Features http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/31/%252Ffeatures/article/editor_blogs/photo_awesome_20_name_hardware en Bad PC Ports Need to Go Away: Dead Rising 3 Edition http://www.maximumpc.com/bad_pc_ports_need_go_away_dead_rising_3_edition_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Column: Now I know why they call it the Apocalypse Edition</h3> <p>PC games are buggy, and console games just work right out of the box – that’s at least the stigma that console gamers place on the PC. The truth is that PC gaming is <a title="pc gaming" href="http://www.intricworld.com/uploads/2/4/4/6/24467354/756791_orig.jpg" target="_blank">miles ahead of the consoles</a>, but I do have to admit that that there are grains of truth to the stigma.</p> <p>When Dead Rising 3 launched on the PC on September 5th, I encouraged my console-playing friend to play the game cooperatively with me on Steam. So we both got on Skype and fired it up. Immediately upon booting it up, however, I noticed the astonishingly long load times. To be fair, I did install it on my hard drive as opposed to my SSD, but these boot times were abnormally long and my friend noticed the same on his machine. The long boot times would be the least of my problems with the game, however. When I actually got into the game, something was definitely not right, and I'm not talking about the game's impending zombie apocalypse. It felt like I was playing more of a slideshow than a game. The framerate performance was terrible, which I thought was odd considering I was playing on my high-end i7 rig coupled with a GeForce GTX Titan. Sure I was trying to run the game maxed out, but considering I was using a $1,000 GPU on what essentially is a console port, max settings should have been a cakewalk.&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/dead_rising_3_pc_port.jpg" width="460" height="215" /></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>More like "Dead Rising 3: Bad Port Edition"</strong></p> <p>And my friend’s more humble PC equipped with a modest 560 Ti GPU? Well, it started sweating bullets on medium. “This is why I’m not into PC gaming,” my friend exclaimed. The comment stung a little and we both decided to tone down our graphics settings. I noticed a bump in performance when I ran the game at medium settings, but it still ran like crap. Upon doing some research, I found out that Capcom had capped the game to run at 30FPS. D’oh! Contrary to what console gamers might say, 30FPS is not enough, and friends don't let friends play at 30FPS.</p> <p>To be fair to Capcom, apparently the company did warn PC gamers that the game would be locked to 30FPS prior to Dead Rising 3’s launch, but still, a warning does not excuse a crime. That’s like someone telling you, “Sorry, but I’m going to punch you” right before punching you. In other words, it doesn’t really help. The straight truth of the matter is that Dead Rising 3 on the PC is a lazy port, and trust us when we say we know a thing or two about a bad port as we’ve done a roundup of <a title="bad pc port" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/worst_pc_ports_2014" target="_blank">the worst offenders</a>. At this point, we’d have to say Dead Rising 3 is a dead ringer to be on that list (see what I did there?).</p> <p>On the brightside, yes, there is an easy .ini fix to remove the 30FPS cap, but even Capcom advises against this because the company suggest that users 1)might need really beefy hardware and 2) it could potentially cause “<a title="dead rising issues" href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/265550/discussions/0/522730535829776687/" target="_blank">issues</a>.” Furthermore, I’m personally a little afraid that the tweak might conflict with a future update down the road. In addition, this fan-made patch reinforces the negative stereotype that PC gamers need to manually tweak their games just to play them properly. The least Capcom could have done here is to include an in-game menu option to remove the 30FPS limit with perhaps a warning that it might cause some instability on lower-end systems. After all, if we’re smart enough to choose PC gaming, we’re smart enough to toggle a menu switch. In addition, some of us do in fact have super beefy hardware and would like the option to use it on an occasion such as this. *cough*</p> <p>Terrible performance issues aside, Dead Rising’s framerate is hardly the most pressing issue with the game at the moment. When my friend and I were slugging our way through the co-op campaign, the game crashed on me multiple times and booted my friend out of the online instance as well. I was hoping to play the game all night with my buddy, to show him the joys of Steam and PC gaming, but after four game crashes in an hour, even I had to admit defeat.</p> <p>Over the next few days, I found out that my situation was not an isolated incident and that <a title="game crashes" href="http://steamcommunity.com/games/265550/announcements/detail/147813325104525261" target="_blank">TONS of users are reporting game crashes</a>. To Capcom’s credit, the company has acknowledged the crashes and are attempting to do something about it, but only time will tell if this specific matter gets resolved.&nbsp;</p> <p>I haven’t given up on Dead Rising 3 and was able to enjoy the game, well, at least from the little that I was able to play of it, but I’d much prefer to return to the zombie apocalypse when the bugs are ironed out. Because really, who likes fighting bugs and zombies at the same time?</p> <p>However, the bigger thing I want to say to Capcom and other game developers is this: PLEASE STOP THE LAZY PC PORTS! These buggy, unoptimized ports do nothing to bolster the sales of your games. But more importantly,&nbsp;your rush job gives PC gaming an undue bad rep.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/bad_pc_ports_need_go_away_dead_rising_3_edition_2014#comments 30 bad port console crash crashes crashing dead rising 3 framerate locked pc Steam Gaming News Features Fri, 12 Sep 2014 22:39:09 +0000 Jimmy Thang 28530 at http://www.maximumpc.com Best Keyboard http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_keyboard_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>UPDATE: We've added six more keyboards to our best keyboard roundup</h3> <p>If you’re a gamer, you can probably identify a few points in time when you realized something important about your control setup that made you better at the game. When you discovered that putting your left hand on WASD gives you more options than putting it on the arrow keys, for instance, or when you realized that your crappy optical mouse was actually holding you back in shooters. These kinds of peripheral epiphanies don’t happen every day, but it might be just about time for you to have a new one. It might be time for you to realize that your keyboard is holding you back.</p> <h3 style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u152332/keyboard_opener13195_small_1.jpg" alt="best keyboard" title="best keyboard" width="620" height="480" /></h3> <p>We’re giving you some credit here—we’re not talking about making the upgrade from a $6 keyboard you got at the grocery store. No, we’re talking about making the upgrade from a gaming keyboard to an amazing gaming keyboard. Going from entry level or midrange to top-of-the-line.</p> <p>We looked around and picked out some of the <strong>best keyboards</strong> we could find. To compare them, we put them through our usual battery of real-world testing, including gaming and typing, and compared their features and overall feel. Because these keyboards come attached to some pretty heavy price tags, we made sure to give them extra scrutiny. We know that minor inconveniences that might fly on a cheap keyboard become a lot more galling when you’ve paid $150 for the privilege of suffering them, and our verdicts reflect this.</p> <p>Ready to make the upgrade to serious typing hardware? Then let’s go!</p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">CMStorm Mech</h4> <p><strong>CMStorm looks to get a handle on the high-end mechanical keyboard market<br /></strong></p> <p>The CMStorm Mech is, first of all, a great-looking keyboard. Most of the top of the keyboard is wrapped in a subtly etched aluminum plate, and the board’s geometric, asymmetrical silhouette is more imaginative than most. The aluminum plate can be removed for easy cleaning, which is a nice feature, but the seven hex screws that make removal possible mar the Mech’s otherwise-excellent aesthetics.</p> <p>Despite the Mech’s metal-clad looks, it’s not the sturdiest keyboard in this roundup. The back side of the board, and particularly the wrist rest, are made of hollow plastic that sometimes flexes and creaks under pressure. It also features a large handle on one side, and a detachable USB cable. These would be handy features for someone who takes their keyboard on the road frequently, but it’s not otherwise an especially portable keyboard. It would be nice if the handle were removable or retractable, because it adds an extra two or three inches to the Mech’s already substantial width.</p> <p>The software support is simple and easy to use. It allows you to customize the five dedicated macro keys, or to rebind any other key on the board, and includes a flexible macro editor.</p> <p>Actual typing and gaming performance is top-notch and virtually identical to the other mechanical gaming keyboards on the market. Fans of any variety of Cherry MX switch will be able to find a Mech that’s right for them—CMStorm offers the keyboard with Red, Blue, or Brown switches.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13204_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13204_small.jpg" alt="The Mech is a big mechanical keyboard, but isn't quite as sturdy as it looks." title="CMStorm Mech" width="620" height="425" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Mech is a big mechanical keyboard, but isn't quite as sturdy as it looks.</strong></p> <p>In all, the Mech is a solid gaming keyboard, but doesn’t quite live up to its top-of-the-line $160 price tag.</p> <p><strong>CMStorm Mech</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$160,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cmstorm.com/ " target="_blank">www.cmstorm.com</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Mad Catz STRIKE 3</h4> <p><strong>Is a less-extravagant Strike a better deal?</strong></p> <p>The Strike 3 is the least expensive in Mad Catz’s line of high-end gaming keyboards, but it’s by no means a piece of budget hardware. If the $100 price tag doesn’t convince you of that, seeing the Strike 3 in person will.</p> <p>It’s designed to look like the higher-end Strike boards, which can be split into two parts and rearranged, but this one doesn’t actually come apart. Build quality is good overall, with a removable wrist-rest and a pair of USB passthroughs. The board comes in glossy black, red, and white, and features customizable backlighting.</p> <p>The Strike 3 isn’t mechanical, which weakens the credibility of this $100 keyboard, but Mad Catz hasn’t ignored key quality altogether. The dome switches on the Strike 3 are some of the best we’ve felt, with a crisp actuation that feels almost, but not quite, as good as a mechanical model. They definitely feel better than any of the other non-mechanical boards we tested for this roundup.</p> <p>The Strike 3 features five dedicated macro keys on the right side of the board, and seven macro buttons at the top-left. The left-side buttons, unfortunately, are pretty abysmal. They’re tiny, far away from the home row, and strangely wiggly in their sockets—we found it virtually impossible to hit a particular one without looking.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13217_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13217_small.jpg" alt="The seam down the middle of the Strike 3 is just for show—this keyboard's only one piece." title="Mad Catz STRIKE 3" width="620" height="461" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The seam down the middle of the Strike 3 is just for show—this keyboard's only one piece.</strong></p> <p>The Strike 3 is a good keyboard, but we would generally recommend a mechanical board if you’re looking to spend this much. If you personally prefer non-mechanical switches, however, this would be an excellent choice.</p> <p><strong>Mad Catz Strike 3</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$100,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lacie.com/ " target="_blank">www.lacie.com</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Click the next page for more keyboard reviews.</h4> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;"> <hr />SteelSeries Apex</h4> <p><strong>All the keys you could want, and then some</strong></p> <p>Sometimes, more is more. That seems to be the guiding principle behind the SteelSeries Apex keyboard, which comes with about as many keys as we’ve ever seen on a gaming keyboard. In addition to the standard full QWERTY layout with number pad, the Apex includes 10 macro keys and four layer keys down the left side, 12 more macro keys above the function row, and six dedicated media buttons along the right side. Even the arrow pad gets two extra diagonal keys. SteelSeries doesn’t advertise the Apex as an MMO keyboard specifically, but it’s hard to imagine what other application could make use of this abundance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13209_small_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13209_small_1.jpg" alt="You can prop the Apex up in the back by replacing two of it's rubber feet." title="SteelSeries Apex" width="620" height="448" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>You can prop the Apex up in the back by replacing two of it's rubber feet.</strong></p> <p>Despite its absurd inventory of keys, the Apex doesn’t feel cluttered at all, and in fact looks quite nice. With its built-in wrist rest the board is pretty enormous, but the low-profile keys and customizable sectioned backlighting keep it looking sleek. The build quality is good, though not quite as hardy as SteelSeries’s mechanical keyboards. The Apex includes a pair of USB passthroughs, and allows for some angle customization with a pair of swappable rear feet.</p> <p>Our only real issue with the Apex is that it doesn’t use mechanical keys, and even compared to other dome-switch keyboards in this roundup, like the Strike 3, the Apex’s keys feel distinctly mushy. If it had better key performance, it would be a strong contender for best keyboard in this price range. As it is, we’d recommend it highly to those who prioritize lots of macro keys and great design over maximum key responsiveness.</p> <p><strong>SteelSeries Apex</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$100,&nbsp;<a href="http://steelseries.com/ " target="_blank">www.steelseries.com</a></strong></p> <h3>What We Look for in a Keyboard</h3> <p>When we review a keyboard, we look at it on three levels. The first and most important level is basic user experience—how the board feels when you use it. This includes factors like key quality and responsiveness, layout, and build quality. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the way you use your keyboard comes down to those standard QWERTY keys, so we’ll take a great-feeling keyboard over a flimsy one with a zillion features any day. We would also consider a keyboard without enough anti-ghosting/rollover for gaming usage to have failed on this basic level.</p> <p>Second, we examine the board on the level of practical, value-adding features. These are what make a gaming keyboard different from a more standard keyboard, and include things like macro keys, profiles, USB/audio passthroughs, the ability to rebind any key, and media controls. Of course, there’s no standard rule for what’s “practical” and what’s not, and we take into consideration that, for instance, the first five macro keys add a lot more value to the keyboard than macro keys number 15-20. This is also the level where we consider the keyboard’s software support.</p> <p>Finally, we look at the keyboard’s less-essential features, and what they bring to the table. Here you’ll see us talk about things like backlighting, interchangeable keycaps, and paint jobs. These are frequently surface features, designed more for showing off to other gamers than for your own use.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/81173948_copy_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/81173948_copy_small.jpg" width="620" height="412" /></a></p> <p>All of this isn’t to say that we think keyboards should be boring, just that it’s important they have their priorities straight. Awesome backlighting can be a great addition to a gaming keyboard, but boards with tons of bells and whistles built into a crappy or just mediocre foundation are distressingly common.</p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Roccat Ryos Mk Pro</h4> <p><strong>This flashy keyboard is more than just looks</strong></p> <p>Build quality on the Ryos MK Pro is outstanding. It’s all plastic, as far as we can see, but is incredibly weighty and rugged-feeling. The surface is treated with a glossy dot-matrix pattern that gives the Ryos a high-class look without leaving it as vulnerable to fingerprints as a pure-gloss keyboard. Like the last Roccat keyboard we tested, the Ryos has a non-removable integrated wrist rest. It’s comfortable (particularly with the back of the board elevated on sturdy-feeling supports), but makes the keyboard take up an absolutely massive amount of desk space.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13210_smalll_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13210_smalll.jpg" alt="LEDs in each key in the Roccat MK Pro can light up and blink independently." title="Roccat Ryos Mk Pro" width="620" height="451" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>LEDs in each key in the Roccat MK Pro can light up and blink independently.