Hey, we get it. We understand that the way you watch movies and TV is different than the way we do, and that this probably differs significantly from the way your neighbors enjoy their living room and/or den. But we also understand that some fairly basic carnal desires rule our decision-making. Humongous HD screens. 3D movies. High-fidelity lossless sound. More HD recording options. Playback anywhere in the house.
At its core, the home-theater dream can be distilled as follows: We want our movies to feel as cinematic as possible. And we want to be able to record and watch as many shows as possible on the biggest-possible TV screen.
When we set about constructing this year’s home theater, we used the phrase “cutting-edge” as our guiding light. A funny thing happened on the way to cutting-edge, however. As we started identifying the components and parts and controllers and cards—many of which are being released just as you read these words—we began to realize that we were on the bleeding-edge. We’ll take that.
Just when you think you’ve grasped all the jargon surrounding 3D graphics, new terms and technologies flood onto the market.
AMD has been aggressively shipping DirectX 11 GPUs in almost every price category, while cards based on Nvidia’s new GTX 470 and GTX 480 DX11 parts are finally becoming available. Meanwhile, Windows 7’s sales ramp has been extraordinary—the fastest-selling Microsoft OS in history. Given that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been, it’s also arguable that DirectX 11 is what DX10 should have been.
When DirectX 10 games hit the streets, the new API gave users marginal improvements in image quality alongside huge performance decreases. The tiny gain in visual fidelity didn’t really make up for the performance hit. On the other hand, DirectX 11 brings users some very cool potential eye-candy improvements, but also promises better performance—even if you don’t have a DirectX 11 GPU.
Along with new graphics, APIs come with new buzzwords: tessellation, SSAO, HDAO, and postprocessing. That last buzzword being a catchphrase for many small but cool effects made possible with today’s programmable graphics chips.
We’ll take a closer look at these buzzwords to dissect what they actually deliver, plus discuss the performance impact of using high-end AMD and Nvidia GPUs.
It can be difficult to think about how the rest of the world works when one's caught up in the latest and greatest software tools on a weekly (or just frequent) basis. And I'm not just tooting my own horn on this one. You, as a Maximum PC reader, are likely infused with more knowledge about the best the software world has to offer by virtue of your thirst for knowledge for all things extreme and PC-related.
In short, you know your chops.
I thus found myself a little taken aback earlier this week. I met somebody new during the course of my normal nine-to-five and, during our introductory discussion around the ol' office cube, I noticed that she was using Yahoo Messenger. No harm there, right? As I casually brought up the Greatest IM Client Ever, Pidgin, I also managed to sneak mention of good ol' Firefox and Chrome into the discussion. In fact, I think I even made it a joke: Hey, Yahoo isn't as bad as Internet Explorer, right?
Since our recent review of the iPhone 4, we've been doing a lot of thinking about smartphones. They've come a long way from their humble beginings, but we're still not satisfied. There are still features that are either present in only some smartphones, or none at all, that we think are absolutely vital. Here's our quick list of 10 features that should be completely mandatory in every phone.
Check it out, and when you're done hit the comments and let us know what you think. Did we miss a big one? Is one of ours dumb? We want to hear about it.
The art of the PC upgrade is simultaneously an expression and a test of one’s diagnostic skills, computing savvy, and fiscal sensibilities. Identify the bottleneck. Research the parts that will fix the bottleneck. Remove the bottleneck.
As always, price and performance are the pivot points. After all, you can’t just toss $1,000 at your system to level it up. Well, you can, but in most cases you’d be a fool for doing so.
When the Maximum PC staff convened in conference room Spock to plan this story, we decided to establish some ground rules. First, we challenged ourselves to stick to our theme of a successful budget upgrade. This meant avoiding the tendency to fall back on the most expensive, best-of-breed components in each category.
Instead we forced ourselves to take a more nuanced approach. In each category, we expended considerable energy determining which product(s) owned the sweet spot—top-left on the 2x2 grid if you’re graph-happy—of the price-performance ratio. Staying consistent with our real-world theme, we used real-world pricing from sites like NewEgg and Amazon. Because we’re talking about upgrading an existing machine, you’ll find no case or mobo recommendations here.
Without further adieu, we happily present the results of our research. After the jump you’ll find a bevy of product recommendations that prove you don’t have to break the bank to achieve substantial gains in performance.
A Guide to Maximum PC Verdicts Have you ever wondered what separates a “6” verdict from a “7;” or questioned why a product earned a “9,” but was denied our revered Kick Ass award? Here’s the reasoning behind our editorial verdicts.
Buying the right HDTV is actually much harder than simply walking into a store and laying down some plastic - and certainly much harder than it should be. There are quite a few cautions but also quite a few things that you can do to prepare yourself. Virtually identical issues apply to buying computer monitors, so keep the following info and tips in mind the next time you're in the market for a monitor as well.
In a personal computer, heat is poison. It hurts performance, causes instability, and makes parts degrade faster. There are ways to reduce the heat in your system, but how do you know when you've got a problem with too much heat?
You could wait until your hardware dies, but that's expensive. You could stick your hand inside the case, but that's imprecise. Or, you could use a dedicated software or hardware heat monitor. Now we're talking, but which one's the best? In this article, we'll explain the pros and cons of 6 heat-monitoring solutions; 2 programs and 4 hardware monitors.
Read on to find out how to tell if your computer's getting too hot.
It can be sort of hard to review gaming mice. Problem is, all the major brands pretty much have it down—they make mice with excellent sensors, responsive hardware, and a set of feature that’s rapidly becoming an industry standard. They might have a couple of extra buttons here or there, or a superfluous LCD screen tucked away somewhere, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen something actually revolutionary. Well, here you go.
This is the Cyborg R.A.T.7 from MadCatz. We’d seen early pictures of the mouse, and we had our doubts—to say it looked “gimmicky” is a bit of an understatement. Well, we’re very pleased to have been proven wrong. The R.A.T.7‘s futuristic stylings aren’t just for show—they’re a product of a startling number of customization options and features. We’re going to walk you through these features, one by one. When we’re through, we think you’ll understand why this is our new favorite gaming mouse.
Prepare thy hoses. The recent announcement of the Safari 5 Web browser got me thinking--just how much of Apple's latest software iteration is already replicated in Firefox? In Google? I've never been a fan of the Safari browser myself--even the few times I would ever let my pristine hands be blackened by an unholy Apple device. But one has to give the company credit, in that they sometimes do come up with some pretty neat ideas.
Has Apple managed to improve Safari 5 leaps and bounds beyond its chief rivals, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome? In short, no. A number of the new tricks and tidbits are already a part of one browser, or both, in some capacity. Some, that is, but not all. Just to make sure that you're getting the best-in-class experience on the Web, I've put together a short list of ways that you can embed or mimic the spirit of some of Safari 5's features in either aforementioned alternative Web browser.
I realize this is a little bit different than the usual freeware software roundup. And, yes, I realize you're about to flame me to bits for suggesting that anything touched by Apple is, in even the smallest of ways, better than a PC-based piece of hardware or software. Let's head this off at the pass by agreeing that cool features are cool features regardless of platform; I'm out of iPhones to break to prove my loyalty, faithful readers!