Features http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/31/ en Black Friday Deals 2014 Round Up http://www.maximumpc.com/black_friday_ads_2014_round <!--paging_filter--><p>We love this time of the year, as it affords us an excuse to stuff mounds of moist turkey and other delicious fixings down our gullets (while only feeling semi-guilty about it), houses and neighborhoods are dressed up with decorative lights and lawn ornaments, kids are suddenly on their best behavior in hopes of earning heaps of toys, and the sales -- oh, the sales!</p> <p>It starts with <strong>Black Friday</strong> and continues with Cyber Monday. If you're like us, you don't have any intention of heading into the city on Black Friday only be shoved, stepped on, and perhaps even <a href="http://youtu.be/oHulRDk__ko?t=31s" target="_blank">punched in the jejunum</a> by rapid shoppers making a mad dash toward the electronics section to score a discount on what little stock might be available. Why go through all that nonsense when you can shop deals from home?</p> <p><em>Note: We focused mostly on PC hardware deals. For more gadget-oriented deals, visit our sister site TechRadar for more&nbsp;<a title="black friday" href="http://www.techradar.com/us/news/world-of-tech/black-friday-deals-1272737" target="_blank">Black Friday</a> and&nbsp;<a title="Cyber Monday" href="http://www.techradar.com/us/news/world-of-tech/cyber-monday-deals-1272798" target="_blank">Cyber Monday</a>&nbsp;deals.</em></p> <p><img src="/files/u69/blackfriday_2014.jpg" alt="Black Friday 2014" title="Black Friday 2014" width="620" height="412" /><br /><span style="font-size: x-small;">Original Image Credit: Flickr (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brettneilson/5194974009" target="_blank">Brett Neilson</a>)</span></p> <p>As we've done for the past several years, we're scouring the web for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on PC parts and other electronics we think might be of interest. Just scroll to the category that interests you and click your way through to an awesome deal on that upgrade you've been waiting to make.</p> <p>The format will be the same as last year -- Black Friday deals will be labeled with "(BF)" next to the link and we'll tag Cyber Monday deals with "(CM)" in the same manner. As deals expire, we'll cross them out but leave them clickable (it never hurts to double check, right?).</p> <p>For the most part, we'll focus on deals that don't require a mail-in-rebate, though we won't omit them entirely. The ones we include will have an asterisk next to them.</p> <p>Finally, we will be continually updating our list of links, so check back often, especially as some deals have a tendency to sell out fast. Also, if you know of a deal that should be included, feel free to share it in the comments section below.</p> <h3>Amazon</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/amazon_box_3.jpg" alt="Amazon Box" title="Amazon Box" width="620" height="414" /></p> <p>We're giving Amazon it's own category because from Monday, November 24 through Black Friday weekend, the online retailer will be running new deals as often as every 10 minutes. Prices will be valid at select times and while supplies last.</p> <p>You'll find these deals at <a href="http://www.amazon.com/blackfriday?tag=mpcedit-20" target="_blank">www.amazon.com/blackfriday</a>.</p> <h3>CPU/Processors</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/haswell_0.jpg" alt="Haswell" title="Haswell" width="620" height="448" /></p> <p>AMD FX-6350 Vishera 6-Core 3.9GHZ Socket AM3+ 125W Desktop Processor: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113327&amp;Tpk=19-113-327?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$110, Newegg (BF)</a><br />AMD FX-8320 Vishera 8-Core 3.5GHz (4.0GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W Desktop Processor: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113285&amp;Tpk=19-113-285?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$120, Newegg (BF)</a><br />AMD FX-8350 Black Edition Vishera 8-Core 4GHz (4.2GHZ Turbo) AM3+ 125W Desktop Processor: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113284&amp;Tpk=19-113-284?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$150, Newegg (BF)</a><br />AMD FX-8370 Vishera 8-Core 4GHz (4.3GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W Desktop Processor: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113374&amp;Tpk=19-113-374?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$170, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Intel Core i7 4790 Haswell 3.6GHz Quad Core: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116987&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112414-_-EMC-112414-index-_-ProcessorsDesktops-_-19116987-S1A1A" target="_blank">$289 (coupon code: EMCWWHF22), Newegg (BF)</a><br />Intel Core i5 4430 Haswell 3.0GHz Quad Core: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116895&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112414-_-EMC-112414-index-_-ProcessorsDesktops-_-19116895-S1A1B" target="_blank">$175 (coupon code: EMCWWHF23), Newegg (BF)</a></p> <h3>RAM and Digital Media</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/corsair_vengeance_3.jpg" alt="Corsair Vengeance" title="Corsair Vengeance" width="620" height="414" /></p> <p>Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226337" target="_blank">$152, Newegg (BF)</a><br />GeIL Evo Veloce Series 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820144615" target="_blank">$125, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Adata XPG V1.0 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211861&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$80, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Adata XPG V2 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-2400: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211772&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$76, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Kingston 4GB DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820239312&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$40, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226394&amp;cm_re=mushkin_enhanced_blackline_16gb-_-20-226-394-_-Product" target="_blank">$119, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233180&amp;Tpk=20-233-180&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$73, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Corsair Vengeance Pro 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233538&amp;Tpk=20-233-538&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$140, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148545&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$128, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Crucial Ballistix Tactical 16GB (2x8GB: DDR3-1600 Low Profile: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148657&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$145, Newegg (BF)<br /></a>G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231314&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-DesktopMemory-_-20231314-S1A0D" target="_blank">$55, Newegg (BF)</a></p> <h3>Storage</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/pny_optima_480gb.jpg" alt="PNY Optima 480GB SSD" title="PNY Optima 480GB SSD" width="620" height="386" /></p> <p>Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive Black: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178435&amp;Tpk=22-178-435?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$79.88, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive Red: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178438&amp;Tpk=22-178-438?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$79.88, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive Blue: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178437&amp;Tpk=22-178-437?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$79.88, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive Silver: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178436&amp;Tpk=22-178-436?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$79.88, Newegg (BF)</a><br />WD Green WD40EZRX 4TB 64MB Cache, SATA 6Gbps, 3.5-inch Hard Drive: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822236604&amp;Tpk=22-236-604?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$130, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Seagate Backup Plus 5TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178501&amp;Tpk=22-178-501&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$145, Newegg (BF)</a><br />WD Elements 4TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822236807&amp;Tpk=22-236-807&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$111, Newegg (BF)</a><br />PNY Optima 480GB SSD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820178742&amp;Tpk=20-178-742&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$160 (after $20 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 480GB SSD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820239757&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$180, Newegg (BF)</a><br />WD Black Series 2TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6Gbps: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822236624&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$115, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Samsung 840 Evo 1TB SSD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147251&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-InternalSSDs-_-20147251-S1A0B" target="_blank">$360, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Crucial M500 240GB SSD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148694&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-InternalSSDs-_-20148694-S1A0A" target="_blank">$90, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 120GB SSD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820721107&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-InternalSSDs-_-20721107-S1A0C" target="_blank">$50, Newegg (BF)</a><br />OCZ Vertex 240GB SSD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820228106&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-InternalSSDs-_-20228106-S1A1C" target="_blank">$80, Newegg (BF)</a></p> <p><em>Click the next page for graphics cards, motherboards, PSU deals, and more!</em></p> <hr /> <h3>Video Cards</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_front.jpg" alt="Nvidia GeForce GTX 980" title="Nvidia GeForce GTX 980" width="620" height="280" /></p> <p>Sapphire Tri-X OC Radeon R9 290: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202080&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$270 ($250 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />MSI Radeon R9 290X Gaming: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127773&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$330 ($300 after $30 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />MSI Radeon R9 270X R9 270X Gaming: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127761&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$160 ($140 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming 3G: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127789" target="_blank">$185 ($155 after $30 MIR), Newegg (BF)*<br /></a>MSI R9 270X Gaming: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127794" target="_blank">$150 ($130 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Gigabyte G-Sync Support GeForce GTX 750: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125510&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$105 ($90 after $15 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127789" target="_blank"><br /></a>EVGA G-Sync GeForce GTX 780 Ti Classified Kingpin Edition: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487037&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112414-_-EMC-112414-index-_-DesktopGraphicsCards-_-14487037-S1A5D" target="_blank">$520 ($490 after $30 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />EVGA SuperClocked G-Sync GeForce GTX 760 w/ ACX Cooler: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130932&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$195 ($175 after $20 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />XFX Double D Radeon R9 280X: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150678&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-DesktopGraphicsCards-_-14150678-S2A1B" target="_blank">$230 ($200 after $30 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a></p> <h3>Motherboards</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/asus_x99-deluxe.jpg" alt="Asus X99-Deluxe" title="Asus X99-Deluxe" width="620" height="439" /></p> <p>ASRock Z97 Extreme4 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157503&amp;Tpk=13-157-503?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$108.79, Newegg (BF)</a><br />MSI X99S MPOWER ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130793" target="_blank">$230, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Asus M5A99FX Pro R2.0 ATX AMD Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131851&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$135 ($120 after $15 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />ASRock Z97 Extreme4 ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157503&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$128.79 ($108.97 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Asus X99-A ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132261&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$235, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Asus Z97-E ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132287" target="_blank">$129, Newegg (BF)</a><br />MSI Z97-GD65 Gaming ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130769&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$140 ($125 after $15 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 5 ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128709&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$135 ($120 after $15 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />ASRock Z97 Pro3 ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157508" target="_blank">$90 ($80 after $10 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />ASRock FM2A88X-ITX Mini ITX AMD Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157464" target="_blank">$89 ($79 after $10 MIR), Newegg (BF)</a><br />ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157501&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$115 ($100 after $15 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H ATX Intel Motehrboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128707&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$150 ($130 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Gigabyte GA-G1.Sniper Z97 ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128706&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$140 ($120 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Asus Z97-Pro ATX Intel Motherboard: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132116&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$153, Newegg (BF)</a></p> <h3>Cases, Power Supplies, and Accessories</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/cm_haf_xb_evo.jpg" alt="Cooler Master XB EVO" title="Cooler Master XB EVO" width="620" height="410" /></p> <p>Antec NeoECO C 620W: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371031&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$60 ($35 after $25 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Rosewill Stallion Series 500W: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182044&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$40 ($25 after $15 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Raidmax Cobra 400W: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817152052&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$25 ($15 after $10 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Thermaltake Toughpower 750W Modular: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817153198&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$90 ($70 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Thermaltake 850W: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817153205&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$120 ($100 after $20 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Rosewill Stealth Gaming ATX Mid Tower Case: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147232" target="_blank">$60 ($50 after $10 MIR), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Cooler Master Cosmos SE Case: <a href="https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/149ee8e75e818475" target="_blank">$120 ($80 after $40 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Cooler Master N600 Case: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119298" target="_blank">$80 ($50 after mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Cooler Master HAF XB EVO: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119265" target="_blank">$90 ($70 after $20 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Cooler Master Silent Pro M2-1000W Power Supply: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171076" target="_blank">$130 ($90 after $40 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099" target="_blank">$35 ($30 after $5 mail-in-rebate), Newegg (BF)*</a><br />Logitech MK550 Wave Comfort Keyboard + Mouse Combo: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/lwwcmk550ep" target="_blank">$50, Dell (BF)</a><br />Up to 40 Percent Off Refurbished Cases: <a href="http://www.corsair.com/en-us/deals?utm_source=Email&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_campaign=Black%20Friday%2040%25%20Off%20Refurbs" target="_blank">40 Percent Off, Corsair (BF)</a><br />Corsair Vengeance K95 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard (refurbished): <a href="http://www.corsair.com/~/media/Corsair/landing-pages/deals/blackfriday2014/BLACK-FRIDAY-26-30/Nov26-Nov-30_Black-Friday-LP-112514_06.jpg" target="_blank">$91, Corsair (BF)</a>Corsair Vengeance M65 FPS Laser Gaming Mouse (refurbished): <a href="http://www.corsair.com/vengeance-m65-fps-laser-gaming-mouse-gunmetal-black-refurbished" target="_blank">$30, Corsair (BF)</a><br />Corsair Vengeance M95 Performance MMO and RTS Laser Gaming Mouse (refurbished): <a href="http://www.corsair.com/vengeance-m95-performance-mmo-and-rts-laser-gaming-mouse-gunmetal-black-refurbished" target="_blank">$39, Corsair (BF)</a><br />Corsair Vengeance 2100 Dolby 7.1 Wireless Gaming Headset (refurbished): <a href="http://www.corsair.com/vengeance-2100-dolby-7-1-wireless-gaming-headset-refurbished" target="_blank">$58.49, Corsair (BF)</a><br />Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2500 High Power 2.1 PC Speaker System (refurbished): <a href="http://www.corsair.com/gaming-audio-series-sp2500-high-power-2-1-pc-speaker-system-refurbished" target="_blank">$145, Corsair (BF)</a></p> <h3>Desktop Systems</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/origin_pc.jpg" alt="Origin PC" title="Origin PC" width="620" height="516" /></p> <p>CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme H710 Desktop PC Intel Core i7 4790K, 8GB DDR3, 2TB HDD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883229495&amp;Tpk=83-229-495?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$800, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Dell i3647-1846BLK Desktop PC Celeron G1840 (2.8GHz), 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883156310&amp;Tpk=83-156-310?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$300, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Dell Inspiron Small Desktop: <a href="http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-3646-small-desktop/pd?oc=fddont7101h" target="_blank">$200, Dell (BF)</a> - starting at 8AM EST Nov 28<br />AMD FX-6300, 8GB DDR3, Radeon R9 270X, 1TB HDD, 14X Blu-ray Writer, Windows 8.1: <a href="http://www.ibuypower.com/" target="_blank">$839, iBuyPower (BF)</a><br />Intel Core i5 4460, 8GB DDR3, GeForce GTX 750 Ti, 1TB HDD, 14X Blu-ray Writer, Win 8.1: <a href="http://www.ibuypower.com/" target="_blank">$899, iBuyPower (BF)</a><br />Intel Core i7 5820K, 8GB DDR4, GeForce GT 740, 1TB HDD, 14X Blu-ray Writer, Win 8.1: <a href="http://www.ibuypower.com/" target="_blank">$1,199, iBuyPower (BF)</a><br />Up to $200 off + free shipping + free games + free 4-year warranty: <a href="http://www.digitalstormonline.com/holiday-promotion.asp" target="_blank">Free Upgrades, Digital Storm (BF)</a><br />Free shipping + Up to $150 Amazon gift card + game codes + Elite Gaming peripherals: <a href="http://www.originpc.com/promotion/2014/black-friday/" target="_blank">Origin PC (BF) + (CM)</a><br />iBuyPower Source Series NE654X Desktop, AMD FX-8320, 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD, GeForce GTX 750: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883227595" target="_blank">$600, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Asus Chromebox-M004u, Celeron 2955U, 2GB DDR3, 16GB SSD, Chrome OS: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883220572&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$114, Newegg (BF)</a></p> <p><em>Click the next page for laptop, tablet, game deals, and more!</em></p> <hr /> <h3>Notebooks/Utrabooks/Ultrathins/Convertibles</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/surface_pro_3_6.jpg" alt="Surface Pro 3" title="Surface Pro 3" width="620" height="297" /></p> <p>Asus C300MA-DB01 Chromebook Intel Celeron N2830, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 16GB eMMC, 13.3-inch: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834231756&amp;Tpk=34-231-756?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$200, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Asus ROG GL551JK-EH71 Gaming Laptop: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834232195&amp;Tpk=34-232-195?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$880, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Asus Transformer Book FLip TP500LA-EB31T 15.6-inch Touchscreen 2-in-1 Laptop, Core i3 4030U: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834232188&amp;Tpk=34-232-188?