Features http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/31/%252Ffeatures/sandy_bridge-e_benchmarked_intel_retains_performance_crown en GDC 2015: What to Expect http://www.maximumpc.com/gdc_2015_what_expect <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/tf2_oculus_trio-970-80.jpg" alt="GDC 2015" title="GDC 2015" width="250" height="140" style="float: right;" />VR is going to be big</h3> <p>The <a title="GDC" href="http://www.gdconf.com/" target="_blank">Game Developers Conference</a> is taking place just around the corner between March 2-6 and we’ll be in San Francisco covering it. There will, of course, be a bunch of game discussions and demos as usual, but we wanted to approach it from a hardware/PC perspective. Having said that, this year is going to be an interesting show for hardware with <a title="valve gdc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/valve_demo_steamvr_and_new_living_room_devices_gdc_2015" target="_blank">Valve</a> finally pushing the Steam Machines again along with its VR system. On that notion, expect Valve and VR to be the talks of the show. Seriously, guys, this is going to be the year of VR.</p> <p>Below are our predictions for what you’ll see at GDC 2015. Let us know what games or hardware you’re most excited to see in the comments below!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/gdc_2015_what_expect#comments controller game developers conference GDC 2015 microsoft Steam Valve virtual reality vr windows 10 News Features Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:58:46 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29487 at http://www.maximumpc.com It's OK to Buy Pre-built (Column) http://www.maximumpc.com/its_ok_buy_pre-built_column_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/genesis-white-angle-left.jpg" width="250" height="250" style="float: right;" />Stop the PC shaming</h3> <p>I built my first PC when I was 12 and believe that if you have any love for the platform, you should learn how to build one yourself. Having said that, however, I realize that not everyone has the time or patience to learn how to build a rig (even though it’s really not hard to do). I’ve been doing a lot of research lately, as I’ve picked up the system reviews beat for <a title="maximum pc" href="maximumpc.com" target="_blank">Maximum PC</a>, and notice that there’s a negative stigma against people who buy pre-built machines. “Just build it yourself,” these judgmental commenters say. As much as I want everyone to know how to put together their PCs, I’d rather them buy pre-built PCs if it might be their only entrance into our awesome clubhouse. In essence, I think it’s OK to buy pre-built.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, I’m not talking about your grandfather’s old Dell or HP towers here. Yuck, am I right? But boutique system builders have come a long way. One argument you hear against buying pre-builts is that it’s cheaper to build your own PC, and in many cases this is definitely true. It might cost you a little bit of time, but financially, it can add up. This isn’t always the case, however. I recently reviewed <a title="syber vapor" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/cyberpower_pc_syber_vapor_review_2015" target="_blank">CyberPower PC’s Syber Vapor</a>; the little Mini-ITX box is equipped with a <a title="980 review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_geforce_gtx_980_review2014" target="_blank">GeForce GTX 980</a> and an i7-4790K CPU and retails for $1,638. While that doesn’t sound cheap, when we tried to replicate the build ourselves using prices from Newegg, the tab came out to $1,807. That means you’re saving nearly $170 buying pre-built. In addition, you’re getting CyberPower PC’s one-year warranty. A lot of these vendors can get away with this via buying power. Consider it the Costco method of computer shopping.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/cyberpower_pc-2_0.jpg" alt="syber vapor" title="syber vapor" width="620" height="367" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>CyberPower PC's high-end Vapor SKU is cheaper than its individual components.</strong></p> <p>Speaking of which, warranty and customer service can be a big factor, especially for the newbie PC buyer. I’ve built several gaming rigs for friends by cobbling together spare parts and whatnot, but I’ve also been approached by friends who depend on computers to make a living, like full-time jobs editing video. My gut reaction is to direct them to vendors like iBuyPower and CyberPower because these companies put together machines for pretty cheap and have solid one-year warranties. As much as I like building PCs for friends, dealing with their support calls (especially if it pertains to their livelihoods) is not something that I want to have to contend with.&nbsp;</p> <p>Moving on, there are certain awesome form factors that you can’t build into even if you want to. Take, for instance, <a title="alienware alpha" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_alpha_review2015" target="_blank">Alienware’s Alpha</a>. While the PC has its issues, at 4.5 pounds, the computer is little larger than an Xbox 360 controller and works great as a living room PC that’s easy to take over to a friend’s house. Seriously, the Alienware Alpha and its 10-foot UI can do wonders for PC gaming in the living room, and that’s not something you can duplicate exactly.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154082/alienware_steam.jpg" width="620" height="413" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Alienware Alpha is a super portable living room/gaming PC.</strong></p> <p>And if you want to build into beautiful chassis like <a title="aventum 3" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/ces_2015_spying_digital_storms_stunning_aventum_3_pc_video" target="_blank">Digital Storm’s Aventum III</a> or Origin PC’s <a title="millenium genesis" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/origin_pc_genesis_overview_video_2014" target="_blank">Millenium Genesis</a>, you can’t, as those system vendors design their cases just for their PCs. And let me tell you, if you haven’t seen them up close with their awesome lights and custom loop coolers, I’ll tell ya, they are things of beauty. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I certainly couldn’t machine and build PCs that beautiful myself. In addition, these system vendors take the time to overclock the internal components and spend hundreds of hours running vigorous tests to make sure they run stable.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dI7sc32DEbs" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Aventum 3 is a beautiful pre-built PC that most people can't build.</strong></p> <p>Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should all buy pre-built PCs. I know I’ll be building PCs until the day I die, but in my humble opinion, if someone wants to buy a pre-built PC, they have their reasons, and in this day and age, there are plenty of good reasons to buy pre-built. Hopefully, they’ll spend the time to upgrade their pre-built PC over time, and take it upon themselves to build their next one. After all, didn’t most of us DIYers start off with a pre-built?</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/its_ok_buy_pre-built_column_2015#comments alienware Build a PC buy computer cyberpower Digital Storm DIY ibuypower maximum pc origin pc prebuilt Features Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:20:11 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29463 at http://www.maximumpc.com In-Game Graphics Settings Explained http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_dictionary_game_graphics_settings_explained_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/arma3_textures_ultra.jpg" alt="Arma3" title="Arma3" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />A guide to interpreting game settings</span></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: normal;">PC gamers have been fiddling with graphics settings since the dawn of time, but it takes a special kind of know-how to understand what each of those settings actually does. It doesn’t help that there aren’t any standard naming conventions, which means that options like "model" and "object" quality are usually one and the same. To help clarify, we’ve rooted out what all of the most common graphics settings actually do.</span></p> <p>Keep in mind that the names of settings can vary between games, so use your best judgment before making too many changes. For those who aren’t interested in fiddling around with sliders, you should stick to utilities like Nvidia’s <a href="Nvidia’s GeForce Experience" target="_blank">GeForce Experience</a>, which optimize the gameplay experience for you.</p> <h3>Anti-Aliasing&nbsp;</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/untitled.jpg" alt="Anti-aliasing" title="Anti-aliasing" width="432" height="249" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/guides/aa-af-guide#2" target="_blank">Nvidia</a>’s demonstration of anti-aliasing.</strong></p> <p>Anti-aliasing, or "AA," is a setting that most gamers are probably familiar with. Although there are different forms of anti-aliasing, they all attempt to smooth over the jagged edges of objects—or "jaggies" as they’re affectionately called. These visual artifacts are a consequence of the very nature of presenting an image on a screen. Individual pixels are assigned colors, and these combinations of colors—rendered as individual objects—have jagged edges. Anti-aliasing creates what our eyes perceive as a smooth line in their place.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://i.imgur.com/qDB4ynL.gif" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u162579/output_i0egut.gif" alt="Gif" title="Gif" width="600" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>It's hard to see in this smaller resolution, but the edges of the car and the gun have noticeably jagged edges if you use CTRL + middle mouse scroll up to zoom in after clicking the image to enlargen.</strong></p> <p>The concept itself is easy to understand, but appreciating the different forms of anti-aliasing is a bit more complicated. <a href="http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/guides/aa-af-guide#2" target="_blank">Nvidia</a> breaks it down into two major types: supersampling and multisampling. The simplest method, supersampling (FSAA), involves rendering the scene at oversized dimensions. With a native resolution of 1920x1080, four samples would mean that the GPU renders the scene at 3840x2160 before bringing it back down to its original size. Multisampling (MSAA) is a bit different in that it samples groups of adjacent pixels together instead of individually. This saves precious processing power, but sacrifices minor details in exchange for better performance.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a resource-intensive setting that is most important at lower resolutions. As the number of pixels—and with it, the resolution—increases, the jagged edges of objects become less obvious. In fact, applying excessive anti-aliasing to higher resolutions can have a catastrophic effect on performance because of the multiplicative nature of anti-aliasing—rendering a 3840x2160 scene is hard enough without supersampling it to 7680x4320 or higher.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Anisotropic Filtering</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://i.imgur.com/IPzOz4B.gif" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u162579/output_pmzqt4.gif" alt="Gif" title="Gif" width="600" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Notice the lack of track marks on the ground to the right in the image with bilinear anistropic filtering.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Anisotropic filtering is anti-aliasing’s little brother. While AA smooths out jagged edges, anisotropic filtering adds detail to what would otherwise be blurry, faraway objects. To save resources, distant objects are rendered with lower-resolution textures; these less-detailed surfaces can eventually become blurry when viewed at an angle.&nbsp;</p> <p>Texture filtering solves this problem by raising the level of detail in faraway textures to an adequate level. Basic, isotropic filtering uses a square pattern that isn’t appropriate for fixed perspectives. Anisotropic filtering steps in to use rectangular or trapezoidal patterns to improve textures.</p> <p>Just like anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering can be resource-intensive, so this is a setting you’ll want to pay particular attention to. Raising the setting from values like 1x or 2x increases the detail in distant textures and thus uses more processing power.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Texture Quality</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><a href="http://i.imgur.com/jdEAvpo.gif" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u162579/output_10364c_0.gif" alt="Arma3 Textures" title="Arma3 Textures" width="600" /></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><strong>The change in this picture is pretty drastic with thicker grass and a vastly improved facade on the building.</strong></span></p> <p>Texture quality is a hugely important setting because almost all of the objects and models visible in game are textured. Think of it as a sort of virtual wallpaper that gives otherwise featureless objects a more familiar face—grass, snow, walls, etc. Lower-resolution textures look blurry and lack detail. Increasing the texture quality will drastically improve the look of any game. Unlike model quality, raising texture quality relies more on VRAM than it does on your GPU's processing power. &nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Lighting Quality</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><a href="http://i.imgur.com/YHW0hb5.gif" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u162579/output_smztko.gif" alt="Battlefield 4" title="Battlefield 4" width="600" /></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The difference between the ultra and low lighting is pretty drastic, with ultra effects being smoother and more realistic.