I'm a pretty avid college football fan, which has absolutely nothing to do with the world of open source or freeware. Or does it? I just made my yearly donation to Electronic Arts in the form of a cash gift, of which they happily accepted and used, in part, to bestow me with a copy of their latest carbon-copy of last year's sports title of choice.
I'm referring, of course, to NCAA Football 2011.
As it turns out, Electronic Arts--in an effort to thwart used game sales--has made it so that you actually have to enter a physical code to unlock portions of the game (many of the multiplayer options) that have previously been part and parcel for any of its sports titles under the sun, if not "video gaming" as a general concept. If you want to access these parts of the game, but find that your code has already been used by another, you have to pony up a small fee to, you know, play what you purchased.
Obviously, the closest we have to microtransactions in this environment is good ol' shareware--I don't often see many programs saying, for example, "for 500 uses the paint bucket tool, please pay $3 to..."
In July’s "Budget Upgrade" issue, we extended an offer to our loyal readers: Tell us about your best/worst PC upgrade story, and earn yourself two of the kick-ass, custom-made Maximum PC coins we featured on the cover of that issue. We had no idea what we were in for.
Hundreds of submissions later, we emerged traumatized. Drained of all emotion. We laughed. We cried. We got angry. We felt your pain. And, in more than one instance, we literally had no idea what the hell you were talking about (but thanks for trying!).
Alas, as you have no doubt guessed, the majority of the submissions weren't aflutter with touching, heartfelt stories about successfully upgrading a GPU or processor. No no. There were a few of these—and we promise to publish them next week—but not many. And you know, to be honest, we prefer it this way. We know the heartache of breaking a PC in the process of attempting to improve it. We also know the grief we give each other when it happens.
Don't get us wrong, a lot of these stories were hilarious-- full of D'oh! moments and stupid mistakes. But some of the winning entries were absolute horror stories; the type that make tech nerds ball up in their seats and bite their lower lip. You know the look a die-hard sports fan gets on their face when their home team loses? That's the look we had while reading through some of these.
That being said, we humbly present the 15 Worst User Upgrades of All Time. We wouldn't be able to do so without all you guys. Thanks for making this happen.
We’re not gonna lie – we’ve always liked Firefox. While it still may not be faster than a potato gun, it IS extremely flexible and customizable and until recently, it got the job done just fine. However, both Chrome and Opera have surpassed the beleagured browser in speed - and they're catching up on the features side - leaving Firefox on the defensive.
The most recent beta version of the browser has been heavily overhauled to match up with Windows 7’s aeroglass design, and features an updated UI designed to gain cred from the Chrome-faithful. We spent the morning poking around the new features and designs. The five heavy-lifters of the bunch after the jump.
Well. That didn’t take long. With problems beginning at pre-order failure and extending to some fairly serious reception issues, the iPhone 4 started experiencing a backlash almost immediately. Yet, the handset is still sweeping up fans left and right, selling an estimated 1.5 million units upon release (with 77% of those being upgrades). We waited in line like everyone else to get our review handset. Here’s what’s being said about Apple’s latest offering:
Typically, E3 is a salty sea of sweaty gamers bouncing off one another across approximately 1.5 square miles of Los Angeles Convention Center turf in search of the Next Big Game. This year was a little different however.
The crowd was the same, with sweaty gamers gawking at booth babes and mascots everywhere. But there was a lot more hardware on the scene. Microsoft’s Kinect. Sony’s Move. Nintendo’s 3DS. 3D goggles and games were everywhere, as were a surprising number electronic toys and gadgets.
We went through it all with a fine tooth comb. Here were the high points.
Everybody knows that dads dig gadgets. Which must be why, every year about this time, you can’t go online without finding roughly seventy million stories on father’s day/gadget/gift ideas. But you know what Dad’s like more than gadgets? Spending quality time with their loving children. Which is why, this year, we’ve compiled a list of websites that Dads would like. From comics and cooking to beer and home improvements, here are the top 20 sites to share with your Pops this Father’s Day. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll avoid having to shell out $20 for ugly patterned boxers or another “Best Dad” coffee mug. Not going home? Easy! Just send an email with these links and then call your old man. Discuss amongst yourselves; I’m getting verklemped already.