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$449, Newegg (BF)</a><br />HP 250 G3 (G4U96UT#ABA) 15.6-inch Notebook, Intel Core i3 3217U, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Win 7: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834258964&amp;Tpk=34-258-964?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$360, Newegg (BF)</a><br />HP 350 G1 (K4L54UT#ABA) 15.6-inch Notebook, Intel Core i5 4210U, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834259734&amp;Tpk=34-259-734?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$440, Newegg (BF)</a><br />HP EliteBook 840 G1 14-inch Ultrabook, Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM, 180GB SSD, Windows 7: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834257686&amp;Tpk=34-257-686?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$600, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Lenovo Y50 (59426157) Gaming Laptop: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834317542&amp;Tpk=34-317-542?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$1,000, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Surface Pro 3 Core i5: <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/buy" target="_blank">$100 Off, Microsoft Store, (BF)</a><br />Surface Pro 3 Core i7: <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/buy" target="_blank">$150 Off, Microsoft Store (BF)</a><br />Surace 2: <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/buy" target="_blank">$150 Off, Microsoft Store (BF)</a><br />Dell Inspiron 15 Laptop: <a href="http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15-3531-laptop/pd?oc=fndoc3001b" target="_blank">Dell, $190 (BF)</a> - starting at 12AM EST Nov 28<br />Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Series 2-in-1: <a href="http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-11-3147-laptop/pd?c=us&amp;cs=19&amp;l=en&amp;s=dhs&amp;~ck=mn" target="_blank">$350, Dell (BF)</a> - starting at 8AM EST Nov 28<br />HP Stream 13 Signature Edition Laptop, 13.3-inch, Intel Celeron N2840, 2GB RAM: <a href="http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/HP-Stream-13-Signature-Edition-Laptop/productID.309174500" target="_blank">$199, Microsoft Store (BF)</a><br />Vizio 15.6-inch Thin + Light Ultrabook: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1602495/vizio-156-in-thin-light-ultrabook-laptop.jsp" target="_blank">$1,170, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, 13.3-inch QHD+ Touch, Core i5: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/pcs/NP940X3G-K06US" target="_blank">$1,100, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, 13.3-inch QHD+ Touch, Core i7: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/pcs/NP940X3G-K04US" target="_blank">$1,500, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Apple 21.5-inch iMac, intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/apple-21-5-imac-intel-core-i5-8gb-memory-500gb-hard-drive/2680419.p?id=1219075853336&amp;amp;skuId=2680419" target="_blank">$900, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Microsoft Surface 2, Nvidia Tegra 4, 2GB RAM, 32GB, Magnesium: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-surface-2-32gb-magnesium/2147025.p?id=1219070148389&amp;amp;skuId=2147025" target="_blank">$300, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Toshiba Radius 2-in-1 15.6-inch Touch Laptop, Core i7: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/toshiba-radius-2-in-1-15-6-touch-screen-laptop-intel-core-i7-8gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-satin-gold/6129127.p?id=1219191180245&amp;amp;skuId=6129127" target="_blank">$700, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />HP Pavilion 17.3-inch Laptop, Core i5, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-pavilion-17-3-laptop-intel-core-i5-4gb-memory-750gb-hard-drive-natural-silver-ash-silver/9065377.p?id=1219389051972&amp;amp;skuId=9065377" target="_blank">$400, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series Touch, Core i5, 1TB HDD, 8GB RAM: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/fncwg2319bf" target="_blank">$580, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell Inspiron 17 5000 Series Non-Touch, Core i5, 1TB HDD, 8GB RAM: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/fnbfh2408h" target="_blank">$600, Dell (BF)</a><br />Lenovo Miix 2 11 11.6-inch FHD, Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Windows 8.1: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/special/shellshocker.aspx?utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-MECH-_-ShellShocker-EB2B&amp;et_cid=13421&amp;et_rid=2530165&amp;et_p1=" target="_blank">$600, Newegg (BF)</a></p> <h3>Mobile Handheld Devices</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/shield_tablet.jpg" alt="Nvidia Shield Tablet" title="Nvidia Shield Tablet" width="620" height="397" /></p> <p>HP Stream 7 Signature Edition Tablet: <a href="http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/HP-Stream-7-Signature-Edition-Tablet/productID.308781500" target="_blank">$99, Microsoft Store (BF)</a><br />Asus ME70C-8G-BK Intel Atom Z2520 1GB LPDDR2 RAM, 8GB eMMC, 7-inch Tablet, Android 4.3: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834232192&amp;Tpk=34-232-192?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$90, Newegg (BF)</a><br />iView SupraPad i700-8G 7-inch Tablet, Intel Atom, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB, Android 4.4: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834757022&amp;Tpk=34-757-022?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$50, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Lenovo Miix 2 11.6-inch 2-in-1 Tablet, Intel Core i3, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Windows 8.1 with Dock: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834317595&amp;Tpk=34-317-595?cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$450, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Lumia 830 FitBit Bundle: <a href="http://www.att.com/global-search/search.jsp?App_ID=HOME&amp;autoSuggest=FALSE&amp;tabPressed=FALSE&amp;q=Lumia+830+#!/Shop/Wireless/Wireless%20phones%20&amp;%20devices/" target="_blank">$99, AT&amp;T (BF)</a><br />Dell Venue 7 3000 Series Tablet: <a href="http://www.dell.com/us/p/dell-venue-7-3740-tablet/pd?oc=ftcwt01" target="_blank">$100, (BF)</a> - starting at 6PM EST Nov 27<br />Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 16GB: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/samsung-galaxy-tab-pro-8-4-16gb-black/3715001.p?id=1219093181535" target="_blank">$200, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 16GB: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-T330NYKAXAR" target="_blank">$200, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 16GB: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-T530NYKAXAR" target="_blank">$250, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 16GB: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-T800NZWAXAR" target="_blank">$400, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Wi-Fi 32GB: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-P6000ZWVXAR" target="_blank">$500, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 32GB Wi-Fi: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-P9000ZKVXAR" target="_blank">$600, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Nvidia Shield Tablet 32GB LTE + Half Life 2 + Half Life 2 Episode 1 + Portal: <a href="http://shield.nvidia.com/promotions/" target="_blank">$399, Razer (BF)</a><br />Nvidia Shield + Carrying Case + Glossy Black Armor: <a href="http://shield.nvidia.com/promotions/" target="_blank">$199, Razer (BF)</a><br />Dell Venue 8 3000 Series 16GB: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/ftdny01p2" target="_blank">$150, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell Venue 7 3000 Series 16GB: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/ftdnv701p2" target="_blank">$100, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell Venue 11 Pro 500 Series + Dell Slim Keyboard: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/ftdnd02p" target="_blank">$500, Dell (BF)</a></p> <h3>Monitors</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/dell_monitor_0.jpg" alt="Dell Monitor" title="Dell Monitor" width="620" height="523" /></p> <p>Dell P2314H 23-inch IPS: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824260148&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$190, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Samsung SD300 Series S24D300HL 23.6-inch LED Monitor: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824001911&amp;Tpk=24-001-911&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$110, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Samsung S24D300H 24-inch LED Monitor: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824022019&amp;Tpk=24-022-019&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$120, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Samsung S22C300H Translucent Red Gradation 21.5-inch LED Monitor: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824001796&amp;Tpk=24-001-796&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$110, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Dell E2414Hr 24-inch Monitor: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/e2414hrsapep" target="_blank">$100, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell E2215HV 1080p 22-inch Monitor: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/e2215hvsapep" target="_blank">$100, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell UltraSharp 22-inch UZ2215H Monitor: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/uz2215hsapep" target="_blank">$180, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell E2715H 27-inch Monitor: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/e2715hsapep" target="_blank">$200, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell UltraSharp 24-inch U2414H: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/u2414hsapep" target="_blank">$250, Dell (BF)</a><br />Dell UltraSharp 24-inch U2412M: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/u2412mep" target="_blank">$270, Dell (BF)</a></p> <h3>Games and Software</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/codaw.jpg" alt="Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" title="Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p>Minecraft for Xbox 360: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1540108/minecraft-for-xbox-360.jsp" target="_blank">$21, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Lego Star Wars Complete Saga Wii: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1540096/lego-star-wars-the-complete-saga-for-nintendo-wii.jsp" target="_blank">$26.33, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Battlefield 4 for PC: <a href="https://www.origin.com/en-us/store/deals/sale/blackfriday-sale" target="_blank">$15, Origin (BF)</a> - hit the link to save up to 75 percent a whole bunch of PC games on Origin<br />NovaBACKUP Professional 16.5: <a href="http://www.novastor.com/en/landing/black-friday/deals/site" target="_blank">$30, NovaStor (BF)</a><br />NovaBACKUP Server 16.5: <a href="http://www.novastor.com/en/landing/black-friday/deals/site" target="_blank">$200, NovaStor (BF)</a><br />NovaBACKUP Business Essentials 16.5: <a href="http://www.novastor.com/en/landing/black-friday/deals/site" target="_blank">$350, NovaStor (BF)</a><br />BioShock Infinite + Borderlands 2 + Enemy Unknown + Civ V Codes: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832205161&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-DownloadableGames-_-32205161-S3A7D" target="_blank">$17 (promo code: EMCWWHB63), Newegg (BF)</a><br />Thief Game Code: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832166148&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-DownloadableGames-_-32166148-S3A8A" target="_blank">$9.49 (promo code: EMCWWHB65), Newegg (BF)</a><br />Sleepind Dogs Definitive Edition: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832166178&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-DownloadableGames-_-32166178-S3A8B" target="_blank">$13 (promo code: EMCWWHB66), Newegg (BF)</a><br />Might &amp; Magic Power Pack: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832138469&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-DownloadableGames-_-32138469-S3A8C" target="_blank">$25 (promo code: EMCWWHB67), Newegg (BF)</a><br />Final Fantasy Power Pack (III, IV, VII, VIII, XIII) Code: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832166191&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=IGNEFL112814&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112814&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112814-_-EMC-112814-Index-_-DownloadableGames-_-32166191-S3A9A" target="_blank">$30 (promo code: EMCWWHB235), Newegg (BF)</a><br />Wolfenstein: The New Order: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CPKUV9I/?tag=pcggrtest-20" target="_blank">$25, Amazon (BF)</a> / <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CPKUV9I/?tag=pcggrtest-20" target="_blank">$20.39 (digital code), Amazon (BF)</a><br />Dishonored: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005C2D2H4/?tag=pcggrtest-20" target="_blank">$7, Amazon (BF)</a><br />Mass Effect Trilogoy: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050SZ980/?tag=pcggrtest-20" target="_blank">$30, Amazon (BF)</a> / <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050SZ980/?tag=pcggrtest-20" target="_blank">$13.49 (digital code), Amazon (BF)</a><br />Shadow Warrior: <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/233130/" target="_blank">$10, Steam (BF)</a></p> <h3>Printers and Routers</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/netgear_nighthawk_x4_0.jpg" alt="Netgear Nighthawk X4" title="Netgear Nighthawk X4" width="620" height="462" /></p> <p>D-Link Wireless N300 Gigabit Cloud Router: <a href="http://www.kmart.com/d-link-wireless-n300-gigabit-cloud-router/p-020W008573296001P?Sid=IDx20100622x00003a&amp;srccode=cii_5784816&amp;cpncode=37-4364263-2&amp;redirectType=SRDT" target="_blank">$20, Kmart (BF)</a><br />HP OfficeJet 6100 Wi-Fi Color Inkjet Printer: <a href="http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-Details.asp?EdpNo=2372707&amp;sku=H24-30346" target="_blank">$60 (after coupon: OIC146983), Tiger Direct (BF)</a><br />Samsung Multifunction Printer Xpress M2070FW: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/printers/SL-M2070FW/XAA" target="_blank">$100, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung Multifunction Printer Xpress C1860FW: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/printers/SL-C1860FW/XAA" target="_blank">$300, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung Multifunction Printer Xpress M2885FW: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/printers/SL-M2885FW/XAA" target="_blank">$250, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Samsung Multifunction Xpress C460FW: <a href="http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/printers/SL-C460FW/XAA" target="_blank">$200, Samsung (BF)</a><br />Netgear Nighthawk X4 Router + Motorola SB6141 Cable Moden: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833122617&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_source=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;nm_mc=EMC-IGNEFL112414&amp;cm_mmc=EMC-IGNEFL112414-_-EMC-112414-index-_-WirelessRouters-_-33122617-S1A6D" target="_blank">$280 (coupon code: EMCWWHF77), Newegg</a><br />HP Deskjet 2544 Wireless All-in-One Printer: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-deskjet-2544-wireless-all-in-one-printer/8336009.p?id=1219325222527&amp;amp;skuId=8336009" target="_blank">$27, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Canon PIXMA MX472 Wireless All-in-One Printer: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/canon-pixma-mx472-wireless-all-in-one-printer-black/3854006.p?id=1219093974754&amp;amp;skuId=3854006" target="_blank">$45, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />HP Envy 4500 Network-Ready Wireless e-All-in-One Printer: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-envy-4500-network-ready-wireless-e-all-in-one-printer-black/8949452.p?id=1218956269709&amp;amp;skuId=8949452" target="_blank">$50, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Epson Expression Premium XP-610 Small-in-One Wireless All-in-One Printer: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/epson-expression-premium-xp-610-small-in-one-wireless-all-in-one-printer-black-blue/1483083.p?id=1219052237013&amp;amp;skuId=1483083" target="_blank">$60, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />HP Photosmart 6520 Wireless All-in-One Printer: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-photosmart-6520-wireless-e-all-in-one-printer-black/6541303.p?id=1218755599302&amp;amp;skuId=6541303" target="_blank">$70, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />HP Officejet Pro 6830 Network Ready Wireless e-All-in-One Printer: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-officejet-pro-6830-network-ready-wireless-e-all-in-one-printer-black/8010007.p?id=1219306470558&amp;amp;skuId=8010007" target="_blank">$100, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />HP Photosmart 7525 Wireless All-in-One Printer: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-photosmart-7525-wireless-all-in-one-printer/9199108.p?id=1219398339437&amp;amp;skuId=9199108" target="_blank">$100, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Asus RT-AC66R Wireless-AC1750 Router: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833320215" target="_blank">$160, Newegg (BF)</a></p> <h3>MISC</h3> <p><img src="/files/u69/xbox_one_4.jpg" alt="Xbox One" title="Xbox One" width="620" height="187" /></p> <p>Sceptre X325BF-FMDR 32-inch LED 1080p HDTV: <a href="http://www.walmart.com/ip/SCEPTRE-X325BV-FMDR-32-LED-Class-1080P-HDTV-with-Ultra-Slim-Metal-Brush-Bezel-MHL/25059349" target="_blank">$189, Walmart (BF)</a><br />Microsoft Xbox One w/ Assassin's Creed Bundle: <a href="http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-Details.asp?EdpNo=9269256&amp;sku=MF5-102671157" target="_blank">$350, Tiger Direct (BF)</a> - $335 after <a href="http://www.tigerdirect.com/sectors/campaigns/include/events/2014/TD_Discount/satisfy-your-sweet-tooth.asp?SRCCODE=LINKSHARE&amp;cm_mmc_o=-ddCjC1bELltzywCjC-d2CjCdwwp&amp;utm_source=Linkshare&amp;utm_medium=Affiliate&amp;utm_campaign=Es5Ekr9eEBk&amp;AffiliateID=Es5Ekr9eEBk-XUNQ0UmhSHVy5_NbL31Zeg" target="_blank">coupon</a><br />Beats Powerbeats 2 Wireless In-Ear Headphones: <a href="http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Beats-Powerbeats-2-Wireless-In-Ear-Headphones/productID.304664600" target="_blank">$180, Microsoft Store (BF)</a><br />Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphones: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1711371/beats-studio-wireless-over-ear-headphones.jsp" target="_blank">$342, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Beats Mixr On-Ear Headphones: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1623478/beats-mixr-on-ear-headphones.jsp" target="_blank">$200-$225, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Beats Studio 2.0 On-Ear Headphones: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1624653/beats-studio-20-on-ear-headphones.jsp" target="_blank">$270, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Vizio SB4021M-B1 40-inch 2.1 Channel Home Theater Sound Bar w/ Wireless Subwoofer: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1590604/vizio-sb4021m-b1-40-in-21-channel-home-theater-sound-bar-with-wireless-subwoofer.jsp" target="_blank">$130, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Toshiba 50-inch 1080p 120Hz LED Smart HDTV: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1748820/toshiba-50l3400u-50-in-1080p-120hz-led-hdtv-with-smart-tv.jsp" target="_blank">$550, Kohls (BF)</a><br />Apex 19-inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV w/ DVD Player: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1585243/apex-19-in-720p-60hz-led-hdtv-with-dvd-player.jsp" target="_blank">$110, Kohls (BF) - November 27-28 only</a><br />Lego Star Wars Stormtrooper Alarm Clock: <a href="http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-638116/lego-star-wars-stormtrooper-alarm-clock.jsp" target="_blank">$21, Kohls (BF)</a><br />LG 49-inch Class LED HDTV: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16889005961&amp;ignorebbr=1&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$390, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Changhong 42-inch Class 4K ULtra HD LED TV: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16889624008&amp;cm_mmc=TRA-PR-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">$400, Newegg (BF)</a><br />Microsoft Xbox One w/ Assassin's Creed Unity Bundle: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-xbox-one-console-assassins-creed-unity-bundle/8439032.p?id=1219339616396&amp;amp;skuId=8439032" target="_blank">$330, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Sony PlayStation 4 500GB Bundle, Grand Theft Auto V, The Last of Us: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-playstation-4-500gb-black-friday-bundle-black/8637183.p?id=1219365658942&amp;amp;skuId=8637183" target="_blank">$400, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Nintendo Wii 32GB + Super Mario 3D World + NintendoLand + Super Smash Bros., DK Country: Tropical Freeze: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/wii-u-with-mario-3d-world-super-smash-tropical-freeze-nintendo-land/9999237800050006.p?id=pcmprd236600050006&amp;amp;skuId=9999237800050006" target="_blank">$360, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Google Chromecast + 2 Months of Hulu: <a href="http://www.bestbuy.com/site/google-chromecast-hdmi-streaming-media-player/9071056.p?id=1219013308425&amp;amp;skuId=9071056" target="_blank">$24, Best Buy (BF)</a><br />Sony PlayStation 4 System Bundle + 3 Games + Extra Controller: <a href="http://deals.dell.com/productdetail/ps4cbgbep" target="_blank">$500, Dell (BF)</a><br />iFixIt Pro Tech Toolkit + Magnetic Mat Bundle: <a href="https://www.ifixit.com/Store/Tools/Pro-Tech-Toolkit-Magnetic-Mat-Bundle/IF145-203" target="_blank">$60, iFixIt (BF)</a><br />iFixIt Jimmy (Device Opener): <a href="https://www.ifixit.com/Store/Tools/Jimmy/IF145-259" target="_blank">$8, iFixIt (BF)</a><br />Xbox Live Gold 12-Month Digital Code: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16874103299&amp;ignorebbr=1" target="_blank">$40, Newegg (BF)</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/black_friday_ads_2014_round#comments black friday 2014 cyber monday deals discounts electronics features gadgets Hardware online shopping pc sales Features Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:13:39 +0000 Paul Lilly 28868 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Take Great Video Game Screenshots http://www.maximumpc.com/how_take_great_video_game_screenshots_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/tombraider_2014-10-28_22-24-52-18.jpg" alt="Tomb Raider" title="Tomb Raider" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" /></span></h3> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">A primer for the budding artist in all of us</span></h3> <p>We’ve been cataloging amazing video game screenshots in our monthly <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/graphics_porn" target="_blank">Graphics Porn</a> feature, so we figured it’s about time we gave a quick primer on how to take stellar screenshots in your favorite games.