</strong></p> <p>The software support for the Ryos is fine, though not outstanding. The interface is a little cluttered and at times unresponsive, but it gets the job done, allowing you to customize lighting, macros, and key binding for each profile.</p> <p>A lot of keyboards have backlighting these days, but this is the first one we’ve tested that has completely independent lights behind every key. The color can’t be changed, but you can choose which keys should light up and which shouldn’t for each profile. Better still, the Ryos MK Pro comes with a few special lighting effects, which can cause pressed keys to briefly light up, or even to send out a ripple of light across the whole keyboard. It’s simultaneously the most superfluous and most fun new feature we’ve seen in a keyboard in years.</p> <p>It’s hard to say that the Ryos Mk Pro completely justifies the $170 asking price—that’s quite a bit more money than other very good mechanical keyboards—but it at least comes close.</p> <p><strong>Roccat Ryos MK Pro</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$170,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.roccat.org/ " target="_blank">www.roccat.org</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Click the next page to read about the Gigabyte K7 review and more.</h4> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;"> <hr />Gigabyte Force K7</h4> <p><strong>A budget-friendly board that’s light on features</strong></p> <p>With a $50 MSRP, the Force K7 targets the budget-minded consumer, but still hovers comfortably above the bottom of the barrel. Any keyboard involves compromises, but with the K7, there just might be too many.</p> <p>The K7 advertises “extreme short actuation distance” for its keys, which are built on laptop-style scissor switches. Keyboard feel is a matter of personal preference, of course, but for gaming we’ve never been very fond of scissor switches, which offer almost no tactile feedback. The key layout on the K7 is standard, though it uses the half-width backspace key and double-decker enter key configuration that’s less commonly seen in gaming keyboards and makes touch typing a bit more difficult.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13214_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13214_small.jpg" alt="LEDs in each key in the Roccat MK Pro can light up and blink independently." title="Gigabyte Force K7" width="620" height="454" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Force K7 has a low profile, with laptop-style scissor-switch keys.</strong></p> <p>Build quality on the K7 is generally good—it’s sturdy and feels heavy on the desk. Our review unit did, however, come with an extra 0 key instead of the hyphen key, which raises some questions about quality assurance.</p> <p>If anything, the K7 is notable for its lack of gaming-specific features. It has no macro keys, no profiles, no ability to rebind keys, no USB passthroughs—none of the things that identify a keyboard as made especially for gaming. The only extra features the board does include are underwhelming three-color backlighting and a pair of thumbwheels, which can only be used to control volume and backlight intensity.</p> <p>There are no glaring problems with the K7, but without a clear performance advantage, there’s nothing to recommend this board over one of the low-end Logitech or Microsoft keyboards, which are similarly priced and offer a better set of features.</p> <p><strong>Gigabyte Force K7</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$50,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gigabyte.us/ " target="_blank">www.gigabyte.us</a></strong></p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Corsair Raptor K50</h4> <p><strong>The Cadillac of non-mechanical keyboards</strong></p> <p>The Corsair Raptor K50 is a beautifully designed board, borrowing the floating-keys design of the more expensive Vengeance boards, with just a hint of brushed aluminum along the top edge. The look is rounded out with high-quality customizable key lighting that shines through the keycaps, without leaking out around the edges of the keys. Build quality is second-to-none, and as usual, the raised-key design makes it easy to keep crumbs from accumulating under the keycaps.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The K50 is nicely feature-packed, with a USB passthrough, media keys, a large metal volume wheel, and, oh yeah, like a million macro keys. Well, 18, anyway, all in one huge bank at the left, along with dedicated buttons for switching between three macro layers and recording them on the fly. That number might be bordering on the too-many-to-actually-use zone, but some gamers might find a use for them all, and on-the-fly recording is a feature we wish more boards had. The software for the K50 works well, and onboard storage allows you to use your profiles on any computer.&nbsp;<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-13212_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-13212_small.jpg" alt="If you're the kind of gamer who needs an unhealthy number of macro keys, the Raptor K50 is for you." title="Corsair Raptor K50" width="620" height="413" /></a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>If you're the kind of gamer who needs an unhealthy number of macro keys, the Raptor K50 is for you.<br /></strong></p> <p>We like the K50 a lot, but—at the risk of sounding like a broken record—for most users we wouldn’t recommend a non-mechanical $100 board. Our recommendation at this price range would be to get a mechanical board with slightly fewer features, or to jump up an extra $30 and get a similarly feature-packed mechanical board, such as Corsair’s own Vengeance K70 or K90.</p> <p><strong>Corsair Raptor K50</strong></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$100,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.corsair.com/ " target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></strong></p> <p>Click the next page to read about some of the older mechanical keyboards we've reviewed such as the Razer Deathstalker Ultimate and more.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Razer Deathstalker Ultimate</h4> <p><strong>Fun to look at, less fun to use</strong></p> <p>The Razer Deathstalker is really a thing to behold. The gaming keyboard is thin, sleek, and nicely designed with tri-color glowing keys, but nothing draws your attention like the “Switchblade” user interface, borrowed from the <a title="razer blade" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/razer_blade_review2012" target="_blank">Razer Blade</a> gaming laptop.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227183_small_3.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227183_small_2.jpg" alt="Instead of a number pad, the Deathstalker Ultimate features a touchscreen, along with 10 contextual keys." title="Razer Deathstalker Ultimate" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Instead of a number pad, the Deathstalker Ultimate features a touchscreen, along with 10 contextual keys.</strong></p> <p>The Switchblade UI consists of a responsive multitouch 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen and 10 context-sensitive dynamic keys. The screen can act as a trackpad, or can play host to a number of applications including a web browser, Twitter client, YouTube viewer, and plenty of others, such as game-specific apps for a handful of popular titles. Additionally, the keyboard has plenty of on-the-fly macro keys, and the software suite that manages it is polished and very powerful. In other words, the Razer Deathstalker is clearly the most sophisticated gaming keyboard around. The question is, do the Deathstalker’s technical flourishes justify its massive $250 price tag.</p> <p>At that kind of price, we expect every element of a keyboard to be top-notch; unfortunately, that’s not the case with the <a title="deathstalker" href="http://www.razerzone.com/deathstalker" target="_blank">Razer Deathstalker</a>. The problem is the keyboard itself, which uses widely spaced chiclet-style keys, familiar to anyone who’s used a MacBook or most Ultrabooks. They look nice, but it’s not clear why a large, high-end gaming keyboard would opt to use them over mechanical switches or even rubber-dome membrane keys. The chiclet keys simply don’t feel very good to use—they float around inside their tracks and have miniscule travel when pressed. They’re not awful, but we’d expect a lot better from a $250 keyboard.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Razer Deathstalker Ultimate</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Juicy Fruit<br /></span> <p>Super-cool Switchblade UI; good software support.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Chiclets<br /></span> <p>Key quality is subpar for typing and game play; very expensive.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$150, <a href="http://www.razerzone.com " target="_blank">www.razerzone.com</a></strong></p> <h4>Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E. 7</h4> <p><strong>Plenty of novel features, but look at that price</strong></p> <p>Probably the most interesting thing about the <a title="strike 7" href="http://www.cyborggaming.com/strike7/" target="_blank">S.T.R.I.K.E. 7</a> is that it’s modular and customizable. When you first take it out of the box, the keyboard is in seven pieces, which can be screwed together in a number of different configurations. One of the pieces is a large touchscreen, which can be affixed to either the left or right side of the keyboard, as can an extra bank of macro keys and the adjustable “active palm rest,” which features a thumb wheel and button. The two halves of the keyboard can be used separately, though both must be connected to the touchscreen, and the kit comes with a set of 16 replacement key caps, so you can make sure your S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 doesn’t look like anyone else’s.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227_small.jpg" alt="The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is modular, and can be assembled in several different configurations." title="Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E. 7" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is modular, and can be assembled in several different configurations.</strong></p> <p>On the other hand, you probably won’t meet anyone else with a S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, unless you regularly attend LAN parties down at the yacht club. At $300, this is the most expensive keyboard we can remember reviewing, and some of the features just don’t rise to the level of expectations set by the price. The touchscreen, for instance, is resistive and not nearly as responsive as the screen on the Razer Deathstalker Ultimate. And like the Deathstalker, the S.T.R.I.K.E. opts for non-mechanical keys. Though the dome-style membrane keys are better than the Deathstalker’s chiclet keys, we firmly believe that a keyboard that costs three times as much as most of its competition ought to have the best keys available.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/3AbwJON7ECk" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Cyborg S.T.R.I.K.E. 7</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Home Run<br /></span> <p>The most customizable keyboard around; tons of room for macros on keyboard and touchscreen.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Strike Out<br /></span> <p>Super pricey; non-mechanical keyboard feels so-so; touchscreen responsiveness is lacking.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$300, <a href="http://www.cyborggaming.com " target="_blank">www.cyborggaming.com</a></strong></p> <h4>Logitech G710+</h4> <p><strong>Logitech brings it back to basics</strong></p> <p>Logitech has finally decided that the recent trend toward mechanical gaming keyboards isn’t a passing fad, and has thrown its own hat into the ring with the G710+. At $150, the <a title="logitech g710+" href="http://gaming.logitech.com/en-us/product/g710plus-mechanical-gaming-keyboard" target="_blank">G710+</a> is one of the company’s most expensive boards, but it forgoes the LCD screens and raft of macro buttons usually found on Logitech’s highest-end products. Instead, the G710+ is a relatively straightforward keyboard built around a sturdy base of mechanical keys.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227187_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227187_small_0.jpg" alt="The backlight for the Logitech G710+’s arrow and WASD keys is separate from the rest of the board, so you can make them glow brighter than their surroundings." title="Logitech G710+" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The backlight for the Logitech G710+’s arrow&nbsp; and WASD keys is separate from the rest of the board, so you can make them glow brighter than their surroundings.</strong></p> <p>The G710+ uses MX Cherry Brown switches, which are a sort of compromise between the hyper-sensitive Reds and the tactile (and loud) Blues. They’re a nice middle-ground switch, excellent for both gaming and typing, though not completely ideal for either. Logitech has augmented the Cherry Browns with noise-dampening rings inside each key, for a quieter gaming session. The keys are mounted into a heavy board, with a clean black-and-gray aesthetic with orange accents. When connected via USB, the G710+’s laser-etched keycaps glow white—you can’t change the color, but the brightness is adjustable. In a nice, novel feature, the brightness of the WASD and arrow keys can be adjusted independently, to make them stand out more.</p> <p>Beyond the mechanical keys, the G710+ doesn’t have a lot of flashy features—just a set of macro keys (programmable on-the-fly), some media controls, and a standard-issue software suite with pre-made macro profiles for most modern games. It comes with a removable wrist rest, and includes a single USB pass-through. In all, it’s a nice, well-constructed keyboard, though its feature set is just a tiny bit smaller than some similarly priced mechanical boards from other brands.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Logitech G710+</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">O.G.<br /></span> <p>Excellent typing and gaming feel; dual-zone lighting;noise-dampened keys.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Oh No<br /></span> <p>On the pricier side; few pass-throughs.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$150, <a href="http://www.logitech.com " target="_blank">www.logitech.com</a></strong></p> <h3>The Art of Cherrypicking</h3> <p>If you’re the pattern-recognizing sort, you may notice that every mechanical keyboard in this roundup uses Cherry MX switches for their key mechanisms. That’s because virtually all mechanical gaming keyboards today use some variety of Cherry MX switch, such as Brown or Blue. The names indicate both the actual color of the switch (pry a keycap up and you’ll be able to tell by sight which switch is underneath), and the switch’s mechanical characteristics, in terms of tactility and resistance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/k60_d_install_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/k60_d_install_small.jpg" width="620" height="403" /></a></p> <p>A switch that is highly tactile has a noticeable “bump” that you overcome as you press it down, and tends to make a click noise as it passes that bump. A switch with high resistance requires more force to depress. Here are the four most common varieties of Cherry MX switch:</p> <p>Red: A non-tactile switch with low resistance. The pressing action is smooth, with no bump, and because of its low resistance it is very responsive. Good for action gamers.</p> <p>Black: A non-tactile switch, like the Red, with higher resistance.</p> <p>Blue: A highly tactile switch, with a dramatic (and loud) click. Considered the best switch for typing, but they can be slightly harder to double-tap quickly for gaming.</p> <p>Brown: A middle-ground switch, with a light tactile click and medium resistance. Functions well for both typing and gaming.</p> <p>Click <a title="mechanical keyboard guide" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/mechanical_keyboard_guide_2013" target="_blank">here</a> to read our in-depth mechanical keyboard guide.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Corsair Vengeance K90</h4> <p><strong>All the macro keys money can buy</strong></p> <p>The <a title="K90" href="http://www.corsair.com/gaming-peripherals/gaming-keyboards/vengeance-k90-performance-mmo-mechanical-gaming-keyboard.html" target="_blank">Corsair Vengeance K90</a> launched early last year alongside the Vengeance K60. It is, at heart, an expanded version of that board, fitted with a vast bank of customizable macro keys at the far left, and a detachable rubberized wrist rest. The extra functionality is mostly aimed at MMO players, who may have need for the truly staggering number of macro keys—18 keys, arranged into three banks of six, with three profile buttons for a total of 54 programmable actions. We’re a bit skeptical about the utility of so many macro buttons, as it becomes difficult to remember which key does what, and to hit them without looking, as the button count increases. Still, you should be able to imagine whether you’d be able to put the buttons to good use or not.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227181_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboards-5227181_0.jpg" alt="With the K90, Corsair goes deep on macro keys. Unfortunately, only the main QWERTY keyboard and arrow keys are mechanical." title="Corsair Vengeance K90" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>With the K90, Corsair goes deep on macro keys. Unfortunately, only the main QWERTY keyboard and arrow keys are mechanical.