In today's gaming landscape where so many of the must-have new releases launch at 60 dollars, it's great that the PC is loaded with a ton of affordable alternatives. There are a lot of great games out there that cost less than twenty bucks apiece. Who cares about Battlefield 3 when we can get three, four, five, or even more games for the same price? True diamonds, but with a cubic zirconia price tag, these games span a variety of genres, from turn-based strategy to first person shooters to tower defense. They’re all great games, and all cost less than twenty Washingtons.
As Maximum PC senior editor Gordon Mah Ung puts it, building a budget gaming rig for a 30-inch panel is the metaphorical equivalent of slapping a Ferrari engine into a crappy Ford car. If you can afford a display that rings up north of $2,000, then why the heck are you trying to cut corners on the system you’re connecting it to?
I can’t answer that one for you. But what I can tell you is exactly how you can go about getting the best frame rate for your buck without purchasing a PC that’s more expensive than your mega-monitor.
Every now and then you need to check the performance of your system. Maybe it seems to be running sluggishly. Perhaps you just got a new graphics card, or doubled your installed DRAM. So you want to run some quick performance tests to see if your system is indeed more sluggish than before, or faster with that upgrade.
What you want to do is run the appropriate benchmark. Join us as we dive into the world of quick and dirty benchmarking: testing your system as a quickly and efficiently as possible, all while keeping simple and on a budget.
We'd all love to own multiple high-end GPUs configured in a quad-SLI/CrossFireX configuration, but the majority of folk settle on much more pedestrian parts. If you're a discrete graphics chip maker, the real money is in the entry-level, but for how long?
According to Fudzilla, "most analysts predict that by 2012 the entry level discrete graphics [market] will be mostly gone." That's a bold claim, and to back it up, analysts point out the current shift towards integrating graphics onto CPUs. Upcoming parts like Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture, for example, represent the next evolution of integrated graphics. This is especially true in the notebook world, a segment that continues to steal the spotlight from the desktop.
"The first benchmark results are telling us that Sandy Bridge graphics are enough to replace current Nvidia and AMD entry level series graphics. It is still somewhat slower, but competitive nonetheless," Fudzilla says.
Still, will the shift be enough to destroy the entry-level discrete graphics market? We have our doubts. Moving graphics onto the CPU core isn't a ton different than picking up a motherboard with integrated graphics, albeit a CPU/GPU is admittedly more flexible. Still, we see budget discrete graphics getting more powerful rather than falling off the radar.
What do you think? Will Sandy Bridge and upcoming Fusion chips kill the entry-level discrete graphics market, or can the two co-exist? Hit the jump and sound off!
It's not uncommon for PC makers to dabble in both the low- and high-end markets, and every spot in between, but should Asus target the budget crowd, channel vendors believe the company could risk its reputation and damage its brand image, Digitimes reports.
So what's the big fuss? Those who feel this way point to the recent launch of an Asus-branded all-in-one PC selling for about $375 in Taiwan, the lowest price for such a machine so far. Up to this point, channel vendors say Asus has pushed its products as boutique items, not blue light specials.
Naturally, Asus doesn't see it the same way and said that the low-cost all-in-one is simply to fill market demand. But there's yet another explanation floating around, with some analysts saying Asus could be saddled with surplus components and is trying to make the best of a bad situation by moving lower cost products.
We're sure Blizzard spared no expense giving the StarCraft franchise a modern makeover, but the developer won't be hearing any disembodied voices warning of depleted minerals or vespene gas any time soon. See, as it turns out, The Wall Street Journal made a teensy-weensy $100 million dollar-sized mistake.
“Activision Blizzard Inc. hasn't disclosed development costs for its Starcraft II videogame. A July 16 Technology article about the Starcraft sequel incorrectly said the company spent more than $100 million to develop the game; that figure referred to its World of Warcraft game,” reads a correction on The Wall Street Journal's site.