</strong></p> <p>Adjusting the lighting quality setting affects the number of light sources and their effects on the environment. It’s an incredibly complicated topic. Fortunately, raising or lowering lighting quality usually has a fairly obvious effect on the game. Low settings usually reduce light to basic points and can cause weird reflections (see the Battlefield 4 screenshot above). Unfortunately, raising lighting quality has a drastic effect on performance because of the complex calculations that take place behind the scene to realistically light the scene.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Shadow Quality</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><a href="http://i.imgur.com/goA4v2D.gif" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u162579/output_blqwvy.gif" alt="Watch Dogs " title="Watch Dogs Graphical Analysis: Stock vs Worse Mod Take 2" width="600" /></a></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: normal;"><strong>The shadows in this scene aren't particularly complex, but the shift from low to ultra adds more detailed shadows to objects in the distance.</strong></span></p> <p>This setting is fairly self-explanatory. Adjust it to control the quality of rendered shadows. Going from on to off has an obvious effect although not all games support completely disabling shadows. Moving between levels of shadow has a more subtle effect, with shadows disappearing from smaller objects in the distance. The edges of shadows become smoother and less pronounced as you approach "High" or "Ultra" levels. Increased shadow quality also means that the shadows will better resemble the detailed shape of the object casting the shadow. These effects are fairly expensive (taxing) because of the inherent relationship between light and shadows—the placement and size of each shadow has to be calculated.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Vertical Synchronization (VSync)</span></h3> <p>Vsync is a holdover from the era of CRT monitors, but it’s still sometimes necessary for LCD monitors. To put it simply, vsync synchronizes your monitor and your graphics card to eliminate tearing effects. Without it, your video card is free to render frames as soon as it’s able, which means that it might very well be presenting a scene that hasn’t yet been fully updated on your screen. This tearing—imagine a photo literally torn in half and reattached slightly askew—usually happens when your frame rate far exceeds the refresh rate of your monitor. Unless you’ve got a particularly capable monitor, your refresh rate is probably capped at 60Hz, which means that you'd ideally want a constant 60 frames per second.&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, vsync isn’t without its downsides. Particularly astute gamers might notice a bit of added latency while moving the mouse cursor or entering keyboard commands. There’s also the performance cost associated with synchronization, which means that if you’re barely averaging 60 frames a second, you’ll probably be just fine keeping vsync off.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Learn More</span></h3> <p>We'll be adding more explanations to this guide over time. In the meantime, there are a wealth of resources available for people interested in diving deeper into the world of computer graphics. Head on over to <a href="http://www.tweakguides.com" target="_blank">Tweakguides.com</a>&nbsp;(especially their <a href="http://www.tweakguides.com/Graphics_1.html" target="_blank">Gamer's Graphics &amp; Display Settings Guide</a>) or check out the folks over at <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc" target="_blank">r/buildapc</a>&nbsp;who&nbsp;have created a pretty comprehensive <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/wiki/gamesettingsguide" target="_blank">game settings guide</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Which settings do you usually turn on and off? Tell us in the comments!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_dictionary_game_graphics_settings_explained_2014#comments anti-aliasing Graphics dictionary graphics setting in-game graphics settings Features Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:53:39 +0000 Ben Kim 28264 at http://www.maximumpc.com Graphics Porn (February 2015): Space Engine, Skyrim, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and More http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_february_2015_space_engine_skyrim_dragon_age_inquisition_and_more_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3 style="margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 21px; vertical-align: baseline; letter-spacing: -0.05em; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-weight: normal; color: #990000; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;"><img src="/files/u162579/16299201755_f5f489d8a4_k.jpg" alt="Need for Speed" title="Need for Speed" width="250" height="105" style="float: right;" />Showcasing the sexiest, most photogenic game screenshots this side of the Internet</span></h3> <p>We're celebrating February with a gallery full of amazing screenshots. As always we've got a few obligatory Minecraft and Skyrim screens, but we've also got shots from newer games like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Ultraworld. Some supremely helpful folks over at <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/gamerporn" target="_blank">/r/GamerPorn</a> have again volunteered their work for this month's edition of <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/graphics_porn" target="_blank"><strong>Graphics Porn</strong></a>.</p> <p><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;"><em><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;">Whether you've been following our&nbsp;<a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #cc0000; text-decoration: none; background: transparent;" title="screenshots" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/how_take_great_video_game_screenshots_2014" target="_blank">handy-dandy guide on how to capture beautiful-looking game screens</a>&nbsp;</span>or&nbsp;<span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;">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></span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_february_2015_space_engine_skyrim_dragon_age_inquisition_and_more_2015#comments Dragon Age: Inquisition features Gaming Graphics Porn screenshots Skyrim Space Engine Features Fri, 20 Feb 2015 20:34:15 +0000 Ben Kim 29323 at http://www.maximumpc.com Rig of the Month: Dancing Iridescence http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_dancing_iridescence_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/dancing_iridescence_chris_albee_01.jpg" alt="Dancing Iridescence" title="Dancing Iridescence" height="250" style="float: right;" />Woodworking meets case modding</span></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: normal;">Computer cases are usually made predominantly of metal and for good reason. Metal's a sturdy material that can support the weight of meaty components. Chris Albee's "Dancing Iridescence" bucks that trend by combining his woodworking skills with his <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_visible_contrast_2014" target="_blank">obvious modding abilities</a>. Only the front panel's made of wood, but the complete effect is still stunning and totally worthy of being named this month's</span><span style="font-weight: normal;"><strong> <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_roundup_2014#slide-0" target="_blank">Rig of the Month</a></strong>.</span></p> <p>Chris says he was inspired by the "quirky"&nbsp;Lian-Li PC-Q30 and decided to accentuate the giant front-mounted window with a single piece of curly maple.&nbsp;</p> <p>"I set about carving out the back of the maple so it would slide on to the chassis in place of the original curved front panel. The entirety of the woodworking was done with hand tools, including cutting to size and shape. The back was carved out so it is one solid piece that wraps around both edges and across the front. Stains and finishes were seleted specifically to bring out the curly figure in the maple."</p> <p>The finished wood panel isn't the only innovation. Chris also created custom side panels made with candy rootbeer and Brandywine paint. A bit of work with a pneumatic grinder and Scotch-Brite created a base layer of swirls that was covered with three separate coats of candy paint and two coats of clear coat.&nbsp;</p> <p>Under the hood is an ASRock ITX motherboard with an A10-7850K, 8GB of ADATA 2400MHz DDR3 memory, and a 120GB ADATA SSD. A custom loop keeps the rig water cooled with an external 140mm radiator.&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_dancing_iridescence_2015#comments Chris computer mod Dancing Iridescence Rig of the Month rig of the month Features Wed, 18 Feb 2015 22:01:01 +0000 Ben Kim 29324 at http://www.maximumpc.com Head 2 Head: Mini-ITX vs. MicroATX Systems http://www.maximumpc.com/head_2_head_mini-itx_vs_microatx_systems2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Mini-ITX vs. MicroATX Systems</h3> <p>Few things evolve more quickly than the desktop PC, but there is one constant: the process of getting smaller. The first computers took up entire rooms (and required a college degree to operate). But these days, you can get a gaming PC the size of briefcase delivered to your front door. But if you prefer to build something small, should you go with a microATX system, or is it time to go even smaller with mini-ITX?</p> <h4>ROUND 1: Performance</h4> <p>Since you’re reading Maximum PC, you probably already know that it’s blistering benchmarks that get our motor running. In fact, sometimes a new rig is more fun to tweak and test than it is to use for “normal” activities. You can actually get some premium mini-ITX motherboards these days that can overclock as well as a full-sized ATX motherboard. They do it by putting extra voltage-regulation modules on a riser card, since the form factor doesn’t otherwise leave a lot of room for bonus power phases. But if you want to run more than one video card at the same time, only microATX is big enough to give you that option. It also means a larger case; we’ve fit a 280mm radiator in the Corsair 350D, for example, with enough room left over for a 120mm radiator elsewhere. That means it’s much easier to liquid-cool a whole system for high overclocks.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154280/build_it-1510.jpg" width="600" height="459" /></p> <p><strong>Winner: MicroATX</strong></p> <h4>ROUND 2: Shopping Options</h4> <p>MicroATX has been around a lot longer than its junior-sized competitor, so the technology is more mature, and there’s a wider range of boards. It’s the de facto ruler of the modern cubicle farm. As a result, you can fine-tune your budget down to the last dollar and individual spec, whereas mini-ITX has more frequent gaps. However, there isn’t much variety in microATX cases. Most are designed for a full-ATX motherboard, which happens to take microATX boards as a side effect. If you’re looking for something particularly compact, mini-ITX has been getting a lot more love from case manufacturers and enterprising modders. The approaching extinction of the optical drive, coupled with the compactness of SSDs, allows more exotic dimensions and looks. But if you just want a basic tower that’s fairly easy to fiddle with, micro-ATX is the way to go. Thus, the winner in this category depends on your needs.</p> <p><strong>Winner: Tie</strong></p> <h4>ROUND 3: Costs</h4> <p>If logic ruled the world, a mini-ITX system would cost less because the motherboards and cases are smaller. That means less raw materials. They’re not particularly difficult to manufacture, and they don’t use exotic ingredients. The problem is in the other typical parts, like the power supply. Mini-ITX systems frequently use a PSU form factor called SFX. These aren’t nearly as common as regular ATX units. So, by the laws of supply and demand, SFX units tend to be more expensive for comparable output and build quality. Especially if you want to get fancy with things like modular cables or “gold” ratings. It’s also hard to find a mini-ITX case for less than $50, which matters if your budget is tight. In fact, a good one usually hovers around the $100 mark, while you can get a decent ATX micro-tower or mid-tower for half that.</p> <p><strong>Winner: MicroATX</strong></p> <h4>ROUND 4: Ergonomics</h4> <p>Even when a mini-ITX system can fit a regular power supply, it usually has to be a small one without modular cabling, because there’s less clearance in these smaller boxes. Mini-ITX cases like the Cooler Master 130 Elite take a regular-sized PSU, but the unit sticks out the back by an inch or two. Meanwhile, a microATX tower like the Corsair 350D can take pretty much anything. Also consider the accessibility of a tower’s drive cages, fan mounts, and motherboard connectors. A “shoebox” ITX case has to have some of its guts removed every time you want to fiddle with a major component. That said, mini-ITX systems are lighter, easier to carry, take up less desk space, and can blend in better with home theater components. It’s the ideal LAN party form factor, something you can carry with you on public transit if need be, and even a conversation starter.</p> <p><strong>Winner: Tie</strong></p> <h4>ROUND 5: Upgrading</h4> <p>Builders like us also like expandability. But as a rule, mini-ITX boards have just two RAM slots. With the four slots common to microATX, you have more options for the future. Two slots compel you to max out your capacity, which means spending around $150 for 16GB, instead of $60-$70 for two 4GB sticks. Mini-ITX also typically has only one card slot, for the GPU. If you want to add more USB 3.0 ports, sound card (they still have their uses!), wireless adapter, or SATA Express coming later this year, then microATX gives you those options, and future options that we’re not aware of yet. You’re not stuck with the level of technology that’s built into the board.</p> <p><strong>Winner: MicroATX</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc99.qs_head.2_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc99.qs_head.2_small.jpg" alt="The “shoebox” shape is popular with mini-ITX systems because it can fit a full-length video card." title="Mini-ITX vs. MicroATX Systems" width="620" height="508" /></a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The “shoebox” shape is popular with mini-ITX systems because it can fit a full-length video card.