</strong></p> <p>Beyond those extra keys, the K90 features the strong points of the K60, including a rugged all-aluminum body and responsive Cherry MX Red switches. The fantastic-looking low-profile aluminum design is even snazzier in the K90, thanks to blue backlighting that shines through the laser-etched keycaps. One of the strangest and worst features of the K90 is that it uses membrane-style switches for a small subset of the keys on the board (the 18 macro keys, the function keys, as well as the block above the arrow keys), which feel noticeably worse than the mechanical keys that make up the rest of the board. Especially for keys that are meant to be used in the heat of the moment, the transition to non-mechanical keys is very jarring.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Corsair Vengeance K90</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Macro<br /></span> <p>Tons of macro keys; nice build quality and design; mechanical.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Micro<br /></span> <p>Not all keys are mechanical; giant block of macro keys is difficult to use efficiently.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$130, <a href="http://www.corsair.com " target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></strong></p> <h4>Rosewill RK-9100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard</h4> <p><strong>A solid board, low on features</strong></p> <p>Sometimes it’s nice when a company comes along and boils down a product category to just the features that are important. With the <a title="rk-9100" href="http://www.rosewill.com/products/2320/ProductDetail_Overview.htm" target="_blank">RK-9100</a>, Rosewill does just that, offering a solid mechanical gaming keyboard with few flourishes.</p> <p>The RK-9100 is a compact design with no wrist rest and a minimal lip around the outside of the board. It’s heavy, and feels quite sturdy. It uses mechanical keys—once again, Cherry MX switches, though with the RK-9100 you have a choice of the typing-friendly Blue switches, or the in-between Browns. We tend to prefer the Browns as a nice compromise between gaming and typing, which makes it a bit frustrating that the Brown-switch version of the RK-9100 retails for $130, $20 more than the Blue version.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227185_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227185_small.jpg" alt="The Rosewill RK-9100 isn’t the fanciest-looking keyboard, but it feels great to use." title="Rosewill RK-9100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard" width="620" height="321" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Rosewill RK-9100 isn’t the fanciest-looking keyboard, but it feels great to use.</strong></p> <p>The keyboard has a nice blue backlight, except for the scroll-, num-, and caps-lock keys, which glow green while active. It’s a good idea, but for some reason the green light is incredibly bright, and angled to shine right into your eyes while active. It’s distracting, and unfortunately can’t be turned off—we wouldn’t be surprised if most RK-9100 owners end up fixing the problem with electrical tape. That’s the only significant problem we noticed while using Rosewill’s keyboard, but we couldn’t shake the feeling that $130 is a bit too much to ask for this board. The Logitech G710+ features the same MX Brown switches, and with street a price that’s currently only about $10 more than RK-9100, includes significantly more features that set it apart as a gaming keyboard.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Rosewill RK-9100 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Rose water<br /></span> <p>No-nonsense design; selection of different Cherry MX switches.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Hose water<br /></span> <p>No macro keys; no software support.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$130, <a href="http://www.rosewill.com " target="_blank">www.rosewill.com</a></strong></p> <h4>Roccat Isku</h4> <p><strong>Membrane plank makes strong impression</strong></p> <p>If you’re not ready to make the jump to a mechanical keyboard, and aren’t interested in touchscreens or scalp massagers or whatever other luxury features are going into the $200-plus planks, your money will go a lot farther. Specifically, it’ll go all the way to the <a title="roccat" href="http://www.roccat.org/Products/Gaming-Keyboards/ROCCAT-Isku/" target="_blank">Roccat Isku</a>, a handsome and feature-rich keyboard from German newcomer Roccat.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227184_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwkeyboards-5227184_small.jpg" alt="The Isku is thin but takes up a lot of room, thanks to its broad wrist rest and bezel." title="Roccat Isku" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Isku is thin but takes up a lot of room, thanks to its broad wrist rest and bezel.</strong></p> <p>The Isku is wide and flat, with an oversized wrist rest and a wide bezel all around the board, taking up plenty of desk real estate. It’s got a grippy textured-plastic frame and recessed contoured keys that make the whole thing seem flatter and lower to the desk than normal. The dome keys are good (as far as they go) with a fairly crisp and responsive activation.</p> <p>Where the Isku really shines is in its expansive set of features. It has eight macro buttons (including three “thumbster” keys under the spacebar), with on-the-fly recording, and profile switching. It gets further mileage out of the bindable keys and macros with an “EasyShift” button where the caps-lock key would normally be, which temporarily switches the functions of all right-hand-accessible keys while held down. There’s a lot to customize, and the included software suite is intuitive and up to the task.</p> <p>Also, the Isku is part of the “Roccat Talk” ecosystem, which allows button presses on the keyboard to affect the behavior of a Roccat gaming mouse, and vice versa. At this price, we’d strongly recommend buying a mechanical board, but if you can’t or don’t want to, the Isku is an excellent choice.</p> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Roccat Isku</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Rose water<br /></span> <p>No-nonsense design; selection of different Cherry MX switches.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Hose water<br /></span> <p>No macro keys; no software support.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$90, <a href="http://www.roccat.org" target="_blank">www.roccat.org</a></strong></p> <h3>A Keyboard for Clean Freaks</h3> <p>One of the keyboards we received while preparing this roundup was the <a title="logitech washable keyboard" href="http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/washable-keyboard-k310" target="_blank">Logitech Washable Keyboard K310</a>. Somehow it didn’t seem quite fair to pit the $40 K310 against the likes of the Razer Deathstalker in a straight head-to-head, but we couldn’t resist the chance to see if this washable keyboard really works.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/keyboard_before_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/keyboard_before_small.jpg" width="620" height="415" /></a></p> <p>The K310 has a standard full-size layout with flat, thick plastic keys. Despite the very plastic-y construction and non-standard keys, the keyboard actually feels pretty decent to use.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/dirtykeyboard_small_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/dirtykeyboard_small_0.jpg" width="620" height="415" /></a></p> <p>We don’t actually have a standard testing procedure worked out for washable keyboards, so we improvised. We took a quick trip to the corner store for a bag of Cheetohs—bane of all keyboards. We then used a mortar and pestle to mash them into a fine, delicious powder, and applied it liberally to the keyboard (and surrounding table).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/washingkeyboard_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/washingkeyboard_small.jpg" width="620" height="415" /></a></p> <p>We were originally going to stick the K310 in the dishwasher, but a label on its back specifically warns against doing so. Instead, we gave it a thorough hand-washing in the sink.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/clean_keyboard_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/clean_keyboard_small.jpg" width="620" height="347" /></a></p> <p>What’s the verdict? The keyboard looks like new, and works just fine. Not bad!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/best_keyboard_2013#comments March 2013 2013 best keyboard Cyborg strike 7 Hardware Hardware Logitech G710+ maximum pc Razer Deathstalker Ultimate reviews Keyboards Reviews Features Wed, 10 Sep 2014 21:44:05 +0000 Alex Castle 25598 at http://www.maximumpc.com Haswell-E Review http://www.maximumpc.com/haswell-e_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>UPDATE: We've updated our Haswell- E story to include our video on Haswell-E (X99) motheboards</h3> <p>After three long years of going hungry with quad-cores, red meat is finally back on the menu for enthusiasts. And not just any gamey slab full of gristle with shared cores, either. With its new eight-core Haswell-E CPU, Intel may have served up the most mouth-watering, beautifully seared piece of red meat in a long time.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/aNTMIHr9Ha0" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>And it’s a good thing, too, because enthusiast’s stomachs have been growling. Devil’s Canyon? That puny quad-core was just an appetizer. And that dual-core highly overclockable Pentium K CPU? It’s the mint you grab on your way out of the steak house.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_h9ggGZHFtU" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>No, what enthusiasts have craved and wanted ever since Intel’s original clock-blocking job on the original Sandy Bridge-E was a true, overclockable enthusiast chip with eight cores. So if you’re ready for a belt loosening, belly full of enthusiast-level prime rib, pass the horse radish, get that damned salad off our table, and read on to see if Intel’s Haswell-E is everything we hoped it would be.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Meet the Haswell-E parts</strong></p> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><img src="/files/u154082/haswell-e_comparison_chart.png" alt="haswell e comparison chart" title="haswell e comparison chart" width="620" height="241" /></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/lga2011v3socket.jpg" alt="haswell e socket" title="haswell e socket" width="620" height="626" /></p> <p><strong>Despite its name, the LGA2011-v3 socket is not same as the older LGA2011 socket. Fortunately, the cooling offsets are exactly the same, so almost all older coolers and accessories should work just fine.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/lga2011socket1.jpg" alt="lga2011" title="lga2011" width="620" height="556" /></p> <p><strong>Though they look the same, LGA2011’s socket has arms that are actually arranged differently than the new LGA2011-v3 that replaces it. And no, you can’t drop a newer Haswell-E into this socket and make it work.</strong></p> <h4>Haswell-E</h4> <p><strong>The first consumer Intel eight-core arrives at last</strong></p> <p>Being a card-carrying member of the PC enthusiast class is not an easy path to follow. Sure, you get the most cores and priciest parts, but it also means you get to wait a hell of a long time in between CPU upgrades. And with Intel’s cadence the last few years, it also means you get the leftovers. It’s been that way ever since Intel went with its two-socket strategy with the original LGA1366/LGA1156. Those who picked the big-boy socket and stuck to their guns on Pure PC performance always got the shaft.&nbsp;</p> <p>The original Ivy Bridge in LGA1156 socket, for example, hit the streets in April of 2012. As a reward for having the more efficient and faster CPU, Intel rewarded the small-socket crowd with its Haswell in June of 2013. It wasn’t until September of 2013 that big-boy socket users finally got Ivy Bridge-E for their LGA2011s. But with Haswell already out and tearing up the benchmarks, who the hell cared?</p> <p>Well, that time has come with Haswell-E, Intel’s first replacement for the aging LGA2011 platform since 2011. This time though, Intel isn’t just shuffling new parts into its old stack. For the first since the original Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, paying the price premium actually nets you more: namely, the company’s first consumer eight-core CPU.</p> <p><strong>Meet the T-Rex of consumer CPUs: The Core i7-5960X</strong></p> <p>We were actually a little leery of Haswell when it first launched last year. It was, after all, a chip seemingly tuned for the increasingly mobile/laptoppy world we were told was our post PC-apocalyptic future. Despite this, we recognized the chip as the CPU to have for new system builders. Clock for clock, its 22nm process, tri-gate transistors put everything else to shame—even the six-core Core i7-3930K chip in many tasks. So it’s no surprise that when Intel took a quad-core Haswell, put it in the Xerox machine, and hit the copy x2 button , we’d be ecstatic. Eight cores are decidedly better than six cores or four cores when you need them.&nbsp;</p> <p>The cores don’t come without a cost though, and we don’t mean the usual painful price Intel asks for its highest-end CPUs. It’s no secret that more cores means more heat, which means lower clock speeds. That’s one of the rationales Intel used with the original six-core Core i7-3960X. Although sold as a six-core, the original Sandy Bridge-E was built using an eight-core die on which Intel had permanently switched off two cores. Intel said it wanted to balance the needs of the many versus the needs of the few—that is, by turning off two of the cores, the part could hit higher clock speeds. Indeed, the Core i7-3960X had a base clock of 3.3GHz and Turbo Boost of 3.9GHz, and most could overclock it to 5GHz. The same chip packaged as a Xeon with all eight cores working—the Xeon E5-2687W—was locked down at 3.1GHz and mostly buzzed along at 3.4GHz.</p> <p>With the new Core i7-5960X—the only eight-core of the bunch—the chip starts at a seemingly pedestrian 3GHz with a Turbo Boost of one core up to 3.5GHz. Those subsonic clock speeds won’t impress against the Core i7-4790K, which starts at 4GHz. You’ll find more on how well Haswell-E performs against Haswell in our performance section, but that’s the price to be paid, apparently, to get a chip with this many cores under the heat spreader. Regarding thermals, in fact, Intel has increased the TDP rating to 140 watts versus 130 watts of Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E.&nbsp;</p> <p>If the low clocks annoy you, the good news is the part is fully unlocked, so the use of overclocking has been approved. For our test units, we had very early hardware and tight deadlines, so we didn’t get very far with our overclocking efforts. Talking with vendors, however, most seem very pleased with the clock speeds they were seeing. One vendor told us overclocks of all cores at 4.5GHz was already obtainable and newer microcode updates were expected to improve that. With even the vaunted Devil’s Canyon Core i7-4790K topping out at 4.7GHz to 4.8GHz, a 4.5GHz is actually a healthy overclock for an eight-core CPU.</p> <p><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>When you dive down into the actual cores though, much is the same, of course. It’s based on a 22nm process. It has “3D” tri-gate transistors and integrated voltage regulation. Oh, and it’s also the first CPU to feature an integrated DDR4 memory controller.</p> <p><strong>Click the next page to read about DDR4</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>DDR4 details</h4> <p>If you think Haswell-E has been a long wait, just think about DDR3, which made its debut as main memory in systems since 2007. Yes, 2007. The only component that has lasted seven years in most enthusiasts systems might be the PSU, but it’s even rare to find anyone kicking a 500-watt PSU from 2007 these days.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>DDR4 has been in gestation seemingly as long, so why the delay? From what we can tell, resistance to yet another new memory standard during a time when people thought the desktop PC and the PC in general were dying has been the root delay. It didn’t help that no one wanted to stick their head out first, either. RAM makers didn’t want to begin producing it DDR4 in volume until AMD or Intel made chipsets for it, and AMD and Intel didn’t want to support it because of the costs it would add to PCs at a time when people were trying to lower costs. The stalemate finally ends with Haswell-E, which integrates a quad-channel memory controller into its die.</p> <p>Initial launch speeds of DDR4 clock in at DDR4/2133. For those already running DDR3 at 3GHz or higher, a 2,133 data rate is a snooze, but you should realize that anything over 2133 is overclocked RAM. With DDR4, the JEDEC speeds (the body that sets RAM standards) already has target data rates of 3200 on the map. RAM vendors we’ve talked to are already shopping DIMMS near that speed.