Most people don’t need 2GB of frame buffer—if they’re gamers. Palit’s GeForce GTX 460 Sonic 2GB card isn’t aimed solely at gamers, however. Like any GTX 460 card, it does a bang-up job in most modern 3D games. But at roughly $250, it’s about $20 more than the equivalent 1GB card from Palit—which also runs at a higher core clock.
Don’t think of that 2GB of RAM as just frame buffer, though. The card was designed for the emerging class of applications that take advantage of GPU compute.
The Palit Sonic 2GB offers a core clock speed of 700MHz—just 25MHz above the reference clock and 100MHz slower than the 1GB Palit Sonic Platinum card. The memory clock runs at the standard 900MHz—which is actually fairly impressive given the frame buffer size.
We dinged September’s Antec Sonata Proto for being feature-poor. Can’t say the same of the flagship of Antec’s Dark Fleet line, the DF-85. This full-tower chassis looks great, is packed with fans, and includes luxury extras that wouldn’t be out of place in a case twice the price.
The DF-85 stands 23.5 inches high by 20 inches deep by 8.4 inches wide, and is constructed of matte-black painted steel. The entire front is taken up by hinged door compartments: three removable optical-drive doors and three mesh-covered front doors with 12cm three-speed LED fans—removable, washable dust filters included. The DF-85 also has two 14cm top exhaust fans and two 12cm rear LED exhaust fans. All four exhaust fans are two-speed and controlled by switches at the case’s rear. The case’s front-panel connectors include a hot-swap 2.5-inch drive bay (similar to the CM 690 II Advanced), three USB 2.0 ports, and one USB 3.0 port, fed by a pass-through to the rear panel, à la last month’s HAF X.
Thrills, drama, a long grind, and a twist ending—these are the sorts of things you normally expect from a videogame. They are not what you expect from the story behind a game. But then, Duke Nukem isn’t any ordinary game, and the saga of its development has been anything but normal. For more than 13 years, the gaming world’s been waiting for Duke, and now the end is in sight. But first, let's review what's happened until now.
It all started back in 1996, with Duke Nukem riding high. The game for which he was known, Duke Nukem 3D, was a megaton hit, and gamers clung to the cocksure hero’s every machismo-laden word. He was, quite literally, the king. He was on top of the world. Then in 1997, the follow-up, Duke Nukem Forever, was announced and, shockingly enough, it was all downhill from there. Duke disappeared. Year after year passed, and short of a few quick glimpses of the game, Duke was a disappointing no-show. His once-loyal fan base declared him dead. Anticipation rotted and festered, boiling over into angry cynicism.
The nail in Duke’s supposed coffin, however, came in the form of developer 3D Realms closing up shop in 2009 and a subsequent lawsuit from publisher Take-Two Interactive. And then everything went silent. Game Over. Continue? 5... 4… 3… 2… 1…
But wait! At the last second, Borderlands developer Gearbox Software stepped in and saved the day. Now, Duke Nukem Forever’s back on track and—get this—it’s actually going to come out this time. So, how’s the game? Who’s in charge now? After more than a decade of waiting, will it all be worth it?
We traveled deep into the heart of Texas—to Gearbox’s only-slightly evil lair—for three interviews with the men responsible for the past, present, and future of Duke Nukem. We’ll tell you what they have to say about the legendary franchise and we’ll share the details of our hands-on experience with the upcoming game. Yes, Duke fans, it’s safe to dream again.
Now, the first thing you’re going to notice about the HS1 USB gaming headset is that it isn’t the best looking set out there. It’s bulky, the color choice is uninspired, and the odd decision to pad the bottom and top of the headband gives the whole thing a sort of bloated aesthetic. There—now that that’s out of the way, we can talk about the reasons that Corsair’s first headset kicks ass.
For one, it sounds great. That supersize chassis means more room for big, beefy 50mm drivers. These give the HS1 clear highs and bass that’s great for a pair of headphones. The dynamic range is also stellar, letting everything from gunshots to quiet, ambient background noises come through with excellent clarity.
On the 25th anniversary of Windows, we examine the future of Microsoft's flagship operating system
For what it’s worth, the first 25 years of our lives weren’t that smooth, either. So forgive us for favoring words like “commemorate” or “contemplate” instead of “celebrate,” which feels like too rosy a word for an operating system that has given us so much frustration, confusion, and heartache. Hey, maybe now that it’s 25, Windows will behave like a grown-up.
For better or for worse, the fact remains that on November 20, 1985, Microsoft released the very first version of Windows. If we asked you to use just a single word to define the 25-year history of Microsoft’s OS, we’re betting that “erratic” would pop up 70 times out of 100. There are a lot less-accurate descriptions.