</strong></p> <h3>And the Winner Is…</h3> <p>If you’re a performance enthusiast, it’s hard to argue for the limited physical space of a mini-ITX system. If you need an HTPC, though, a little mini-ITX box seems like a no-brainer. There are mini-ITX cases large enough to blur the lines, like the Corsair 250D. But they’re both constrained by the motherboard itself, which can’t do SLI or accommodate extra cards. So, we have to give the edge to <strong>microATX</strong>.</p> <p><em>This article was taken from the June 2014 issue of the magazine.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/head_2_head_mini-itx_vs_microatx_systems2015#comments head to head June issues 2014 maximum pc microATX mini-itx Features Wed, 11 Feb 2015 22:02:37 +0000 Tom McNamara 28502 at http://www.maximumpc.com Mining for Mods: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim http://www.maximumpc.com/mining_mods_elder_scrolls_v_skyrim_2015 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u166440/skyrim_logo_002.jpg" alt="Skyrim Logo" title="Skyrim Logo" width="200" height="160" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Take a look at some Skyrim graphics mods</h3> <p>One of the best reasons to be a PC gamer is modding. There is a passionate and dedicated community that helps to breathe new life into many PC games because of it. Yet while the scope and diversity of mods available are vast, we are focusing on mods that will improve a game’s graphics.</p> <p>Of course, we can’t talk about mods without mentioning Bethesda’s popular game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Skyrim, and previous installments in the franchise, has a very large modding community and a plethora of mods that enhance its graphics. Because there are so many different mods, we are picking a small selection where the changes will be noticeable while keeping the game as stable as possible. We're also focusing on mods that improve the outdoor settings in the game rather than structures.&nbsp;</p> <p>The mods we’ll be showcasing are <a title="Skyrim HD mod" href="http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/607/?" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Skyrim HD</span></a>, <a title="Skyrim Floral Overhaul" href="http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/141/?" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Skyrim Floral Overhaul</span></a>, <a title="Realistic Water Two" href="http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/41076/?" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Realistic Water Two</span></a>, <a title="Enhanced Lights &amp; Effects" href="http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/27043/?" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Enhanced Lights and FX mods</span></a>, and&nbsp;<a title="SMIM mod" href="http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/8655/?" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Static Mesh Improvement Mod</span></a>. These particular mods, we feel, will enhance the game in a noticeable fashion without too much fiddling, and should be easy for newcomers to implement. We'll be looking more at outdoor environments rather than towns, since we find that we spend more time travelling through the wilds than in towns. It made sense to focus our efforts on where we will be spending most of our time in the game.&nbsp;</p> <p>For video capturing and screenshots, we went with the AMD Phenom II X4 965 processer, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 with the game's settings set to Ultra.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/skyrim_settings.jpg" alt="Skyrim Settings" title="Skyrim Settings" width="600" height="254" /></p> <p>Installation of mods is relatively simple, depending on how you do it. But before you begin to download and install any Skyrim mods, there are a couple of things you'll need. A Nexus Mod account, so you can download mod files, and WinRAR to extract the .zip files.&nbsp;</p> <p>When you've taken care of that, you can install the mods manually in four easy steps.</p> <p>1)&nbsp;Download the mod you want.</p> <p>2)&nbsp;Extract the file using WinRAR, WinZIP, or 7-Zip.</p> <p>3)&nbsp;Extract the contents to Skyrim’s data folder. In our case, it is located here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim\Data</p> <p>4)&nbsp;Once done, just launch Skyrim and choose Data Files. When you do, you’ll see a list of the mods you extracted to the Data folder. Click the ones you want to use.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u166440/skyrim_mod_install_001.jpg" alt="Skyrim Data Files" title="Skyrim Data Files" width="600" height="293" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>The other way to install mods is with the Nexus Mod Manager, which makes the process easier. However, not all of the mods available will work with the NMM program, which is still in open beta. For our purposes this is not an issue, as all of the mods used here work with NMM.</p> <p>For those wishing to install a variety of mods, you should be aware that, depending on what you want to enhance, some mods will conflict with each other. In some cases, we've had to choose one mod over another because of incompatibility issues that caused game crashes. In other cases, we've installed some mods on top of others. For example, we wanted to have the best looking water possible (you know how much we&nbsp;<a title="11 Best Videogame Water" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/11_best_videogame_water_2014" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">love our water</span></a> here). In order to do this, we installed Skyrim HD first, then we installed Realistic Water Two and replaced the water texture files that came with Skyrim HD. That way, the game still benefits from the HD textures Skyrim HD brings with it for landscape and flora, but with improved water from Realistic Water 2 (look at the comparison pictures in the gallery and you will see the difference).</p> <p><strong>Stock vs. Mod Comparisons:</strong></p> <p>We’ve provided a couple of pictures that show the stock version and final modded version so that you can see the differences the mods will make when combined together.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the first picture, you'll notice an immediate change to the flora, with the pine tree becoming larger and more fleshed out (don't ask us for the specific variety of pine, botany is not our forte). Looking at the road in the modded version, you can see that the stones are dirtied up, or not as white, but can still be seen. The wall contains more rocks in its contruction, while the wood has been given a different texture.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Stock vs Final Version GIF" href="http://i.imgur.com/1WBlgoh.gif" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u166440/stock_vs_final_version_001a.jpg" alt="Stock vs Final Version entrance" title="Stock vs Final Version entrance" width="600" height="337" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Click on the image above to see an animated GIF comparison</strong></p> <p>We were psyched to mod the game's water. As you can see, RW2 reduced the wave's choppiness for this particular river, smoothing it out with a gentle flowing and ripple effect. You can also see the reflection of the trees better in the smoother water as well.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a title="Stock vs Final Version GIF" href="http://i.imgur.com/vLX6nWq.gif" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u166440/stock_vs_final_version_002a.jpg" alt="Stock vs Final Version" title="Stock vs Final Version" width="600" height="338" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Click on the image above to see an animated GIF comparison</strong></p> <p>Installing these mods will take some patience and, depending on how ambitious you are with the amount of mods you want to install, plenty of trial and error. But in the end, it's worth it. Your "new and improved" Skyrim will look great.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">What mods do you use for Skyrim?</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wjrWeU3KyX0" width="600" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></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_elder_scrolls_v_skyrim_2015#comments mods Skyrim Skyrim mods The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim Features Mon, 09 Feb 2015 19:27:16 +0000 Sean D Knight 28454 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Overclock Your Graphics Card http://www.maximumpc.com/how_overclock_your_graphics_card_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/314023-nvidia-geforce-gtx-titan-angle.jpg" alt="Titan" title="Titan" width="250" height="245" style="float: right;" />Learn how to wring every last bit of performance out of your video card</span></h3> <p>Overclocking a graphics card used to be more trouble than it was worth, but things have changed. EVGA Precision X and MSI Afterburner are just two of the most popular choices for software overclocking. AMD even bundles its own overclocking solution—AMD OverDrive—with its Catalyst drivers. Wringing more performance out of your graphics card is now as simple as moving a few sliders and testing for stability with a benchmark.&nbsp;</p> <p>That’s not to say that the best overclocking practices are obvious. We’re here to help with a guide on how to overclock your graphics card. Be forewarned—even the most basic overclocks can end in tragedy. Although we’re willing to walk you through the steps, we can’t be responsible for any damaged hardware or problems arising during the overclocking process. If you’re willing to take the risk, read on to learn how to overclock your graphics card. Keep in mind that the procedure for each video card can be slightly different. If any part of the guide doesn’t make sense, ask for help in the comments or spend some time on Google.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">1. Gearing Up</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/afterburner.png" alt="MSI Afterburner" title="MSI Afterburner" width="500" height="338" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>MSI Afterburner is capable overclocking software that works with most AMD and Nvidia cards.</strong></p> <p>Our favorite overclocking software is <a href="http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/download.htm" target="_blank">MSI Afterburner</a>. Your other options include <a href="http://www.evga.com/precision/" target="_blank">EVGA Precision X</a> for Nvidia cards, and for AMD Cards, AMD OverDrive, but to keep things simple we’ll be working solely with MSI Afterburner.&nbsp;</p> <p>You’ll also need a benchmark like <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/223850/" target="_blank">3DMark</a>—download the demo—or <a href="http://unigine.com/products/heaven/" target="_blank">Unigine’s Heaven Benchmark</a> to make sure your overclocks are stable enough for daily use. They’re also useful for quantifying just how much more performance you’re getting out of your hardware.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/" target="_blank">GPU-Z</a> is the final piece of the puzzle and although you don’t technically need it, it’s super helpful for checking your GPU and memory clock speeds.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">2. Getting in the Know</span></h3> <p>Before you even start overclocking, it helps to know what sort of overclocks you can expect from your hardware. <a href="http://hwbot.org/" target="_blank">HWBOT</a> is the easiest way to look up what overclocks other users are achieving. Our test bench included the <a href="http://hwbot.org/hardware/videocard/geforce_gtx_650_ti/" target="_blank">GTX 650 TI</a> and <a href="http://hwbot.org/hardware/videocard/radeon_hd_7850/" target="_blank">7850</a>, which have average overclocks listed on the site.&nbsp;</p> <p>It also helps to know how much real-world performance you’ll be getting out of your overclocks. Although you probably don’t need to run through an entire suite of benchmarks, having a baseline to refer to is useful. Run through 3DMark or Heaven Benchmark once to get your base scores.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">3. Core Speed Overclocks</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/heaven2.jpg" alt="Unigine Heaven" title="Unigine Heaven" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Unigine’s Heaven benchmark looks good and is packed with features.</strong></p> <p>Once you’ve got some averages in hand—for the 650 TI: 1,179MHz GPU and 1,687MHz memory—you’re ready to start overclocking. Start by maxing out the Power Limit slider—this isn’t the same as overvolting, the power limit is simply how much power your card can draw. Then grab the Core Clock slider and move it forward at 20MHz increments. After applying your changes, crank up the settings on Heaven Benchmark—quality at ultra, tessellation to extreme, anti-aliasing to 8x, and resolution at system—and run through it at least once by pressing F9 or clicking the “Benchmark” button. &nbsp;Keep an eye out for weird graphical artifacts—visual glitches that range from colorful lines of light to random off-color pixels across the screen—and for crashes. If the benchmark crashes to the desktop, seems to slow down dramatically, or gives you a lower frame rate or score upon completion, drop the clock speed by 10MHz until you can run through the benchmark without any problems.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">4. Memory Speed Overclocks</span></h3> <p>When you’ve found the highest stable clock speed for your card, repeat step two with the memory clock slider. Your memory clock speed generally won’t affect your frame rate or benchmark scores as much as the core clock speed, but it’ll help, especially if you’re running at a higher resolution.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">5. Stability Check</span></h3> <p>Lock in both of your increased clock speeds, run through Heaven a final time, and you should be seeing higher frame rates and a higher score. Go wild and test out your overclocked card in your favorite games to make sure that it’s stable enough for daily use—if it isn’t, step down your GPU and memory clock speeds until it is. To be extra safe, you can leave Heaven running for a few hours to make sure you won’t run into any problems during an extended gaming session.</p> <p><em>Read on for information on overvolting, special situations, and the results of our overclocks.