We all know AMD makes damned-fine budget parts, but can Intel compete? This month, we build a $650 Core i5 Haswell rig to find out how it stacks up
It seems like whenever we build a high-end system it’s powered by an Intel CPU, and budget systems always run AMD parts. This month, we’re flipping the script and building a budget-oriented Intel system to see how it compares to AMD’s offerings, and to give people a glimpse of what a $650 Intel rig can throw down. For comparison’s sake, we recently built budget rigs using AMD’s new Richland APU (October 2013) as well as one with a $120 Vishera FX-6300 CPU (“Battle of the Budget Builds,” June 2013), and found that both chips serve their niche quite well. For this Intel build, we knew we’d go withHaswell, and wanted to run a Core i3 CPU, which typically comes with two cores and Hyper-Threading (HT), but those haven’t been released yet. Note: This article was originally featured in our December 2013 issue of the magazine. So, the next-best CPU we could get was the Core i5-4430— a quad-core CPU without HT for $180. That's a third of our budget on the CPU, which forced us to be frugal elsewhere. We also took this opportunity to try out a new microATX case from Cooler Master that retails for $50, which we felt was perfect for a budget build.
Note: This article was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine.
Facebook purchasing Oculus was an unprecedented acquisition. No Kickstarter company has ever been bought out by a large corporation prior to their crowdfunded project being released--at least not on the immense scale of $2 billion.
The surprising acquisition has spurred a lot of animosity from virtual-reality enthusiasts, most notably from the original Kickstarter backers.
A dual R9 290X card isn't here yet, but the 7990 is the next best thing
The Mission The ongoing war between Nvidia and AMD for supremacy over the PC gaming landscape has been like the Hatfields and the McCoys of enthusiast computing: long, bitter, and deeply entrenched. AMD's Radeon HD 7990 is the company’s biggest salvo yet, combining two HD 7970 GPUs onto one card. It didn't come out until spring 2013, though, which was long after Nvidia's own dual-GPU behemoth, the GeForce GTX 690, had dug in its heels. And it wasn't until mid-summer that AMD began to address the stuttering issues that marred its multi-GPU setups. With AMD's R9 series arriving in October 2013, this crown jewel didn’t really have much time to shine. Today, we'll try and change that, pitting this Cadillac of a card against nothing less than Battlefield 4, with everything maxed out and running at 1920x1080. With the previous Battlefield regularly favoring Nvidia cards, this might seems like enemy territory. But this time, AMD is working closely with the developer to make sure nothing goes awry. And in December, BF4 will be the first game to feature Mantle, which AMD has positioned to replace Microsoft's DirectX API. In the end, the HD 7990 could set the bar.
Note: This article was originally featured in the Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine.
We go hands-on with the latest gaming gadgets at the 2014 Game Developers Conference
We had the chance to check out GDC 2014 held in San Francisco, CA and this year was really about virtual reality. We had everything from the Oculus Rift development kit 2 to Sony’s Project Morpheus and a bunch of VR accessories and peripherals thrown in for good measure.
Resize multiple images at once for free with IrFanView
Resizing images can be a monotonous task, especially, if you're trying to change the resolution/size of more than 100 images. Luckily free batch imaging software IrfanViewcan batch resize photos quickly and easily. For those who don’t know what batch processing is, it's taking a group of photos and editing them all at once using the same set of editing commands. For example, if you want to edit a group of 1920x1080 images and resize them to 1280x720 or simply want smaller-sized images to email/store on a small USB stick, you can have IrfanView reduce the size of all the images at the same time, so you don’t have to do it for each individual photo. Considering the program is free to use, we wanted to show you how you can quickly save time and energy editing your photos.
What's it like to build in three of the most unusual cases on the market?
A generation ago, computer cases were typically beige pizza box–shaped things that resided under beige CRT monitors. You wrangled floppy disks in and out of them and pressed the power button at times, but they weren't conversation pieces or personal statements. We don't know exactly when the shift to case fanciness occurred. It evolved gradually, like facial hair or Nicolas Cage. And in the last few years, we've seen some pretty exotic enclosures come to the home desktop, in various degrees of affordability and physical dimensions. You may wonder what it's like to build inside one of these strange containers; we certainly did. To find out, we had three distinctly different unconventional cases delivered to our Lab: the Cooler Master HAF Stacker 935, the In Win D-Frame, and the Corsair Carbide Air 540 that are pictured here.
Note: This article was originally featured in our Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine.
Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) turned 10 years old this month, so we took a look back at some of the best games using the engine. Available for licensees since March 2004, UE3 represented a huge leap for the Unreal Engine. It boasts support for pretty much every platform—mobile, Windows, OS X, and all of the consoles. It's so popular with developers that even the FBI decided to license the engine for a training simulator.
What time is it? It's time to Build a PC with our Blueprints! This month, we've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Baseline, Performance, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful system for gaming and content creation at 1080p, Performance beefs everything up across the board, and Ultra lets the dogs out.
Microsoft isn’t returning the beloved Start Menu to Windows 8 anytime soon. But hope is not lost, thanks to these handy third-party tools!
Beyond all of the colorful tiles; the bolted-on Modern user interface; the giant, full-screen apps and panels; and the inability to boot to the desktop—to name just a few of our gripes—there’s one issue above all others that’s guaranteed to universally frustrate Windows 8 desktop users: the Start Menu.
Note: This article was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine.