Getting your hands on a hot new PC game isn't as simple in China as it is in the United States. The Chinese Ministry of Culture needs to clear a title before it becomes available in stores, a process that's been known to take months, or even years. As a result, impatient Chinese gamers looking to engage in demonic hack n' slashing have resorted to pineapples, phonics and search trickery to get their hands on the much-coveted game.
Move over game console, a PC is here to take your job
DON’T BLINK, it’s not a game console. It’s something far better—a PC that’s as small as the original Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with the promise of pretty good gaming performance, too.
As we all know, making things small, fast, and also affordable is no easy feat. Yet Alienware engineers somehow managed to smash real graphics into a standard slimline tower without tacking on a huge price tag.
To be frank, this isn’t the first attempt at a small, powerful PC with a slimline shape. The X51 reminds us very much of Voodoo/Hewlett-Packard’s Firebird PC from 2009 (review at bit.ly/Delqq). The Firebird’s main failing was relying primarily on notebook technology for its GPUs, which killed upgrades.
The first thing you notice about the Kone+ is the sheer size of it. It doesn’t look that large in pictures, but when you hold it in your hands, it becomes apparent that this is one of the larger mice on the market. Lengthwise it’s about the size of other long mice, like the Razer Mamba, but it’s wider and taller throughout the whole body of the mouse. It comes with a set of adjustable weights, and is comfortable in the hand, as long as you prefer a grip where your palm rests on the mouse—if you don’t, the Kone+ isn’t the right shape for you.
The Kone+ has the button-count we’ve come to expect from a FPS or general-purpose gaming mouse. It has two well-positioned thumb buttons that are large and easy to hit, as well as dpi and profile controls. One feature you don’t commonly see on gaming mice is the tilt scroll wheel. The feature, which allows you to tilt the scroll wheel to the right or left as additional buttons, is traditionally found on office mice, not gaming mice. We suspect that the reason for this is because the additional freedom of movement in the scroll wheel makes the regular downward click feel slightly less responsive, and we could have done without it on the Kone+.
EVEN HIGH-END gaming rigs, believe it or not, can get pretty rote. In the parlance of our times, it’s what’s called a “first-world problem.” It’s a bit like being bored because you want to drive something other than your Ferrari or Lamborghini.
The solution to this problem in PC terms is CyberPower’s Fang III Black Mamba box, which is anything but ordinary. The machine is literally a high-end gaming box with a second PC grafted on top of it. This is done using an Azza Fusion 4000 case that’s big enough to take an XL-ATX board down below and a Mini-ITX board up top. Down below, CyberPower installs an Intel Core i7-3960X, 16GB of DDR3, an Asus Rampage IV Extreme board, and two overclocked EVGA GTX 590 Classified Hydro Copper cards. All this is cooled with a custom cooling solution, to boot. Storage is handled with a 2GB HDD and a pair of 120GB OCZ Agility 3 drives in RAID 0. RAIDed SSDs aren’t new, but the case’s support for four SSDs in quick-release trays, is, um, très cool.
CyberPower takes advantage of the cooling to overclock both the CPU and the GPUs. The CPU goes from its stock speed of 3.3GHz to a nice 4.5GHz, and the Hydro Copper cards are also clocked up enough to give the dual 590s a healthy speed advantage.
A few weeks back, we highlighted Nvidia's supercomputer-powered "GeForce Experience" initiative, which wants to use the power of the cloud to scan your hardware and offer one-click graphics setting optimization for PC games. Nvidia announced another cloud-based graphics platform at the same time: the GeForce Grid, a Kepler-based GPU that gaming services can use to power games at a remote location, then stream them to you over an Internet connection. (Think OnLive, but powered by Nvidia.) Nvidia boss Jen-Hsun Huang says he thinks Grid's potential for cross-platform ubiquity could break down barriers and create legions of new gamers.
Would-be demon slays ran into a big problem during Diablo III's opening week; nasty errors and server issues forced many first-day buyers into involuntarily sheathing their swords. The congestion highlighted concerns about the game's always-on DRM, but it turns out there was a good reason for the bad server woes: Blizzard claims Diablo III is the fastest selling game in PC history. Wait! Isn't PC gaming supposed to be dead?
When it rains, it pours, and the BioWare Austin team behind Star Wars: The Old Republic has been caught in a veritable monsoon of crappy circumstances. Just a few weeks back, an EA earnings statement revealed that the MMO had lost about a quarter of its subscribers during the last financial quarter. Execs said it was simply free trial players cycling out of the game, but BioWare announced yesterday that it had laid off some of the SWTOR team.
How do you possibly condense twelve years’ worth of anticipation into a single game? Such is the question that plagues Blizzard’s Diablo III – if you can get in to play, that is.
I was one of the (likely) hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people slamming the servers on launch day, 12:01 a.m., with reckless abandon. What did it get me? Not very many “first impressions” to write about.
It’s since been a bit of an up and down with Blizzard, but I’ve somehow managed to find enough windows of time between my personal life and the life of Blizzard’s blazing servers to beat the game (normal difficulty). In addition to some fun screenshots below, here are a few quick impressions from someone who’s been punching Prime Evils in the face since 1997.
If your trigger finger starts itching for a new FPS frag fest while you're out-and-about and away from your PC, Steam now offers the gaming equivalent of calamine lotion: remote game management. Yup, Valve's made it possible to install new games on your PC while you're "busy" at work. Yay instant gratification!
When you say the words "Class Project," most folks flash back to tedious research papers, MLA-style references and boring talks about Shakespearian characters with Oedipus Complexes. In other words: BOOOOOORING. But school doesn't have to be a snooze-fest! Case in point: Penn State's Advanced Mechatronics class, which sounds like it may just be the coolest course ever. One enterprising mechanical engineering student went after his final mechatronic project with gusto and built a working, talking, tracking and firing replica of Portal's gun turret -- then put it up on YouTube for the world to see.