</p> <p>This goes beyond Print Screen and Paint. We’re not talking about hastily snapped screens of hilarious moments in Team Fortress 2 or a particularly well-designed cutscene. We do, however, consider utilities like Cheat Engine essential to the process.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Tools of the Trade</span></h3> <p>The first thing you’ll need is an application that’ll let you capture screens while in a game. There are an endless number of ways to grab screenshots, but we’ll just talk about two in this guide: Fraps and Steam. They’re both widely available, well known, and support uncompressed capture.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.fraps.com" target="_blank">Fraps</a> has been the tool of choice for a long, long time. It’s simple and offers a variety of options for both still and video capture of games. At $37, it’s not exactly an impulse buy, but it offers in-game capture to BMP, JPG, PNG, and even TGA files. If you’re not willing to shell out your hard-earned cash, skip over the free version—it adds watermarks—and opt for Steam instead.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-28_21-27-41.png" alt="Fraps" title="Fraps" width="616" height="379" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>PNG is our file format of choice for screenshots.</strong></p> <p>If you’re using FRAPS, head on over to the Screenshots tab and pick a screen-capture hotkey—Mouse4 or Mouse5 works great. Set the Image Format to PNG—JPG works fine if you’re happy with compressed images—and you’re ready to get snapping. By default, Fraps should overlay an FPS counter on the top left corner of your screen. Move it by pressing F12, but keep it visible because it offers a visual indication of a successful image capture.</p> <p>On the other end of the spectrum is <a href="http://steampowered.com" target="_blank">Steam</a>. It’s an indelible part of the gaming world and the Steam client has become an integral part of any respectable gaming setup. Fortunately for screenshot takers, it also includes an easy way to capture images in game.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-28_20-47-58.png" alt="Steam In-Game Settings" title="Steam In-Game Settings" width="600" height="475" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Steam isn't just a game distribution platform, it's also a game capture utility.</strong></p> <p>Pop open the Steam Settings window, head to the In-Game tab, and select a screenshot hotkey. Make sure you’ve checked the “Save an uncompressed copy” box to get the highest quality results. Enabling visual or audio notifications—“Play a sound” and “Display a notification”—is an easy way to make sure that you’re actually getting screenshots when you press your hotkey.</p> <p>Next, you’ll need some games to capture. Anything at all will work, although the videogame photography community only supports certain games—we’ll talk more about this later. The latest and greatest aren’t always the best options since it’s not all about graphical fidelity.</p> <p>Perhaps the most important tool that’s not directly related to the images being created is Cheat Engine (CE). Despite it’s name, CE is a memory scanner, hex editor, and debugger that gives video game photographers the ability to manipulate games. Ever wish you could just stop time in a game? With Cheat Engine, you can. Before you go off and download it, make sure you download the application in archived form to avoid bundled crapware—here's the <a href="http://cheatengine.org/download/cheatengine64_NoSetup.rar" target="_blank">direct link</a>. The default download link available on the <a href="http://cheatengine.org/downloads.php" target="_blank">Cheat Engine site</a> bundles the utility with OpenCandy-recommended software.&nbsp;</p> <p>Many screenshot photographers also make use of mods and visual tweaks to squeeze the most out of their favorite games. We’re not going to cover them in this guide, but feel free to add any visual tweaks or in-game content as you see fit before heading into the game to grab screenshots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Setting up the Moment</span></h3> <p>Unless you’re happy with taking screenshots from the default point of view, Cheat Engine—and user-created tables—allows you to manipulate the in-game camera, time, and sometimes other features like the field of view. Keep in mind that Cheat Engine could very well trigger anticheat software used by multiplayer games, so do your own research before attaching Cheat Engine to the process of a game with something like VAC or Punkbuster. We can't accept liability for banned accounts or other problems associated with running Cheat Engine.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-28_21-50-25.png" alt="Cheat Engine 6.4" title="Cheat Engine 6.4" width="400" height="387" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>It's called Cheat Engine, but we're not using it to cheat.</strong></p> <p>To get started, open up CheatEngine.exe and download a Cheat Engine table that’s compatible with your game. Again, not all games are supported. Technically savvy people like <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_august_2014_cheat_technical_officer_jim2point0" target="_blank">jim2point0</a> have to actually create these tables with more than a bit of hard work. The <a href="http://www.deadendthrills.com/forum/categories/game-specific-guides" target="_blank">Game Specific Guides section</a> of the DeadEndThrills forum is a great place to start.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-28_21-56-20.png" alt="Process List" title="Process List" width="261" height="392" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Scroll through the list of processes to find the game you're capturing.</strong></p> <p>When you’ve got everything ready, hit Ctrl+O and select the table you downloaded. Start up your game, go to File, and click Open Process. Scroll through the list and look for the line containing your game—keep an eye out for the game’s icon or name. Hit Open and Yes when prompted to “Keep the current address list/code list?.”</p> <p>The specific controls will vary depending on the creator of the table. The <a href="http://www.deadendthrills.com/forum/discussion/240/guide-tomb-raider" target="_blank">Tomb Raider guide</a> created by jim2point0 uses F1 to toggle camera coordinates, F2 to toggle FOV changes, and F4, F5, and F6 to toggle time on and off.</p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves /> <w:TrackFormatting /> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF /> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>JA</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> 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SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List 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Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="276"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" 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Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --><!--StartFragment--><!--StartFragment--><!--EndFragment--><!--EndFragment--></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Some Cheat Engine tables allow for the removal of the HUD. Other times, you’ll need to edit configuration files to get rid of the ugly bits that sit between the camera and your scene. Here’s an example of a config tweak that removes the HUD and crosshair from <a href="http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3100550" target="_blank">Bioshock Infinite</a>. Fortunately, jim2point0 has a <a href="http://www.deadendthrills.com/forum/discussion/146/guide-bioshock-infinite" target="_blank">Cheat Engine table</a>&nbsp;for Infinite that includes toggles for the HUD along with God mode, slow motion, and a few other useful tweaks. Your mileage may vary from game to game, but resources exist for most popular games.</p> <p>Here are two photos we captured in Tomb Raider to demonstrate the drastic effect that Cheat Engine manipulation can have on the screenshot-taking process. The end result isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a pretty clear departure from the screenshot taken at base FOV and the default camera.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/tombraider_2014-10-28_22-25-18-35.jpg" alt="Tomb Raider without CheatEngine" title="Tomb Raider without CheatEngine" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The intial scene without any Cheat Engine adjustments applied.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/tombraider_2014-10-28_22-24-52-18_0.jpg" alt="Tomb Raider with Cheat Engine" title="Tomb Raider with Cheat Engine" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The final result after freezing time, adjusting the FOV, and pulling out the camera.</strong></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Once the Deed is Done</span></h3> <p>When you’ve got everything set up and ready to be captured, hit your screenshot hotkey and revel in a job well done. Most times, you wont get what you wanted on your first—or even your second—try, but keep at it and you just might see your screenshots on <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/graphics_porn" target="_blank">Graphics Porn</a>.</p> <p>Already a seasoned screenshot pro with some tips to share? Drop them in the comments below!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/how_take_great_video_game_screenshots_2014#comments Cheat Engine Graphics Porn jim2point0 screencap screenshots Tomb Raider Features How-Tos Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:19:57 +0000 Ben Kim 28803 at http://www.maximumpc.com Best Search Engine: Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo Compared! http://www.maximumpc.com/best_search_engine_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/search_scuffle.jpg" alt="Search Scuffle" title="Search Scuffle" width="228" height="130" style="float: right;" />Which search engine is the best?</h3> <p>The web has grown from a single website in 1991 (<a href="http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html" target="_blank">World Wide Web Project</a>) to <a href="http://www.internetlivestats.com/total-number-of-websites/" target="_blank">more than a billion unique host names</a> today. Around three quarters of those are inactive sites—parked domains and the such—but that still leaves over a quarter of a million sites. If you visited 10 different websites each day, it would take you roughly 70 years to get through them all, and that's only if no more sites are added. Yeah, fat chance of that happening!</p> <p>Now imagine having to crawl each website, catalog the content, and then memorize the URL of each one so that if someone asks where they can find information about Siamese cats or what to do if stung by a scorpion, you can rattle off a list of appropriate URLs. Even Rain Man would be intimidated with such an impossible task.</p> <p>Not to worry, there are better ways to the surf the web. Whenever we need to look up something online, we simply type our query into a search engine and wait for the results. On a high-speed connection, you can expect thousands and even millions of results in under a second—that's pretty miraculous, when you think about it.</p> <p>Google is the only search engine that's generally accepted as a verb, as in, "Hey Bob, did you ever get around to Googling the honey badger video I told you about?" However, it's not the only search engine in town. Microsoft's Bing and Gabriel Weinberg's DuckDuckGo are two of the more popular alternatives, and like Google, each wants to be your go-to search engine.</p> <p>Is one better than the other? That's a great question, so we set about tackling it by comparing the three competitors.<strong> </strong>We came up with several categories that are relevant to today's search queries, and then had each of the candidates show us their stuff. Hit the jump as we separate the contenders from the pretenders!</p> <h3>Accuracy</h3> <p>Determining accuracy is arguably the single most important aspect of evaluating a search engine, so we decided to jump right into the thick of things. Unfortunately, this is also the most challenging category, as it requires a fair amount of subjective analysis. With that in mind, we tried several different queries to see if any of the search engines stood out with more relevant results to what we had in mind.</p> <p>We started off easy by searching for the time in Ecuador. All three search engines came back with the correct time, though only Google gave us the result before we were finished typing, let alone had a chance to click the search button.</p> <p>This was followed by a search for Rowland High School, which is actually John A. Rowland High School, though we figured dropping the "John A." at the beginning shouldn't be problematic. And it wasn't. All three found the school in question, though DuckDuckGo opted to post a Wikipedia summary and an advertising link at the top of the results, whereas both Google and Bing plopped the school's homepage URL at the top. Bing did slightly better by also including a Facebook link on the first page -- Google made us go to the second page for it.</p> <p>We tried several other searches, including the copying and pasting of a line from a recent article on our website. All three sites found the correct article, though only Google highlighted the line in the summary underneath the URL. Bing and GoGoDuck both didn't include the line in the summary. Why does this matter? If you're looking up an article based on a quote that stands out for whatever reason, only Google's presentation lets you know that it's found the correct URL before clicking through.</p> <p>Switching our attention to breaking news, it was pretty much a wash between all three, even with only just minimal information. On the same day that a man armed with a small knife tried breaking into the White House, we performed a simple search for "White House" and all three came back with relevant news links for the breaking story.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/duckduckgo_whitehouse.jpg" alt="DuckDuckGo White House" title="DuckDuckGo White House" width="620" height="525" /></p> <p><strong>Winner: Draw</strong></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <hr /> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Image and Video Search</h3> <p>Evaluating image and video search results is a little easier than analyzing general accuracy—either a search engine finds the media you're looking for or it doesn't. We took off the gloves and starting with a search for "Shizzle vs Razer." It's an old video this editor posted of his cat taking swipes at an electric razer. It's also an obscure video, but one that we know exists, and only <a href="https://plus.google.com/photos/+PaulLilly/albums/5660546444139262705/5660546446776794226?pid=5660546446776794226&amp;oid=%2BPaulLilly" target="_blank">Google dug it up</a>. Clicking on Google's Videos tab also brought up a bunch of other videos with either "Shizzle" or "Shaver" in the title—DuckDuckGo and Bing found none whatsoever.</p> <p>Image searches were a little more evenly matched between the three. Whether we were searching for computer parts like the GTX 980 or new wallpaper by looking up the Celtics dancers, all three came back with current and relevant images. Interestingly, only Google sprinkled in a heavy dose of performance graphs when looking up the GTX 980.</p> <p>Google and Bing separate themselves from DuckDuckGo because they offer some advanced options for looking up media. Both allow you to filter image results by license, time it was posted, size, and other criteria. However, Google eeks out a victory for its "search by image" tool. See that camera icon placed at the right of the search field? You can click it to look up sites that are using an image—just plug in the image's URL or upload the actual image. This can be handy in tracking down the image's owner to request permission to use it, or to look up your own photos to see if anyone's infringing on your copyright.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/google_images.jpg" alt="Google Images" title="Google Images" width="620" height="525" /></p> <p><strong>Winner: Google</strong></p> <h3>Layout and Features</h3> <p>Once again, DuckDuckGo is the lame duck of the bunch. The search engine's primary draw is privacy, and while there are some settings you can tweak, its overall layout and feature set isn't as robust as either Google or Bing, making this category a two-combatant fight.</p> <p>Google's layout is straightforward; when searching for something, you can fine-tune your results into web, shopping, images, news, videos, maps, books, flights, and apps. Bing offers a similar set of options, though not quite as many. Microsoft's search engine also falls short in the shopping category—Bing no longer has a dedicated shopping tab. Instead, product results are integrated into search, though you typically have to look up a specific model to have any luck. Google, on the other hand, makes it easy to look up an item and then sort by price.</p> <p>Google also wins when it comes to looking up flight information. Both Google and Bing make it easy to search for flights, but when you click on the calendar to look at dates, only Google shows you the different prices for each day of the month. This eliminates the guessing the game of picking out a date and hoping that it returns a cheaper result than the last one you looked at.</p> <p>One feature in Bing's favor—and it's a potentially big one—is Bing Rewards. It's mostly gift cards that you can earn simply by using Bing as your go-to search engine, such as $5 at Amazon or Applebees. Yes, Bing is essentially bribing you, but we're okay with that.</p> <p>If earning gift cards is important to you, Bing is the only way to go. Otherwise, Google is the victor here.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/google_flights.jpg" alt="Google Flights" title="Google Flights" width="620" height="525" /></p> <p><strong>Winner: Google</strong></p> <h3> <hr /></h3> <h3>Privacy and Security</h3> <p>A big reason (and maybe the only reason) you might be familiar with DuckDuckGo is because it prioritizes privacy over all else. Google is big on integrating your online identity with its services, including search, and knows what you've searched for, when you searched for something, and other personal details. You'd do well to familiarize yourself with <a href="http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/" target="_blank">Google's privacy policy</a>.</p> <p>Bing is a little better when it comes to privacy, but you're still not anonymous—Bing holds onto IP addresses for six months and retains cookies and other cross-session identifiers for 18 months, according to the company's <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/privacystatement/en-us/bing/default.aspx" target="_blank">privacy statement</a>. Microsoft also has sections explaining how it uses your personal information and reasons why it shares that info.</p> <p>DuckDuckGo is different. It doesn't collect or share personal information, it doesn't know who you are, and there is no way for the search engine to tie your searches together, according to its <a href="https://duckduckgo.com/privacy" target="_blank">privacy page</a>. DuckDuckGo doesn't store your IP and no cookies are used by default. All this privacy comes at the expense of certain features—Google's integration with your social profile is quite good—but in terms of staying anonymous, DuckDuckGo is clearly ahead of the other two.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/duckduckgo_privacy_0.jpg" alt="DuckDuckGo Privacy" title="DuckDuckGo Privacy" width="620" height="525" /></p> <p><strong>Winner: DuckDuckGo</strong></p> <h3>Easter Eggs</h3> <p>There's no denying that Google has a sense of humor and likes to have fun. The company demonstrates this time and time again, whether through its creative doodles (including interactive ones) or by dropping Easter eggs from time to time. Have you ever tried searching for "<a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=do+a+barrel+roll&amp;oq=do+a+barrel+roll" target="_blank">do a barrel roll</a>" on Google? How about "<a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=askew&amp;oq=askew" target="_blank">askew</a>"? Whether it's searching through Google's <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=xx-hacker" target="_blank">hacker interface</a> or seeing what search results <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=google+in+1998" target="_blank">looked like in 1998</a>, there are plenty of tricks and fun stuff to discover in Google.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/google_barrel_roll.jpg" alt="Google Barrel Roll" title="Google Barrel Roll" width="620" height="525" /></p> <p><strong>Winner: Google</strong></p> <h3>And the Winner Is...