</em></p> <hr /> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Overvolting</span></h3> <p>If you’re not satisfied with your card’s overclocking performance at standard voltages, some cards let you crank up the voltage to squeeze even more performance out of your hardware. Before you do anything, spend a few minutes on Google to look up what other users are reporting as safe voltages for your specific graphics card.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/afterburner_voltage_control_settings.png" alt="MSI Afterburner Properties" title="MSI Afterburner Properties" width="350" height="628" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>If you're feeling frisky, unlock voltage control and monitoring.</strong></p> <p>You have to dig into Afterburner's settings to gain access to your card’s voltage. Increase your voltage by 10mV at a time until your overclock is stable, your temperatures exceed 70 degrees Celsius, or you reach your card’s maximum safe voltage.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even if you’re operating within the maximum safe voltage, overvolting a card can have severe consequences, including general instability, decreased part lifespan, and unsafe temperatures. It’s usually a good idea to stick to stock voltages unless you really need every last bit of performance from your card.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Special Situations</span></h3> <p>Each and every video card overclocks differently. These differences aren’t limited to just how much you can push the card. Some cards like the GTX 670 and 680 utilize GPU boost to ramp up graphics performance when you need it. Those cards unlock special sliders in Precision X to manage when the boost is active. If you’re working with a card that has GPU boost, you’ll want to play around with the Power Target slider, which determines when the boost is applied. Pump up the boost and your card won’t downclock as often—unless you’re temperatures are getting too high.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">The Results</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/overclocked_650ti.gif" alt="Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Overclock" title="Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Overclock" width="393" height="485" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>We haven’t won any records, but we do have a respectable overclock.</strong></p> <p>In our Nvidia test system with an i5-3570k running at 3.4GHz and a GTX 650 Ti, we managed to overclock the graphics card to 1,161/1,600MHz from a stock 941/1,350MHz. That’s a 19% increase in GPU clock speed and a 16% increase in memory clock speed.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/overclocked_7850.png" alt="AMD Radeon HD 7850 Overclock" title="AMD Radeon HD 7850 Overclock" width="393" height="485" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>This 7850 didn’t play nice with memory overclocks, but a 190MHz increase in core clock speed isn’t bad at all.</strong></p> <p>Our AMD test system with an i5-3570k running at 3.8GHz and a 7850, generated comparable results with a default 860/1,200MHz pushed to 1,050/1,225MHz. That’s an 18% increase in GPU clock speed and a less impressive 2% bump in memory clock speed.</p> <div style="text-align: left;"> <table class="MsoNormalTable" style="width: 615px; border-collapse: collapse;" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <thead> <tr style="mso-yfti-irow: 0; mso-yfti-firstrow: yes; height: .2in;"> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">&nbsp;</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">Stock GTX 650 Ti</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">Overclocked GTX 650 Ti</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">Stock 7850 </span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">Overclocked 7850</span></p> </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr style="mso-yfti-irow: 1; height: 9.75pt;"> <td style="border: none; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">3DMark Fire Strike</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">2,990</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">3,574</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">4,119</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">4,706</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr style="mso-yfti-irow: 2; height: .2in;"> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">Unigine Heaven 4.0 (fps)</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">15.6</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">18.7</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">20.5</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: .2in;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">23.8</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr style="mso-yfti-irow: 3; height: 9.75pt;"> <td style="border: none; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">BioShock Infinite (fps)</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">36.6</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">42.1</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">42.4</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">48.44</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr style="mso-yfti-irow: 4; height: 9.75pt;"> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">Tomb Raider (fps)</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">25.2</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">31.5</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">31.3</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #E7E7E7; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: 0in; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">33.2</span></p> </td> </tr> <tr style="mso-yfti-irow: 5; mso-yfti-lastrow: yes; height: 9.75pt;"> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">Core/Memory Clock (MHz)</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">941/1,350</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">1,161/1,600</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">860/1,200</span></p> </td> <td style="border-top: none; border-left: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-bottom: solid #CCCCCC 1.0pt; border-right: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; mso-border-bottom-alt: solid #CCCCCC .75pt; background: #EDEDED; padding: 6.0pt 11.25pt 6.0pt 11.25pt; height: 9.75pt;" valign="bottom"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-top: .75pt; margin-right: .75pt; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-left: 0in; line-height: 14.25pt;"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; color: #666666;">1,050/1,225</span></p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> http://www.maximumpc.com/how_overclock_your_graphics_card_2015#comments amd. graphics card gpu how to overclock nvidia overclocking performance Video Card Features How-Tos Fri, 06 Feb 2015 23:28:34 +0000 Ben Kim 27083 at http://www.maximumpc.com How to Start a Podcast http://www.maximumpc.com/how_start_podcast_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/rssbutton_final1.jpg" alt="RSS" title="RSS" width="250" height="238" style="float: right;" />The ABCs of podcasting</span></h3> <p>Car rides and long commutes have been mitigated by the immense popularity of podcasts. What’s great about podcasts, unlike radio, is that they’re largely democratic endeavors. Anyone and everyone is free to record, edit, and publish their own podcasts.&nbsp;</p> <p>In an effort to help out any aspiring podcasters out there, we’ve decided to outline the process in a guide. Now’s probably a good time to plug our kickass <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/articles/no_bs_podcast" target="_blank">No BS Podcast</a>, because it’ll act as our benchmark for what we’re trying to accomplish. We can’t guarantee that your podcast will be the next <a href="http://serialpodcast.org/" target="_blank">Serial</a>, but we’ll teach you how to get your finished product out to the masses.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal; font-size: 1.17em;">Planning the Podcast</span></h3> <p>The first thing you’ll want are some compelling talking points. What’s your podcast going to be about? Will you talk about a specific game or community? Brainstorm some ideas and try to avoid direct overlap with existing podcasts.</p> <p>Once you have a great idea in hand, you’ll need to gather up some people to talk about it. Friends and close colleagues work best because you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid awkward silences and people talking over each other. Podcast listeners tune in to be a part of the discussion—despite the lack of actual input. Try to find participants that have good chemistry to keep things conversational.</p> <p>Set up a date and time to record your first episode and then get cracking on some rudimentary show notes. You want to establish a basic outline (and some specific details) of what you and your guests will be discussing on each episode of the podcast. Think of this as a sort of script that guides you through the show, but don’t read from it verbatim. The show notes can also be published alongside your podcast as a visual guide for listeners with links to specific products or websites mentioned during the show.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Recording the Show</span></h3> <p>Now that you’ve got everything ready—speakers, show notes, and talking points—you should be good to sit down and actually record your show. For a professional production, you’d probably want a microphone for each person hooked up to a mixer, but for amateurs it’s easier and cheaper to go with one quality microphone. &nbsp;</p> <p>We haven’t yet done extensive testing on any standalone microphones, but the Internet seems to be abuzz about the <a href="http://www.bluemic.com/yeti/" target="_blank">Blue Yeti</a>. It’s racked up over 1,900 reviews on Amazon with an average four-and-a-half star rating. It supports four different recording modes (stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional) and even comes equipped with a headphone jack for live monitoring.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/max_pc_podcast_tutorial_2014-12-29_11-30-55.png" alt="Audacity Levels" title="Audacity Levels" width="600" height="335" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Make sure that your audio levels hover around -12 decibels.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Set up your microphone and start up <a href="http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/" target="_blank">Audacity</a> to do the actual recording. We’ve already written up an <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/audacity_crash_course_2014" target="_blank">Audacity Crash Course</a>, so we won’t go too in-depth here, but we’ll cover the basics. Before you click the big red record button, make sure that Audacity has correctly selected the appropriate microphone (in this case FrontMic (Realtek High Definition). Hit the record button (or the R key) and check your levels. The audio meter toolbar (denoted by the L and R) displays both playback and recording volumes in green and red, respectively. Keep the levels around -12dB and avoid anything even close to 0dB to avoid clipping.</p> <p>Once your levels are good to go, hit the record button and start doing a mic check for each and every speaker. You want to make sure that the volume is similar for everyone. In a professional setup, a mixer would be used to raise and lower individual levels, but with a single microphone you’ll have to balance the input volume slider with physical manipulation of the microphone. Try to keep it in between everyone and make sure that ambient noise is kept to a minimum (close windows, avoid rustling or fidgeting, and silence phones).</p> <p>As soon as everyone’s comfortable, you can jump right into the podcast. All of the pre-show banter and mic checks can be cut out in post-production. Start off with an introduction that introduces the podcast, what you’ll be talking about, and who the speakers will be. Follow your show notes and keep the show moving along at a nice pace to keep things from getting too drawn out. When you run out of talking points or just feel like wrapping things up, you can close with a mention of when listeners can expect the next show, along with any appropriate shout-outs (mentioning twitter handles, thanking guests, listing websites, etc.). Hit the stop button to cease the recording and you’ve got the makings of a podcast.</p> <p><em>Click through to the next page for instructions on editing, exporting, and publishing the podcast.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Editing the Recording</span></h3> <p>If you’ve been particularly careful to avoid pauses, interruptions, background noise, and lengthy mic checks, you could publish the entire show un-edited, but production value goes a long way toward legitimizing your podcast.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/maxpc_235_20141030_2014-12-29_11-47-45.png" alt="Audacity Editing" title="Audacity Editing" width="600" height="423" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Get rid of any protracted pauses, interruptions, or breaks.</strong></p> <p>Cut out anything that doesn’t belong. That includes leftover mic checks, small talk before the show open, and the silence at the end before you stopped the recording. Cutting is as simple as highlighting the area you want to remove and hitting the Delete key.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/royalty_free_music_-_google_chrome_2014-12-29_11-52-53.png" alt="Incompetech" title="Incompetech" width="600" height="348" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>We’ll pass on Ouroboros, but there are plenty of other songs that would make great choices.</strong></p> <p>With the fat trimmed off, we can add in some finishing touches. <a href="http://incompetech.com/" target="_blank">Incompetech</a> is one of many websites that offers royalty-free music fit for podcast intros and outros. Having a little music play before you introduce the show and a bit after you end the show provides some much needed consistency for listeners. Download a song that you like, make sure the terms of service allow you to use it in a podcast, and use part of it for the intro and outro.