Last week, we showed you which parts you would want to buy to construct a killer $2500 PC. The purpose of that machine was power computing – serious audio/video editing and high-bitrate media transcoding. We got a lot of flak about a few of our choices (most noticeably the CPU), but we stand by our picks. That PC configuration was meant for Power Users, and not hardcore gamers (though we recognize that those aren’t mutually-exclusive groups). For someone who primarily uses their PC for gaming, and won’t accept framerate dips in 120Hz games, we have different recommendations. The following components make up our ideal $2500 hardcore gaming rig (prices as listed on Newegg). If it’s not what you’d buy, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!
Microsoft made headlines recently by proudly proclaiming it would support Netflix streaming video to Gold members starting this fall at no additional cost. They have also announced plans to open a community application store whose concept very much mirrors the approach taken by Apple with the iPhone app store. Anyone can apply to join the XNA Creators Club, as long as you have the $99 application fee and a unique idea to work with. Microsoft will distribute content at prices ranging from $2.50 to $10.00 taking a mere 30% cut of the profits. Most readers know this approach is about as creative as the mii2 avatar’s but is still a step in the right direction. With community application support and streaming video now coming to the Xbox, it speaks to a larger trend. Consumers are increasingly looking for a one box solution to their entertainment needs. And the battle for the living room is just starting to heat up.
Click the jump to see to see why the future of all in one entertainment devices is bright.
Being an early adopter doesn't always net you bragging rights. Just ask your neighbor how his HD-DVD player is working out for him, or your co-worker what he bought with his Apple gift card after being one of the first to own an iPhone. And in the world of PCs, being the first to own a Geforce GTX 280 means you're stuck watching others pay $499 for the same videocard you plopped down $649 for just weeks ago.
It's because of this that XFX's latest announcement comes as an epic win for its customers. The company says it wants to "thank you for your loyalty and believing in the XFX brand," and to prove it, XFX is issuing up to $120 cash back for anyone who purchased an XFX-brand Geforce GTX 280 or 260 videocard between June 16, 2008 and July 11, 2008. This from the same company that offers a double-lifetime warranty on all its videocards.
You knew it would happen sooner or later, the only question being which company would be the first to offer a 2GB graphics card? PowerColor answers that question today by annoucing the world's first videocard carrying a 2GB frame buffer. Or more accurately, the world's first desktop graphics card packing 2GB of memory, as workstation cards have already reached that milestone.
The fat frame buffer will first appear on PowerColor's PCS HD4850 built on ATI's RV770 core and use GDDR3 memory instead of the newer (and more expensive) GDDR5. PowerColor advertises a "massive memory bandwidth up to 57.6GB/sec" capable of "providing faster graphical performance," though it remains to be seen what impact the additional memory will have on gaming performance. Along with the added memory, PowerColor also says the new card will utilize its Professional Cooling System (PCS), which the company claims will result in up to a 10C drop in temps.
PowerColor certainly seems exciting over its announcements. Question is, are you?
It looks like a partnership with Netflix isn't the only thing Microsoft has planned for its Xbox 360 console. Coming this fall, the Redmond company announced it will be giving the console a complete software face-lift.
And new it is. The updated Dashboard will sport 3D interface, including 3D avatars that will look familiar to anyone who's ever used a Nintendo Wii, and will be integrated into your GamerCard. New emphasis will be placed on the community with IM, video chat, photo sharing, and a nifty-looking 3D slide interface for the main Dashboard screen, along with an 8-people party system.
The console wars just got a whole hell of a lot more interesting. Earlier today at E3, Microsoft and Netflix announced an exclusive partnership that will give Xbox 360 owners the ability to stream movies and TV episodes included with their Netflix subscription to their living room TV set. The new service will launch in late fall and be available to LIVE Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers at no additional cost.
The partnership with Microsoft not only comes as a bonus to existing Xbox 360 owners, who prior to the update had to either buy a $99 set-top player through Roku or deal with unofficial (and buggy) workarounds, but also presents potential console owners a compelling incentive to pick up an Xbox 360 over the Blu-ray capable Playstation 3.
Pretty soon you might be able to build a complete PC with nothing but OCZ-branded components and peripherals. Adding to the list of power supplies, RAM, USB thumb drives, videocards, coolers, and mice is OCZ's new Elixir keyboard. The keyboard kicks off OCZ's Alchemy line of gaming products, whch the company says "is designed to offer gamers quality gaming solutions that deliver both exceptional performance and value." Products in the Alchemy line will evidently target budget-minded gamers, and could potentially give Razer a run its money.
Getting back to the Elixer, the new keyboard claims a combination of ergonomic and sturdy design. Features include 10 blue macro keys with 3 user-programmable profiles, mode selection (standard PC or customized gaming mode), a pop-up menu shortcut, and eight multimedia keys. Rounding out the feature-set are membrane tactile keys with all rubber-coating and a USB port. The Elixer will carry an MSRP of $29.99, putting it in a good position to compete other similarly spec'd gaming keyboards at much higher price points.
It all sounds good in theory, but can OCZ pull off releasing quality gaming peripherals at budget prices?
Perhaps no other country takes gaming as seriously as China, and no other company pushes gaming peripherals as hard as Razer, who arguably drove the once niche market into the mainstream sector with the introduction of its Boomslang mouse back in 2000. It seems only natural for the two to court each other, no matter what Paula Abdul sang about back before she, well, never mind.
For its part, Razer's making its interests known and will play suitor to Chinese gamers with the announcement of the Aurantia keyboard. Built exclusively for Chinese gamers and co-developed with XioFeng "Sky" Li from China's Team World Elite, the entry-level keyboard offers a bevy of customizable options, including:
104 programmable keys with macro capabilities
Three additional keys for 'gaming mode,' 'profile switching,' and 'mute' functions
10 customizable software profiles with on-the-fly switching
A detachable non-slip wrist rest and backlit keys round out the feature-set. Sound familiar? It should, because glossing over the spec sheet and available pics, the Aurantia bears more than a just a striking resemblance to the Razer Lycosa; save for what appears to be a slightly lowered keyset on the Lycosa, the two keyboards seem to share much of the same DNA and could pass as peripheral twins. Quick, what's the Chinese term for déjà vu?
Nvidia is preparing to roll out full support for hardware accelerated physics on its high end graphics cards including the 9800 & 200 series. New beta drivers which enable this functionality can now be found using the advanced driver search tool. Version 177.39 installs PhysX drivers that will enable the graphics card to emulate Ageia hardware. Physics acceleration is part of Nvidia’s new CUDA initiative aimed at convincing gamers that graphics hardware is more capable and valuable then CPU’s. Games of note that currently support PhysX include Gears of War, Mass Effect, Rainbow Six Vegas, and Unreal Tournament 3. The list of supported titles is expected to grow exponentially as Nvidia rolls this feature out to older hardware in the coming months.
Hit the jump to learn how to really put PhysX to the test.
Buoyed by the early promise of its ATI Radeon HD 4850 card, AMD expects its discrete graphics card market share to reach 40% in Q3, 2008 up from 30% at the beginning of this year. The performance-oriented HD 4850 is an absolute steal for $199 and most industry watchers expect it to tear into the market held by $200-300 card.
The launch of the HD 4850 left Nvidia with no choice but to drop the price of its GeForce 9800 GTX+ from $229 to $199. But when AMD decides to cut Radeon HD 4850’ price – a long way off – sales will get a huge boost.