</h3> <p>If you're keeping score at home, then you already know that Google takes this contest by winning three of the five categories and notching a tie in another. By that token, Google has the best search engine of the bunch, and while it's the one we use most often, we're willing to concede there are valid arguments in favor of the other two.</p> <p>For privacy advocates, DuckDuckGo is a solid search engine that lets you surf the web without leaving behind a bunch of bread crumbs for Uncle Sam or anyone else to follow. Your ISP still knows what you're up to, but at least the sites you visit are being kept at arm's length.</p> <p>If you like earning free stuff, Bing is the best option for its rewards program. It's also a very good all-around search engine with accurate and fast results, it's just not as good as Google in the grand scheme of things.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/best_search_engine_2014#comments best Bing duckduckgo feature Google Privacy search engine Security News Features Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:46:14 +0000 Paul Lilly 28585 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Download YouTube Videos http://www.maximumpc.com/how_download_youtube_videos_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u154280/clipgrab_mpeg4_quality.png" alt="YouTube " title="YouTube" width="260" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Four different ways to download your favorite clips</h3> <p>Streaming YouTube videos can quickly eat up your precious cellular data plan. In fact, most people don't watch videos on the go because of limited data plans. A way around this is to download videos onto a PC, then copy them to your mobile device. We’ve rounded up four ways to download YouTube videos and chosen our favorite of the bunch.</p> <h3>Kibase</h3> <p><strong>Step 1:</strong> Go to <a title="Kibase" href="www.kibase.com" target="_blank">www.kibase.com</a> and click <strong>YouTube Downloader</strong>.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 1" href="/files/u154280/click_on_youtube_downloader_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/click_on_youtube_downloader.png" alt="Step 1" title="Step 1" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 2:</strong> On your YouTube video, right click, then select <strong>Page Source</strong>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 2" href="/files/u154280/right_click_and_click_on_view_page_source_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/right_click_and_click_on_view_page_source.png" alt="Step 2" title="Step 2" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> Select and copy all the HTML text (Ctrl+A to select the text and Ctrl+C to copy it).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 3" href="/files/u154280/select_all_and_copy_the_html_text_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/select_all_and_copy_the_html_text.png" alt="Step 3" title="Step 3" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 4:</strong> Paste the text into the white box labled <strong>Step 2</strong> and then click <strong>Submit</strong>. Your video will begin downloading to your computer as an MP4 file. <em>Note: To change the format of the video, uncheck the Start Downloading the video file automatically when it is ready box before you click Submit.&nbsp;</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><a class="thickbox" title="Step 4" href="/files/u154280/copy_the_text_into_step_2_box_then_click_submit_and_your_video_will_be_downloaded_as_an_mpeg4_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/copy_the_text_into_step_2_box_then_click_submit_and_your_video_will_be_downloaded_as_an_mpeg4.png" alt="Step 4" title="Step 4" width="600" height="338" /></a></em></p> <p>You will then be moved to a new page showing you different format options you can choose from.</p> <h3>Keepvid</h3> <p><strong>Step 1:</strong> Go to <a title="Keepvid " href="www.keepvid.com" target="_blank">www.keepvid.com</a> and copy and paste your YouTube link into the search bar.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 1" href="/files/u154280/keepvid_1.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/keepvid.png" alt="Step 1" title="Step 1" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 2:</strong> You will be prompted to download Java for Windows, if you don’t have it already installed on your computer.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 2" href="/files/u154280/java_installer_for_keepvid_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/java_installer_for_keepvid.png" alt="Step 2" title="Step 2" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> Your browser will ask if you want to run Java on www.Keepvid.com; click Run This Time.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 3" href="/files/u154280/click_run_this_time_to_run_java_so_you_can_download_the_youtube_video_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/click_run_this_time_to_run_java_so_you_can_download_the_youtube_video.png" alt="Step 3" title="Step 3" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 4:</strong> You will be given a set of resolutions and formats to choose from. Select the one you want, and the video will begin downloading. Note: The blue download button leads you to an ad for freeware, so don’t click it!</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 4" href="/files/u154280/keep_vid_pic_2_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/keep_vid_pic_2.png" alt="Step 4" title="Step 4" width="600" height="461" /></a></p> <h3>Clip Grab</h3> <p>Okay, some of this guide will be pretty obvious. In short, you’ll need to download the .exe and navigate through the installer, dodging freeware prompts.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Step 1:</strong> Go to <a title="Clip Grab" href="www.clipgrab.com" target="_blank">www.clipgrab.com</a> and click <strong>Free Download</strong>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 1" href="/files/u154280/download_the_exe_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/download_the_exe.png" alt="Step 1" title="Step 1" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 2:</strong> The first piece of freeware that you’ll be prompted to install is <strong>Conduit</strong>. Click <em>I do not accept</em> and then click Next.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 2" href="/files/u154280/click_do_not_accept_as_conduit_is_adware_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/click_do_not_accept_as_conduit_is_adware.png" alt="Step 2" title="Step 2" width="600" height="337" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> The next adware you’ll be prompted to install is <strong>PureLeads</strong>. Again, click <em>I do not accept </em>and then click Next.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 3" href="/files/u154280/click_do_not_accept_so_you_dont_install_pureleads_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/click_do_not_accept_so_you_dont_install_pureleads.png" alt="Step 3" title="Step 3" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 4:</strong> Double click on Clip Grab and launch the program. Once it’s launched, copy your YouTube link into the search bar in the Search Tab.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 4" href="/files/u154280/copy_the_url_into_the_search_bar_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/copy_the_url_into_the_search_bar.png" alt="Step 4" title="Step 4" width="600" height="338" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 5:</strong> Click the Downloads tab to pick and choose what video format and resolution you want for the video. Next, click Grab This Clip and your video will begin downloading.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 5" href="/files/u154280/copy_the_link_url_and_then_select_which_format_you_want_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/copy_the_link_url_and_then_select_which_format_you_want.png" alt="Step 5" title="Step 5" width="600" /></a></p> <h3>Freemake</h3> <p>There is a ton of freeware bundled into Freemake, so watch out. It's not hard to accidently install a random add-on or an extra toolbar.</p> <p><strong>Step 1:</strong> Go to <a title="Freemake" href="http://www.freemake.com" target="_blank">www.freemake.com</a> and click the green Download Now link to download the .exe file.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 1" href="/files/u154280/freemake_aa_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/freemake_aa.png" alt="Step 1" title="Step 1" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 2:</strong> Select your language and click <strong>OK</strong> to continue the installation process.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 2" href="/files/u154280/freemake_2_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/freemake_2.png" alt="Step 2" title="Step 2" width="600" height="338" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> Click <strong>Custom installation</strong> (advanced) and uncheck Install Search Protect.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 3" href="/files/u154280/deselect_adware_options_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/deselect_adware_options.png" alt="Step 3" title="Step 3" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 4:</strong> Click <strong>Custom installation</strong> and uncheck the Install <strong>PureLeads </strong>box.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 4" href="/files/u154280/deselect_pureleads_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/deselect_pureleads.png" alt="Step 4" title="Step 4" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 5:</strong> Click <strong>Custom installation</strong> and uncheck the Install browser plugins (Chrome, Firefox) box.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 5" href="/files/u154280/select_if_you_want_plugins_in_firefox_or_chrome_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/select_if_you_want_plugins_in_firefox_or_chrome.png" alt="Step 5" title="Step 5" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 6:</strong> Select the drive to install Freemake on and then click Next to begin the installation.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 6" href="/files/u154280/click_next_to_install_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/click_next_to_install.png" alt="Step 6" title="Step 6" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 7:</strong> Launch Freemake and copy a YouTube URL to your clipboard using Ctrl+C. After this, you can select the video format you want to download the video as, by clicking on the different formats on the bar at the bottom of the application.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 7" href="/files/u154280/freemake_interface_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/freemake_interface.png" alt="Step 7" title="Step 7" width="600" /></a></p> <p>We’ve used all of these methods to download YouTube videos, and we like Kibase the best, as it’s easy to use and it requires no extra installation of add-ons or .exes. A close second would be Keepvid because it only requires a Java for Windows installation. The other two download methods, Clip Grab and Freemake, use .exe programs to snatch your videos from YouTube. They also come with extra freeware you’ll need to navigate through, which is annoying, but they do allow you download YouTube videos a few different formats that Kibase and Keepvid don’t offer, which include AVI and WMV. Again, if you don’t want to deal with .exes or downloading any extra installers to your PC, then Kibase is the way to go.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/how_download_youtube_videos_2014#comments clip grab download YouTube videos freemake how to keepvid kibase News Features How-Tos Fri, 14 Nov 2014 18:08:06 +0000 Chris Zele 27390 at http://www.maximumpc.com Feets-on with the Hendo Hoverboard (Video) http://www.maximumpc.com/hendo_hover_board_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>The hover board is here and we've ridden it</h3> <p>Ever since I saw Back to the Future Part II in 1989, I’ve had dreams of riding a hover board. Twenty-five hover board–less years later, I had lost all hope of ever getting my feet on one, that is, until now. The hover board is here, and I have ridden it.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dYfMvQ1-gkA" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Check out our feet-on impressions of the Hendo Hoverboard in the video above.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Created by California-based company Arx Pax, the <a title="hendo hoverboard" href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/142464853/hendo-hoverboards-worlds-first-real-hoverboard" target="_blank">Hendo hover board</a> uses a magnetic field architecture to transmit electromagnetic energy. One downside here is that it needs a metal surface to hover.&nbsp;</p> <p>As someone who skates and enjoys digging his wheels into the ground to carve out the asphalt beneath me, I must admit that the hover board is much harder to control, since there are no wheels that grip anything. The board hovers almost an inch off the floor, and trying to turn on it generally leads to you falling off. The hover engines are also surprisingly loud. &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154082/hendo_hover.jpg" alt="The board hovers roughly an inch off the ground." title="the hendo hoverboard" width="640" height="428" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Hendo Hoverboard currently hovers a little under an inch off the ground.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>In the grand scheme of things, however, the Hendo hover board is really just a proof of concept for a much more ambitious endeavor. The real deal here is what the technology can offer to the transportation sector, particularly trains. Arx Pax tells us that unlike the Maglev trains in Japan and Germany, its technology is much cheaper and much more maneuverable. So maneuverable that vehicles should be able to turn on a dime.&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to transportation, Arx Pax sees its hover engines being used to one day levitate buildings. The company asserts that this could be used to protect structures in areas that are prone to earthquakes.</p> <p>It remains to be seen whether any of this will end up panning out as intended, but the company will soon be selling a white box developer kit with four hover engines that users can experiment with, for $200. If all else fails, hopefully we get some hover parks out of this.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/hendo_hover_board_2014#comments arx pax back to the future 2 hendo hover board hoverboard magnet marty mcfly maxium pc News Features Web Exclusive Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:49:23 +0000 Jimmy Thang 28892 at http://www.maximumpc.com 44 Pictures that Defined BlizzCon 2014 http://www.maximumpc.com/44_pictures_defined_blizzcon_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/blizzcon_2014.jpg" alt="blizzcon 2014" title="blizzcon 2014" width="150" height="266" style="float: right;" />New games, awesome cosplay costumes, and more</h3> <p>BlizzCon 2014 marked the 8th annual event for Blizzard and it was arguably the company’s biggest one yet.&nbsp;</p> <p>After 17 years, the company finally revealed an entirely new, original IP in multiplayer team-based shooter <a title="overwatch" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/blizzard_announces_team-based_shooter_%E2%80%9Coverwatch%E2%80%9D" target="_blank">Overwatch</a>. In addition to that, we got to see more from other upcoming titles such as StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void and Blizzard’s MOBA, Heroes of the Storm.</p> <p>Of course, with a plethora of awesome PC games comes awesome PC hardware and we saw some really cool stuff from Intel, <a title="rosewill" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/blizzcon_2014_rosewill_intros_viper_atx_mid-tower_case_and_rgm_1100_gaming_mouse_video914" target="_blank">Rosewill</a>, <a title="turtle beach" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/blizzcon_2014_turtle_beach_offers_300_heroes_storm_official_headsets_early_sale_video800" target="_blank">Turtle Beach</a>, <a title="hp omen" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/blizzcon_2014_we_check_out_hp_omen_gaming_laptop_intels_booth_video_2014" target="_blank">HP</a>, <a title="steelseries" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/blizzcon_2014_steelseries_showcases_siberia_elite_world_warcraft_edition_headset_video220" target="_blank">SteelSeries</a>, <a title="lenovo" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/blizzcon_2014_we_go_eyes-_lenovo_horizon_2s_tabletop_aio_pc290" target="_blank">Lenovo</a>, <a title="gigabyte" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/blizzcon_2014_gigabyte_shows_new_brix_gaming_pc_and_top_tier_x99_motherboard_2014">Gigabyte</a>, and more.&nbsp;</p> <p>And it wouldn’t be Blizzcon without some of the best cosplay costumes you’ve ever seen. &nbsp;We’ve taken a bunch of pictures of these cosplayers and can't quite recognize all of them so if you know any that we don't, feel free to let us know in the comments below!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/44_pictures_defined_blizzcon_2014#comments blizzcon 2014 cosplay costume diablo heroes of the storm maximum pc overwatch StarCraft Warcraft Gaming News Features Mon, 10 Nov 2014 23:25:45 +0000 Jimmy Thang 28865 at http://www.maximumpc.com Mining for Mods: Half-Life 2 http://www.maximumpc.com/mining_mods_half-life_2_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/halflife2.jpg" alt="HL2" title="HL2" width="200" height="130" style="float: right;" />We take a look at the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod</h3> <p>It is not often that a sequel, in any entertainment category, is able to follow its critically acclaimed predecessor successfully. Yet that is what Half-Life 2 was able to accomplish, and in style. Released in 2004, it was the showpiece for Valve’s new <a title="10 Best Source Engine Games" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/10_best_source_engine_games_2014" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Source engine</span></a> and has been praised for its story, graphics, physics, and gameplay. However, the Source engine has been around for ten years, and Half-Life 2 is looking dated when compared to today’s graphics.&nbsp;</p> <p>Enter the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod. The mod replaces all of Half-Life’s low-res textures with high-res ones and enhances the game’s old maps with HDR, bloom effects, color correction, new props, and dynamic shadows. But the mod goes even further than just updating the game's graphics, it even enhances or replaces the Half-Life 2 soundtrack and provides HD character models.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5-nWlUk0b2Q" width="600" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">In order to use the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod, you'll have to download a bit over 9 gigabytes, or more, of files. Once downloaded, you will need to make sure that Half-Life 2, Episode One, and Episode Two are installed and that you've started them up to generate the required files needed for the mod to use. In addition, you'll also need to install the Source SDK, Source SDK Base 2006, and Source SDK Base 2007.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Gif" href="http://i.imgur.com/7053T7a.gif?1" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u166440/hl2_gif_002.jpg" alt="Half-Life 2 001" title="Half-Life 2 001" width="600" height="334" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Click on image for animated GIF</strong></p> <p>If you decide to download the files separately, then you will need a program like WinRar to extract the files. In our case, we downloaded everything off of the torrent client, which made the process much easier. But before we did anything, we had to close Steam. With Steam closed, we then clicked on the Setup.exe file, which informed us that 44.5GB of space would be needed and that the files would need to be installed in Steam’s “Common” folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common).&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Gif" href="http://i.imgur.com/3j3qw6s.gif?1" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u166440/hl2_gif_004.jpg" alt="Half-Life 2 002" title="Half-Life 2 002" width="600" height="339" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Click on image for animated GIF</strong></p> <p>The setup process took about 30 minutes and, once it was done, we had to look for the CM2013 folder that was located in the “Common” folder. Inside the CM2013 folder are shortcuts to use to start Half-Life 2, Episode One, and Episode Two. The same folder contains the Cinematic Mod Configuration Tool, which provides options to enable bloom effects, force preload of NPC resources, and other graphics-related features. There is also the Character Pimper, which lets you decide which HD character models you want to use in the modded version of HL2.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Gif" href="http://i.imgur.com/1C6ketw.gif?1" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u166440/hl2_gif_003.jpg" alt="Half_Life 2 003" title="Half_Life 2 003" width="600" height="357" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Click on image for animated GIF</strong></p> <p>When we finished installing and setting up the mod, we launched Steam and clicked the newly made shortcuts to start up Half-Life 2. The results were impressive. The HD textures popped with more detail, and additional touches here and there really fleshed out the look of the game. We were especially impressed with the enhanced lighting and bloom effects, which had richer colors and better illumination. Even the game's water effects had been improved.</p> <p>HD NPC models are great, with sharper definitions, more details, and are completely optional. The mod's Character Pimper provided us with some choices when it came to individual characters such as Alyx, Barney, and the G Man. There's also a bulk option for civilians and the Combine.