</p> <p>The best part of DDR4 may be its density message, though. For years, consumer DDR3 has topped out at 8GB on a DIMM. With DDR4, we should see 16B DIMMs almost immediately, and stacking of chips is built into the standard, so it’s possible we’ll see 32GB DIMMs over its lifetime. On a quad-channel, eight-DIMM motherboard, you should expect to be able to build systems with 128GB of RAM using non-ECC DIMMs almost immediately. DDR4 also brings power savings and other improvements, but the main highlights enthusiasts should expect are higher densities and higher clocks. Oh, and higher prices. RAM prices haven’t been fun for anyone of late, but DDR4 will definitely be a premium part for some time. In fact, we couldn’t even get exact pricing from memory vendors as we were going to press, so we’re bracing for some really bad news.</p> <h4>PCIe lanes: now a feature to be blocked</h4> <p>Over the years, we’ve come to expect Intel to clock-block core counts, clock speeds, Hyper-Threading, and even cache for “market segmentation” purposes. What that means is Intel has to find ways to differentiate one CPU from another. Sometimes that’s by turning off Hyper-Threading (witness Core i5 and Core i7) and sometimes its locking down clock speeds. With Haswell-E though, Intel has gone to new heights with its clock-blocking by actually turning off PCIe lanes on some Haswell-E parts to make them less desirable. At the top end, you have the 3GHz Core i7-5960X with eight cores. In the midrange you have the six-core 3.5GHz Core i7-5930K. And at the “low-end” you have the six-core 3.3GHz Core i7-5820K. The 5930K and the 5820K are virtually the same in specs except for one key difference: The PCIe lanes get blocked. Yes, while the Core i7-5960X and Core i7-5930K get 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0, the Core i7-5820K gets an odd 28 lanes of PCIe 3.0. That means those who had hoped to build “budget” Haswell-E boxes with multiple GPUs may have to think hard and fast about using the lowest-end Haswell-E chip. The good news is that for most people, it won’t matter. Plenty of people run Haswell systems with SLI or CrossFire, and those CPUs are limited to 16 lanes. Boards with PLX switches even support four-way GPU setups.</p> <p>Still, it’s a brain bender to think that when you populate an X99 board with the lowest-end Haswell-E, the PCIe configuration will change. The good news is at least they’ll work, just more slowly. Intel says it worked with board vendors to make sure all the slots will function with the budget Haswell-E part.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/mpc_haswell_front-back_1.jpg" alt="haswell e chip" title="haswell e chip" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p><strong>There have been clock-blocking rumors swirling around about the Haswell being a 12-core Xeon with four cores turned off. That’s not true and Intel says this die-shot proves it.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/ivbe.jpg" alt="ivy bridge e" title="ivy bridge e" width="620" height="550" /></p> <p><strong>Ivy Bridge-E’s main advantage over Sandy Bridge-E was a native six-core die and greatly reduced power consumption. And, unfortunately, like its Ivy Bridge counterpart, overclocking yields on Ivy Bridge-E were greatly reduced over its predecessor, too, with few chips hitting more than 4.7GHz at best.</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/snbe.jpg" alt="sandy bridge e" title="sandy bridge e" width="308" height="260" /></p> <p><strong>Sandy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge will long be remembered for its friendliness to overclocking and having two of its working cores killed Red Wedding–style by Intel.</strong></p> <p><strong>Click the next page to read about X99.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>X99&nbsp;</h4> <p><strong>High-end enthusiasts finally get the chipset they want, sort of</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/x99blockdiagram.jpg" alt="x99 block diagram" title="x99 block diagram" width="620" height="381" /></p> <p><strong>Intel overcompensated in SATA on X99 but oddly left SATA Express on the cutting-room floor.</strong></p> <p>You know what we won’t miss? The X79 chipset. No offense to X79 owners, while the Core i7-4960X can stick around for a few more months, X79 can take its under-spec’ed butt out of our establishment. Think we’re being too harsh? We don’t.</p> <p>X79 has no native USB 3.0 support. And its SATA 6Gb/s ports? Only two. It almost reads like a feature set from the last decade to us. Fortunately, in a move we wholly endorse, Intel has gone hog wild in over-compensating for the weaknesses of X79.&nbsp;</p> <p>X99 has eight USB 2.0 ports and six USB 3.0 ports baked into the peripheral controller hub in it. For SATA 6Gb/s, Intel adds 10 ports to X99. Yes, 10 ports of SATA 6Gb/s. That gazongo number of SATA ports, however, is balanced out by two glaring omission in X99: no official SATA Express or M.2 support that came with Z97. Intel didn’t say why it left off SATA Express or M.2 in the chipset, but it did say motherboard vendors were free to implement it using techniques they gleaned from doing it on Z97 motherboards. If we had to hazard a guess, we’d say Intel’s conservative nature led it to leave the feature off the chipset, as the company is a stickler for testing new interfaces before adding official support. At this point, SATA Express has been a no-show. After all, motherboards with SATA Express became available in May with Z97, yet we still have not seen any native SATA Express drives. We expect most motherboard vendors to simply add it through discrete controllers; even our early board sample had a SATA Express port.&nbsp;</p> <p>One potential weakness of X99 is Intel’s use of the DMI 2.0. That offers roughly 2.5GB/s of transfer speed between the CPU and the south bridge or PCH, but with the board hanging 10 SATA devices, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and 8 PCIe Gen 2.0 lanes off that link, there is the potential for massive congestion—but only in a worst-case scenario. You’d really have to a boat load of hardware lit up and sending and receiving data at once to cause the DMI 2.0 to bottleneck. Besides, Intel says, you can just hang the device off the plentiful PCIe Gen 3.0 from the CPU.</p> <p>That does bring up our last point on X99: the PCIe lanes. As we mentioned earlier, there will be some confusion over the PCIe lane configuration on systems with Core i7-5820K parts. With only 28 lanes of PCIe lanes available from that one chip, there’s concern that whole slots on the motherboard will be turned off. That won’t happen, Intel says. Instead, if you go with the low-rent ride, you simply lose bandwidth. Take an X99 mobo and plug in the Core i7-5930K and you get two slots at x16 PCIe, and one x8 slot. Remove that CPU and install the Core i7-5820K, and the slots will now be configured as one x16, one x8 and one x4. It’s still more bandwidth than you can get from a normal LGA1150-based Core i7-4770K but it will be confusing nonetheless. We expect motherboard vendors to sort it out for their customers, though.</p> <p>Haswell-E does bring one more interesting PCIe configuration though: the ability to run five graphics cards in the PCIe slots at x8 speeds. Intel didn’t comment on the reasons for the option but there only a few apparent reasons. The first is mining configurations where miners are already running six GPUs. Mining, however, doesn’t seem to need the bandwidth a x8 slot would provide. The other possibility is a five-way graphics card configuration being planned by Nvidia or AMD. At this point it’s just conjecture, but one thing we know is that X99 is a welcome upgrade. Good riddance X79.&nbsp;</p> <h4>Top Procs Compared</h4> <p><span style="color: #ff0000;"><span style="white-space: pre;"><img src="/files/u154082/top_processors.png" alt="top processors compared" title="top processors compared" width="620" height="344" /></span></span></p> <h4>Core Competency&nbsp;</h4> <p><strong>How many cores do you really need?</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/haswelletaskamanger.png" alt="haswell task manager" title="haswell task manager" width="620" height="564" /></p> <p><strong>It is indeed a glorious thing to see a task manager with this many threads, but not everyone needs them.</strong></p> <p>Like the great technology philosopher Sir Mix-A-Lot said, we like big cores and we cannot lie. We want as many cores as legally available. But we recognize that not everyone rolls as hard as we do with a posse of threads. With Intel’s first eight-core CPU, consumers can now pick from two cores all the way to eight on the Intel side of the aisle—and then there’s Hyper-Threading to confuse you even more. So, how many cores do you need? We’ll give you the quick-and-dirty lowdown.</p> <p><strong>Two cores</strong></p> <p>Normally, we’d completely skip dual-cores without Hyper-Threading because the parts tend to be the very bottom end of the pool Celerons. Our asterisk is the new Intel Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition, or “Pentium K,” which is a real hoot of a chip. It easily overclocks and is dead cheap. It’s not the fastest in content creation by a long shot, but if we were building an ultra-budget gaming rig and needed to steal from the CPU budget for a faster GPU, we’d recommend this one. Otherwise, we see dual-cores as purely ultra-budget parts today.</p> <p><strong>Two cores with Hyper-Threading</strong></p> <p>For your parents who need a reliable, solid PC without overclocking (you really don’t want to explain how to back down the core voltage in the BIOS to grandma, do you?), the dual-core Core i3 parts fulfill the needs of most people who only do content creation on occasion. Hyper-Threading adds value in multi-threaded and multi-tasking tasks. You can almost think of these chips with Hyper-Threading as three-core CPUs.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Four cores</strong></p> <p>For anyone who does content creation such as video editing, encoding, or even photo editing with newer applications, a quad-core is usually our recommended part. Newer game consoles are also expected to push min specs for newer games to quad-cores or more as well, so for most people who carry an Enthusiast badge, a quad-core part is the place to start.</p> <p><strong>Four cores with Hyper-Threading</strong></p> <p>Hyper-Threading got a bad name early on from the Pentium 4 and existing software that actually saw it reduce performance when turned on. Those days are long behind us though, and Hyper-Threading offers a nice performance boost with its virtual cores. How much? &nbsp;A 3.5GHz Core i7 quad-core with Hyper-Threading generally offers the same performance on multi-threaded tasks as a Core i5 running at 4.5GHz. The Hyper-Threading helps with content creation and we’d say, if content creation is 30 percent or less of your time, this is the place to be and really the best fit for 90 percent of enthusiasts.</p> <p><strong>Six cores with Hyper-Threading</strong></p> <p>Once you pass the quad-core mark, you are moving pixels professionally in video editing, 3D modeling, or other tasks that necessitate the costs of a six-core chip or more. We still think that for 90 percent of folks, a four-core CPU is plenty, but if losing time rendering a video costs you money (or you’re just ADD), pay for a six-core or more CPU. How do you decide if you need six or eight cores? Read on.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Eight cores with Hyper-Threading</strong></p> <p>We recognize that not everyone needs an eight-core processor. In fact, one way to save cash is to buy the midrange six-core chip instead, but if time is money, an eight-core chip will pay for itself. For example, the eight-core Haswell-E is about 45 percent faster than the four-core Core i7-4790K chip. If your render job is three hours, that’s more time working on other paying projects. The gap gets smaller between the six-core and the eight-core of course, so it’s very much about how much your time is worth or how short your attention span is. But just to give you an idea, the 3.3GHz Core i7-5960X is about 20 percent faster than the Core i7-4960X running at 4GHz.</p> <p><strong>Click the next page to see how Haswell-E stacks up against Intel's other top CPUs.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4 style="font-size: 10px;">Intel’s Top Guns Compared</h4> <p><img src="/files/u154082/cpus17918.jpg" alt="haswell" title="haswell" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p><strong><strong>The LGA2011-based Core i7-4960X (left) and the LGA2011-v3-based Core i7-5960X (middle) dwarf the Core i7-4790K chip (right). Note the change in the heat spreader between the older 4960X and 5960X, which now has larger “wings” that make it easier to remove the CPU by hand. The breather hole, which allows for curing of the thermal interface material (solder in this case), has also been moved. Finally, while the chips are the same size, they are keyed differently to prevent you from installing a newer Haswell-E into an older Ivy Bridge-E board.</strong></strong></p> <h4>Benchmarks</h4> <p><strong>Performance junkies, rejoice! Haswell-E hits it out of the ballpark</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/x99-gaming_5-rev10.jpg" alt="x99 gigabyte" title="x99 gigabyte" width="620" height="734" /></p> <p><strong>We used a Gigabyte X99 motherboard (without the final heatsinks for the voltage-regulation modules) for our testing.</strong></p> <p>For our testing, we set up three identical systems with the fastest available CPUs for each platform. Each system used an Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 with the same 340.52 drivers, Corsair 240GB Neutron GTX SSDs, and 64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Since we’ve had issues with clock speeds varying on cards that physically look the same, we also verified the clock speeds of each GPU manually and also recorded the multiplier, bclock, and speeds the parts run at under single-threaded and multi-threaded loads. So you know, the 3GHz Core i7-5960X’s would run at 3.5GHz on single-threaded tasks but usually sat at 3.33GHz on multi-threaded tasks. The 3.6GHz Core i7-4960X ran everything at 4GHz, including multi-threading tasks. The 4GHz Core i7-4790K part sat at 4.4GHz on both single- and multi-threaded loads.</p> <p>For Z97, we used a Gigabyte Z97M-D3H mobo with a Core i7-4790K “Devil’s Canyon” chip aboard. &nbsp;An Asus Sabertooth X79 did the duty for our Core i7-4960X “Ivy Bridge-E” chip. Finally, for our Core i7-5960X chip, we obtained an early Gigabyte X99-Gaming 5 motherboard. The board was pretty early but we feel comfortable with our performance numbers as Intel has claimed the Core i7-5960X was “45 percent” faster than a quad-core chip, and that’s what we saw in some of our tests.&nbsp;</p> <p>One thing to note: The RAM capacities were different but in the grand scheme of things and the tests we run, it has no impact. The Sabertooth X79 &nbsp;had 16GB of DDR3/2133 in quad-channel mode, the Z97M-D3H had 16GB of DDR3/2133 in dual-channel mode. Finally, the X99-Gaming 5 board had 32GB of Corsair DDR4/2133. All three CPUs will overclock, but we tested at stock speeds to get a good baseline feel.&nbsp;</p> <p>For our benchmarks, we selected from a pile of real-world games, synthetic tests, as well as real-world applications across a wide gamut of disciplines. Our gaming tests were also run at very low resolutions and low-quality settings to take the graphics card out of the equation. We also acknowledge that people want to know what they can expect from the different CPUs at realistic settings and resolutions, so we also ran all of the games at their highest settings at 1920x1080 resolution, which is still the norm in PC gaming.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The results</strong></p> <p>We could get into a multi-sentence analysis of how it did and slowly break out with our verdict but in a society where people get impatient at the microwave, we’ll give you the goods up front: Holy Frakking Smokes, this chip is fast! The Core i7-5960X is simply everything high-end enthusiasts have been dreaming about.&nbsp;</p> <p>Just to give you an idea, we’ve been recording scores from $7,000 and $13,000 PCs in our custom Premiere Pro CS6 benchmark for a couple of years now. The fastest we’ve ever seen is the Digital Storm Aventum II that we reviewed in our January 2014 issue. The 3.3GHz Core i7-5960X was faster than the Aventum II’s Core i7-4960X running at 4.7GHz. Again, at stock speeds, the Haswell-E was faster than the fastest Ivy Bridge-E machine we’ve ever seen.</p> <p>It wasn’t just Premiere Pro CS6 we saw that spread in either. In most of our tests that stress multi-threading, we saw roughly a 45 percent to 50 percent improvement going from the Haswell to the Haswell-E part. The scaling gets tighter when you’re comparing the six-core Core i7-4960X but it’s still a nice, big number. We generally saw a 20 percent to 25 percent improvement in multi-threaded tasks.&nbsp;</p> <p>That’s not even factoring in the clock differences between the parts. The Core i7-4790K buzzes along at 4.4GHz—1.1GHz faster than the Core i7-5960X in multi-threaded tasks—yet it still got stomped by 45 to 50 percent. The Core i7-4960X had a nearly 700MHz clock advantage as well over the eight-core chip.</p> <p>The whole world isn’t multi-threaded, though. Once we get to workloads that don’t push all eight cores, the higher clock speeds of the other parts predictably take over. ProShow Producer 5.0, for example, has never pushed more than four threads and we saw the Core i7-5960X lose by 17 percent. The same happened in our custom Stitch.Efx 2.0 benchmark, too. In fact, in general, the Core i7-4790K will be faster thanks to its clock speed advantage. If you overclocked the Core i7-5960X to 4GHz or 4.4GHz on just four cores, the two should be on par in pure performance on light-duty workloads.