It's okay, WSJ. Easy mistake. Here's a pointer for next time, though: all three of Blizzard's franchises are cash cows, but only one of them lets you play as an actual cow. Then again, another one has a cow level. Huh, maybe our cow-based organization system could use a little more work.
One of the biggest challenges of staying within a budget is not even knowing what you're allowed to spend. That's exactly the situation most IT managers find themselves in, suggests a new white paper by Digital Fuel.
The study the white paper is based off of pinged over 130 IT managers who were directly involved with the related costs and budgets of more than $10 million. And while 84 percent of the respondents classified detailed insight in IT costs as critical, more than half of those polled complained that their level of IT cost visibility isn't where it should be.
This type of environment presents a frustrating challenge in figuring out how to manage IT costs, as evidenced by the respondents indicating that coming up with a cost-model and breaking down the IT costs ranked as the most difficult. IT managers who took part in the study also noted a strong desire to better assess cost inefficiencies in their IT departments.
Security firm Symantec reported revenue of $1.48 billion for its second fiscal quarter, beating out most analysts' expectations, but down 3 percent from the same quarter one year ago. Earnings were also better than expected, which checked in at $294 million, or $0.36 per share.
Symantec attributed the growth to its consumer business and increased IT spending, which bodes well for the company, considering a recent survey by Intuit Payroll suggested that the majority of SMBs have been spending less on security, even as cybercrime continues to rise.
"We're definitely seeing the U.S. market stabilize," Symantec CEO Enrique Salem noted in an interview on Wednesday. "We've seen China and parts of Asia continue to do well, and we're seeing some weakness in western Europe."
While consumer revenue was up 6 percent year-over-year, Symantec may have a tough time pushing its storage products. According to data from research firms IDC and Gartner, server sales were down roughly 30 percent last quarter.
Mid-sized businesses are finding themselves in a precarious position as of late. Forced to cut back spending because of the ongoing recession, many firms are spending less on security, but at the same time, cyber attacks are on the rise, according to a McAfee report released today.
McAfee surveyed 900 mid-sized businesses around the globe with workforces ranging from 51 to 1,000 employees, and more than half of them reported an increase in security breaches over the past 12 months. The United States, along with India, ranked at the top of the charts with 63 percent of organizations noting an increase in attacks, and only China was higher at 68 percent.
But what's most frightening is how many of those same organizations think they're only a single serious security breach away from being put out of business. Of those surveyed in the U.S., 71 percent said it's a real possibility, yet IT budgets have either dropped or remained the same.
"An organization's level of worry and awareness about increasing threats has not overcome the downward pressure on budgets and resources," said Darrell Rodenbaugh, senior vice president of global midmarket for McAfee, in a statement. "But this creates a vicious cycle of breach and repair that costs far more than prevention."
While most companies note that a single attack could do them in, McAfee notes that most businesses may underestimate the risk. Over 90 percent of those surveyed felt they're protected from cybercriminals and aren't in as much danger as larger businesses.
Even the Intel fanboys have to hand it to AMD once in a while. After Intel deftly dropped a Core i5 anvil on Phenom II’s head, AMD did a quick drop to floor and now fires back slo-mo style with its own chip: a $99 quad core.
Dubbed the Athlon II X4 620, this 2.6GHz quad core isn’t just leftover parts swept off the factory floor, either. The Athlon II X4 is based on the familiar K10 microarchitecture in the Phenom and Phenom II, but it’s actually a newer, smaller die. In fact, the new chip has less than half the transistors of a Phenom II X4 processor. Much of the shrinkage comes at the expense of cache. While the Phenom II packs 6MB of L3, the budget Athlon II X4 features none.
The TDP of the new Athlon II X4 chips (there are two, but only one is sub $100) is also considerably lower than the top-end Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition chip at 95 watts versus 140 watts. Other than the TDP and lack of L3 cache, the CPUs are essentially the same as their Phenom predecessors.
Read on for our full analysis, review, and benchmarks!