</p> <p>Scripted sequences in Half-Life 2 were also touched up, changed, or the pacing sped up or slowed down. As you'll see in the video, the same scripted sequences didn't line up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Gif" href="http://i.imgur.com/cckUJO1.gif?1" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u166440/hl2_gif_005.jpg" alt="Half-Life 2 004" title="Half-Life 2 004" width="600" height="339" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Gif" href="http://i.imgur.com/cckUJO1.gif?1" target="_blank"></a><strong>Click on image for animated GIF</strong></p> <p>However, despite the impressive graphics, improved NPC models, and changes to scripted sequences, we experienced some performance issues during our playthrough. The game stuttered, which you'll see examples of in the video provided, from time to time, and there was also screen tearing. Not to mention that while the mod wanted to give the game a darker look, we thought it went too far, which dampened the impact of the visual enhancements for us. To top it off, we weren't wild about the HD models available for Alyx Vance, which, as stated before, are optional. That's a real shame, considering she's one of our favorite gaming characters of all time, and a <a title="25 of Gaming's Greatest Sidekicks" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/thanks_buddy_25_gamings_greatest_sidekicks"><span style="color: #ff0000;">great sidekick</span></a>. &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div style="text-align: center;"><a title="Gif" href="http://i.imgur.com/ixZScSd.gif?1" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u166440/hl2_gif_001.jpg" alt="Half-Life 2 005" title="Half-Life 2 005" width="600" height="337" /></a></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Click on image for animated GIF</strong></p> <p>But while the increased darkness can be lessened by upping the gamma, the enhanced lighting then becomes a bit too much. So, when playing Half-Life 2, you might have to make comprises on how dark or bright you want the game to be. Otherwise, the FakeFactory Cinematic Mod, despite the issues, brings with it some impressive visuals and is a great way for fans of the game to enjoy it with updated graphics.</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="https://plus.google.com/+SeanKnightD?rel=author" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="https://twitter.com/SeanDKnight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="https://www.facebook.com/seandknight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/mining_mods_half-life_2_2014#comments FakeFactory Cinematic Mod graphics Half-Life 2 Half-Life 2 mods hl2 mods pc Steam Valve Features Thu, 06 Nov 2014 00:21:29 +0000 Sean D Knight 28822 at http://www.maximumpc.com AMD's Mantle vs DirectX: The Benchmarks http://www.maximumpc.com/pitting_amd%E2%80%99s_mantle_against_direct3d_11_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u166440/pvzgw_001.jpg" alt="PvZGW" title="PvZGW" width="200" height="113" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>How does Mantle stack up against DirectX in certain games? Find out here!</h3> <p>AMD has been partnering up with as many video game developers as it can to incorporate its Mantle API. From Crytek to Robert Space Industries, AMD is slowly making the rounds. Games such as Battlefield 4 and Thief allow users to switch from DirectX to Mantle while other games are expected to incorporate the API at some point.</p> <p>With Mantle, AMD claims that it boosts a game’s performance for both low and high-end GPUs. Albeit, when it comes to high-end GPUs, the boost isn't as big. Curious, we decided to see how well Mantle stacks up to DirectX by playing games that support it. For now, there is only a small selection of games: Battlefield 4, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Thief, and the latest Mantle introduction, Sniper Elite 3.&nbsp;</p> <p>In order to get the best results, we made sure, when possible, to benchmark the same section of each game with the same graphics settings. For the testing we used a PC with an AMD Phenom II X4 965 processer, 8GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon R9 280 graphics card.&nbsp;</p> <h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/bf4_001.jpg" alt="Battlefield 4" title="Battlefield 4" width="600" height="338" /></p> </h3> <p>To help us record our results, we had to rely on benchmark demos or in-game benchmarking tools. Normally, we would use FRAPs, which would record real-time FPS and then provide us with the minimum, maximum, and average numbers, but the problem is that FRAPs is programmed for DirectX 11 and does not support Mantle just yet. The only software that will show FPS numbers is D3DGear. Unfortunately, it doesn’t record results like FRAPs does.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Luckily, most of the games that support Mantle come equipped with either their own benchmarking demo or benchmarking tools. With that said, let's take a look at the benchmarks!</p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;">Battlefield 4 DirectX 11 vs Mantle</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/bf4_avg_fps_001.jpg" alt="BF4 fps chart" title="BF4 fps chart" width="600" height="338" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>First up was Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 4. We cranked the graphics settings up to High at 1920x1080 resolution, and then ran the same section of the game across both APIs. We decided to compare the first 30 minutes of the singleplayer campaign to use as our test scenario. We felt that Chapter 1 of BF4's singleplayer campaign was a good test as it went from an urban setting to more wide open vistas filled with gunfire, explosions, and fire to put both APIs through their paces.</p> <p>Looking at the graph, you can see that there was a difference between both playthroughs. For the most part, both tests went smoothly though, with Mantle, we experienced some brief stutter in the gameplay. Despite that, Mantle still pulled ahead with an 11.8FPS advantage between it and DirectX 11.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;">Sniper Elite 3 DirectX 11 vs Mantle</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/sn3_avg_fps_001.jpg" alt="Sniper Elite 3" title="Sniper Elite 3" width="600" height="293" /></p> <p>Sniper Elite 3 was recently updated to support Mantle and with it came a new benchmark demo. With settings on Ultra at 1920x1080 resolution, we launched the demo. The demo is set up to showcase many of the game’s various scenes. It was replete with long distance views, lighting and shadows, close-up views of objects and terrain, a truck full of enemy NPCs with the wheels kicking up dirt, capped off with an exploding vehicle blowing up in slow motion.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/sniper_elite_3_001.jpg" alt="Sniper Elite 3 001" title="Sniper Elite 3 001" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>But as we saw with Battlefield 4, Mantle had a slighter higher average FPS than DirectX 11 with a 13.6 FPS advantage.</p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;">Thief DirectX 11 vs Mantle</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/thief_avg_fps_001.jpg" alt="Thief fps Chart" title="Thief fps Chart" width="600" height="386" /></p> <p>Unlike the previous games we have tested, which all took place in broad daylight, Thief's game features a lot of nighttime excursions. We set the graphics to Ultra High at 1920x1080 resolution and took to the rooftops, An interesting thing about this game is that it comes with its own benchmarking system designed to compare both APIs.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/thief_screenshot_001.jpg" alt="Thief screenshot 001" title="Thief screenshot 001" width="600" height="321" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>So we ran the benchmark for DirectX 11 and Mantle. the demo is a sequence that runs through the town at night, while it is raining, with various NPCs walking around and interacting with each other. It is a simple enough sequence that was able to put both APIs through their paces. And, just like the previous two games, Mantle scored higher than DirectX 11 with an 11.5 FPS advantage.</p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;">Star Swarm DirectX 11 vs Mantle</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/swarm_screenshot_001.jpg" alt="Swarm Stress Test" title="Swarm Stress Test" width="600" height="304" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>Now if you want to really stress test both APIs, then definitely take advantage of the Star Swarm Stress Test. It is a free, real-time demo from Oxide Games that showcases the developer's Nitrous engine. Set in space, Star Swarm pitches thousands of fighters and ships into constant combat. For the demo, there were around 4,000 ships constantly firing lasers, exploding, and more.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/star_swarm_stress_test_benchmarks_002.jpg" alt="Star Swarm Benchmarks" title="Star Swarm Benchmarks" width="600" height="392" /></p> <p>The demo itself lasts for six minutes and we made sure to have the resolution set to 1920x1080 and the graphics on its highest setting which was labeled Extreme. And it certainly lived up to that name. Star Swarm made both APIs struggle and have convulsions. When the camera panned around to show thousands of ships fighting simultaneously, the FPS dropped into the single digits and the game slowed to an unbearable crawl.&nbsp;</p> <p>But as you can see from the results, Mantle was able to handle the stress test better than DirectX 11 with a 16.3fps advantage.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/pvz_2014-10-07_19-12-56-09.jpg" alt="PvZ Garden Warfare" title="PvZ Garden Warfare" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>Now we come to Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. Unfortunately, while the rest of the games include their own in-game benchmarking tools, PvZ does not. So there is no way to accurately gain any results when we run it with Mantle. Until PopCap Games adds in some benchmarking tools, or software like FRAPs finally supports Mantle, we will have to skip it for now and come back to it later.</p> <p>The same goes for future games that will support Mantle. We’ll be testing them and updating our story here so stay tuned for more games and more results!</p> <p><span style="font-style: italic;">Follow Sean on&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="https://plus.google.com/+SeanKnightD?rel=author" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a><span style="font-style: italic;">, </span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="https://twitter.com/SeanDKnight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-style: italic;">, and </span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="https://www.facebook.com/seandknight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/pitting_amd%E2%80%99s_mantle_against_direct3d_11_2014#comments amd battlefield 4 Direct3D 11 mantle Mantle API Mantle benchmarks Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare thief Gaming Features Mon, 03 Nov 2014 23:38:19 +0000 Sean D Knight 28641 at http://www.maximumpc.com 15 Games We Recommend for Halloween http://www.maximumpc.com/15_games_we_recommend_halloween_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u166440/zombie.jpg" alt="Zombie" title="Zombie" width="200" height="177" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Turn off the lights and get scared with these games</h3> <p>October is finally here and it's time to consume enormous amounts of confectionaries without the usual guilt, even if it is accompanied by a bit of nausea. Leading up to Halloween, it is hard not to get into the mood by watching scary movies (<em>Exorcist</em>, anyone?), listening to spooky songs (how about the Marilyn Manson version of “This Is Halloween”?), or maybe reading a story or two by Edgar Allen Poe.</p> <p>Yet, while there are plenty of great books, movies, and music that suit the ghoulish atmosphere perfectly, we feel that nothing compares to the experience of playing a scary video game. Whether it's fighting off zombies, dealing with the paranormal, beheading zombies, fighting aliens, shooting zombies, encountering all kinds of monsters, and trying to survive zombies, there's a good selection of nightmarish games to choose from.</p> <p>Naturally, there are many MMOs and multiplayer games that will sometimes have Halloween events such as World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, League of Legends, and Dota 2, but for our list, we decided to choose titles that don't shoehorn Halloween elements into their gameplay.</p> <p>So here are 15 games, in alphabetical order, that we recommend you check out and play during the Halloween season.&nbsp;</p> <p>What games do you like to play during the month of October?</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="https://plus.google.com/+SeanKnightD?rel=author" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="https://twitter.com/SeanDKnight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="https://www.facebook.com/seandknight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/15_games_we_recommend_halloween_2014#comments 15 games for Halloween Alan Wake Alice: Madness Returns Alien Isolation Amnesia Bioshock dayz dead space Don’t Starve doom 3 F.E.A.R. 3 halloween left 4 dead 2 Metro 2033 Redux natural selection 2 October outlast Project Zomboid scary Features Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:22:59 +0000 Sean D Knight 28770 at http://www.maximumpc.com Rig of the Month: Visible Contrast http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_visible_contrast_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/mosquito_nzxt_h230_primochill_lrt_liquid_dsc00693-w1600.jpg" alt="Visible Contrast" title="Visible Contrast" width="250" height="188" style="float: right;" />The slickest side panel you've ever seen</span></h3> <p>If you look closely at the thumbnail, you'll see what looks like the Windows Start Menu overlaid on some computer parts. Your eyes aren't deceiving you. This month's <strong><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_roundup_2014#slide-0" target="_blank">Rig of the Month</a></strong> is centered around an incredibly basic, but undeniably awesome idea.&nbsp;Chris “Mosquito” Albee from <a href="http://themodzoo.com" target="_blank">TheModZoo.com</a>&nbsp;installed an LCD panel—minus the backlight—into the side of a white NZXT H230 case. The result is simply incredible.</p> <p>It's not the most practical idea, but it looks spectacular and makes us want OEM cases with embedded LCD screens. Chris says that the modded display is transparent when displaying white pixels and can act as a regular case window if needed. Lighter colors are still slightly see-through and the combination of light and dark creates a stunning effect. This contrast between opaque and transparent was the inspiration for the mod's name: Visible Contrast.</p> <p>"One fun use for the transparent LCD panel is the ability to use a utility like Rainmeter to overlay usage and temperature data directly over the various components of the case," Chris says. "It’s also a pretty cool conversation piece as well in its own right; especially when you have a black and white video looping on it."</p> <p>Inside the case, an Intel Core i7-4770K running at 4.8GHz sits alongside 16GB of G.Skill Sniper RAM, an MSI GTX 650 Ti Boost, and a terabyte of total storage. After some internal modifications, Chris also managed to stick a 240mm radiator inside to support a custom water cooling loop for the CPU.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Have a case mod of your own that you would like to submit to our monthly feature? Make sure to read the rules/tips&nbsp;<a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #cc0000; text-decoration: none; background: transparent;" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_roundup_2014" target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;and email us at&nbsp;<a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #cc0000; text-decoration: none; background: transparent;" href="mailto:mpcrigofthemonth@gmail.com" target="_blank">mpcrigofthemonth@gmail.com</a>&nbsp;with your submissions.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_visible_contrast_2014#comments case mod Chris Albee lcd ModZoo Mosquito nzxt Rig of the Month rig of the month Visible Contrast Features Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:46:43 +0000 Ben Kim 28735 at http://www.maximumpc.com Graphics Porn (October 2014): Gaming Staples http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_october_2014_gaming_staples <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/masseffect_1_bring_down_the_sky_dlc_shepard.jpg" alt="Mass Effect" title="Mass Effect" width="250" height="156" style="float: right;" />Showcasing the sexiest, most photogenic game screenshots this side of the Internet</span></h3> <p>It's hard to argue with Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Fallout screenshots. Sure, we've seen hundreds of them, but they're always stellar. Even beyond their luscious graphics, they're games that gamers of all types love for a wide variety of reasons. PC gamers in particular look towards games like Skyrim and Fallout as the ultimate demonstrations of the platform's superiority. Where else can you choose from thousands of completely free <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/browse/?appid=72850&amp;browsesort=toprated" target="_blank">modifications</a> that range from quests to custom NPCs? This month's <strong><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/graphics_porn" target="_blank">Graphics Porn</a> </strong>features screenshots from gaming staples as well as from more obscure titles like Overgrowth.</p> <p><em><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;">Whether you've been using&nbsp;</span><a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #cc0000; text-decoration: none; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-color: transparent; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;" href="http://store.steampowered.com/news/5047/" target="_blank">Steam's nifty screenshots feature</a><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;">&nbsp;or simply print screening some beautiful wallpaper-worthy game moments, we want to be able to share your captured works of art with the world. If you think you can do better than the pictures submitted below, please email your screenshots to&nbsp;</span><a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #cc0000; text-decoration: none; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-color: transparent; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;" href="mailto:mpcgraphicsporn@gmail.com" target="_blank">mpcgraphicsporn@gmail.com</a><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;">&nbsp;so we can show them off. Make sure to include the name of the game, a title for the screenshot, and a description of what's happening on-screen.</span></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_october_2014_gaming_staples#comments beautiful Graphics Porn mass effect Overgrowth pictures screenshots Skyrim stunning Features Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:56:10 +0000 Ben Kim 28734 at http://www.maximumpc.com Best Free Hardware Monitoring Tools http://www.maximumpc.com/best_free_hardware_monitoring_tools_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Apps that regulate your rig’s internals</h3> <p>Making sure your rig’s temperatures, hardware, and clock speeds are running correctly is a good way to monitor your PC’s health. We always recommend stress-testing your shiny-new rig, or checking your hardware if you experience any stability issues that occur out of the blue. We’ve gathered up a list of the best free utilities you can use to make sure you have a healthy PC.</p> <p>Know of any other free monitoring tools? Let us know in the comments section below!</p> <p><strong><a title="CPU-Z" href="http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html" target="_blank">CPU-Z:</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/cpuid_cpu_z.png" alt="CPU-Z" title="CPU-Z" /></p> <p>CPU-Z tells you what’s going on with your CPU by giving you readouts of your Core Speed, Multiplier, Bus Speed, and your different cache levels. It also tells you the make and model of your motherboard and video card, along with your RAM speed and capacity.&nbsp;</p> <p>We recommend using this tool if you have a preconfigured system from an OEM like Lenovo, HP, or Dell and need to find out your motherboard’s model number (if it isn’t printed on the board). The tool can also be used to monitor your CPU’s voltage, so it's overclocker friendly.</p> <p><strong><a title="GPU-Z" href="http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/SysInfo/GPU-Z/" target="_blank">GPU-Z:</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/gpu_z.png" alt="GPU-Z" title="GPU-Z" width="560" height="637" /></p> <p>GPU-Z gives you detailed readouts of your GPU’s clock speeds and memory size. You can use this tool to make sure that your video card is running at PCIe 3.0, as some boards run in 2.0 instead of 3.0 by default. You’ll look at the Bus Interface box to check out your video card's PCIe configuration.</p> <p><strong><a title="Furmark" href="http://www.ozone3d.net/benchmarks/fur/" target="_blank">Furmark:</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/furmark.png" alt="Furmark" title="Furmark" width="600" height="453" /></strong></p> <p>Got GPU problems? Furmark is a fantastic tool if you’re getting blue screens during games and want to find out if your video card is the culprit. The utility gives your GPU a workload to max-out your video card. You’ll also see a temperature read from it, so you can see if your card is running hot.</p> <p><strong><a title="FRAPS" href="http://www.fraps.com/download.php" target="_blank">FRAPS:</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/fraps.png" alt="FRAPS" title="FRAPS" width="600" height="370" /></strong></p> <p>Getting weird frame rate issues after freshly installing BF4 or Assassins Creed Black Flag? FRAPS will give you readouts of your real-time frame rate in-game, so you can see when and where you rig is starting to stutter. We like using this utility when a game is running poorly, so we can keep an eye on our frame rate during gameplay. We also use this tool to capture average frame rates of games that don’t come with benchmarking tools like BF4, Far Cry 3, and Crysis 3.