</p> <p>In gaming, we saw some results from our tests that are a little bewildering to us. At low-resolution and low-quality settings, where the graphics card was not the bottleneck, the Core i7-4790K had the same 10 percent to 20 percent advantage. When we ran the same tests at ultra and 1080p resolution, the Core i7-5960X actually had a slight advantage in some of the runs against the Core i7-4790K chip. We think that may be from the bandwidth advantage the 5960X has. Remember, we ran all of the RAM at 2,133, so it’s not DDR4 vs. DDR3. It’s really quad-channel vs. dual-channel.</p> <p>We actually put a full breakdown of each of the benchmarks and detailed analysis on MaximumPC.com if you really want to nerd out on the performance.</p> <p><strong>What you should buy</strong></p> <p>Let’s say it again: The Core i7-5960X stands as the single fastest CPU we’ve seen to date. It’s simply a monster in performance in multi-threaded tasks and we think once you’ve overclocked it, it’ll be as fast as all the others in tasks that aren’t thread-heavy workloads.</p> <p>That, however, doesn’t mean everyone should start saving to buy a $1,000 CPU. No, for most people, the dynamic doesn’t change. For the 80 percent of you who fall into the average Joe or Jane nerd category, a four-core with Hyper-Threading still offers the best bang for the buck. It won’t be as fast as the eight-core, but unless you’re really working your rig for a living, made of money, or hate for your Handbrake encodes to take that extra 25 minutes, you can slum it with the Core i7-4790K chip. You don’t even have to heavily overclock it for the performance to be extremely peppy.</p> <p>For the remaining 20 percent who actually do a lot of encoding, rendering, professional photo editing, or heavy multi-tasking, the Core i7-5960X stands as the must-have CPU. It’s the chip you’ve been waiting for Intel to release. Just know that at purely stock speeds, you do give up performance to the Core i7-4790K part. But again, the good news is that with minor overclocking tweaks, it’ll be the equal or better of the quad-core chip.</p> <p>What’s really nice here is that for the first time, Intel is giving its “Extreme” SKU something truly extra for the $999 they spend. Previous Core i7 Extreme parts have always been good overclockers, but a lot of people bypassed them for the midrange chips such as the Core i7-4930K, which gave you the same core counts and overclocking to boot. The only true differentiation Extreme CPU buyers got was bragging rights. With Haswell-E, the Extreme buyers are the only ones with eight-core parts.</p> <p>Bang-for-the-buck buyers also get a treat from the six-core Core i7-5820K chip. At $389, it’s slightly more expensive than the chip it replaces—the $323 Core i7-4820K—but the extra price nets you two more cores. Yes, you lose PCIe bandwidth but most people probably won’t notice the difference. We didn’t have a Core i7-5820K part to test, but we &nbsp;believe on our testing with the Core i7-5960X that minor overclocking on the cheap Haswell-E would easily make it the equal of Intel’s previous six-core chips that could never be had for less than $580.</p> <p>And that, of course, brings us to the last point of discussion: Should you upgrade from your Core i7-4960X part? The easy answer is no. In pure CPU-on-CPU &nbsp;showdowns, the Core i7-4960X is about 20 percent slower in multi-threaded tasks, and in light-duty threads it’s about the same, thanks to the clock-speed advantage the Core i7-4960X has. There are two reasons we might want to toss aside the older chip, though. The first is the pathetic SATA 6Gb/s ports, which, frankly, you actually need on a heavy-duty work machine. The second reason would be the folks for whom a 20 percent reduction in rendering time would actually be worth paying for.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Click the next page to check out our Haswell-E benchmarks.</strong></p> <hr /> <h4><span style="font-size: 1.17em;">Haswell-E Benchmarks</span></h4> <p><strong>Haswell-E benchmarks overview</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1.17em;">&nbsp;</span><img src="/files/u154082/haswell_e_benchmarks.png" alt="haswell e benchmarks" title="haswell e benchmarks" width="541" height="968" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Benchmark Breakdown</strong></p> <p>We like to give you the goods on a nice table but not everyone is familiar with what we use to test and what exactly the numbers means so let’s break down some of the more significant results for you.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/cinebenchsinglethreaded.png" alt="cinebench 15 single" title="cinebench 15 single" width="620" height="472" /></p> <p><strong>Cinebench 15 single-threaded performance</strong></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">We used Maxon’s Cinebench 15 benchmark to see just how fast the trio of chips would run this 3D rendering test. Cinebench 15 allows you to restrict it from using all of the cores or just one core. For this test, we wanted to see how the Core i7-5960X “Haswell-E” would do against the others by measuring a single core. The winner here is the Core i7-4790K “Devil’s Canyon” chip. That’s no surprise—it uses the same microarchitecture as the big boy Haswell-E but it has a ton more clock speed on default. The Haswell-E is about 21 percent slower running at 3.5GHz. The Devil’s Canyon part is running about 900MHz faster at 4.4GHz. Remember, on default, the Haswell-E only hits 3.5GHz on single-core loads. The Haswell-E better microarchitecture also loses to the Core i7-4960X “Ivy Bridge-E,” but not by much and that’s with the Ivy Bridge-E’s clock speed advantage of 500MHz. Still, the clear winner in single-threaded performance is the higher-clocked Devil’s Canyon chip.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4790K</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/cinebenchmulti.png" alt="cinebench 15 multi" title="cinebench 15 multi" width="620" height="428" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Cinebench 15 multi-threaded performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">You don’t buy an eight-core CPU and then throw only single-thread workloads at it, so we took the handcuffs off of Cinebench 15 and let it render with all available threads. On the Haswell-E part, that’s 16 threads of fun, on Ivy Bridge-E it’s 12-threads, and on Devil’s Canyon we’re looking at eight-threads. The winner by a clear margin is the Haswell-E part. Its performance is an astounding 49 percent faster than the Devil’s Canyon and about 22 percent faster than Ivy Bridge-E. We’ll just have to continue to remind you, too: this is with a severe clock penalty. That 49-percent-faster score is with all eight cores running at 3.3GHz vs all four of the Devil’s Canyon cores buzzing along at 4.4GHz. That’s an 1,100MHz clock speed advantage. Ivy Bridge-E also has a nice 700MHz clock advantage than Haswell-E. Chalk this up as a big, huge win for Haswell-E.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/povray.png" alt="pov-ray" title="pov-ray" width="620" height="491" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>POV-Ray performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">We wanted a second opinion on rendering performance, so we ran POV-Ray, a freeware ray tracer that has roots that reach back to the Amiga. Again, Haswell-E wins big-time with a 47 percent performance advantage over Devil’s Canyon and a 25 percent advantage over Ivy Bridge-E. Yeah, and all that stuff we said about the clock speed advantage the quad-core and six-core had, that applies here, too. Blah, blah, blah.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/premierepro.png" alt="premiere pro" title="premiere pro" width="620" height="474" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Premiere Pro CS6 performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">One sanity check (benchmark results Intel produces to let you know what kind of performance to expect) said Haswell-E would outperform quad-core Intel parts by 45 percent in Premiere Pro Creative Cloud when working with 4K content. Our benchmark, however, doesn’t use 4K content yet, so we wondered if our results would be similar. For our test, we render out a 1080p-resolution file using source material shot by us on a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using multiple timelines and transitions. We restrict it to the CPU rather than using the GPU as well. Our result? The 3.3GHz Haswell-E was about 45 percent faster than the 4.4GHz Devil’s Canyon chip. Bada-bing! The two extra cores also spit out the render about 19 percent faster than the six-core Ivy Bridge-E. That’s fairly consistent performance we’re seeing between the different workload disciplines of 3D rendering and video encoding so far, and again, big, big wins for the Haswell-E part.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/handbrake.png" alt="handbrake" title="handbrake" width="620" height="407" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Handbrake Encoding performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">For our encoding test, we took a 1080p-resolution video file and used Handbrake 0.9.9 to transcode it into a file using the Android tablet profile. Handbrake is very multi-threaded and leverages the CPU for its encoding and transcoding. Our results were still fairly stellar, with Haswell-E CPU performing about 38 percent faster than the Devil’s Canyon part. Things were uncomfortably close with the Ivy Bridge-E part though, with the eight-core chip coming in only about 13 percent faster than the six-core chip. Since the Ivy Bridge-E cores are slower than Haswell cores clock-for-clock, we were a bit surprised at how close they were. In the past, we have seen memory bandwidth play a role in encoding, but not necessarily Handbrake. Interestingly, despite locking all three parts down at 2,133MHz, the Ivy Bridge-E does provide more bandwidth than the Haswell-E part. One other thing we should mention: Intel’s “sanity check” numbers to let the media know what to expect for Handbrake performance showed a tremendous advantage for the Haswell-E. Against a Devil’s Canyon chip, Haswell-E was 69 percent faster and 34 percent faster than the Ivy Bridge-E chip. Why the difference? The workload. Intel uses a 4K-resolution file and transcodes it down to 1080p. We haven’t tried it at 4K, but we may, as Intel has provided the 4K-resolution sample files to the media. If true, and we have no reason to doubt it, it’s a good message for those who actually work at Ultra HD resolutions that the eight-cores can pay off. Overall, we’re declaring Haswell-E the winner here.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/x264pass1.png" alt="x264 pass 1" title="x264 pass 1" width="620" height="496" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>X264 HD 5.01 Pass 1 performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">We’ve been using TechArp.com’s X264 HD 5.0.1 benchmark to measure performance on new PCs. The test does two passes using the freeware x264 encoding library. The first pass is seemingly a little more sensitive to clock speeds and memory bandwidth rather than just pure core count. A higher frame rate is better. The first pass isn’t as core-sensitive, and memory bandwidth clock speed have more dividends here. Haswell still gives you a nice 36 percent boost over the Devil’s Canyon but that Ivy Bridge-E chip, despite its older core microarchitecture, comes is only beaten by 12 percent—too close for comfort. Of course, we’d throw in the usual caveat about the very large clock differences between the chips, but we’ve already said that three times. Oh, and yes, we did actually plagiarize by lifting two sentences from a previous CPU review for our description. That’s OK, we gave ourselves permission.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X but not by much</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/x264pass2.png" alt="x264 pass 2" title="x264 pass 2" width="620" height="499" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>X264 HD 5.01 Pass 2 performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Pass two of the X264 HD 5.01 benchmark is more sensitive to core and thread counts, and we see the Haswell-E come in with a nice 46 percent performance advantage against the Devil’s Canyon chip. The Ivy Bridge-E, though, still represents well. The Haswell-E chip is “only” 22 percent faster than it. Still, this is a solid win for the Haswell-E chip. We also like how we’re seeing very similar scaling in multiple encoding tests of roughly 45 percent. With Intel saying it’s seeing 69 percent in 4K resolution content in Handbrake, we’re wondering if the Haswell-E would offer similar scaling if we just moved all of our tests up to 4K.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><strong>Click the next page for even more Haswell-E benchmarks.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/stitch.png" alt="stitch" title="stitch" width="620" height="473" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Stitch.EFx 2.0 Performance&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Again, we like to mix up our workloads to stress different tasks that aren’t always multi-threaded to take advantage of a 12-core Xeon chip. For this test, we shot about 200 images with a Canon EOS 7D using a GigaPan motorized head. That’s roughly 1.9GB in images to make our gigapixel image using Stitch.EFx 2.0. The first third of the render is single-threaded as it stitches together the images. The final third is multi-threaded as it does the blending, perspective correction, and other intensive image processing. It’s a good blend of single-threaded performance and multi-threaded, but we expected the higher clocked parts to take the lead. No surprise, the Devil’s Canyon 4.4GHz advantage puts it in front, and the Haswell-E comes in about 14 percent slower with its 1.1GHz clock disadvantage. The clock speed advantage of the 4GHz Ivy Bridge-E also pays dividends, and we see the Haswell-E losing by about 10 percent. The good news? A dual-core Pentium K running at 4.7GHz coughed up a score of 1,029 seconds (not represented on the chart) and is roughly 22 percent slower than the CPU that costs about 11 times more.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4790K</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/7zip.png" alt="7-zip" title="7-zip" width="620" height="477" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>7-Zip Performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">The popular and free zip utility, 7-Zip, has a nifty built-in benchmark that tells you the theoretical file-compression performance a CPU. You can pick the workload size and the number of threads. For our test, we maxed it out at 16-threads using an 8MB workload. That gives the Haswell-E familiar advantage in performance—about 45 percent—over the Devil’s Canyon part. Against that Ivy Bridge-E part though, it’s another uncomfortably close one at 8 percent. Still, a win is a win even if we have to say that if you have a shiny Core i7-4960X CPU in your system, you’re still doing fine.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/sandra.png" alt="sisoft sandra" title="sisoft sandra" width="620" height="421" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Sisoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)</strong></span></p> <p>Since this is the first time we’re seeing DDR4 in a desktop part, we wanted to see how it stacked up in benchmarks. But, before you get too excited, remember that we set all three systems to 2133 data rates. The Devil’s Canyon part is dual-channel and the Ivy Bridge-E and Haswell-E are both quad-channel. With the memory set at 2133, we expected Haswell-E to be on par with the Ivy Bridge-E chip, but oddly, it was slower, putting out about 40GB/s of bandwidth. It’s still more than the 27GB/s the Devil’s Canyon could hit, but we expected it to be closer to double of what the Ivy Bridge-E was producing. For what it’s worth, we did double-check that we were operating in quad-channel mode and the clock speeds of our DIMMs. It’s possible this may change as the hardware we see becomes more final. We’ll also note that even at the same clock, DDR4 does suffer a latency penalty over DDR3. That would also be missing the point of DDR4, though. The new memory should give us larger modules and hit higher frequencies far easier, too, which will nullify that latency issue. Still, the winner is Ivy Bridge-E.</p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/3dmarkgpu.png" alt="3d mark" title="3d mark" width="620" height="457" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>3DMark Firestrike Overall Performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Even though 3DMark Firestrike is primarily a graphics benchmark, not having a 3DMark Firestrike score is like not having coffee in the morning. Basically, it’s a tie between all three chips, and 3DMark Firestrike is working exactly as you expect it to: as a GPU benchmark.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Tie</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/3dmarkphysics.png" alt="3d mark physics" title="3d mark physics" width="620" height="477" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>3DMark Firestrike Physics Performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">3DMark does factor in the CPU performance for its physics tests. It’s certainly not weighted for multi-core counts as other tests are, but we see the Haswell-E with a decent 29 percent bump over the Devil’s Canyon chip. But, breathing down the neck of the Haswell-E is the Ivy Bridge-E chip. To us, that’s damned near a tie. Overall, the Haswell-E wins, but in gaming tasks—at stock clocks—paying for an 8-core monster is unnecessary except for those running multi-GPU setups.