&nbsp;</p> <p>Keep both under five seconds and fade them in and out appropriately. Audacity has built-in effects under the "Effect" dropdown menu for both purposes. Simply highlight a short portion of the intro and select ‘Fade In’. Then grab the part immediately before you introduce the show and fade it out. Do the same thing for the outro to make everything sound natural.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Exporting the Podcast</span></h3> <p>By default, Audacity doesn’t support exporting MP3 files. That’s a problem because MP3 has become the de facto file format for podcasts the world over. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix that’s outlined on the <a href="http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq_i18n?s=install&amp;i=lame-mp3" target="_blank">Audacity website</a>. Follow the official step-by-step guide to install the LAME MP3 encoder and export your final product as an .mp3 file.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/max_pc_podcast_-_google_chrome_2014-12-29_13-49-07.png" alt="Google Drive URL" title="Google Drive URL" width="600" height="288" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Our folder ID here is "0B54Hkqn1KSBqREdQd3ZLaXdtOHM" and the file name is "maxpc_235_20141030.mp3."</strong></p> <p>With your mp3 file in hand, head on over to Google Drive and create a folder for the podcast. Set the sharing settings to “Public on the web” and upload your episode into the folder. While the file is uploading, get the sharing link for your podcast folder and the filename of the podcast itself. Google Drive doesn’t provide direct links to uploaded files and we need one to get our podcast published. Extract your folder id from the URL of the folder you created (see image above) and fill out the URL template below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>https://googledrive.com/host/FOLDER_ID/FILENAME.MP3</strong></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Getting it on the Web</span></h3> <p>Now that we’ve got an episode on the Internet and ready to go, we’ve got to set up a blog that will be the online home of the podcast. Although most listeners will probably find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or their favorite podcast app, the website also works in the background to generate an RSS feed that services like iTunes use to retrieve new episodes.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/episode_1__max_pc_test_podcast_-_google_chrome_2014-12-29_14-37-21.png" alt="Wordpress Post Preview" title="Wordpress Post Preview" width="600" height="444" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>It looks a bit rough, but it’ll do.</strong></p> <p>This time around we’ve settled on Wordpress, which natively supports embedding mp3 files. We don’t have to mess with third-party plugins to get the podcast up and running. In fact, it’s as simple as creating a new blog, writing up a post, and embedding the URL that we created earlier. Either click the Add Media button while editing your post or simply enclose the URL in [embed] and [/embed] tags.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-12-29_14-19-00.png" alt="SmartCast" title="SmartCast" width="600" height="441" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Google’s FeedBurner might look dated, but it’s still a capable tool for podcasters.</strong></p> <p>We’ll be using <a href="http://feedburner.com/" target="_blank">FeedBurner</a> to handle our podcast’s RSS feed. There are a bunch of alternatives, but FeedBurner is completely free and provides rudimentary subscription statistics. Log into your Google account and burn a feed by entering in your blog URL, checking the "I am a podcaster!" radio box, and hitting the "Next" button. Follow the prompts and you should end up with a FeedBurner URL like: <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/MaxPcTestPodcast" target="_blank">http://feeds.feedburner.com/MaxPcTestPodcast</a>. We’ll be using that to create an iTunes page for the podcast.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-12-29_14-31-56.png" alt="SmartCast Settings" title="SmartCast Settings" width="600" height="447" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Make sure the “Include iTunes podcasting elements” box is checked.</strong></p> <p>Before we submit our podcast to the iTunes Store, we’ll need to set up SmartCast in the FeedBurner settings for our feed. This feature lets us attach metadata to our feed. iTunes requires that podcasts have album artwork, and the rest of the information provided by SmartCast helps flesh out the iTunes page for the podcast. It might take a while for things to work perfectly, but we should be ready to get our podcast into iTunes.</p> <p>As much as we hate relying on iTunes, there’s no getting past it if you’re a serious podcaster. The otherwise bloated application provides a curated experience for podcasts. Submissions to the store are reviewed by Apple staff before being listed alongside established podcasts. Follow <a href="https://buy.itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/publishPodcast" target="_blank">this link</a> to submit an application for your completed podcast. Apple should send you an email once they’ve decided for or against you.&nbsp;</p> <p>One potential alternative to iTunes is <a href="http://www.stitcher.com/" target="_blank">Stitcher</a>, which is a self-described “Radio On Demand” service with iOS, Android, and Desktop apps. Just like with iTunes, you’ll have to submit an application to be considered for the content listing. Submit a Content Provider application <a href="http://www.stitcher.com/content-providers" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Wrapping Things Up</span></h3> <p>With your podcast listed on iTunes and Stitcher, you should be all set to produce spectacular shows on whatever schedule you set for yourself. With each episode, you’ll have to upload the file, convert another Google Drive URL, and post the episode on your blog. FeedBurner and your content providers will do the rest.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/how_start_podcast_2015#comments how to How to Start a Podcast Podcast podcasting Features Wed, 04 Feb 2015 22:19:05 +0000 Ben Kim 29161 at http://www.maximumpc.com Head 2 Head: Oculus Rift vs. HoloLens http://www.maximumpc.com/head_2_head_oculus_rift_vs_hololens_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>We’ve tried HoloLens and Crescent Bay—our thoughts on both headsets</h3> <p>With Microsoft now entrenched in the headset realm with <a title="hololens maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/microsoft%E2%80%99s_hololens_has_potential_be_transformative2015" target="_blank">HoloLens</a>, many of you might be wondering how it stacks up against Oculus VR’s Oculus Rift. After all, both are head-mounted displays. Still, while they have their similarities, they are also quite different.&nbsp;</p> <p>Whereas a virtual-reality headset aims to pull you into a virtual world, Microsoft has said many times that its augmented reality headset is content with keeping you in the real world, but simply wants to inject your life with holograms. We’ve had the rare chance of trying out both Microsoft’s HoloLens development kit and Oculus VR’s newest Crescent Bay headset. Which one do we think is better? While consumer versions aren’t out for either device, we thought we would weigh the pros and cons of each via five categories below.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/oculus_vs_hololens.png" alt="hololens vs oculus rift" title="hololens vs oculus rift" width="620" height="282" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Left to right: Oculus Rift (Crescent Bay), Microsoft HoloLens prototype</strong></p> <p><em>Keep in mind that as neither headset has had its official release, our opinions are subject to change. Also, we haven’t included unknown categories such as price, etc.</em></p> <h4>Round 1: Design</h4> <p>While both products are likely several months away from release, we know slightly more about the consumer version of the Oculus Rift than than the HoloLens. Rumor is that Crescent Bay, which Oculus says is a prototype of what its first consumer version might look like, is using a 2560x1440-resolution panel, and we suspect the consumer version will be in that vicinity as well. When we <a title="nate mitchell interview" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/ces_2015_-depth_interview_oculus_vr_founder_nate_mitchell_video" target="_blank">asked Oculus VR founder Nate Mitchell</a> what refresh rate we can expect to see for the consumer headset, he told us, “At least 90hz.” In addition, we suspect the consumer version of Oculus Rift will support roughly a 100-degree field of view (give or take a few degrees). We also know that there will be a SKU that offers 3D positional audio that will tie in well to the Rift’s excellent stereoscopic 3D visuals. We also know that, unless something changes, CV1 of the Oculus Rift will rely on an external camera for positional head tracking, which Microsoft’s HoloLens will not use. And because the Oculus Rift obstructs your view of the “outside world,” Oculus maintains that the Rift is intended for seated experiences at the moment.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pAC5SeNH8jw" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A grandmother is blown away by the Oculus Rift</strong></p> <p>This isn’t the case with HoloLens, however. Because you can see the virtual along with the real, Microsoft is fine with you walking around with the headset on. When we tried out an early HoloLens prototype headset, it was wired and also had a connected chest strap, but Microsoft says that the final version will be wireless. Unlike the Oculus Rift, which needs to be plugged into a PC, the HoloLens will essentially be a self-contained computer running Windows 10. It will have its own CPU, GPU, and a new holographic processing unit (HPU) that will tie everything together.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_rgb.png " width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A prototype for Microsoft's HoloLens</strong></p> <p>HoloLens does have some similarities to the Oculus Rift, however—it will support stereoscopic 3D and have speakers that provide positional audio. Other HoloLens features include an integrated depth sensor, finger-swiping gesture support, and a built-in mic. Some of that could be coming to the Oculus Rift as well, especially considering Oculus <a title="oculus acquires nimble vr" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/oculus_vr_grabs_hand-tracking_camera_developer_nimble_vr_2014 " target="_blank">acquired camera/hand tracking company Nimble VR</a>, so we’ll have to wait and see if the two headsets become more similar over time.&nbsp;</p> <p>A big difference between the two headsets in their current states is that the virtual field of view is smaller on Microsoft’s headset. There's also no definitive word on how sharp the final version of HoloLens will be. Microsoft simply told us “HD,” which indicates at least a 720P display. If what we saw at Microsoft’s Windows 10 event was any indication of what the resolution might look like for the consumer version, we’d say were in pretty good shape, as we thought it looked pretty sharp.&nbsp;</p> <p>Because there’s so much up in the air at this point, with designs and specs always changing, We can’t award a winner in this category.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winner: Too early to predict</strong></p> <h4>Round 2: Immersion</h4> <p>Both headsets are trying to sell you on immersion, but which one is more immersive? They offer two very different kinds of experiences. With the HoloLens, Microsoft isn’t trying to shield you from understanding where you are, but it does an excellent job of representing virtual things in your room that aren’t really there.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aAKfdeOX3-o" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Microsoft HoloLens possibilities video</strong></p> <p>Still, we’d have to give this nod to the Rift, because if it’s pulled off correctly, it can actually do a pretty great job of selling you on the fact that you’re in a different universe altogether. We’re confident virtual tourism will work better with the Rift, and that games will also be more intense and scarier with Oculus’s offering. When we tried on the Crescent Bay demo at GDC 2014, there was a demo where we saw a giant T-Rex approach us and it felt like it could really bite off our heads (à la <em>Jurassic Park</em> lawyer scene) if he really wanted to. It was kind of unsettling. Plus, the Rift currently offers a more encompassing field of view.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winner: Oculus Rift</strong></p> <h4>Round 3: Productivity</h4> <p>With Facebook purchasing Oculus for 2 billion dollars, we’re sure social media, video chat, and such will be big components of the headset, but considering you can see the virtual along with the real with Microsoft’s solution, we’re going with HoloLens for productivity potential at this point.&nbsp;</p> <p>At Microsoft’s Windows 10 press conference, the company brought us into a room, asked us to put on HoloLens and fix an electrical wall socket with real, physical tools. Using Skype, the person on the other end could see what we we were seeing and they could draw on their touchscreen to point out problem areas that needed to be addressed. This worked about as well as someone looking over our shoulder in real life.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_skype_rgb.jpg " width="620" height="423" /></p> <p>We can see this being used to fix cars or even people, and can easily imagine HoloLens being used in the ER or to help soldiers detect&nbsp; landmines on the battlefield in real time. &nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to this, we know that HoloLens will support finger gestures (though we could also see Oculus adding this to its headsets later on). This will allow you to use Microsoft’s HoloStudio program to create 3D objects, which you can later send to a 3D printer. Microsoft says it’s the best print preview for 3D printing out there, and it’s a pretty convincing argument. With HoloLens, the lines between the real and digital will become blurrier. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winner: HoloLens</strong></p> <h4>Round 4: Gaming</h4> <p>We’re still not entirely sure what games to expect from the Oculus Rift. Right now we’re in a stage where lots of traditional first-person games are being ported over, but Oculus has said time and time again that the best VR games will have to be tailor made for VR, and we’re inclined to agree with them. That is because locomotion is currently an issue, that is the queasiness you experience when your eyes think your body is moving but your brain does not. And there isn’t yet a silver bullet controller that will help you best interact in these VR worlds.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_family_room_rgb.jpg " width="620" height="413" /></p> <p>There are perhaps even more questions for gaming on HoloLens. We could see I-spy games being really popular around the house, and perhaps we can see FPS games that have us blasting aliens that come in from the kitchen, but at the same time, Microsoft hasn’t said how easy/hard the programming for any of this would be.&nbsp;</p> <p>From the information we have, it seems much easier to program games for Oculus, since developers won’t have to deal with real-world variances, etc. The HoloLens does have mobility going for it, though.You should be able to run around the house, and this could open up new gameplay opportunities. While we’re confident that some cool casual games could come out of this, at this point we’re inclined to say the bigger AAA games will be on Oculus.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winner: Oculus Rift</strong></p> <h4>Round 5: Entertainment</h4> <p>With a bunch of VR documentaries already announced, including one from legendary nature documentary producer David Attenborough, it’s going to be tough to beat the Rift here. We also expect to see more videos and movies created for VR. Plus, much of the porn industry is also behind VR as well, so there’s that…</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/86717334" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Zero Point VR documentary trailer</strong></p> <p>We think the wider viewing angle and all-encompassing approach that Oculus brings to the table help it trump HoloLens for entertainment, at least for now.</p> <p><strong>Winner: Oculus Rift</strong></p> <h4>Conclusion:&nbsp;</h4> <p>We know Oculus won three out of the five categories here, but really, the two devices aim to serve different purposes. Is there room for both headsets? Only time will tell. Perhaps one day we might see an amalgamation headset that combines elements of VR and AR. Conversely, both of these headsets still have a lot to prove and if they aren’t executed well, could both become shovelware.&nbsp;</p> <p>If we had to give the overall momentum to one solution over the other, however, we’d have to give Oculus Rift the advantage. At this point, people can relate more easilty to the idea of VR. Admittedly, it has the benefit of getting an earlier start. And with Oculus VR doing a good job embracing the open-source community, there are currently more people/developers behind its headset at the moment.&nbsp;</p> <p>Considering both are rumored to release this year, we're hoping we won’t have to wait too much longer to see which one makes a bigger splash when they officially arrive.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/head_2_head_oculus_rift_vs_hololens_2015#comments ar augmented reality crescent bay difference headset Hololens microsoft oculus rift virtual reality vr News Features Mon, 02 Feb 2015 23:33:16 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29344 at http://www.maximumpc.com Graphics Porn (January 2015): Other Places http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_january_2015_other_places <!--paging_filter--><h3 style="margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 21px; vertical-align: baseline; letter-spacing: -0.05em; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-weight: normal; color: #990000; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;"><img src="/files/u162579/graphics_porn.png" alt="Other Places" title="Other Places" width="250" height="223" style="float: right;" />Showcasing the sexiest, most photogenic game screenshots this side of the Internet</span></h3> <p><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent;">Andy Kelly's <a href="http://www.otherplaces.co.uk/" target="_blank">Other Places</a> is an homage to the beauty of video games. In fact, the PC Gamer writer calls the project: "A series celebrating beautiful video game worlds." We're inclined to agree and we've decided to showcase some of his greatest works in this month's <strong><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/graphics_porn" target="_blank">Graphics Porn</a></strong>. They're not exactly screenshots, but Andy's videos capture these places in a way that photographs cannot. The videos range from compilations to well-edited footage of specific locations like Far Cry 4's Kyrat.&nbsp;</span></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 as well as (or 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_january_2015_other_places#comments Andy Kelly Bioshock dayz Dishonored Graphics Porn Other Places Skyrim Features Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:12:35 +0000 Ben Kim 29138 at http://www.maximumpc.com Rig of the Month: Parvum Warfare http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_parvum_warfare_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/bc6f145e_f1a1f2t_1.jpeg" alt="Parvum Warfare" title="Parvum Warfare" width="250" height="167" style="float: right;" />It's battle-ready and beautiful at the same time</span></h3> <p><a href="https://m.facebook.com/jameswalt1computerart?ref=bookmark" target="_blank">James Walter</a> is back with yet another stellar PC for this month's <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_roundup_2014" target="_blank"><strong>Rig of the Month</strong></a>. It's a lot like his last build, <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_parvum_titanfall_2014" target="_blank">Parvum Titanfall</a>, but that's not a bad thing. James's obvious attention to detail makes a triumphant return in a case that's based on the design of the offical Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One controller.&nbsp;</p> <p>Just like last time, James worked with <a href="http://www.parvumsystems.com/" target="_blank">Parvum Systems</a> to create a one-off rig that's both professional and exceptional. <a href="http://www.overclock.net/t/1508863/sponsored-parvum-warfare" target="_blank">Parvum Warfare</a> combines a custom, acrylic case with an absolutely faithful application of design elements common to the Xbox One and the Advanced Warfare-themed controller.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hVLOeqbwEew?rel=0" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>James admires and assembles the custom-made case.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Inside the glorious mITX exterior is an Intel 4790k, an EVGA Z97 Stinger motherboard, 16GB of GSkill memory, an Nvidia Titan Black, a 500GB Samsung EVO SSD, and a Corsair RM650 power supply. Throw in the watercooling components from Swiftech, Darkside, and Bitspower, and Parvum Warfare is ready for battle.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/l2uB53AQk5M?rel=0" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>James's reveal videos always ooze quality.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><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_parvum_warfare_2014#comments call of duty: advanced warfare James Walter Parvum Warfare Rig of the Month rig of the month From the Magazine Features Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:27:37 +0000 Ben Kim 29137 at http://www.maximumpc.com An Inside Look at How Logitech Designs Its Gaming Mice http://www.maximumpc.com/inside_look_how_logitech_designs_its_gaming_mice2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/dsc01600.jpg" alt="logitech gaming mouse" title="logitech gaming mouse" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />The science and testing behind Logitech’s gaming mice</h3> <p><em>This is part two of our in-depth tour of Logitech’s facilities in Switzerland. This article focuses on how Logitech designs and develops its gaming mice. For an inside look at how the company is attempting to reinvent the mechanical keyboard, click <a title="logitech mechanical keyboard" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/how_logitech_reinventing_mechanical_keyboard2014" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p> <p>While Logitech is generally viewed as a peripheral manufacturer, the company views itself as a technology company. In an attempt to show PC gamers that it uses cutting-edge design methodologies, Logitech invited us to its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland to show us how the company designs and tests it gaming mice.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/I-Aq-KBMPEs" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech explains how its G402 mouse uses two sensors</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><img src="/files/u154082/g402_hyperion_fury.jpg" alt="logitech g402 hyperion fury" title="logitech g402 hyperion fury" width="200" height="214" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury<br /></strong>The company’s most interesting mouse today is arguably the G402 Hyperion Fury, which it claims to be “the world’s fastest gaming mouse.” Logitech boasts that the G402 can move a blistering 12.5 meters a second. To achieve this, Logitech says it uses a combination of two sensors. At slow-to-moderate speeds, the mouse uses a traditional optical sensor. Optical sensors are arguably the most common sensors used in gaming mice and use high-speed cameras to take blazing-fast images of the surface it rests upon. From here, the sensor then overlaps the images to create a movement map. While the cameras used in Logitech’s optical sensors are magnitudes faster than the traditional point-and-shoot cameras you find at your camera store (think about 12,000 shots a second), the company says that even they have detectable lag when you’re trying to move a mouse at 12.5 meters a second. Therefore, beyond a certain speed threshold, the G402 switches over to an accelerometer/gyroscope solution. It uses a small ARM processor that can switch on the fly, and Logitech claims less than a millisecond of delay results from the switch. While a gyroscope solution isn’t the most accurate sensor at low speeds, Logitech says they excel when there is a quick burst of movement, thus the G402 uses a hybrid solution that aims to leverage both sensor’s strengths to achieve its speed.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/63jEXIwiFHk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>An indepth interview with Logitech's mouse expert Chris Pate</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/logitech_g302.jpg" alt="Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime" title="Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime" width="200" height="166" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" /></p> <p><strong>Logitech G302 Daedalus Prime<br /></strong>While this hybrid sensor seems advantageous for the end user, we were surprised to hear that the company’s even newer G302 Daedalus Prime mouse opts instead to support a more traditional optical solution. Logitech told us the reason the hybrid solution wasn’t included was because the G302 was designed to be a smaller, lighter MOBA mouse, and trying to house two sensors along with the G402’s ARM processor wasn’t ideal to achieve this compact form factor. This isn’t to say the G302 doesn’t have its element of uniqueness, however.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1JgJyTegDqc" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech says its mice are good for at least 20 million clicks</strong></p> <p>Because MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2 feature tons of clicking, the Daedalus Prime is largely focused on eliminating the travel between the mouse’s buttons and its microswitches that activate commands. The G302 is able to do this by separating the left and right mouse buttons from the body of the mouse (Logitech says most mice use a monolithic design), and having them rest directly on top of the microswitch. This means that there is no air travel between the button and the switch at all. In the absence of air travel, Logitech designed a new metal spring tensioning system that rests between the button and the switch. When we asked Logitech if this could potentially add unwanted tension, which could theoretically create microscopic amounts of lag in and of itself, the company assured us that it didn’t, but rather aided in a consistent clicking experience.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VKmfG_Wv14Q" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A Logitech contraption that measures mouse accuracy</strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u152332/buildit-12387_small.jpg" alt="logitech g602" title="logitech g602" width="200" height="165" style="float: left; margin: 5px;" /></p> <p><strong>Logitech G602<br /></strong>One of the best-selling mice that Logitech currently offers is its G602 wireless mouse. According to Logitech, when you look at the mouse industry as a whole, wireless mice outsell wired ones. This might not be true for gaming, but with the G602, Logitech worked to overcome many of gamers’ fears.</p> <p>The most obvious concern for gamers is lag. According to Logitech, lag on the G602 is imperceptible. The company ran an experiment where it asked a group of gamers if they could detect any noticeable lag using its wireless gaming mouse. People said they believed it felt laggier than a traditional wired mouse. When Logitech plugged in a faux wired cable (that did nothing), the same users said it felt much more responsive. Essentially, Logitech asserts that it was merely the placebo effect at play. According to Logitech, the G602 is capable of delivering a two millisecond response time. The company says that most people can only detect latency at four milliseconds and beyond. According to its own studies, some people can’t even perceive 40 milliseconds of lag.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GcFGIFAhAqg" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech has a special room that removes all wireless signals to detect wireless dead zones for its wireless mice.</strong></p> <p>Logitech claims it could have gotten the G602’s response time under two milliseconds, but at the cost of battery life, which is actually the true obstacle of a wireless gaming mouse. By scaling it back to two milliseconds, Logitech says it was able to get much more battery life out of the G602, which it asserts is able to get 250 hours of use out of a single charge. How is the company able to achieve those figures? Logitech says that it designed the G602 with battery in mind and created a sensor specifically for gaming wirelessly. The G602 also uses Logitech’s proprietary USB interface. When we asked them why it didn’t use Bluetooth, the company informed us that the response rate of Bluetooth devices are at the mercy of the host (computer) device. The G602, in particular, uses a 1,000Hz polling rate through USB.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/V3Aro0DNpGk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Logitech proving that there is no added acceleration to its mice.</strong></p> <p>Other interesting things we learned about mice from Logitech is that no sensor is 100 percent accurate. You might see that terminology used to market mice from other vendors, but Logitech asserts that these claims are simply false.</p> <p>Another question we had pertained to laser mice. Several years ago, laser mice were quite popular because they tracked on a wider range of surfaces compared to optical. While laser mice aren’t terrible, optical mice have one key advantage over them, and that comes down to accuracy variance, more commonly referred to as “mouse acceleration.” Mouse acceleration is undesired for gaming and generally equates to an inconsistent movement experience. According to Logitech, with laser mice, you get about a five to six percent variance, making for an inconsistent experience, compared to an optical sensor’s one percent equivalent.</p> <p>One final interesting tidbit that we learned is that many gamers prefer braided cables on their mice, but Logitech’s data shows that more pros actually prefer plastic cables as they tend to offer more flexibility. So if you want to play like a pro, you might want to consider ditching the braided cable.</p> <p>For more pictures and information from the event, check out our image gallery below.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/inside_look_how_logitech_designs_its_gaming_mice2015#comments Daedalus Prime esports G302 G402 g602 gaming mice Hardware hyperion fury logitech moba mouse shooter wireless Gaming News Mice Features Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:35:46 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29321 at http://www.maximumpc.com Microsoft’s HoloLens Has the Potential to Be Transformative http://www.maximumpc.com/microsoft%E2%80%99s_hololens_has_potential_be_transformative2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>We tried Microsoft's augmented reality demo and couldn’t stop smiling</h3> <p>Many suspected that Microsoft would toss its hat into the virtual reality headset game. After all, Oculus VR was successful enough with its Kickstarter campaign that Facebook ended up purchasing it for $two billion, and longtime console rival Sony jumped into the fray not long ago with its Project Morpheus. While Microsoft did reveal its own head-mounted display, the HoloLens isn’t competing in the VR space, but is instead paving new paths for augmented realities. We got a chance to try it ourselves and you’re probably wondering, “Is it any good?” Simply put, if it's executed correctly, it has the potential to be transformative.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_rgb.png" alt="hololens" title="hololens" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>A prototype sample of Microsoft's Hololens headset.</strong></p> <p>How does an AR headset differ from a VR headset? Whereas VR headsets try to take you into a virtual world completely, Microsoft’s augmented reality HoloLens is happy to keep you in reality. It instead opts to inject virtual holograms into your own real-life world (think the Princess Leah hologram and you pretty much get the idea). “This is your world with holograms,” Microsoft said of the device at its Windows 10 keynote. Unlike the fictitious technology in Star Wars, however, here you have to wear a headset. The HoloLens has a see-through visor, and augmented reality objects are beamed into a rectangle in front of you. The rectangle isn’t all-encompassing, however. You’ll still be able to see around the rectangle. The visual box is akin to you sitting in the middle of a movie theater, in that you can see more than just the screen. Technically, you can also see through this rectangle, considering it’s a see-through glass-like material, but we must say that Microsoft has done an incredible job making the area behind the rectangle disappear. We had to stick up a hand in front of our face to make sure that we could still see through it, and even then it was hard not to focus on the augmented reality visuals right in front of us.</p> <p>While our developer kit unit was wired and featured a chest mount tethered to a janky-looking headset (so janky that Microsoft wouldn’t let us take pictures of it), the company says that the consumer version of the HoloLens will be completely wireless and will not require a separate device, like a smartphone or computer. Nor will it require markers or have an external camera, even though it supports positional head-tracking. Instead, it will run Windows 10 itself and has its own dedicated CPU, GPU, and a new holographic processing unit (HPU) that processes all of these sensors together in real time. Another little dev-kit quirk is that Microsoft had to measure the distance between our eyes to properly configure the headset to our needs. The company says this will be handled automatically with the consumer release.</p> <p>The headset also has integrated speakers that provide spatial sound and a built-in mic that will allow you to issue voice commands. In addition, Hololens has an integrated depth sensor, supports stereoscopic 3D, and can track your finger gestures (provided they are in your line of sight). Activating a command is as easy as holding your right fist one foot away from your chest (with your knuckles facing you), lifting your index finger up to the ceiling, and flicking up and down with said finger. Slightly weirder was that you don’t control the headset’s cursor with your finger; instead, the cursor is always fixated in the middle of your vision, so you essentially use your eyes to point at objects. It took us about five minutes to get the hang of it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_family_room_rgb.jpg" alt="minecraft ar" title="minecraft ar" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Minecraft-inspired demo looked nearly as good as this picture depicts.</strong></p> <p>At the Windows 10 event, Microsoft showed off four HoloLens demos. The first one we tried was called HoloBuilder. It’s essentially a Minecraft-inspired augmented reality demo. We were situated in a living room with the headset on, and when we looked around, the various desks and coffee tables had virtual 3D buildings and structures situated on top of them. The blending of the real and virtual was seamless and truly impressive. It never felt like the augmented reality objects were inappropriately floating in space, or didn’t have a sense of presence to them. It felt like all the Minecraft castles and farmlands were actually there (albeit in virtual miniature LEGO form). We couldn’t help but shout out expletives at how unbelievable it felt at times; we were blown away. One of the picture frames in the room featured a cavern and it really felt like we could stick our arm into the cave. The 3D depth here is amazing. Another experience had us looking at a short table on the floor. On top of the table were blocks of TNT that we could look at and explode with our activate finger gesture. When we blew up the box of dynamite, we saw the virtual earth open up to reveal magma underneath the floor. This might sound like hyperbole, but it looked so incredibly convincing that we had to step on it ourselves to make sure it wasn’t actually there.&nbsp;</p> <p>The next demo we attended had Microsoft representatives showing off the HoloLens’s HoloStudio tool. Microsoft believes that this program will bring about a “new medium for artistic expression and creation.” HoloStudio is the company’s tool that will allow you to use Hololens to easily create 3D augmented reality objects, using simple hand gestures and voice commands. From here, you’ll be able to get these objects 3D printed. Microsoft says HoloStudio represents a “perfect print preview for 3D printing.” This tool essentially blends the physical and digital worlds. We saw a live demo of a Microsoft employee building a virtual toy koala in under two minutes. The toy looked impressive, but perhaps more impressive is that, according to Microsoft, the employee didn’t have any 3D modeling experience prior to prepping for the demo. He also showed us a 3D model of an X-Wing that looked accurate to the Star Wars incarnation. According to the rep, it only took him about an hour and a half to build it. The company says it wants to make building 3D objects easy for beginners; you won’t have to be a professional 3D artist to construct interesting designs. In the live HoloStudio live demo, the Microsoft rep was able to pull objects out from a virtual toolbox and copy/reorient them with simple tap/voice commands. The software looks promising, but unfortunately Microsoft couldn’t tell us if it would be bundled for free with the purchase of HoloLens.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/dsc02559.jpg" alt="koala" title="koala" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>&nbsp;Here is a 3D printed figure of what the virtual koala looked like.</strong></p> <p>The following demo took us to space—Mars, specifically. Microsoft has been working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs to recreate a 3D rendering of Mars using Curiosity's images. While our physical body was located in an office in Bellevue, Washington, it felt like we were walking on the red planet. When we asked if any of the landscape were computer rendered, the Microsoft rep told us that all the imagery was actually from Mars, and that it was the closest man has ever come to walking on the planet. Suffice it to say our jaws hit the floor. It looked entirely realistic. Never did it feel flat or like images were being stitched together. We actually felt like we were on Mars (at least as best as a see-through augmented related lens can deliver). Microsoft also set up a tour guide in a different room to show us around the alien planet. Our tour guide was golden (picture the Silver Surfer, except gold). This is but one humanoid prototype Microsoft said it was working on. It had Superman-like laser beams pointing out of its eyes (minus the laser sound effects) that would point us in the direction of interesting objects spread throughout the desert terrain. By focusing in on objects, we could use the flick command to zoom in on surfaces. Again, the headset features positional head tracking, so we were able to get on our knees and closely observe the rocks underneath our feet. It was a surreal experience and we could definitely see NASA using this headset for more research.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_skype_rgb.jpg" alt="skype hololens" title="skype hololens" width="620" height="423" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Who knew Skype could be so informative?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;The final demo we took part in had us interfacing with a real human being over Skype. While that might sound less exciting than the other demos, it was actually pretty cool. The person on the other end of the line was going to help us repair a broken electric wall socket. Our Skype helper could see what we were seeing (as a function of the HoloLens), and she walked us through all the steps to fix the socket, connecting wires and all. We had a funny moment during this demo when she asked us to look down at the tools. We did what we were asked and looked at the virtual tools below her video feed. But she asked us to look down at the tools again, and we realized she meant the physical hammers and such on the desk beside us. It’s sort of crazy how the physical and digital are already becoming hard to distinguish in AR. Once we got that squared away, we pinned her video feed to the side of the wall socket (so that it wouldn’t float in the middle of our vision and obstruct our view of it). From there, she was able to give us very clear and precise instructions on how to fix the issue. It worked about as well as someone giving you instructions over the shoulder in real life. </p> <p>It’s extremely exciting to see examples of what AR will allow people to do. Obviously, helping someone fix an electrical socket over Skype is one of them, but you’ll also be able to get cooking lessons from your mom or learn how to fix a car from your dad, and so on. Virtual classes with one-on-one instruction seems like a natural next step. We see a lot of potential here in the professional world, too. It could potentially aid doctors in the ER or help soldiers avoid potential land mines in the field. Then, yes, of course, game opportunities abound. You could potentially do some unique eye-spy or hide-and-seek type games around your house or blast aliens as they start coming in from your kitchen. Microsoft says gaming will be a big component of HoloLens, but it will be up to the developers to push the boundaries of what’s possible with AR games. In addition, as we also saw with the Mars demo, virtual tourism could be a big thing.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_mixedworld_rgb.jpg" alt="mixed world" title="mixed world" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>If pulled off correctly, HoloLens could be transformative.</strong></p> <p>Of course, virtual tourism may be better suited for VR experiences, where you are completely visually isolated from the outside world, and some people were bothered by the fact that you could see through and around the lens. It didn’t bother us, however. It was actually hard to stop smiling at points.</p> <p>When asked, Microsoft was coy about the technical aspects of the device. When we asked the HoloLens’s resolution, the answer was merely “HD.” In theory, this means 720p and up. Regardless, from our experiential test, we didn’t have any major issues with the resolution and thought it looked quite sharp for a developer kit. Of course, we’ll take higher resolution any day of the week, but the resolution that Microsoft is currently running seems ready for consumer release.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/microsoft_hololens_pivotpoint_rgb.jpg" alt="pivot" title="pivot" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>HoloLens could open up 3D modeling for beginners.</strong></p> <p>When will it be released? Microsoft says during the Windows 10 launch timeframe. As Microsoft aims to release Windows 10 sometime this year, you shouldn't have to wait too long to try it yourself.&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/microsoft%E2%80%99s_hololens_has_potential_be_transformative2015#comments ar augmented reality headset Hololens holostudio microsoft minecraft vr windows 10 News Features Thu, 22 Jan 2015 18:07:04 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29299 at http://www.maximumpc.com Best Free Photo Editing Software http://www.maximumpc.com/best_free_photo_editing_software_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-27_02-25-38.png" alt="Photoshop Express Editor" title="Photoshop Express Editor" width="250" height="205" style="float: right;" /></span></h3> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Free alternatives to Photoshop</span></h3> <p>It’s hard to justify paying for photo-editing software (like <a title="how to use photoshop" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/crash_course_learn_basics_adobe_photoshop_2015" target="_blank">Adobe Photoshop</a>) if you’re not a professional photographer, designer, or artist. Fortunately, there are a ton of capable, free alternatives. The list includes age-old standbys like GIMP along with relative newcomers like PicMonkey and Autodesk’s Pixlr.</p> <p>Keep in mind that what we look for in a photo editor might well be different from your personal requirements. A dad photographing his kids might just want basic exposure adjustment and rudimentary red-eye removal. An artist might need extensive control over individual layers of an image. Needs vary and something as basic as Paint might be all that’s required for a simple project where more complicated tools would just get in the way.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Paint</span></h3> <p>Microsoft Paint has been included in every single version of Windows and it’s useful for dumping the contents of your clipboard, cropping an image, and for some people: drawing <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2g5qbvb7F4" target="_blank">unbelievably realistic renditions of Santa Claus</a>. But try to adjust contrast or sharpness and you’ll find Paint severely lacking. There’s also the noticeable absence of any sort of layer system.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-26_17-30-02_0.jpg" alt="Paint" title="Paint" width="600" height="420" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Simple, clean, and easy to use. Not very useful for advanced tasks.</strong></p> <p>Despite the lackluster feature set, Paint is fast and works well for very basic tasks. The ribbon-based interface should be immediately familiar to Windows users, and the obvious tools—pencil, paint bucket, text, erase, etc.—are a cinch to manipulate.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Paint works well for what it is. If all you need is a simple way to crop, rotate, resize, and annotate images, this should work just fine.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">GIMP</span></h3> <p><a href="http://www.gimp.org" target="_blank">GIMP</a> is the Audacity of photo editors. It’s been around forever and it’s one of the most feature-rich free photo editors available today. Unlike Paint, it’s got full layer support, a packed toolbox—with staples like the Clone Tool, Healing Tool, and a magic-wand style Fuzzy Select Tool—along with a <a href="http://registry.gimp.org" target="_blank">vast library of additional plugins</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-27_02-33-23.jpg" alt="GIMP" title="GIMP" width="600" height="403" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>GIMP looks complicated because it is.</strong></p> <p>If anything, the sheer power of GIMP is it’s greatest downfall. As much as GIMP mimics the tried-and-true interface of Photoshop, it’s a program with a massive barrier to entry. Photoshop veterans might feel at home, but unaware users will need to spend time exploring the program to decipher icons—i.e., an X-Acto knife for the Crop Tool—and menu options.</p> <p>The sheer number of file formats supported by GIMP is a huge boon. The compatible extensions include basics like PNG files and JPEGs as well as Photoshop’s own .psd extension.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> GIMP is a definite front-runner with its incredible feature set and huge user base. If you can get past the sometimes confusing interface, GIMP is a great alternative to Photoshop.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Paint.net</span></h3> <p><a href="http://www.getpaint.net" target="_blank">Paint.net</a>&nbsp;began as a student project in 2004 at Washington State University. It has since evolved into an editor that can go toe-to-toe with GIMP and quite possibly Photoshop itself. It has full layer support and offers many of the same features that both GIMP and Photoshop users consider essential—the Clone Tool, a rudimentary Magic Wand, and all of the basics.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-27_01-59-31.jpg" alt="Paint.net" title="Paint.net" width="600" height="358" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Yup, that's a history window. Paint.net has all of the features that most editors would consider essential in a clean interface.</strong></p> <p>Where it begins to set itself apart is its user interface. At first glance, it meshes well with the modern aesthetic of Windows 8. Individual toolbars and property windows are easily distinguishable and are relegated to distinct portions of the screen. Each is clearly labeled and only essential items are displayed onscreen by default.&nbsp;</p> <p>The application’s only real shortcoming is that it’s got fewer features than GIMP. Paint.net’s streamlined interface comes at the cost of quite a few features that haven’t yet been implemented.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> If you value ease of use and aesthetics over raw power, Paint.net is an amazing alternative to Photoshop. It may not be as expansive as GIMP, but it’s a huge leap over Microsoft Paint.</p> <p><em>Click through to the next page to see what we thought about Pixlr Editor, Picasa, Photoshop Express Editor, and PicMonkey.</em></p> <hr /> <p><span style="font-weight: normal;">&nbsp;</span></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Pixlr Editor</span></h3> <p>Autodesk’s entry in the space is Pixlr. It’s available for free as a web app with native apps avilable for a wide variety of platforms. We took a look at the online-only incarnation, <a href="http://apps.pixlr.com/editor/" target="_blank">Pixlr Editor</a>, for this roundup since it’s a bit more fully featured.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-27_03-09-03.png" alt="Pixlr" title="Pixlr" width="600" height="393" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>It looks a bit like an older version of Linux, but it's a capable editor.</strong></p> <p>Unlike both Paint.net and GIMP, Pixlr Editor exists entirely online. We’re not fans of this setup, but we were pleasantly surprised by the editor itself. The interface isn’t as clean or modern as Paint.net, but it’s got all of the options on display—the Navigator window is a particularly nice touch.&nbsp;</p> <p>Pixlr Editor has full support for layers and includes many of the options shared by GIMP, Paint.net, and Photoshop. In fact, the differences between Pixlr Editor and the rest are largely unimportant. It’s mostly a question of whether you’re comfortable using an online photo editor—although the lack of plugin support could be a deal breaker for some.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Pixlr Editor is a surprise contender. It’s capable, fast, free, and works without any sort of installation.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Picasa</span></h3> <p><a href="http://picasa.google.com" target="_blank">Picasa</a>’s not exactly a photo editor as much as it as a photo management tool with rudimentary editing capabilities. Despite its dated interface and some general chunkiness, Google’s Picasa works as a stopgap tool to quickly edit photos with fun effects like film grain and filters—Lomo-ish is one of our favorites.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-27_02-13-53.png" alt="Picasa" title="Picasa" width="600" height="451" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Think of Picasa as a lightweight verison of Lightroom. It's got basic photo editing with a slew of photo-management options.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Even if it isn’t a real photo editor, the photo-management aspect of the application makes it a great choice for touching up large collections of photos quickly. Adding images to a library within Picasa gives you access to quick and easy controls for photography basics like redeye removal, automatic contrast, and straightening.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> It doesn’t stand up particularly well to programs like Paint.net or GIMP, but it should work just fine for people looking for a photo manager with some basic editing options built in.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Photoshop Express Editor</span></h3> <p>Here’s an advance warning: <a href="http://www.photoshop.com/tools" target="_blank">Photoshop Express Editor</a> is about as far from the real Photoshop experience as possible. Having established that, there are still good reasons that users would gravitate toward the official experience—even if it’s gimped. It’s clear that Adobe intends for Photoshop Express to be a gateway into purchasing the real thing because it exists entirely online—<a href="http://www.photoshop.com/products/photoshopexpress" target="_blank">native versions</a> are available, but they're more app than program—and can only manipulate a single image at a time.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-27_02-25-38_0.png" alt="Photoshop Express" title="Photoshop Express" width="600" height="493" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Pixelizing an entire image isn't exactly the most useful effect, but it certainly makes for an interesting image.</strong></p> <p>The tools on offer include exposure control, a Crop &amp; Rotate tool, some rudimentary resizing options, and a few adjustments and effects. Despite the fact that you can only have a single image open at a time, Photoshop Express does give users a chance to use some of Adobe’s superior effects and adjustments—see the image above for a demonstration of the Pixelate effect.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> It’s almost ridiculous to consider Photoshop Express Editor a worthy contender after considering the huge number of worthwhile alternatives. The fact that it exists as a pop-up on a page says more than we ever could—although some of the effects are genuinely entertaining.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">PicMonkey</span></h3> <p>While GIMP does its best Photoshop impression, <a href="http://www.picmonkey.com" target="_blank">PicMonkey</a> is content with being a bit of a novelty. Instead of offering users granular control over their images, PicMonkey lets editors add Overlays—clip art that ranges from arrows, stars, and hearts, to party hats, and sunglasses—text, and textures to images.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/2014-10-27_02-43-41_1.jpg" alt="PicMonkey" title="PicMonkey" width="600" height="389" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><strong>Adding cowboy hats to random images is a lot more fun than you'd think</strong><span style="text-align: start;"><strong>—</strong></span><strong>especially with PicMonkey's space filter laid on top.</strong></strong></p> <p>Of course, it’s also got options to adjust exposure, rotate and crop, sharpen, resize, and add effects. Any self-serious editor will balk at the gaudy effect of PicMonkey’s Cross Process setting, but we loved the casual experience of editing with PicMonkey. It's designed well and caters to beginners who aren't concerned with gaussian blurs or layered effects. An otherwise sterling experience is marred by an overabundance of premium—Royale—features that require a $4.99/month subscription.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> If all you’re looking for is an easy way to spice up an otherwise boring photo, PicMonkey is probably your best bet. It has a huge catalog of fun effects and settings that puts Instagram to shame.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">And the Winner is…</span></h3> <p>GIMP is our favorite free photo editor. It takes the cake over Paint.net because of the sheer number of features packed into its otherwise passable interface. &nbsp;It’s not as pretty as Paint.net, or as simple—or as fun—as PicMonkey, but it comes within striking distance of Photoshop at a price that's hard to beat. There are no paid upgrades, ads, or other freeware annoyances. On the flip side, you get access to a huge library of plugins that can expand GIMP to meet your potentially specialized needs.</p> <p>If all you’re looking to do is add a filter and change the exposure of a single image, PicMonkey is a great choice. It’s simple, easy, and pretty effective for a web-only editor. It's nothing like Photoshop, but that's a point in its favor in this case.</p> <p>Did we miss anything? What's your favorite free photo editor? Let us know in the comments!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/best_free_photo_editing_software_2014#comments autodesk free photo editor gimp Paint Paint.net photo photoshop Photoshop Express picasa PicMonkey Pixlr Features Fri, 16 Jan 2015 19:58:16 +0000 Ben Kim 28785 at http://www.maximumpc.com