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a title="Core Temp" href=" http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/" target="_blank">Core Temp:</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/core_temp.png" alt="Core Temp" title="Core Temp" width="351" height="388" /></strong></p> <p>Unlike other utilities in this round-up of free apps, Core Temp tells you the individual temperatures of each of your CPU’s cores. We use this tool to make sure our processor isn’t running too hot. Core Temp also tells you the TDP, voltage, and power consumption of your&nbsp; CPU.</p> <p><strong><a title="AMD Catalyst Control Center" href="http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/desktop?os=Windows+7+-+64" target="_blank">AMD Catalyst Control Center:&nbsp;</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/amd_overdrive.png" alt="AMD Catalyst Control Center" title="AMD Catalyst Control Center" width="600" height="573" /></strong></p> <p>AMD video card users can use AMD’s Catalyst Control center to monitor their video card’s performance. You’ll be able to change your GPU’s core and memory clock speeds by using AMD’s Overdrive utility, which is found in the performance tab of AMD’s Catalyst driver. You can also adjust your video card’s fan speed here.</p> <p><strong><a title="Prime 95" href="http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=205" target="_blank">Prime 95:&nbsp;</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/prime_95_running.png" alt="Prime 95" title="Prime 95" width="600" height="378" /></strong></p> <p>Prime 95 puts your CPU through its paces by giving it a workload that will max-out your processor’s cores. We suggest using this utility if you’re having blue screen errors or freezing issues to make sure that your CPU isn’t the offender behind those infuriating messages.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a title="3DMark" href=" http://store.steampowered.com/app/223850/" target="_blank">3DMark:&nbsp;</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/3dmark_demo.png" alt="3DMark" title="3DMark" width="600" /></strong></p> <p>3DMark is great for benchmarking your system’s overall performance, and the free demo version also shows you where your rig stacks up with other systems that have similar hardware. The paid version lets you run the Extreme benchmarks, which run in 1080p instead of the demo’s 720p default.</p> <p><strong><a title="Rainmeter" href="http://rainmeter.net/" target="_blank">Rainmeter:</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/rainmeter.png" alt="Rainmeter" title="Rainmeter" width="600" /></strong></p> <p>Rainmeter is a simple widget that displays your CPU and RAM usage and also tells you how full your hard drive and/or SSD are.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a title="EVGA Precision X" href=" http://www.evga.com/precision/" target="_blank">EVGA Precision X:&nbsp;</a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u154280/evga_precision_x.png" alt="EVGA Precision X" title="EVGA Precision X" width="600" height="471" /></strong></p> <p>Precision X is made by EVGA exclusively for Nvidia video cards. The tool allows you to check out your GPU clock speed and temperatures, and adjust your fan speeds, too. You can also overclock your GPU with the sliders, seen above. This tool displays your GPU's load, which we find quite handy.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/best_free_hardware_monitoring_tools_2014#comments apps benchmark components cpu id free furmark gpu z Hardware Hardware monitoring tools overclock pc monitor heat Software News Features Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:41:16 +0000 Chris Zele 27117 at http://www.maximumpc.com 40 Awesome 3D Wallpapers http://www.maximumpc.com/40_awesome_3d_wallpapers <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/avp.jpg" alt="avp" title="avp" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />Deck out your desktop with some awesome 3D wallpapers</h3> <p>Bold <strong>3D wallpapers</strong> are a growing trend that we happen to think look extremely cool. They often are beautifully rendered, have interesting subject matter, and feel like you can reach out and touch them. Whether you're looking for some additions to spice up your collection or needing some new desktop adornments, we've rounded up 40 of the best 3D wallpapers we could find, with some fun geeky surprises here and there.</p> <p><strong>Warning:</strong> Before you continue willy-nilly downloading wallpapers, do understand that we can't be held accountable for any third-party links you download. Many of these websites may be plagued with adware. We suggest you read our <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/how_to_download_2013" target="_blank">how-to-download-without-installing-adware article</a>&nbsp;in case you plan on downloading from third-party sites.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/40_awesome_3d_wallpapers#comments 3d wallpapers background customization Desktop News Features Fri, 17 Oct 2014 22:52:10 +0000 Brittany Vincent 27296 at http://www.maximumpc.com Build a Budget Kaveri PC with Hybrid CrossFire http://www.maximumpc.com/build_budget_kaveri_PC_hybrid_crossfire_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>AMD’s “Dual Graphics” aka Hybrid CrossFire lets you pair an APU with a GPU for improved performance, so we took it for a spin with a Kaveri APU and a budget GPU</h3> <p>We’ve already written quite a bit about AMD’s third-generation APU family, known as Kaveri. It’s a CPU with an integrated GPU, just like with Intel’s Core i7 parts that contain HD Graphics. The difference is that in the past, AMD paired a relatively weak GPU with the CPU, for predictably lame results. This time around, however, AMD has stepped it up a notch, and put the GPU on equal footing with the CPU, sticking an R7-series GPU inside the package, which is a bit more powerful than anything Intel has to on tap these days (on the GPU side, that is). Also, since AMD makes both CPUs and GPUs, it can one-up Intel by letting both pieces of silicon work together in a partnership dubbed Dual Graphics, which used to be known as Hybrid CrossFire. It’s a dual-GPU setup combining integrated and discrete graphics, and it could be a good way to give your integrated graphics a healthy boost, or it could be a total waste of money. This month, we decided to build a budget-oriented gaming machine to find out for ourselves what Dual Graphics is all about, and to see whether it’s actually useful, or just marketing BS.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_small_20.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_small_19.jpg" title="Main Image" width="620" height="769" /></a></p> <h3>Preparing to Dual</h3> <p>All you need to build a machine that uses AMD Dual Graphics is the right APU and GPU, and naturally, AMD has a list of compatible and recommend pairings on its website. The selection is actually quite limited, and when we asked AMD what criteria it uses to deem a particular APU and GPU "compatible," the response was, "We test the different configurations and the best user experiences based on smoothness and performance are listed as the recommended pairing." The company noted, "similarity in outright performance but also configuration" as the main criteria, and listed the A10-7850 and R7 250 as a perfect example, since both have 8 GCN units, the same memory bus width, and similar clock speeds. Due to this recommendation, we decided to use it for this particular build. With the A10-7850 selected, we decided to plop it into a Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X motherboard, since it's a top-shelf gaming board, supports Dual Graphics, and has dual PCIe x16 slots in case we want to add a baller GPU or two some day in the future. This is a budget machine with modest power requirements, and our discrete GPU doesn't require a six-pin power connector, so we opted for a 430W Smart PSU from Thermaltake, which is the wattage we consider the minimum for a gaming box. Storage duties are handled by an Intel 335 Series SSD, which is SandForce-based. It's not the fastest SSD on the bench, but it's reliable and affordable. Since it's a budget box, we stuffed it all into Antec's newest entry-level military-themed chassis, the GX700. It's similar to the Corsair C70, but half the price.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">INGREDIENTS</span></strong></div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">PART</th> <th>Price</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>Case</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">Antec GX700</td> <td> <p><strong>$60</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>PSU</strong></td> <td>Thermaltake Smart 430w</td> <td><strong>$45</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>Mobo</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X</td> <td><strong>$120</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>CPU</strong></td> <td>AMD A10-7850K</td> <td><strong>$175</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Cooler</strong></td> <td>Stock</td> <td><strong>$0</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>GPU</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">MSI Radeon R7 250</td> <td><strong>$90</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item"><strong>RAM</strong></td> <td class="item-dark">2x 4GB Corsair Vengeance</td> <td><strong>$95</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>SSD</strong></td> <td>Intel 335 Series240GB</td> <td><strong>$160</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>OS</strong></td> <td>Windows 8.1 64-bit OEM</td> <td><strong>$100</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Total</strong></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td><strong>$845</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="spec-table orange"><em>Click the next page to see our CPU, motherboard, and video card specs</em></div> <h4> <hr /></h4> <h4>1. Case Working</h4> <p>Building in the GX700 was refreshingly painless, thanks to a roomy interior, large grommets for cable routing, and plenty of room to work. Since we weren't planning on overclocking our A10-7850 APU, we went with the simplest cooling option available to us—a stock AMD cooler. These coolers don't look so hot, but they do a great job of keeping the CPU cool, and they operate quietly. Its small size also makes connecting things around the CPU socket a walk in the park. We did splurge a bit on the RAM, though, going with 8GB of Corsair Vengeance with extra-tall heatsinks. These guys are a tiny bit more expensive than the LP sticks with the low-profile heatsinks on them, but either one would work.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/a_small_31.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/a_small_30.jpg" title="Image A" width="620" height="798" /></a></p> <h4>2. Hiding Wires</h4> <p>One of the building "tricks" we like to use, if you can call if that, is to stick all the power cables that come from the front of the case to the back of the chassis, and then let them poke out right where they are connected. This keeps the interior uncluttered, and theoretically improves airflow around the power supply, since the cables aren't arranged in a rat's nest at the bottom of the chassis. We like the space between the SATA ports on this motherboard, too, and the fact that they are on the bottom of the motherboard instead of along the edge like they usually are. Anyone who has installed a slightly long GPU knows what a PITA it can be to access those ports with a GPU covering that area of the motherboard. We also like the fact that there are eight SATA 6Gb/s ports on this motherboard instead of six you get with a Z87 motherboard.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u152332/b_small_26.jpg"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u152332/b_small_25.jpg" title="Image B" width="620" height="382" /></a></p> <h4>3. Give me the code</h4> <p>Probably the most glaring nod to this case's military theme is the yellow-and-black striped cover that sits on top of the case. Lifting this cover exposes a red switch, which is actually a fan controller that can handle up to four fans. Three fans are already in the case, with two 140mm units up top where a radiator could reside one day, and one 120mm rear fan exhausting heat. You can also install up to two 120mm front intake fans, and one 120mm fan on the side door to help cool the GPU. Next to the fan controller are four USB ports—two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0—and headphone and mic jacks.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/c_small_29.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/c_small_28.jpg" title="Image C" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <h4>4. The bad news</h4> <p>Maybe we're spoiled, but we're used to just pressing down on a front filter like this one and having it pop away from the case for easy removal. On this chassis, though, the metal grill that covers the front air filter is attached via four thumbscrews. You can loosen the screws with your thumbs just like their name implies, but we found we had to use a screwdriver to get them all the way out. Once removed, the air filter is held into place by clips, reminding us of this case's rock-bottom price tag of just $60. There are no free lunches, so saving money on a PC build means you lose a few amenities, such as tool-less filter covers. To install a 120mm fan, you'll need to remove the entire front cover, which can be lifted away with a bit of effort.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/d_small_25.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/d_small_24.jpg" title="Image D" width="620" height="930" /></a></p> <h4>5. More bad news</h4> <p>Here's another odd design choice from Antec: these weird metal clips that hold the covers on the 5.25-inch bays. When you pull the clips out of the way, the cover loosens and falls right out of the slot. Both the clips and the way the covers tumble out when free felt extremely cheap. Plus, the top drive bay is blocked internally by all the cabling that dangles down from the top-mounted USB and fan controller cables, so you can't put an optical drive in that particular slot, but you could put in a card reader or something similar. The mechanism that holds the drives in place is toolless, however, so you just need to slide it to lock the drive into place. It's not the most sturdy design, but it worked well enough for our needs. Just below the 5.25-inch drive bays there is a vertical cage made of metal that holds five drives in either 3.5- or 2.5-inch form factor. You need to install drives from the right side of the case, however, as the mechanism that releases the individual drive bays resides behind the cage.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/e_small_23.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/e_small_22.jpg" title="Image E" width="620" height="930" /></a></p> <h4>6. Cool Under Pressure</h4> <p>We'll be honest: When we first configured this build, we slotted a 650W PSU into the bottom of the chassis because, well, this is Maximum PC and that's how we roll. Upon reflection, however, we realized that was a bit of overkill, especially since we had one SSD, no optical drive, and didn't need any power for our discrete GPU. Since we always tell people not to buy more PSU than they need, we decided to take our own advice and just go with a 430W unit from Thermaltake. We've used its PSUs in our GPU testing machine for the past two years with no issues, so it's a brand we generally trust. The area below the PSU is well-ventilated, and includes a filter that is easily removable, too. It sticks out a tiny bit behind the chassis, so you just have to pull it out as if you were sliding a card out of a deck, give it a good wash, and slide it back into place. You can also see that we could have fit a slightly larger PSU into this area.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/f_small_24.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/f_small_23.jpg" title="Image F" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/gut_short_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/gut_short_small.jpg" title="Gut short" width="620" height="471" /></a></p> <h3>A Golden Triangle</h3> <p>The purpose of this build was to find out how the addition of a second GPU to a Kaveri APU machine worked, and to see whether or not it was worth the money. Once our rig was built, we added the $90 R7 250 GPU, and then tested both the GPU by itself, and then paired with the APU. Once the system was humming along, enabling Dual Graphics was as simple as ticking a box in the Catalyst Control Center, much like you would do if you were enabling regular CrossFire with two discrete GPUs.</p> <p>To put it through its paces, we ran our tests suite at 1080p with all settings maxed out, but no AA because that’s just a bridge too far for these cards. With Dual Graphics enabled, we were surprised to see performance go up as much as it did, which was around 40 to 50 percent in most titles that were able to use both GPUs. That is damned impressive, and more than we expected. The problem, of course, is that the overall numbers were still really low despite two GPUs working together. When we tested the R7 250 in the May 2013 issue, we noted that it couldn’t quite do 1080p with all settings maxed, but we hoped the addition of the second GPU would allow us to overcome that challenge. Unfortunately, it’s not enough, so any of these low-end cards are not ready for 1080p gaming—they're better suited to 720p or 1050p.</p> <p>The bigger question here is if you were running a Kaveri box and decided you wanted to add more GPU muscle, what are you going to do? We can say definitively that if you want to really increase performance, you should just buy a discrete GPU like the R7 265 and forget about integrated graphics, or sub-$100 GPUs because they generally suck, at least if you are like us and used to gaming with all details enabled. It’s possible that over time, AMD will work to improve the scaling between the two GPUs in Dual Graphics, so instead of seeing gains around 40 percent, we’ll see it more around 75 percent, like it is with two discrete cards.</p> <p>With all that said, we were impressed by both how easy it was to set up Dual Graphics, and that we saw a very noticeable gain in almost all of our test games. We don’t think the combination of two weak GPUs is enough to provide a decent gaming experience, though, so in the final analysis, we’d rather just use a more powerful discrete GPU.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light"> <p style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal; text-align: start;"><strong>ZERO</strong></p> <p style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal; text-align: start;"><strong>POINT</strong></p> </th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">3DMark</td> <td class="item-dark">711</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">1,043</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: AO (fps)</td> <td>20</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">28</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">10.6</td> <td>10.8</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Valley (fps)</td> <td>13</td> <td>14</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Tomb Raider (fps)</td> <td>11.5</td> <td>16.2</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Hitman: Absolution&nbsp; (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">16</td> <td><strong>24</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p><span style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: bold;"><em>The zero-point machine compared here consists of a 3.2GHz Core i7-3930K and 16GB of Corsair DDR3/1600 on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard. It has a GeForce GTX 690, a Corsair Neutron GTX SSD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.</em></span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/build_budget_kaveri_PC_hybrid_crossfire_2014#comments amd apu dual graphics gpu hybrid crossfire June issues 2014 kaveri maximum pc Features Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:34:48 +0000 Josh Norem 28511 at http://www.maximumpc.com Computer Upgrade Guide http://www.maximumpc.com/computer_upgrade_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Avoid the pitfalls and upgrade your computer like a pro</h3> <p>Building a new PC is a relatively easy task—you pick your budget and build around it. It’s not the same with upgrading a computer. No, upgrading an older computer can be as dangerous as dancing Footloose-style through a minefield. Should you really put $500 into this machine, or just buy a new one? Will that new CPU really be faster than your old one in the real world? Are you CPU-limited or GPU-limited?</p> <p>To help give you more insight on how to best upgrade a PC that is starting to show its age, follow along as we take three real-world boxes and walk you through the steps and decisions that we make as we drag each machine back to the future through smart upgrades. While our upgrade decisions may not be the same ones you would make, we hope that we can shed some light on our thought process for each component, and help you answer the eternal question of: “What should I upgrade?”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.opener_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u154082/computer_upgrade.jpg" alt="computer upgrade" title="computer upgrade" width="620" height="533" /></a></p> <h3>Practical PC upgrading advice</h3> <p>There’s really two primary reasons to upgrade. The first is because you can—and believe us, we’ve upgraded just because “we could” plenty of times. Second, because you need to. How you define “need to” is very much a personal preference—there’s no way to put a hard number on it. You can’t say, “If I get a 5.11 in BenchMarkMark, I need to upgrade.” No, you need to determine your upgrade needs using everyday metrics like, “I will literally throw this PC through a window if this encode takes any longer,” or “I have literally aged a year watching my PC boot.” And then there’s the oldie: “My K/D at Call of Battlefield 5 is horrible because my graphics card is too slow.”