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/valveparticle.png" alt="valve particle" title="valve particle" width="620" height="451" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Valve Particle Benchmark Performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Valve’s Particle test was originally developed to show off quad-core performance to the world. It uses the company’s own physics magic, so it should give some indication of how well a chip will run. We’ve long suspected the test is cache and RAM latency happy. That seems to be backed by the numbers because despite the 1.1GHz advantage the Devil’s Canyon chip has, the Haswell-E is in front to the tune of 15 percent. The Ivy Bridge-E chip though, with its large cache, lower latency DDR3, and assloads of memory bandwidth actually comes out on top by about 3 percent. We’ll again note the Ivy Bridge-E part has a 700MHz advantage, so this is a very nice showing for the Haswell-E part.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/dirtlow.png" alt="dirt showdown low" title="dirt showdown low" width="620" height="438" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Dirt Showdown low-resolution performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">For our gaming tests, we decided to run the games at 1366x768 resolution and at very low settings to take the graphics card out of the equation. In one way, you imagine this as what it would look like if you had infinitely powerful graphics cards in your system. As most games are not multi-threaded and are perfectly fine with a quad-core with Hyper-Threading, we fully expected the parts with the highest clock speeds to win all of our low-resolution, low-quality tests. No surprise, the Devil’s Canyon part at 4.4GHz private schools the 3.3GHz Haswell-E chip. And, no surprise, the 4GHz Ivy Bridge-E also eats the Haswell-E’s lunch and drinks its milk, too.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4790K</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/dirtultra.png" alt="dirt showdown ultra performance" title="dirt showdown ultra performance" width="620" height="475" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Dirt Showdown 1080p, ultra performance</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">To make sure we put everything in the right context, we also ran the Dirt Showdown at 1920x1080 resolution at Ultra settings. This puts most of the load on the single GeForce GTX 780 we used for our tests. Interestingly, we saw the Haswell-E with a slight edge over the Devil’s Canyon and Ivy Bridge-E parts. We’re not sure, but we don’t think it’s a very significant difference, but it’s still technically a win for Haswell-E.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/hitmanlow.png" alt="hitman low" title="hitman low" width="620" height="502" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Hitman: Absolution, low quality, low performance&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">We did the same with Hitman: Absolution, running it at low resolution and its lowest settings. The Haswell-E came in about 12 percent slower the Devil’s Canyon part and 13 percent slower than the Ivy Bridge-E.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/hitmanultra.png" alt="hitman ultra" title="hitman ultra" width="620" height="479" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Hitman: Absolution, 1080p, ultra quality</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Again, we tick the settings to an actual resolution and quality at which people actually play. Once we do that, the gap closes slightly, with the Haswell-E trailing the Devil’s Canyon by about 8 percent and the Ivy Bridge-E by 9 percent. Still, these are all very playable frame rates and few could tell the difference.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/tombraider.png" alt="tomb raider low" title="tomb raider low" width="620" height="465" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Tomb Raider, low quality, low resolution.</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">We did the same low quality, low resolution trick with Tomb Raider and while need to see 500 frames per second, it’s pretty much a wash here.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Tie</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/tomraiderulti.png" alt="tomb raider ultra" title="tomb raider ultra" width="620" height="472" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Tomb Raider, 1080p, Ultimate</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">At normal resolutions and settings we were a little surprised, as the Haswell-E actually had a 15 percent advantage over the Devil’s Canyon CPU. We’re not exactly sure why, as the only real advantage we can see is memory bandwidth and large caches on the Haswell-E part. We seriously doubt it’s due to the number of CPU cores. The Haswell-E also has a very, very slight lead against the Ivy Bridge-E part, too. That’s not bad considering the clock penalty it’s running at.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-5960X</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/metrolastlight.png" alt="metro last light low" title="metro last light low" width="620" height="503" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Metro Last Light, low resolution, low quality</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">In Metro Last light, at low settings it’s a wash between all of them.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Tie</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><img src="/files/u154082/metroveryhigh.png" alt="metro last light high" title="metro last light high" width="620" height="502" /></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Metro Last Light, 1080p, Very High quality</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Metro at high-quality settings mirrors that of Hitman: Absolution, and we think favors the parts with higher clock speeds. We should also note that none of the chips with the $500 graphics card could run Metro at 1080p at high-quality settings. That is, of course, you consider 30 to 40 fps to be “smooth.” We don’t. Interestingly, the Core i7-4690X was the overall winner.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #333399;">Winner: Core i7-4960X</span></p> <p><strong>Conclusion:</strong> If you skipped to the very last page to read the conclusion, you’re in the wrong place. You need to go back to page 4 to read our conclusions and what you should buy. And no, we didn’t do this to generate just one more click either though that would be very clever of us wouldn’t it?</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/haswell-e_review_2014#comments benchmarks cpu haswell e intel ivy bridge e maximum pc processor Review Specs News Reviews Features Tue, 09 Sep 2014 23:03:30 +0000 Gordon Mah Ung 28431 at http://www.maximumpc.com The Top 20 Games We Want Remastered http://www.maximumpc.com/top_20_games_we_want_remastered_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Games worth replaying in HD</h3> <p>No matter how old you are, there will always be at least one game that you’ll want to revisit and play all over again. Maybe even more than once. What is it that makes you want to play again? Great gameplay, great story, or even a <a title="30 Best PC Game Soundtracks" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/30_best_pc_game_soundtracks_all_time" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">great soundtrack</span></a> are some of the factors that keeps a game on our minds. There is one other factor that helps to make a game memorable: the graphics. But sadly, as time marches on, the majority of games just can’t hold their own against the ever-increasing advancements in graphics technology. Inevitably, when we go back and play many of those games, we can’t help but cringe at how they look.</p> <p>Thankfully, there seems to be a bit of an HD renaissance happening for PC games these days. The recent announcement that <a title="MPC Grim Fandango" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/double_fine_confirms_grim_fandango_remake_headed_pc_2014" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Grim Fandango</span></a> is being remastered is certainly a reason to celebrate. And it's also nice we're getting an HD remake of GTA V. But these are but a few awesome games to be revisited. Other games, such as Age of Empires II, have been touched by the hand of HD. Then there is The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, which was fully re-imagined with a remastered musical score, full voiceover, and new art style.&nbsp;</p> <p>So we decided to come up with a list of games, in chronological order by release date, that we would like to see remastered.&nbsp;</p> <p>Obviously, we are going to exclude a lot games. As a result of this, we would love to hear what games you think should be remastered and why. Please sound off in the comments below!</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 <span style="color: #ff0000;"><a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="https://www.facebook.com/seandknight" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></span></em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/top_20_games_we_want_remastered_2014#comments 20 games remastered remastered classic games remastered PC games Top 20 games remastered Gaming Features Fri, 05 Sep 2014 18:43:36 +0000 Sean D Knight 28372 at http://www.maximumpc.com Build it: Real-World 4K Gaming Test Bench http://www.maximumpc.com/build_it_real-world_4k_gaming_test_bench_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>This month, we find out what it takes to run games at 4K, and do so using a sweet open-air test bench</h3> <p>The computer world loves it when specs double from one generation to the next. We’ve gone from 16-bit to 32-bit, and finally 64-bit computing. We had 2GB RAM sticks, then 4GB, then 8GB. With monitor resolutions, 1920x1080 has been the standard for a while, but we never quite doubled it, as 2560x1600 was a half-step, but now that 4K resolution has arrived, it’s effectively been exactly doubled, with the panels released so far being 3840x2160. We know it’s not actually 4,000 pixels, but everyone is still calling it “4K.” Though resolution is doubled over 1080p, it’s the equivalent number of pixels as four 1080p monitors, so it takes a lot of horsepower to play games smoothly. For example, our 2013 Dream Machine used four Nvidia GeForce GTX Titans and a CPU overclocked to 5GHz to handle it. Those cards cost $4,000 altogether though, so it wasn’t a scenario for mere mortals. This month, we wanted to see what 4K gaming is like with more-affordable parts. We also wanted to try a distinctive-looking open test bench from DimasTech. This type of case is perfect for SLI testing, too, since it makes component installation and swapping much quicker.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/beauty_shot_small_29.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/beauty_shot_small_28.jpg" width="620" height="417" /></a></p> <h3>Triple Threat</h3> <p>Instead of GTX Titans, we’re stepping it down a couple of notches to Nvidia GTX 780s. They provide similar gaming performance, but at half the cost. We’re also using “only” three cards instead of four, so the price difference from Dream Machine to this rig is a whopping $2500 (even more if you count the fact that the Dream Machine cards were water-cooled). These cards still need a lot of bandwidth, though, so we’re sticking with an Intel LGA 2011 motherboard, this time an Asus X79 Deluxe. It’s feature-packed and can overclock a CPU like nobody’s business. The X79 Deluxe is running Intel’s Core i7-4960X CPU, which has six cores and twelve processing threads. It’s kind of a beast. We’re cooling it with a Cooler Master Glacer 240L water cooler, which comes with a 240mm radiator.</p> <p>We’ll also need a boatload of power, so we grabbed a Corsair AX1200 PSU which, as its name suggests, supplies up to 1200 watts. It’s also fully modular, meaning that its cables are all detachable. Since we’re only using one storage device in this build, we can keep a lot of spare cables tucked away in a bag, instead of cluttering up the lower tray.</p> <p>All of this is being assembled on a DimasTech Easy V3 test bench, which is a laser-cut steel, hand-welded beauty made in Italy and painted glossy red. It can handle either a 360mm or 280mm radiator as well, and it comes with an articulating arm to move a case fan around to specific areas. It seems like the ultimate open-air test bench, so we’re eager to see what we can do with it.&nbsp;&nbsp; \</p> <h4>1. Case Working</h4> <p>The DimasTech Easy V3 comes in separate parts, but the bulk of it is an upper and lower tray. You slide the lower one in and secure it with a bundled set of six aluminum screws. The case’s fasteners come in a handy plastic container with a screw-on lid. Shown in the photo are the two chromed power and reset buttons, which are the last pieces to be attached. They have pre-attached hexagonal washers, which can be a bit tricky to remove. We had to use pliers on one of them. You’ll need to wire them up yourself, but there’s a diagram included. Then, connect the other head to the motherboard’s front panel header, which has its own diagram printed on the board.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/a_small_29.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/a_small_28.jpg" title="Image A" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <h4>2. Getting Testy</h4> <p>Unfortunately, the Easy V3 does not ship with a 2.5-inch drive bay, nor do standard 3.5-inch to 2.5-inch adapters fit inside the bays. If you want to install a solid-state drive, you need to purchase the correctly sized bay or adapter separately from DimasTech. Since this is an open test bench, which is designed for swapping parts quickly, we chose to just leave the drive unsecured. It has no moving parts, so it doesn’t need to be screwed down or even laid flat to work properly. We also moved the 5.25-inch drive bay from the front to the back, to leave as much room as possible to work with our bundle of PSU cables. The lower tray has a number of pre-drilled holes to customize drive bay placement. Meanwhile, our power supply must be oriented just like this to properly attach to the case’s specified bracket. It’s not bad, though, because this positions the power switch higher up, where it’s less likely to get bumped accidentally.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/b_small_24.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/b_small_23.jpg" title="Image B" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <h4>3. Able Cables</h4> <p>The best way to install a modular power supply is to attach your required cables first. This time, we got a kit from Corsair that has individually sleeved wires. It costs $40, and also comes in red, white, or blue. Each of these kits is designed to work with a specific Corsair power supply. They look fancier than the stock un-sleeved cables, and the ones for motherboard and CPU power are a lot more flexible than the stock versions. All of the connectors are keyed, so you can’t accidentally plug them into the wrong socket. We used a few black twist ties to gather in the PCI Express cables.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/c_small_27.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/c_small_26.jpg" title="Image C" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <h4>4. Taking a Stand(off)</h4> <p>The Easy V3 comes with an unusually tall set of metal motherboard standoffs. These widgets prevent the motherboard from touching the tray below and possibly creating a short circuit. You can screw these in by hand, optionally tightening them up with a pair of pliers. Once those were in, we actually used some thumbscrews bundled with the case to screw the board down on the standoffs. You can use more standard screws, but we had plenty to spare, and we liked the look. The tall standoffs also work nicely with custom liquid cooling loops, because there is enough clearance to send thick tubing underneath (and we’ve seen lots of photos on the Internet of such setups). For us, it provided enough room to install a right-angle SATA cable and send it through the oval cut-out in the tray and down to the SSD below.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/d_small_23.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/d_small_22.jpg" title="Image D" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>5. Triple Play</h4> <p>This bench has a black bracket that holds your PCIe cards and can be slid parallel to the motherboard to accommodate different board layouts. It will take up to four two-slot cards, and DimasTech sells a longer 10-slot bracket on its website for workstation boards. We had to use the provided aluminum thumbscrews to secure the cards, since all of the screws we had in The Lab were either too coarsely threaded or not the right diameter, which is unusual. Installing cards is easy, because your view of the board slot is not blocked by a case. The video cards will end up sandwiched right next to each other, though, so you’ll need a tool to release the slot-locking mechanism on two of them (we used a PCI slot cover). The upper two cards can get quite toasty, so we moved the bench’s built-in flexible fan arm right in front of their rear intake area, and we told the motherboard to max out its RPM. We saw an immediate FPS boost in our tests, because by default these cards will throttle once they get to about 83 C.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/e_small_21.