Instead of recounting the very well-known past of the venerable OS—we’re sure that we’ll all see countless retrospectives, timelines, and detailed histories online—we decided it would be more interesting to peer into the future. These are wild and woolly times for Microsoft, Apple, and even Google as each company tries to give users the digital equivalent of the moon in exchange for a lifetime of loyalty. Based on the leak published earlier this summer, it’s clear that Microsoft has already given ample consideration and thought to Windows 8, or whatever the next version will be named.
To shed some light on the matter, we decided to ask a handful of the world’s leading independent PC manufacturers what they’ve heard and what features and functionality they’d like to see in the next big Windows release. A few people were OK going on the record, but most preferred to keep their comments anonymous or on a “background only “basis.
We also checked in with our Lab (of course), and with you, our readers, via our Facebook Fan page. To cap off our story, Reviews Editor Michael Brown reports on his hands-on experience with the beta of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Home Server V2, which we expect will release later this year.
Imparted wisdom, thoughts, facts, and some outright guesses are inside.
If you’ve always wondered just where Velocity Micro likes to slot itself in a world of $8,000 wonder rigs and $2,000 budget gaming machines, the Edge Z55 seems to nail it.
At $4,300, the Edge Z55 epitomizes Velocity Micro’s strategy. There’s Ferrari, Lamborghini, and others at the very top and Chevy and Ford at the other end. In that car analogy, Velocity Micro believes it can live in the BMW layer, bringing you great performance, some customization, and still at a pretty good price.
In PC terms, the Edge Z55 occupies the space between the $2,000 quad-core Acer Predator we reviewed last month—a visually stimulating machine that was more show than go—and Digital Storm’s HailStorm—a multi-GPU, hexa-core beast that cost almost $8,000.
The HAF X is the third case in Cooler Master’s High Air Flow lineup: The full-tower HAF 932 won our Kick Ass award in November 2008, and we continue to admire the mid-tower HAF 922 we first saw in October 2009—the red version is in this month’s cover story. With the HAF X, Cooler Master updates the full tower for 2010.
At 21.7x23.2x9.1 inches, the HAF X is barely bigger than the mid-tower HAF 922 and a full inch shorter and shallower than the Corsair 800D, yet it’s still roomy enough to fit a 12.1-inch graphics card. The HAF X’s rolled-steel frame and plastic bezels hew closely to the HAF series’ lines, and the internals offer few surprises. As we’d expect, there are plenty of large fans: a front 23cm red LED fan, top and side 20cm fans (and room for another at the top), and a 14cm rear exhaust. In lieu of two 20cm fans, the top panel can accommodate a triple radiator and its 12cm fans.
Mafia II’s got a script that’s probably as thick as four phonebooks, but the phrase we uttered most while playing the game was, “So close.” Over and over, it’s all we could think as we watched the game grasp at greatness, only to latch onto big old handfuls of disappointment. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and last we checked, our copy of Mafia II was neither neighing nor exploding in our faces. (We’re kind of thankful about that last one.)
Mafia II sees you take on the role of Vito Scaletta, a young Italian immigrant who’s fresh off the front lines of World War II. Or rather, he’s on permanent leave, thanks to a buddy of questionable moral fiber who pulled a few strings. Long story short, Vito dives right into the deep end of organized crime—mostly because he wants money and hates dirtying his hands with menial labor. Seriously. See, here’s the thing: Vito’s kind of an a-hole.
As brands go, Prolimatech is a new one. The company has only been around since 2008, after all, and it offers a bare handful of products. But the company was founded by people who clearly know a lot about CPU cooling, as it’s accrued considerable cred in just a couple of years. Its best-known cooler, the Megahalems, was designed for overclocked 1366 chips. We told Prolimatech about our new Socket 1156 cooling test bed, and the company sent over a newer cooler, ominously named Armageddon.
At 5.6 inches wide by 2 inches thick by 6.3 inches tall, the Armageddon is wider but slimmer than our champion air cooler, the CM Hyper 212+. While the Hyper has four direct-contact copper heat pipes, the Armageddon’s six heat pipes run through a more standard heat exchanger and up through a stack of heat-dissipation fins. The Armageddon’s mounting system is a bit complex—requiring a backplate, three retention bars, four bolts, four o-rings, four double-headed thumbscrews, four nuts, and two spring screws. But the end result is a stable, solid install with no give and no potential pressure- or torque-related failure points.
A part of us wishes Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 came bundled with its own aluminum foil deflector beanie, because it’s the only thing missing from what’s otherwise the ultimate package for paranoid PC users. Put another way, running Kaspersky is like sitting in a panic room behind a three-inch steel-frame door with multiple deadlocks, and toting a sawed-off shotgun just for good measure. Do you see where we’re going?
Out of the box, Kaspersky comes ready to throw down with any malware feeling froggy enough to jump. Almost as if trying to prove a point, Kaspersky wouldn’t even allow us to visit our synthetic spyware site (www.spycar.org) until we configured the web module to chilax and let us poke our head into suspicious web portals. Not that it mattered, because Kaspersky was unfazed by each of Spycar’s attempts to hijack our browser and simulate other malicious behavior.