</p> <p>Whether or not any of these pain points apply to you, only you can decide. Also, since this article covers very specific upgrades to certain components, we thought we’d begin with some broad tips that are universally applicable when doing the upgrade dance.</p> <h4>Don’t fix what’s not broken</h4> <p>One of the easiest mistakes to make with any upgrade plan is to upgrade the wrong component. The best example is someone who decides that his or her PC is “slow,” so they need to add RAM and take it from 8GB to 16GB, or even 16GB to 32GB. While there are cases where adding more RAM or higher-clocked RAM will indeed help, the vast majority of applications and games are pretty happy with 8GB. The other classic trap is deciding that a CPU with more cores is needed because the machine is “slow” in games. The truth is, the vast majority of games are coded with no more than four cores in mind. Some newer games, such as Battlefield 4, do indeed run better with Hyper-Threading on a quad-core or a six-core or more processor (in some maps) but most games simply don’t need that many cores. The lesson here is that there’s a lot of context to every upgrade, so don’t just upgrade your CPU willy-nilly on a hunch. Sometimes, in fact, the biggest upgrade you can make is not to upgrade.</p> <h4>CPU-bound</h4> <p>You often hear the term “CPU-bound,” but not everyone understands the nuances to it. For the most part, you can think of something being CPU-bound when the CPU is causing a performance bottleneck. But what exactly is it about the CPU that is holding you back? Is it core or thread count? Clock speeds, or even microarchitecture efficiency? You’ll need to answer these questions before you make any CPU upgrade. When the term is used in association with gaming, “CPU-bound” usually indicates there is a drastic mismatch in GPU power and CPU power. This would be evident from, say, running a GeForce Titan in a system with a Pentium 4. Or say, running a Core i7-4960X with a GeForce 8800GT. These are extreme cases, but certainly, pairing a GeForce Titan or Radeon 290X with a low-end dual-core CPU will mean you would not see the most performance out of your GPU as you could with a more efficient quad-core or more CPU. That’s because the GPU depends on the CPU to send it tasks. So, in a CPU-bound scenario, the GPU is waiting around twiddling its thumbs most of the time, since the CPU can’t keep up with it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.nehalem_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.nehalem_small.jpg" alt="One of the trickier upgrades is the original LGA1366 Core i7 chips. Do you upgrade the chip, overclock it, or just dump it?" width="620" height="605" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>One of the trickier upgrades is the original LGA1366 Core i7 chips. Do you upgrade the chip, overclock it, or just dump it?</strong></p> <h4>GPU-bound</h4> <p>The situation can be reversed, too. You can indeed get GPU-bound systems by running older or entry-level graphics with a hopped-up CPU. An example could be a Haswell Core i7-4770K overclocked to 4.5GHz paired with say, an entry-level GeForce GTX 750. You will certainly get the best frame rate out of the GPU possible, but you probably did not need the overclocked Haswell to do it. You could have kept that entry-level GPU well-fed with instructions using a cheaper Core i5-4670K or AMD FX part. Still, the rule of thumb with a gaming machine is to invest more in the GPU than the CPU. If we had to make up a ratio though, we’d say your CPU can cost half that of your GPU. A $500 GPU would be good with a $250 CPU and a $300 GPU would probably be OK with a $150–$170 CPU.</p> <h4>You can ignore the GPU sometimes</h4> <p>Keep in mind, this GPU/CPU relationship is in reference to gaming performance. When it comes to application performance, the careful balance between the two doesn’t need to be respected as much, or even at all. For a system that’s primarily made for encoding video, photo editing, or other CPU-intensive tasks, you’ll generally want as fast a CPU as possible on all fronts. That means a CPU with high clocks, efficient microarchitecture, and as many cores and threads possible will net you the most performance. In fact, in many cases, you can get away with integrated graphics and ignore discrete graphics completely. We don’t recommend that approach, though, since GPUs are increasingly becoming important for encoding and even photo editing, and you rarely need to spend into the stratosphere to get great performance. Oftentimes, in fact, older cards will work with applications such as Premiere Pro or Photoshop, while the latest may not, due to drivers and app support from Adobe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Core 2 Quad box</h3> <p><strong>A small Form Factor, Light-Gaming Rig before SFF was popular</strong></p> <p>This small box has outlived its glory days, but with a modest injection of capital and a few targeted upgrades, we’ll whip it back into shape in no time. It won’t be able to handle 4K gaming, but it’ll be faster than greased lightning and more than capable of 1080p frag-fests.</p> <p>This particular PC could have very easily resided on the desktop of any Maximum PC staffer or reader back in the year 2009. We say that because this is, or was, actually a pretty Kick Ass machine in the day. It was actually a bit ahead of its time, thanks to its combination of benchmark-busting horsepower and small, space-saving dimensions. This mini-rig was probably used for light gaming and content creation, with its powerful CPU and mid-tier GPU. As far as our business here goes, its diminutive size creates some interesting upgrade challenges.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Specifications</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Original part</th> <th>Upgrade Part</th> <th>Upgrade Part Cost</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Case/PSU</td> <td class="item-dark">Silverstone SG03/500w</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No Change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>Intel Core 2 Quad QX6800</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Motherboard</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus P5N7A- VM</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooling</td> <td>Stock</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>4GB DDR2/1600 in dual-channel mode</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">GPU</td> <td class="item-dark">GeForce 9800 GT</td> <td><strong>EVGA GTX 750 Ti<br /></strong></td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD/SSD</td> <td>500GB 7,200rpm WD Caviar</td> <td>240GB OCZ Vertex 460</td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ODD</td> <td>DVD burner</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>32-bit Windows Vista Ultimate</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Misc.</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>USB 3.0 add-in card</td> <td>$12</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total upgrade cost</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>$330</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p>It’s built around a Silverstone SG03 mini-tower, which is much shorter and more compact than the SFF boxes we use nowadays. For example, it can only hold about nine inches of GPU, and puts the PSU directly above the CPU region, mandating either a stock cooler or a low-profile job. So, either way, overclocking is very much out of the question. Water-cooling is also a non-starter, due to the lack of space for a radiator either behind the CPU area or on the floor of the chassis. In terms of specs, this system isn’t too shabby, as it’s rocking an LGA 775 motherboard with a top-shelf Core 2 Quad “Extreme” CPU and an upper-midrange GPU. We’d say it’s the almost exact equivalent of a $2,000 SFF gaming rig today. The CPU is a 65nm Kentsfield Core 2 Quad Extreme QX6800, which at the time of its launch was ludicrously expensive and the highest-clocked quad-core CPU available for the Core 2 platform at 2.93GHz. The CPU is plugged into an Asus P5N7A-VM motherboard, which is a microATX model that sports an nForce 730i chipset, supports up to 16GB of RAM, and has one PCIe x1 slot in addition to two PCI slots, and one x16 PCI Express slot. GPU duties are handled by the venerable GeForce 9800 GT, and it’s also packing 4GB of DDR2 memory, as well as a 500GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive. Its OS is Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit.</p> <h4>Lets dig in</h4> <p>The first question that crossed our minds when considering this particular machine’s fate was, “Upgrade certain parts, or go whole-hog with a new motherboard/CPU/RAM?” Sure, this is Maximum PC, and it would be easy to just start over. But that’s not really an upgrade; that’s more like open-heart surgery. Besides, where’s the challenge in that? Anyone can put together a new system, so we decided to buckle down, cinch up our wallets, and go part-by-part.</p> <p>Starting with the motherboard, CPU, and RAM, we decided to leave those as they were. For Intel at the time, this CPU was as good as it gets, and the only way to upgrade using the same motherboard and chipset is to move to a Yorkfield quad-core CPU. That’s a risky upgrade, though, for two reasons. First, not all of those 45nm chips worked in Nvidia’s nForce chipset, and second, benchmarks show mostly single-digit percent performance increases over Kentsfield. So, you’d have to be crazy to attempt this upgrade. We also deemed its 4GB of DDR2 to be satisfactory, since we’re running a 32-bit OS and anything over 4GB can’t be seen by it. If we were running a 64-bit OS, we’d upgrade to 8GB as a baseline amount of memory, though. We’re not happy about the motherboard’s SATA 3Gb/s ports, and the lack of a x2 PCIe slot is a problem, but SATA 3Gb/s is fast enough to handle any late-model hard drive, or an SSD upgrade. Another problem area is its bounty of 12 USB 2.0 ports. We appreciate the high number of ports, but USB 2.0 just plain sucks, so we added a PCIe USB 3.0 adapter, which gave us four SuperSpeed ports on the back of the chassis.</p> <p>One area ripe for upgrade is the GPU, because a GeForce 9800 GT is simply weak sauce these days. It was actually a rebadge of the 8800 GT when it arrived in 2009. This GPU was actually considered to be the low-end of the GeForce family when it arrived, as there were two models above it in the product stack—the 9800 GTX and the dual-GPU 9800 GX2. This single-slot GPU was only moderately powered at the time and features 112 shader processors clocked at 1,500MHz, and 512MB of GDDR3 clocked at 1.5GHz on a 256-bit memory bus. Since this system has limited space and only a single six-pin PCIe connector, we decided to upgrade the GPU to the Sapphire Radeon R7 265, which is our choice for the best $150 GPU. Unfortunately, the AMD card did not get along at all with our Nvidia chipset, so we ditched it in favor of the highly clocked and whisper-quiet EVGA GTX 750 Ti, which costs $159. This will not only deliver DX11 gaming at the highest settings at 1080p, but will also significantly lower the sound profile of the system, since this card is as quiet as a mouse breaking wind.</p> <p>Another must-upgrade part was the 500GB WD hard drive. As we wrote elsewhere, an SSD is a must-have in any modern PC, and we always figured it could make an aging system feel like new again, so this was our chance to try it in the real world. Though we wanted to upgrade to a 120GB Samsung 840 EVO, we couldn’t get our hands on one, so we settled for a larger and admittedly extravagant OCZ Vertex 460 240GB for $160. We decided to leave the OS as-is. Despite all the smack talk it received, Windows Vista SP2 was just fine.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_3_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_3_small.jpg" width="620" height="404" /></a></p> <h4>Real-World Results</h4> <p>Since we upgraded the GPU and storage subsystem, we’ll start with those results first. With the SSD humming along, our boot time was sliced from 1:27 to 1:00 flat, which is still a bit sluggish but doesn’t tell the whole story. Windows Vista felt instantly “snappy,” thanks to the SSD’s lightning-fast seek times. Everything felt fast and responsive, so though we didn’t get a sub-20-second boot time like we thought we would, we still gained a very noticeable increase in day-to-day use of the machine. For the record, we blame the slow boot time on the motherboard or something with this install of Vista, but this is still an upgrade we’d recommend to anyone in a similar situation. Interestingly, we also saw a boost in one of our encoding benchmarks, which could be due to the disk I/O, as well. For example, Sticth.Efx 2.0 dropped from 41 minutes to 36 minutes, which is phenomenal. Stitch.Efx creates in excess of 20,000 files, which will put a drag on a 500GB hard drive.</p> <p>Our gaming performance exploded, though, going from 11fps in Heaven 4.0 to 42fps. In Batman: Arkham Origins, we went from a non-playable 22 fps to a smooth 56fps, so anyone who thinks you need a modern CPU for good gaming performance is mistaken (at least for some games); the GPU does most of the heavy lifting in gaming. We also got a major reduction in case temps and noise by going from the hot-and-loud 9800 GT to the silent-and-cool GTX 750 Ti. The old card ran at 83 C under load, while the new one only hit 53 C, and made no noise whatsoever.</p> <h4>No regrets</h4> <p>Since we couldn’t do much with the motherboard/CPU/RAM on this board without starting fresh, we upgraded what we could and achieved Kick Ass real-world results from it, so this operation upgrade was very successful. Not only does it boot faster and feel ultra-responsive, it’s also ready for at least another year of gaming, thanks to its new GPU. Plus, with USB 3.0 added for storage duties, we can attach our external drives and USB keys and expect modern performance. All-in-all, this rig has been given a new lease on life for just a couple hundies—not bad for a five-year-old machine.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong></div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Pre-upgrade</th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Cinebench R15 64-bit</td> <td class="item-dark">WNR</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">WNR</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td>3,060</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">3,334 <strong>(-8%)</strong></span></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Stitch.Efx (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">2,481</td> <td>2,166</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bootracer (sec)</td> <td>90</td> <td>60</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins (fps)</td> <td>22</td> <td>56 <strong>(+155%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">11</td> <td>42<strong> (+282%)</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <hr /></div> <h3>Skeleton Rises</h3> <p><strong>Flying the AMD flag</strong></p> <p>Our second rig flies the AMD “Don’t Underclock Me” flag. You know the type. No matter how wide a gap Intel opens up with its latest CPU techno-wonder, this AMD CPU fanboy won’t switch until you pry that AM3 CPU from his cold, dead motherboard. In fact, the bigger the performance gap with Intel, the deeper this fanboy will dig in his heels.</p> <p>The box itself is built around the eye-catching and now discontinued Antec Skeleton open-air chassis. It draws a lot of whistles from case aficionados when they walk by, but truth be told, it’s really not great to work in and not exactly friendly to upgrading. The base machine parts are pretty respectable, though. The mainboard is an Asus Crosshair IV (CHIV) Formula using the AMD 890FX chipset, with a quad-core 3.2GHz Phenom II X4 955 and GeForce GTX 570 graphics. For the record, this machine was not built by us, nor do we know who built it, but the original builder made the typical error of inserting the pair of 2GB DDR3/1066 DIMMs into the same channel memory slots, causing the sticks to run in single-channel mode instead of dual-channel. As any salty builder knows, there’s a reason the phrase “RTFM” exists. For storage, the machine packs a single 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive and a DVD burner. Power is handled by an AntecTruePower 750, which is plenty for a rig like this. Cooling is a stock AMD affair with dual heat pipes.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Specifications</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Original part</th> <th>Upgrade Part</th> <th>Upgrade Part Cost</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Case/PSU</td> <td class="item-dark">Antec Skeleton / TruePower 750</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No Change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>3.2GHz Phenom II X4 955</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">4GHz FX-8350 Black Edition</span></td> <td>$199</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Motherboard</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus Crosshair IV Formula</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooling</td> <td>Stock</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>4GB DDR3/1066 in single-channel mode</td> <td>8GB DDR3/1600 in dual-channel mode</td> <td>$40</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">GPU</td> <td class="item-dark">EVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD</td> <td>Asus GTX760-DC2OC-2GD5<strong><br /></strong></td> <td>$259</td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD/SSD</td> <td>1TB 7,200 Hitachi</td> <td>256GB Sandisk Ultra</td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ODD</td> <td>DVD burner</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>32-bit Windows Vista Ultimate</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total upgrade cost</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>$657</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <h4>The easy upgrade path</h4> <p>All in all, it’s not a bad PC, but the most obvious upgrade was storage. It’s been a long time since we used a machine with a hard drive as the primary boot device, and having to experience it once again was simply torture. We’re not saying we don’t love hard drives—it’s great to have 5TB of space so you never have to think about whether you have room to save that ISO or not—just not as the primary boot device. Our first choice for an upgrade was a 256GB Sandisk Ultra Plus SSD for $159. We thought about skimping for the 128GB version, but then figured it’s worth the extra $60 to double the capacity—living on 128GB is difficult in this day and age. The SSD could easily be moved to a new machine, too, as it’s not tied to the platform.</p> <p>The OS is 64-bit Windows 7 Pro, so there’s no need to “upgrade” to Windows 8.1. No, we’d rather put that $119 into the two other areas that need to be touched up. The GPU, again, is the GeForce GTX 570. Not a bad card in its day, but since the Skeleton’s current owner does fair bit of gaming, we decided it was worth it to invest in a GPU upgrade. We considered various options, from the GeForce GTX 770 to a midrange Radeon R9 card, but felt a GeForce GTX 760 was the right fit, considering the system’s specs. It simply felt exorbitant to put a $500 GPU into this rig. Even the GTX 770 at $340 didn’t feel right, but the Asus GTX760-DC2OC-2GD5 gives us all the latest Nvidia technologies, such as ShadowPlay. The card is also dead silent under heavy loads.</p> <p>Our next choice was riskier. We definitely wanted more performance out of the 3.2GHz Phenom II X4 955 using the old “Deneb” cores. The options included adding more cores by going to a 3.3GHz Phenom II X6 1100T Thuban, but all we’d get is two more cores and a marginal increase in clock speed. Since the Thuban and Deneb are so closely related, there would be very little to be gained in microarchitecture upgrades. X6 parts can’t be found new, and they fetch $250 or more on eBay. As any old upgrading salt knows, you need to check the motherboard’s list of supported chips before you plug in. The board has an AM3 socket, but just because it fits doesn’t mean it works, right? Asus’ website indicates it supports the 3.6GHz FX-8150 “Zambezi” using the newer Bulldozer core, but the Bulldozer didn’t exactly blow us away when launched and they’re also out of circulation. (Interestingly, the FX-8150 sells for less than the Phenom II X6 chips.) Upgrading the motherboard was simply out of the question, too. Our last option was the most controversial. As we said, you should always check the motherboard maker first to find out what chips are supported.</p> <p>After that, you should then check to see if some other adventurous user has tried to do it anyway: “Damn the CPU qual list, full upgrade ahead!” To our surprise, yes, several anonymous Internet forums have indeed dropped the 4GHz FX-8350 “Vishera” into their CHIV boards with no reported of issues. That FX-8350 is also only $199—cheaper than a used X6 part. We considered overclocking the part, but the Skeleton’s confines make it pretty difficult. It’s so tight that we had issues putting the GeForce GTX 760 in it, so using anything larger than the stock cooler didn’t make sense to us. We’re sure you can find a cooler that fit, but nothing that small would let us overclock by any good measure, so it didn’t seem prudent.</p> <h4 style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_2_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_2_small.jpg" width="620" height="401" /></a></h4> <h4>Was it worth it?</h4> <p>Let’s just say this again if it’s not clear to you: If you are running a hard drive as your boot device, put this magazine down and run to the nearest store to buy an SSD. Yes, hard drives are that slow compared to SSDs. In fact, if we had money for only one upgrade, it would be the SSD, which will make an old, slow machine feel young again. This machine, for example, would boot to the desktop in about 38 seconds. With the SSD, that was cut down to 15 seconds and general usability was increased by maybe 10 million percent.