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/e_small_20.jpg" title="Image E" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <h4>6. Cool Under Pressure</h4> <p>Since the Glacer 240L cooler has integrated tubing that’s relatively short, the orientation pictured was our only option. We could have put the fans on the other side of the radiator, but since performance was already superb, we decided we liked the looked of them with the grills on top. To mount the radiator, we used the bundled screws, which became the right length when we added some rubber gaskets, also included.&nbsp; The radiator actually doesn’t give off much heat, even when the CPU is overclocked and firing on all cylinders, so we didn’t have to worry about the nearby power supply fan pulling in a lot of hot intake. In fact, the CPU never crossed 65C in all of our benchmarks, even when overclocked to 4.5GHz. We even threw Prime95 at it, and it didn’t break a sweat. Temperatures are also affected by ambient temperatures, though. With our open-air layout, heat coming out of the GPUs doesn’t get anywhere near the radiator, and The Lab’s air conditioning helps keep temperatures low, so it’s pretty much an ideal environment, short of being installed in a refrigerator. Your mileage may vary.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/f_small_22.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/f_small_21.jpg" title="Image F" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/main_image_small_18.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/main_image_small_17.jpg" title="Main Image" width="620" height="382" /></a></p> <h3>A Golden Triangle</h3> <p>Despite our penchant for extreme performance, we rarely build triple-GPU systems, so we weren’t sure how well they’d handle 4K, but we figured they’d kick ass. Thankfully, they handled UHD quite well. So well, in fact, that we also tested the system with “only” two GTX 780s and still got respectable gaming performance. For example, with two cards, the Bioshock Infinite benchmark reported an average of a little over 60 FPS on its highest settings. In Tomb Raider, we disabled anti-aliasing and TressFX, maxing out all the other settings, and we still averaged 62 FPS. We benchmarked the opening sequence of Assassin’s Creed 4 with AA and PhysX disabled and everything else maxed out, and we averaged 47 FPS. The Metro: Last Light benchmark, however, averaged 25FPS on max settings, even with PhysX disabled.</p> <p>Unfortunately, we had trouble getting Hitman: Absolution and Metro: Last Light to recognize the third card. This issue is not unheard of, and made us think: If you stick with two GPUs, you no longer need the PCI Express bandwidth of expensive LGA 2011 CPUs, or their equally expensive motherboards, or a huge power supply. That potentially cuts the cost of this system in half, from around $4200 to roughly $2100. You could also save money by going with, say, a Core i7-4930K instead, and a less expensive LGA 2011 motherboard and a smaller SSD. But it’s still a pretty steep climb in price when going from two cards to three.</p> <p>The test bench itself feels sturdy and looks sweet, but we wish that it accepted standard computer-type screws, and that it came with a 2.5-inch drive bay or could at least fit a standard 3.5-to-2.5 adapter. We’d also recommend getting a second articulating fan arm if you’re liquid-cooling, so that one could provide airflow to the voltage regulators around the CPU, and the other could blow directly on your video cards. With the fan aimed at our cards, we instantly gained another 10 FPS in the Tomb Raider benchmark.</p> <p>The Seagate 600 SSD was nice and speedy, although unzipping compressed files seemed to take longer than usual. The X79 Deluxe motherboard gave us no trouble, and the bundled “Asus AI Suite III” software has lots of fine-grained options for performance tuning and monitoring, and it looks nice. Overall, this build was not only successful but educational, too.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><strong><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span></strong><br /> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"> </th> <th class="head-light"> <p style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal; text-align: start;"><strong>ZERO</strong></p> <p style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: normal; text-align: start;"><strong>POINT</strong></p> </th> <th></th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Premiere Pro CS6 (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">2,000</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">1,694</span><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec)</td> <td>831</td> <td><span style="text-align: center;">707</span><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)</td> <td class="item-dark">1,446</td> <td>1,246</td> </tr> <tr> <td>x264 HD 5.0 (fps)</td> <td>21.1</td> <td>25.6<strong></strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batmans Arkam City (fps)</td> <td>76</td> <td>169<strong></strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">3DMark11 Extreme</td> <td class="item-dark">5,847&nbsp;</td> <td>12,193</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p><span style="font-size: 10px; font-weight: bold;"><em>The zero-point machine compared here consists of a 3.2GHz Core i7-3930K and 16GB of Corsair DDR3/1600 on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard. It has a GeForce GTX 690, a Corsair Neutron GTX SSD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.</em></span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/build_it_real-world_4k_gaming_test_bench_2014#comments 4k computer gaming pc geforce Hardware maximum pc May issues 2014 nvidia open Test Bench Features Wed, 03 Sep 2014 19:29:01 +0000 Tom McNamara 28364 at http://www.maximumpc.com Civilization: Beyond Earth Hands-On http://www.maximumpc.com/civilization_beyond_earth_hands-on_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>We play through the first 100 turns of Firaxis' next Civ game</h3> <p>We're still a couple months away from the retail release of Civilization: Beyond Earth (C:BE), but publisher 2K Games couldn't hold back the horde any longer. We've been eager to try it out because it's Civ, but also because it feels like a spiritual sequel to Alpha Centauri, which itself dealt with a nagging question from earlier entries in the series: What happens when you win the game by launching an interstellar ship into space? Where do those people go? At first glance, C:BE looks like a sci-fi Civilization V with an exotic color palette, but a number of new layers unfolded during our time with it.</p> <p>Most Civ games begin with selecting your starting conditions (unless you like to live on the edge and randomize all your choices). Your options include the usual things like world size, continent shape, and faction leader characteristics. In the build that we played, we could choose from three randomly generated planets. We could also let the game randomly choose one of those three for us, or we could tell C:BE to roll the dice and generate three new worlds. If that's not your cup of tea, we could also go to the "Advanced Worlds" menu and choose from about ten worlds with scripted conditions. 82 Eridani e, for example, has no oceans and little water. Or we could choose Archipelago, which was basically the opposite. Eta Vulpeculae b, meanwhile, has one large continent and an abundance of resources and wildlife.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/screenshot_terrain_lush02.jpg" width="600" height="354" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>Six of the worlds that are accessible from this menu come from the Exoplanets Map Pack, which you get by pre-ordering the game before October 24th. Each of these planets will randomize its geography each time you play, leading to an additional layer of replayability. We were not able to dig up a menu that allowed us to fine-tune specific map or gameplay attributes (such as disabling neutral factions or hostile wildlife), but this was not a final build.</p> <p>Then you can also choose to begin the game with a soldier or worker unit, instead of an explorer. Or you could have a clinic installed in your first city automatically. This building improves the city health stat, which indicates population growth and the happiness of your citizens. You will also choose what ship type you want to use to arrive on the planet. This determines bonuses like starting with 100 energy (the currency of C:BE); the initial visibility of coast lines, alien nests, certain resources; and the size of the fog of war around your first city.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/screen_combat_satellitebombard.jpg" width="600" height="341" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>Then you choose your colonist type. For example, the Refugee type adds +2 food to every city, which promotes growth. Engineers give you +2 production in every city, which decreases the time it takes to construct buildings. Scientists, unsurprisingly, give you +2 science in every city, which increases the speed at which you research new technology. Lastly, you designate your sponsor, which determines who your faction leader is. There are no historical leaders this time, like George Washington or Ghandi. This new gang consists of fictional characters set in a speculative future. We had eight sponsors to choose from. Going with the African Union grants us +10% food in growing cities when their Health rating is 1 or greater. With the Pan-Asian Cooperative, you get a 10% production bonus for Wonders, and 25% faster workers.</p> <p>So after agonizing over all of those branching decisions, you can finally drop into the game. If you're familiar with the last couple Civ games, the interface should be pretty familiar. Your resources appear in the upper right-hand corner, with positive and negative numbers indicating gains or losses per turn. Hovering the cursor over each one gives you a detailed breakdown of where the resources are coming from, and how they're being consumed. Your lower right-hand corner is for notifications and to run through your list of available actions The lower left-hand shows you your selected unit (if any) and its abilities.</p> <p style="text-align: right;"><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/civilization_beyond_earth_hands-on_2014?page=0,1" target="_blank"><strong>Page 2: Exploration, affinities, and virtues</strong></a></p> <hr /> <p>But while the UI should be familiar, this is definitely an exotic planet, with unfamiliar formations like canyons and craters, clouds of poisonous gas, alien critters used for resources, and other alien critters that are actively hostile. It's definitely dangerous terrain for a fledgling civilization. But you'll find resource pods dotted throughout the landscape, which usually contain caches of energy or satellites. Satellites are launched into orbit and extract energy from the planet's surface, though it's not clear how. They stay up for a limited time, though, so you'll need to keep finding them, or produce them on your own. You'll also encounter stations, which behave similarly to city-states in Civ V.</p> <p>And your explorer (scout) unit can excavate native ruins and giant animal bones to grant more bonuses, like free technology. He can only carry one of these excavation kits at once, though, and he needs to return to a city to get more. It also takes five turns to excavate something. This slower pace maintains the unit's viability for a longer stretch than in previous games, and compels you to make more agonizing decisions. Competing factions also don't like it when you excavate something that's closer to their territory than to yours. So you have to balance your desire for discovery against your long-term political risks.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/screen_fielding_diplomacy.jpg" title="text-align: center;" width="600" height="341" /></p> <p>Meanwhile, you'll be conducting research on new buildings and units. Instead of going left to right and hitting up pretty much everything along the way, you begin from a central point on the research map and must choose between different branches, each of which contains "leaves" or individual research choices. Each branch has a theme, usually divided into cultural, military, and scientific categories. You can try focusing on one theme, or it might be better to balance as many as you can. Since we were limited to 100 turns, we weren't able to see which turned out to be the better strategy. The things you encounter on the map, the things you build, and the tech you research will frequently trigger binary choices. At one point, the game made us choose between two stations to conduct business with. One station specialized in converting military equipment for civilian use, while another could increase our science score. Both choices have effects on your relationship with the planet's flora and fauna, and you have three affinities to balance: Harmony, Supremacy, and Purity.</p> <p>Each choice grants you a mix of experience points in each affinity, and enough points in one will move you up a level and grant you a bonus. Hovering your mouse over each affinity (located in the upper left-hand corner) tells you what different levels will do. Level 1 of Harmony, for example, reduces the aggression level of the native creatures. Eventually you'll actually gain health from the poison clouds (called "miasma"), and the highest level of your primary affinity grants a critical element for one of the five available victory conditions. At the same time, you'll eventually be at odds with the factions that have different affinities than yours. You can attempt to smooth over relations by establishing lucrative trading routes, engaging in joint military actions, and good old-fashioned bribery. Or you can attempt to wipe them off the map, if you're not into the whole diplomacy thing.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/screen_ui_virtues.jpg" width="600" height="341" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>And let's not forget about the Virtue system. These operate like Civ V's social policies, but this time there are four of them with nine tiers, so there's more focus and depth to your choices here. On top of that is a grid of synergies, designed to encourage the exploration of multiple virtues. Activating the first tier of each virtue, for example, gives you a bonus activation of your choosing.</p> <p>Eventually, the 2K staff gently ushered us out the door, and we were reluctant to leave. Beyond Earth has a more layers of faction evolution and political intrigue than we're used to seeing in Civ, and we were eager to see the choices that the game would present us with next. We also wanted to build more stuff, of course, and establish more trade routes, explore more of the map, investigate the critters, and maybe start a war or two. Thankfully, we only have about eight more weeks until the game launches into orbit.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/civilization_beyond_earth_hands-on_2014#comments alpha centauri beyond earth civiliation pc game PC gaming pre-review Sci-fi Sid Meier strategy Games Gaming News Features Web Exclusive Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:43:23 +0000 Tom McNamara 28439 at http://www.maximumpc.com Falcon Northwest Tiki Z Video Walkthrough http://www.maximumpc.com/falcon_northwest_tiki_z_video_walkthrough <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/tiki_z.png" alt="tiki z" title="tiki z" width="250" height="169" style="float: right;" />Nvidia’s Titan Z in a console-sized PC case</h3> <p>Small form factor PCs are sexy, especially when you’ve got sexy specs like Falcon Northwest’s Tiki Z. In the video below, Gordon walks you through the Tiki Z’s components which include Nvidia’s Titan Z. That’s right, you’ve essentially got two Titan Blacks crammed into a PC the size of a console. If that weren’t enough, it also has a 600-watt PSU, 4TB HDD, 2 SSDs in RAID 0, an overclocked Devil’s Canyon CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a Blu-ray burner.&nbsp;</p> <p>Did we mention that it looks beautiful and is custom-painted? The one drawback? This thing costs $7,500! Watch the video below for more details.</p> <p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gP0oGngbUjY" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/falcon_northwest_tiki_z_video_walkthrough#comments console devils canyon falcon northwest tiki z MPCTV nvidia geforce titan z sff Small Form Factor Features Wed, 27 Aug 2014 21:24:07 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 28430 at http://www.maximumpc.com The Coolest Google Chrome Shortcuts You Never Knew About http://www.maximumpc.com/coolest_google_chrome_shortcuts_you_never_knew_about_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u154280/google_chrome.png" alt="Google Chrome" title="Google Chrome" width="250" height="75" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Speed up your browsing experience with these nifty timesavers</h3> <p>In a little over five years, Google Chrome has gobbled up roughly 43% of the browser market. Its popularity comes from a snappy user experience, convenient apps, and the plethora of short cuts it provides users. Currently, Chrome offers over 50 shortcuts to make browsing take less effort. We’ve rounded up 12 of the best Chrome shortcuts that you may not have heard about. Know of any other useful Chrome shortcuts?</p> <p>Let us know in comments below!