games are in our testing suite. In anticipation of this, and taking pains to hit AMD where it hurts, it also presented a slide showing multi-GPU scaling in Thief, which is now AMD's poster child for Mantle and TrueAudio support. Here is that slide:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/thief_gpus.jpg" width="650" height="404" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">But that's not all. Nvidia also pointed out that this driver is just plain faster in many titles, including the same ones it pointed to before, such as CoD: BLOPS2, Sleeping Dogs, Alien vs. Predator, Total War: Rome 2, and finally Sniper Elite v2.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">None of these games are in our testing suite, so hit the next page to see how the new driver fared on two different test systems, and on dual GTX 780 cards in SLI.</p> <hr /> <h3>Benchmarks</h3> <p>To begin, we tested an Nvidia GTX 780 reference card on our standard video card test bench, which consists of an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard,<strong> Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition 3.3GHz CPU</strong>, 16GB of DDR3/1600 memory, and Windows 8 Enterprise. We tested using the current 335.23 driver as well as the 337.50 beta driver. Here are the results:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/780_benches.jpg" width="308" height="127" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Tests done with a single GTX 780 reference board at 2560x1600. Best scores are bolded.<br /></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can see, not much difference at all between drivers in this config and on these games. Since we weren't sure we'd ever see a difference, we moved to a different setup that consisted of the following: A&nbsp; Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 motherboard, a slower and easier to bottleneck <strong>Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz CPU</strong>, GeForce GTX 780 Ti, and 8GB of RAM. Here are those results:</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/780ti_337.jpg" width="309" height="155" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Tests done with a single GTX 780 Ti reference board at 1920x1080. Best scores are bolded.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Once again, we didn't see much of a difference between the old driver and the new one, except for on two games -- Battlefield 4, and Thief. That is odd, because what is special about these two titles, aside from being AMD's flagship titles for Mantle support? Obviously Nvidia is very interested in hitting AMD where it hurts, and whatever they have done has worked, at least in this particular configuration.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finishing up, we also tested a two-card SLI configuration at <strong>4K resolution</strong> using dual GTX 780 cards on the <strong>Intel Core i7-3960X</strong> machine. Here are those results:</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/4k_337.jpg" width="345" height="210" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Test done with two GTX 780 cards in SLI at 3840x2160. Best scores are bolded.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">And once again, we didn't see much of a difference using two GPUs at 4K res, but this was also with a hefty CPU. We did see a massive boost in Hitman: Absolution though, which is also an AMD-sponsored title.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Final Thoughts</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">In the wake of Mantle's release nobody was really clamoring for Nvidia to respond since people consider its drivers to be generally very good, but we're glad to see that it has. Unfortunately, in our tests the result is very similar to what we've seen with Mantle in that it can offer a boost but only on very specific configurations and in certain games. In other words, anyone hoping these drivers would instantly give them a 20 to 50 percent boost in every game they play is in for a rude awakening, because that's not what we saw. Admittedly our testing didn't run a gamut of 20+ games, but all this dropped when we were in the final push for our June issue, so our time with the new driver was very limited. That said, based on what we did see we expected more, especially with lofty claims of "up to 64% faster single GPU performance." We didn't see anything close to that, and as always your mileage with this new driver will vary depending on the game you play and the specs of your PC. It is heartening to see Nvidia achieving somewhat dramatic improvements in certain games with no changes to hardware though.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The driver is supposed to be out by the time you read this, and <a href="http://www.geforce.com/drivers/results/74636">here</a> is the 64-bit Win7/Win8 driver. You can download other flavors <a href="http://www.geforce.com/drivers">here</a> and <a href="http://www.guru3d.com/files_details/geforce_337_50_beta_download.html">here</a>. Please let us know in the comments if you're seeing what we're seeing, or if you're gaming experience has been transformed by the 337.50 beta driver.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_takes_mantle_enhanced_dx11_driver_2014#comments 337.50 driver nvidia Games Gaming Videocards Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:42:01 +0000 josh norem 27575 at http://www.maximumpc.com Battlefield 4 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/battlefield_4_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Epic battles. Epic bugs, too</h3> <p>Stop. Any review you previously read about Battlefield 4 was flat-out wrong. Wrong, we tell you. That’s because any short review based on near-gold code or just a few hours or even a day’s worth of play can’t be complete. In fact, we don’t even consider this review anywhere near done yet, even though by the time you read this, we’ll have logged days of in-game play. To pronounce a verdict on a game this sprawling, this complicated, this organic—and this frakking bug-filled—would be irresponsible.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/commander_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/commander_small.jpg" alt="The Commander Mode is back, with a tablet version promised for the loneliest job in the game." title="Battlefield 4" width="620" height="388" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Commander Mode is back, with a tablet version promised for the loneliest job in the game.</strong></p> <p>This shouldn’t be news to anyone who has been a fan of the Battlefield series, though. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost 12 years since Battlefield 1942 hit the store shelves with its unique blend of first-person and vehicle combat that revolutionized military-themed shooters. Unfortunately, there was this little game franchise called Call of Duty released a year later that minted money faster than, well, the US Mint, and the two have been competing ever since.</p> <p>The last couple of versions, Battlefield has been chasing CoD and it’s no different here. Developer DICE again invests resources into a CoD-like single-player storyline that we honestly think few will ever play. We can burn a paragraph or two describing the plot but it’s easily summed up as a bad Michael Bay action movie seen through the eyes of South Park: “Booosh!” “Fwraaash!” “Craaaw!” “Kraaaaasssshhhh!!!” Slow-motion helicopter crash. “Caawwwshhh!!!”</p> <p>To be fair, the single-player’s graphics are fairly stunning and more polygons are expended on single-player than multiplayer. The AI is passable and the save-points less offensive to us than they were in Battlefield 3, but we don’t really care about the single-player mode and we’d guess the vast majority of long-time Battlefield fans don’t either.</p> <p>We actually suspect that DICE is finally acknowledging that too, so it’s good to see that multiplayer gets some nice buffs that help justify the franchise’s reputation for being the thinking man’s CoD.</p> <p>Battlefield 2 players belly-ached for years when squads got whittled down from six to four, and Commander Mode and voice com were axed in Battlefield 3. With Battlefield 4, DICE ups the squad size to five, which gives them a little more effective fire teams. Squads are also helped with the return of voice com and a Commander Mode, too.</p> <p>No review of Battlefield 4 can go without mentioning the Levolution feature—which means a lot of things crumble and fall apart. It’s the natural evolution of the already destructible environments first tested in select Battlefield 3 maps, and it’s quite impressive. We’ve been in matches where the fighting practically stops while players rush out to get a glimpse of the towering skyscraper crumbling to the ground. Don’t be fooled, though—not everything can be flattened. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention the stunning water and weather physics DICE has implemented, which are reminiscent of the epic sea battles of the original.</p> <p>It goes without saying that Battlefield 4 is an intense game on hardware resources. The min spec is a dual-core Core 2 or Athlon X2 with 4GB of RAM and Radeon 3870 or GeForce 8800GT and up, or— get this—Intel HD4000 graphics with a 512MB allocated for the frame buffer. The recommended spec is a quad-core Intel or six-core AMD part, 8GB of RAM, Radeon HD 7870 3GB or GeForce GT 660 3GB or better. Our experience says that if you want to play on Ultra at 1080p with a constant 60fps, you’ll want an eight-core AMD part or Hyper-Threaded Intel quad-core part with a current-gen $300-tier GPU, and even then, you’ll hit patches of 40–50fps in multiplayer on some maps. Let’s just say you need real hardware to play this game in all its glory.</p> <p>Of course, it’s hard to say what game hardware works best, as you need a fairly stable platform to even get a feel for it. And right now as we go to print, Battlefield 4 hasn’t been stable.</p> <p>And that gets right into the most controversial part of Battlefield 4: the bugs. Of course, no release of Battlefield has arrived without bugs, but Battlefield 4’s launch has been particularly rough. At launch, players were beset with crashes, lost stats, as well as annoyingly constant server crashes and disconnects. Others complained of poor “netcode” failing to register hits on opponents and being shot through walls. Our own experience initially resulted in crashes and disconnects every other match or three. Multiple server-side patches reduced that to the point where we could play for maybe two hours without a crash or disconnect, but they still occurred on occasion and we were victims of the shot-through-the-wall-problem on occasion.</p> <p>DICE has since patched the server code again and issued a 1GB client patch to address the crashes. Unfortunately, that patch caused more issues, including more crashing, server disconnects, an inadvertent blurring effect, and lower performance for some players. For what it’s worth, our experience with the patch was a big improvement in server disconnects and crashes. We played a solid four hours with but one game crash and one server crash. We did, however, get the annoying blur.</p> <p>We won’t even get into the minutia of the odd weapons balance. One grenade upgrade, for example, gives you three smaller grenades that have a smaller blast radius than the single basic grenade you start with, but we’d swear the smaller grenade actually has a larger blast radius. Two engineers repairing the light helicopter make it invulnerable to direct multiple long strings of anti-aircraft fire, too. And many of the weapons seem to be chosen straight from Jane’s Compendium of Obscure Small Arms of the World rather than the familiar armory from Battlefield 3.</p> <p>So, where does that leave us? Kind of torn, honestly. From the hours we’ve logged, we do love the game. It’s fun and the immense three-dimensional battle space is everything a Battlefield player wants and needs. Let’s just say we won’t be playing much Battlefield 3 from now on. But that’s contingent on Battlefield 4 working—and often it isn’t.</p> <p>Yet we have faith that DICE will make it right. Battlefield 4, after all, isn’t about getting your $60 today and moving you along PT Barnum–style. No, it’s about getting your $60 today, and another $50 for the DLC, plus $28 for all of the weapon-unlock packs—right up until Battlefield 5 comes along. Call us suckers, but we’ll probably be there too, lined up with our 60 bucks in hand.</p> <p><strong>$60,</strong> <a href="http://www.battlefield.com/">www.battlefield.com</a><strong>; ESRB: M</strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/battlefield_4_review#comments battlefield 4 January issues 2014 maximum pc Review Software Games Reviews Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:43:34 +0000 Gordon Mah Ung 27563 at http://www.maximumpc.com