</p> <p>Our CPU upgrade paid off well, too. AMD’s Vishera FX-8350 offers higher clock speeds and significant improvements in video encoding and transcoding. We saw an 83 percent improvement in encoding performance. The eight cores offer a huge advantage in thread-heavy 3D modelling, as well. We didn’t get the greatest improvement with Stitch.Efx 2.0, but the app is very single-threaded initially. Still, we saw a 30 percent increase, which is nothing to sneeze at.</p> <p>In gaming, we were actually a bit disappointed with our results, but perhaps we expected too much. We tested using Batman: Arkham Origins at 1080P with every setting maxed out and saw about a 40 percent boost in frame rates. Running Heaven 4.0 at 1080P on max we also saw about a 42 percent increase in frame rate. Again, good. But for some reason, we expected more.</p> <h4>Regrets, I’ve had a few</h4> <p>PC upgrades can turn into a remorsefest or an inability to face the fact that you made the wrong choice. With our upgrades, we were generally pleased. While some might question the CPU upgrade (why not just overclock that X4?), we can tell you that no overclock would get you close to the FX-8350 upgrade in overall performance. The SSD upgrade can’t be questioned. Period. End of story. The difference in responsiveness with the SSD over the 1TB HDD is that drastic.</p> <p>When it comes to the GPU upgrade, though, we kind of wonder if we didn’t go far enough. Sure, a 40 percent performance difference is the difference between playable and non-playable frame rates, but we really wanted to hit the solid 50 percent to 60 percent mark. That may simply be asking too much of a two-generation GPU change, not going all the way to the GeForce GTX 570’s spiritual replacement: the GeForce GTX 770. That would actually put us closer to our rule of thumb on a gaming rig of spending about half on your CPU as your GPU, but the machine’s primary purpose isn’t just gaming, it’s also content creation.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong></div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Pre-upgrade</th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Cinebench R15</td> <td class="item-dark">326</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">641</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td>3,276</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">1,794</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Stitch.Efx (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">1,950</td> <td>1,500</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bootracer (sec)</td> <td>37.9</td> <td>15 <strong>(+153%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins (fps)</td> <td>58</td> <td>81</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">29.5</td> <td>41.9<strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> <div class="spec-table orange"> <hr /></div> <h3>One Dusty Nehalem</h3> <p><strong>The original Core i7 still has some juice</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to make upgrade choices on an old dog with AGP graphics and Pentium 4, or even a Core 2 Duo on an obsolete VIA P4M890 motherboard (yes, it exists, look it up.) When you get to hardware that’s still reasonably fast and relatively “powerful,” the upgrade choices you have to make can get quite torturous.</p> <p>That’s certainly the case with this PC, which has an interesting assortment of old but not obsolete parts inside the Cooler Master HAF 922 case. We’ve always been fans of the HAF series, and despite being just plain-old steel, the case has some striking lines. It does, however, suffer from a serious case of dust suckage. Between the giant fan in front and various other fans, this system was chock-full of the stuff.</p> <p>The CPU is the first-generation Core i7-965 with a base clock of 3.2GHz and a Turbo Boost of 3.46GHz. That may seem like a pretty mild Turbo, but that’s the way it was way back in 2008, when this chip was first released. It’s plugged into an Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboard using the X58 chipset, and running 6GB of DDR3/1600 in triple-channel mode.</p> <p>In graphics, it’s also packing some heat with the three-year-old GeForce GTX 590 card. For those who don’t remember it, the card has two GPU cores that basically equal a pair of GeForce GTX 570 cards in SLI. There was a secondary 1TB drive in the machine, but in the state we got it, it was still using it’s primary boot device—a 300GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm hard drive that was 95 percent stuffed with data. Oh, and the OS is also quite vintage, with 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Specifications</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Original part</th> <th>Upgrade Part</th> <th>Upgrade Part Cost</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Case/PSU</td> <td class="item-dark">Cooler Master HAF 922 / PC Power and Cooling 910</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No Change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>3.2GHz Core i7-965 Extreme Edition</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">No change</span></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Motherboard</td> <td class="item-dark">Asus Rampage II Extreme</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooling</td> <td>Stock</td> <td>Corsair Hydro Cooler H75</td> <td>$69</td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>6GB DDR3/1600 in dual-channel mode</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">GPU</td> <td class="item-dark">GeForce GTX 590</td> <td>No Change</td> <td></td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD/SSD</td> <td>300GB 10,000rpm WD Raptor, 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi </td> <td>256GB Sandisk Ultra</td> <td>$159</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ODD</td> <td>Lite-On Blu-Ray burner</td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>OS</td> <td>64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate </td> <td>No Change</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total upgrade cost</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>$277</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <h4>Always Be Upgrading The SSD</h4> <p>Our first upgrade decision was easy—SSD. In its day, the 300GB Raptor was the drive to have for its performance, but with the drive running at 90 percent of its capacity, this sucker was beyond slow. Boot time on the well lived-in Vista install was just over two minutes. Yes, a two-minute boot time. By moving to an SSD and demoting the Raptor to secondary storage, the machine would see an immediate benefit in responsiveness. For most people who don’t actually stress the CPU or GPU, an SSD upgrade is actually a better upgrade than buying a completely new machine. And yes, we fully realize the X58 doesn’t have support for SATA 6Gb/s, but the access time of the SSD and pretty much constant read and writes at full bus speed will still make a huge difference in responsiveness.</p> <p>The real conundrum was the CPU. As we said, this is the original Core i7, a quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading and support for triple-channel RAM. The CPU’s base clock is 3.2GHz. It is an unlocked part, but the chip is sporting a stock 130W TDP Intel cooler. Believe it or not, this is actually how some people build their rigs—they buy the overclocked part but don’t overclock until later on, when they need more performance. Well, we’re at that point now, but we knew we weren’t going very far with a stock Intel cooler, so we decided that this was the time to introduce a closed-loop liquid cooler in the form of a Corsair H75. Our intention was to simply overclock and call it a day, but when we saw some of the performance coming out of the AMD Skeleton, we got a little jealous. In two of our tests for this upgrade story, the AMD FX-8350 was eating the once-mighty Nehalem’s lunch. Would overclocking be enough? That got us wondering if maybe we should take the LGA1366 to its next-logical conclusion: the Core i7-970. The Core i7-970 boasted six cores with Hyper-Threading for a total of 12 threads. It has the same base clock of 3.2GHz and same Turbo Boost of 3.46GH, but it uses the newer and faster 32nm “Westmere” cores. Long since discontinued, it’s easy to find the chips used for about $300, which is about half its original price. This is that conundrum we spoke of—while the Westmere would indeed be faster, especially on thread-heavy tasks such as video encoding and 3D modeling, do we really want to spend $300 on a used CPU? That much money would almost get us a Core i7-4770K, which would offer far more performance in more apps. Of course, we’d have to buy a new board for that, too. In the end, we got cold feet and decided to stick with just an overclock.</p> <h4>Windows Vista Works</h4> <p>Even our OS choice had us tied up. There’s a reason Windows Vista was a hated OS when it was released. It was buggy, slow, and drivers for it stunk. For the most part, though, Windows Vista turned into a usable OS once Service Pack 1 was released, and Service Pack 2 made it even better. While we’d never buy Vista over Windows 7 today, it’s actually functional, and the performance difference isn’t as big as many believe it to be, when it’s on a faster system. The only real shortcoming of Windows Vista is the lack of trim support for the SSD. That means the build would have to have the SSD manually optimized using the drive’s utility, or we’d have to count on its garbage collection routines. For now, we’d rather put the $119 in the bank toward the next system build with, perhaps, Windows 9.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image1_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image1_small.jpg" width="620" height="403" /></a></p> <p>Even more difficult was our choice on the GPU. The GeForce GTX 590 was a top-of-the-line card and sold for $700 in 2011. Obviously, this card was put into the system after the box was initially built, so it has had one previous upgrade. In looking at our upgrade options, our first thought was to go for something crazy—such as a second GTX 590 card. They can be found used for about $300. That would give the machine Quad SLI performance at far less the cost of a newer top-tier GPU. That fantasy went up in smoke when we realized the PC Power and Cooling Silencer 910 had but two 8-pin GPU power connectors and we’d need a total of four to run Quad SLI. Buying another expensive PSU just to run Quad SLI just didn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things, since the PSU is perfectly functional and even still under warranty. Once the second GTX 590 was ruled out, we considered a GeForce GTX 780 Ti as an option. While the 780 Ti is a beast, we came to the realization that the GTX 590 honestly still has plenty of legs left, especially for gaming at 1080p. The 780 Ti is indeed faster by 20 to 50 percent, but we decided not to go that route, as the machine still produces very passable frame rates.&nbsp; In the end, we spent far less upgrading this machine than the other two. But perhaps that makes sense, as its components are much newer and faster than the other two boxes.</p> <h4>Post-upgrade performance</h4> <p>With our only upgrades on this box being an overclock and an SSD, we didn’t expect too much—but we were pleasantly surprised. Our mild overclock took the part to 4GHz full-time. That’s 800MHz over the base clock speed. In Cinebench R15, the clock speed increase mapped pretty closely to the performance difference. In both ProShow Producer and Stitch.Efx, though, we actually saw greater performance than the simple overclock can explain. We actually attribute the better performance to the SSD. While encoding tasks are typically CPU-bound, disk I/O can make a difference. Stitch.Efx also spits out something on the order 20,000 files while it creates the gigapixel image. The SSD, of course, made a huge difference in boot times and system responsiveness, even if it wasn’t on a SATA 6Gb/s port.</p> <h4>Regrets</h4> <p>Overall, we were happy with our upgrade choices, with the only gnawing concern being not upgrading the GPU. It just ate us up knowing we could have seen even better frame rates by going to the GTX 780 Ti. But then, we also have $750 in our pocket that can go toward the next big thing.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light">Pre-upgrade</th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Cinebench R15 64-bit</td> <td class="item-dark">515</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">617</span></td> </tr> <tr> <td>ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td>2,119</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">1,641<strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Stitch.Efx (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">1,446</td> <td>983</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Bootracer (sec)</td> <td>126</td> <td>18&nbsp; <strong>(+600%)</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins (fps)</td> <td>86</td> <td>87</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">68.2</td> <td>68.7</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <h3> <hr /></h3> <h3>How to upgrade from Windows XP</h3> <p><strong>It’s game over, man!</strong></p> <p>Stick a fork in it. It’s done. Finito. Windows XP is a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace… on a considerable number of desktops worldwide, much to Microsoft’s chagrin.</p> <p>You’ve read Microsoft’s early-2012 announcement. You’ve seen all the news since then: the warnings, the pleas, the tomes of comments from frustrated users who wish they could just have a fully supported Windows XP until the launch of Windows 20. If you were a holdout, you even got a few pop-ups directly in your operating system from Microsoft itself, imploring you to switch on up to a more powerful (re: supported) version of Windows. So says Microsoft:</p> <p>“If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer should still work, but it will become five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. And as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, a greater number of programs and devices like cameras and printers won’t work with Windows XP.”</p> <p>There you have it: Keep on keepin’ on with Windows XP and you’ll slowly enter the wild, wild west of computing. We can’t say that your computer is going to be immediately infected once you reach a set time period past what’s been chiseled on the operating system’s tombstone. However, the odds of you suffering an attack that Microsoft has no actual fix for certainly increase. You wouldn’t run a modern operating system without the latest security patches; why Windows XP?</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_4_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_4_small.jpg" width="620" height="397" /></a></p> <p>So, what’s a person to do? Upgrade, obviously. We do warn in advance that if your current Windows XP machine is chock-full of legacy apps (or you’re using more antiquated hardware like, dare we say it, a printer attached to a parallel port), then you might find that upgrading to a newer version of the OS ruins the experience you previously had. For that, we can only suggest taking advantage of the ability of newer versions of Windows to support virtualized Windows XP environments—Windows 7 supports the Virtual PC–based “Windows XP Mode” natively, whereas those on Windows 8 can benefit from freeware like Virtualbox to run a free, Microsoft-hosted download of a virtualized Windows XP.</p> <p>As for what you should upgrade to, and how, we’re recommending that you go with Windows 8—unless you can find Windows 7 for extremely cheap. Microsoft has greatly improved resource use in its flagship OS, in addition to streamlining startup times, adding more personalization, and beefing up security. Windows 8 has far more time before its end-of-life than Windows 7, even though, yes, you’ll have to deal with the Modern UI a bit when you make your upgrade.</p> <h3>Step-by-Step Upgrade Guide</h3> <p><strong>Anyone can upgrade, but there is a right way and wrong way</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_3_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_3_small.jpg" alt="The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is a bit more useful than the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant in terms of actionable items that you’ll want to know about. Doesn’t hurt to run both!" width="620" height="457" /></a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is a bit more useful than the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant in terms of actionable items that you’ll want to know about. Doesn’t hurt to run both!<br /></strong></p> <p>Will your legacy system even run a modern version of Windows? That’s the first thing you’re going to want to check before you start walking down the XP-to-8 upgrade path. Microsoft has released two different tools to help you out—only one of them works for Windows XP, however. Hit up Microsoft’s site and do a search for “Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant.” Download that, install it on your Windows XP machine, and run the application.</p> <p>After a (hopefully) quick scan of your system, the program will report back the number of apps and devices you’re using that are compatible with Windows 8. In a perfect world, that would be all of them. However, the tool will also report back fatal flaws that might prevent you from running Windows 8 on your Windows XP machine to begin with—like, for example, if your older motherboard and CPU don’t support the Windows 8–required Data Execution Prevention.</p> <p>Since Windows 8 is quite a bit removed, generation-wise, from Windows XP, there’s no means by which you can simply run an in-place upgrade that preserves your settings and installed applications. Personal files, yes, but now’s as good a time as any to get your data organized prior to the big jump—no need to have Windows 8 muck things up for you, as it will just create a “windows.old” folder that’s a dump of the “Documents and Settings” folders on your XP system.</p> <p>If you have a spare hard drive lying around, you could always clone your current disk using a freeware app like Clonezilla, install Windows 8 on your old drive, and sort through everything later. If not, then you’re going to want to grab some kind of portable storage—or, barring that, sign up for a cloud-based storage service—and begin the semi-arduous task of poring over your hard drive for all of your important information.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_7_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_7_small.jpg" alt="The Windows Easy Transfer app, downloadable from Microsoft, helps automate the otherwise manual process of copying your files from your XP machine to portable storage." width="620" height="491" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Windows Easy Transfer app, downloadable from Microsoft, helps automate the otherwise manual process of copying your files from your XP machine to portable storage.</strong></p> <p>There really isn’t a great tool that can help you out in this regard, except perhaps WinDirStat—and that’s only assuming that you’ve stored chunks of your important data in key areas around your hard drive. If worse comes to worse, you could always back up the entire contents of your “Documents and Settings” folder, just to be safe. It’s unlikely that you’ll have much critical data in Program Files or Windows but, again, it all depends on what you’ve been doing on your PC. Gamers eager to make sure that their precious save files have been preserved can check out the freeware GameSave Manager to back up their progress.</p> <p>As for your apps, you’re going to have to reinstall those. You can, however, simplify this process by using a tool like Ninite to quickly and easily install common apps. CCleaner, when installed on your old XP system, can generate a list of all the apps that you’ve previously installed within the operating system—handy for making a checklist for things you’ll want to reinstall later, we suppose. And finally, an app like Magical Jelly Bean’s Product Key Finder can help you recover old installation keys for apps that you might want to reinstall within Windows 8.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_8_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.feat_pcupgrade.xp_8_small.jpg" width="620" height="452" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Need to know what you’ll need to reinstall in Windows 8? Use CCleaner to make a simple text file of every app you installed on Windows XP, and check off as you go! </strong></p> <p>As for installing Windows 8, we recommend that you purchase and download the ISO version of the operating system and then use Microsoft’s handy Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to dump the contents of that ISO onto a portable flash drive. Your installation process will go much faster, trust us. From there, installing the OS is as easy as inserting your USB storage, resetting your computer, and booting from the flash drive—which might be accessible via some “boot manager” option during your system’s POST, or might be a boot order–related setting that you have to set up within the BIOS itself.</p> <p>Other than that, the installation process is fairly straightforward once Windows 8 gets going. You’ll enter your product key, select a Custom installation, delete or format your drive partitions, install Windows 8 on the new chunk of blank, empty storage, and sit back and relax while the fairly simple installation process chugs away.</p> <p>You might not have the speediest of operating systems once Windows 8 loads, depending on just how long your Windows XP machine has been sitting around, but at least you’ll be a bit more secure! And, hey, now that you have a license key, you can always upgrade your ancient system (or build a new one!) and reinstall.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/computer_upgrade_2014#comments computer upgrade Hardware Hardware how to June issue 2014 maximum pc Memory News Features Mon, 13 Oct 2014 22:11:21 +0000 Maximum PC staff 28535 at http://www.maximumpc.com