Let’s face it: Photoshop ain’t cheap. And, worse, Photoshop is a kind of software—much like most kinds of software—that only works offline. If you’ve purchased it (or any other graphics-editing program, for that matter), yet you don’t have it installed on the system you’re currently working with, you’re out of luck. No photo editing for you.
Besides, we live in the world of the Web nowadays. With storage turning to the cloud and applications turning to the Internet, we question the need for an offline photo editing program to begin with. For as long as you have an internet connection, you don’t need to spend umpteen amounts of money in order to crop, tweak, and save your images—you can do it all right from the comfort of your Web browser of choice. It’s free. It’s easy. And, best of all, there are plenty of different Web-based photo editors out there, which gives you the opportunity to pick-and-choose a particular service that best meets your needs.
Of course, we wouldn’t want to strand you in a sea of potential Web apps, which is exactly why this life preserver of a guide is going to walk you through the highs and lows of five of the Web’s most well-recognized photo editing tools. We’ll assess each app based on the features it offers, how easy it is for an average PC user to grapple with said app’s interface, and the general user experience that each app delivers. Here’s one good note to get you started, however: All of these Web apps are one-hundred-percent free. Gratis. Costs nothing. On that point, everyone wins the day.
It seems obvious, right? The more stuff you have, the bigger the box you need to put it in. And in computer-land, you have options ranging from tiny micro-ATX cases the size of a hardback book to enormous full-tower cases into which you could cram every computer part you’ve ever owned. But not everybody needs or wants a full-tower case. Medium-size cases, or mid-towers, take up less space, weigh less, are more portable, and (hopefully) cost less than their full-tower brethren. What’s more, features that were once exclusive to full-tower cases, like dust filters, toolless construction, and CPU cutouts, are now finding their way into mid-size chassis—and not always accompanied by price increases. Indeed, just because you have two 5970 videocards and want to water-cool your CPU, it doesn’t mean you have to go with a full-tower anymore; some mid-towers have radiator mount points and room for your beefiest cards.
We have certain criteria for testing any computer chassis, and no case is exempt. Cases gain points for build quality, ease of installation, toolless mounting—but only if it’s sturdy!—stock-cooling ability, cable-routing options, and extra features like support for water-cooling installs, space for extra-long videocards, filtered intakes, and SSD brackets. Bonus points are earned for style and going above-and-beyond the expected. Points are deducted for thoughtless design flaws, poor build quality, bad cooling performance, lack of room for essential parts, and general suckitude. We don’t automatically add or subtract points for LEDs or other aesthetic flourishes, though tasteful use is appreciated.
This month, Maximum PC tests five of the newest and hottest mid-tower cases out there, from budget to luxe, steel to aluminum, tiny to nearly full-tower-size. These enclosures have their differences, but some of the similarities are surprising. All the cases in this roundup, for example, have CPU backplate cutouts in the motherboard tray (a first), and all have very similar front-panel connections. From the small and sub-$100 Zalman Z7 Plus to the big, beautiful, expensive Silverstone Fortress FT02, Maximum PC is, shall we say, on the case.
When we last visited our six panel Eyefinity setup, we had it up and running with games at a full 5680x2160 pixel resolution.
Now it’s time to talk performance and practicality. What kind of gaming performance will you get with three or six panels? To understand what kind of performance to expect, we need to take a closer look at the card itself.
The Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity edition ships with the same core clock as the standard HD 5870: 850MHz. However, it ships with 2GB of 1200MHz GDDR5 memory, as opposed to the 1GB on the standard 5870. The extra memory means the board consumes a little more power. System idle power on our Core i7 975 test system was 138W with Eyefinity and 284W at full throttle, as compared to 134W and 268W for the stock HD 5870.
According to AMD, cards will be available from add-in board partners, at a targeted price point of $479 USD. As we noted in our setup article, some adapters will be included: 2 mini-DisplayPort to DispalyPort adapters, 2 passive mini DisplayPort to single link DVI connectors and a passive mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. So if you want to go for the full six panel setup, you’ll need to buy additional adapters.
See the benchmarks and continue reading after the jump.