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/coolest_google_chrome_shortcuts_you_never_knew_about_2014#comments browser Google Chrome Shortcuts hotkeys tips Features Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:51:11 +0000 Chris Zele 27298 at http://www.maximumpc.com Best Free Video Editor Roundup http://www.maximumpc.com/best_free_video_editor_roundup_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/my_movie_-_movie_maker_2014-02-25_21-28-28.png" alt="Movie Maker" title="Movie Maker" width="250" height="174" style="float: right;" /></span></h3> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Video editing without the ridiculous price tag&nbsp;</span></h3> <p>In the world of free audio editing, there's <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/audacity_crash_course_2014">Audacity</a>. In the world of free photo editing, there's GIMP. What’s a video editor on a budget to do? We didn’t know, so we set out to find out. There’s plenty of expensive video editing software—Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, and Avid—but there’s no juggernaut in the freeware space. The software we tested ranged from the widely available Movie Maker to the free version of Lightworks.</p> <p>As a small disclaimer, watch out while installing some of these programs. A few of them include bundled adware software that you have to uncheck or deselect before installing, unless you want stuff like Search Protect by Conduit—you don’t. <a title="how to download" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/how_to_download_2013" target="_blank">Here's an article we did</a> that shows you how to avoid downloading some of that adware.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Movie Maker</span></h3> <p>Microsoft’s <a href="http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/movie-maker#t1=overview" target="_blank">Movie Maker</a> should be familiar to most people. It’s provided by Microsoft as part of the Windows Essentials software suite along with a bunch of other “essential” software, but it’s actually surprisingly capable. If all you’re doing is editing a family video or two, this is more than enough to add a title and some transition effects.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/mm.jpg" alt="Movie Maker Screenshot" title="Movie Maker Screenshot" width="600" height="412" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>In fact, Movie Maker’s biggest weakness is its greatest strength: it’s super simple. The UI makes sense to Windows users and doesn’t hide anything behind menus. Microsoft doesn’t even use words like ‘import’ and ‘gain’ opting instead for ‘Add videos and photos’ and dead obvious buttons labeled things like: “Emphasize narration’ and ‘Emphasis video.’</p> <p>Getting your finished video out of Movie Maker is also super easy. The program supports direct publishing to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and even Flickr. There’s also a list of preset options for exporting the video onto your computer that includes options for Android and iOS phones as well the standard HD and SD options. If you’re a bit more knowledgeable about rendering videos, you can edit the resolution, bit rate, frame rate, and even the audio format of the finished product. As amazing as Movie Maker is, we found it hard to stomach the fact that it can only export .wmv videos.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Movie Maker is a great choice if you don’t need anything particularly fancy. It’s quick and easy to use if .WMV videos aren’t a problem.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Lightworks Free</span></h3> <p>There aren’t very many options for serious video editors, but <a href="http://www.lwks.com/" target="_blank">Lightworks</a> is right up there with software like Adobe Premiere. Although there’s a paid version available for $280—there’s also monthly and yearly subscriptions—the free version works well enough for amateur videographers. You don’t get professional features like timeline rendering and Blackmagic support, but you do get access to an editor that’s as close as you’ll come to Premiere or Final Cut Pro without having to pay for it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/lw.jpg" alt="Lightworks" title="Lightworks" width="600" height="335" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>It’s not nearly as intuitive as something like Movie Maker, but if you want to add custom effects, color correct, or even key out a green screen, this is the best option. Taking a cue from older versions of Microsoft Office, Lightworks even has a friendly shark in the corner that throws out tips and pointers while you navigate around the freeform interface. If you like having your timeline in the top left, all you have to do is drag it there.&nbsp;</p> <p>The biggest limitation of Lightworks Free is that you can’t export 1080p video. 720p and below is fair game with exports allowed with H.264 encoding only. On the bright side, Lightworks supports pretty much every video format you’d ever need to import.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Lightworks Free is your only option if you need an editor that lets you really dig into your videos. If you need more than basic effects and some simple cuts, Lightworks is a great option.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Avidemux</span></h3> <p>If you only need to work with a couple of files, <a href="http://avidemux.sourceforge.net/" target="_blank">Avidemux</a> is a great solution. It doesn’t use the timeline workflow that most video editors do. This means that you won’t be rearranging clips of different videos along a thumbnail-covered timeline. Instead, you’ll be editing out parts of individual clips or joining videos together. What’s nice is that Avidemux can work with encoded files without having to re-encode them.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/avidemux.jpg" alt="Avidemux" title="Avidemux" width="600" height="397" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>Avidemux isn’t meant to be used for full-fledged projects, but it's great for cutting and filtering videos. It also supports task automation which means that batch processing video files is a cinch. A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.avidemux.org/admWiki/doku.php" target="_blank">wiki</a> filled with tutorials, general information, and guides, means that the possibilities with Avidemux are pretty much endless.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> This won’t replace a fully-featured editor, but it’s a great program for quick edits and video alterations.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">VirtualDub</span></h3> <p>AVI files are the name of the game with <a href="http://www.virtualdub.org/" target="_blank">VirtualDub</a>. It may have started as a side project in college, but it’s a fine choice for anyone looking to edit AVI. The tiny program that doesn’t even require an install has all of the standard features—minus a standard timeline. Video filters like rotation, sharpening, and smoothing, are all included. VirtualDub even gives you the option to export a video as a series of images or an animated GIF.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/vd.jpg" alt="VirtualDub" title="VirtualDub" width="600" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> It may not look like much, but if you’re churning out a few small videos or just making some tweaks, VirtualDub will work just fine.</p> <p><em>Click through to the next page to read about VSDC Free Video Editor, VideoPad Video Editor, and MPEG Streamclip.</em></p> <hr /> <h3><span style="font-size: 1.17em;">VSDC Free Video Editor</span></h3> <p>It looks confusing, dated, and cluttered, but it’s a capable video editor that shouldn’t be overlooked. Like Lightworks, <a href="http://www.videosoftdev.com/free-video-editor" target="_blank">VSDC Free Video Editor</a>&nbsp;is a fully-featured editor that can do pretty much everything you need. Cutting and splitting clips is a cinch, and the timeline makes rearranging clips and adding effects easy.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/vsdc.jpg" alt="VSDC" title="VSDC" width="600" height="330" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p>Our main gripe with VSDC is that previewing the video pops up an external player. You can view the video frame by frame, but you can’t play it within the editor itself. We also didn’t enjoy learning how to use the editor. Most of the buttons and controls are unlabeled and aren’t particularly clear about what they do.</p> <p>VSDC doesn't work like most professional video editors. Many options are hidden behind pop-up menus (splitting a clip is a lot harder than it should be) and clunky sidebars. Compared to the freeform layout of Lightworks, VSDC is a pain to work with.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> VSDC Video Editor has all the features, but none of the design. If you’re willing to spend the time to learn it, it’ll do what you need it to do.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">VideoPad Video Editor</span></h3> <p>We found ourselves pleasantly surprised by NCH Software’s <a href="http://www.nchsoftware.com/videopad/index.html" target="_self">VideoPad Video Editor</a>. Available for non-commercial use—unless you pay for a license—the editor is as close to Audacity-for-video as you’re going to get. The interface strikes a nice balance between feature-packed and user-friendly with labels under most of the buttons and a spacious window layout.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/videopad_video_editor_professional_-_untitled.vpj_unlicensed_non-commercial_home_use_only_2014-02-.png" alt="VideoPad Video Editor" title="VideoPad Video Editor" width="600" height="330" /></p> <p>It gets even better. VideoPad manages to go almost toe-to-toe with much more expensive software. It's the video editing experience you expect, at an unexpected price. Although the free version is limited to two simultaneous audio streams, VideoPad provides extensive audio and video editing options. To top it all off, it supports a ton of formats for importing and exporting. Uploading to YouTube, Facebook, or Flickr is a cinch and the program even offers standard settings for portable media players and smartphones.&nbsp;</p> <p>NCH Software isn't trying to break new ground and has instead opted to create a video editor that just works. It borrows elements from other editors and doesn't try to set itself apart with fancy layout options or an interesting color scheme.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong>&nbsp;VideoPad Video Editor is a stellar editor that manages to pack an almost obscene number of features into a surprisingly digestable package. &nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">MPEG Streamclip</span></h3> <p><a href="http://www.squared5.com/" target="_blank">MPEG Streamclip</a> lacks many of the features you’d expect from an editor, but it makes up for it with some stellar exporting options. Once you’ve trimmed a clip, you can export it to any number of formats including DV, MPEG-4, and AVI with control over the frame size, frame rate, how it’s cropped, the compression, and even the zoom.&nbsp;</p> <p>It's hard to call MPEG Streamclip an editor since it's more of a video processor. You aren't really creating montages or full features, but you are editing existing clips to better fit your needs. If your source video is too large, you can re-export it with more compression or a smaller resolution. Small jobs are perfect and MPEG Streamclip can fit into any video editors workflow.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/ms.jpg" alt="MPEG Streamclip" title="MPEG Streamclip" width="600" height="396" style="text-align: center;" /></p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> If all you need to do is trim a clip to size and convert or compress it, MPEG Streamclip is perfect. Look elsewhere if you actually need to do more editing.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">And the Winner is…</span></h3> <p><span style="font-weight: normal;">VideoPad is easily the best free video editor available. It stands up against Premiere and Final Cut while still being fairly approachable for amatuers. It's not the prettiest or the most feature-packed, but it'll do almost everything a hobbyist videopgraher would need it to.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>If you're not as concerend with advanced featuers like color correction and audio effects, Move Maker is the next best thing. It’s both capable and easy to use, while being readily available from Microsoft. It doesn’t do everything, but even beginners can edit videos into passable productions with a few clicks and some time spent exporting.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-style: italic;">Follow Ben on </span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="http://twitter.com/benjkim" target="_blank">Twitter</a><span style="font-style: italic;"> and </span><a style="font-style: italic;" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114327126936398350457/" target="_blank">Google+</a><span style="font-style: italic;">.&nbsp;</span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/best_free_video_editor_roundup_2014#comments Avidemux lightworks Movie Maker MPEG Streamclip video editing VideoPad Video Editor VirtualDub VSDC Features Mon, 25 Aug 2014 20:10:41 +0000 Ben Kim 27340 at http://www.maximumpc.com Graphics Porn (August 2014): Cheat Technical Officer Jim2point0 http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_august_2014_cheat_technical_officer_jim2point0 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/battlefield_4.jpg" alt="battlefield 4" title="battlefield 4" width="250" height="125" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">The Cheat Engine whiz of Dead End Thrills opens up his archives for Graphics Porn</span></h3> <p class="p1">We’re mixing things up again this month to showcase another tour de force of the video game screenshot world. James ‘jim2point0’ Snook is a front-end web developer at eBay Enterprise by day and a devoted screenshot aficionado at night. Just like <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_july_2014_showcasing_screenshot_artist_k-putt"><span class="s1">K-putt</span></a>, he’s dedicated to showcasing the very best that our favorite games have to offer. Whether that’s a stunning scene or just a particularly awesome ray of light, James is there to grab some spectacular screenshots.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">It all started when James stumbled upon some of <a href="http://deadendthrills.com/">Dead End Thrill’s screenshots</a> on Reddit. Now, he’s a diehard screenshot-taker. 4K downsampling and a technical-level of control over <a href="http://www.cheatengine.org/"><span class="s1">Cheat Engine</span></a>—a utility used to modify games—means that James can add free cameras, control over the field of the view (FOV), and even time-stop functions to games like Watch Dogs and Tomb Raider. He’s good enough at it that he’s the de-facto: “Cheat Technical Officer” on the DeadEndThrills forum. His work behind-the-scenes helps people like K-Putt and Dead End Thrills capture such inspiring screenshots.</p> <p class="p1">James’ love of the technical goes beyond Cheat Engine and screenshots. His personal rig is packed to the brink with an Asus Maximus V Extreme motherboard, an Intel Core i7-3770K overclocked to 4.4GHz, two EVGA GTX 780s in SLI, 16GB of 1866MHz Corsair Vengeance RAM, and a QNIX QX2710 2560x1440 monitor.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">We’ve got 15 of James’ personal favorites in the gallery below. Check them out and while you’re at it follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/jim2point0" target="_blank"><span class="s1">Twitter</span></a> to keep up with his latest exploits. Visit his <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jim2point0/" target="_blank"><span class="s1">Flickr</span></a> for the complete collection of his screens as well as higher-resolution downloads.&nbsp; Last, but not least, check out the <span class="s1">Dead End Thrills forum</span> for game-specific guides on getting total control over your screenshot adventures.</p> <p class="p3"><em>Whether you've been using&nbsp;</em><a href="http://store.steampowered.com/news/5"><span class="s2"><em>Steam's nifty screenshots feature</em></span></a><em>&nbsp;or simply print screening some beautiful wallpaper-worthy game moments, we want to be able to share your captured works of art with the world. If you think you can do better than the pictures submitted below, please email your screenshots to&nbsp;</em><a href="mailto:mpcgraphicsporn@gmail.com%22%20%5Ct%20%22_blank"><span class="s2"><em>mpcgraphicsporn@gmail.com</em></span></a><em>&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.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/graphics_porn_august_2014_cheat_technical_officer_jim2point0#comments Cheat Engine Dark Souls II Dead End Thrills Graphics Porn jim2point0 Tomb Raider watch dogs Witcher Features Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:10:23 +0000 Ben Kim 28352 at http://www.maximumpc.com Rig of the Month: Parvum Titanfall http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_parvum_titanfall_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u162579/8a652c4a_r3e2tlo.jpeg" alt="parvum titanfall" title="parvum titanfall" width="250" height="167" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">An amazing machine that's straight out of Titanfall</span></h3> <p>This month’s <a title="rig of the month" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_roundup_2014" target="_blank">Rig of the Month</a> is a bit different. Instead of pulling from reader submissions, we’ve reached out to <a href="http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&amp;jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_14084711173806&amp;key=7777bc3c17029328d03146e0ed767841&amp;libId=d1ae913a-6caa-4ef6-95d0-89833fb7b69c&amp;loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.overclock.net%2Fmessages%2Fmessages%2Fview%2Fid%2F2848026%2Fbox%2F7229559&amp;v=1&amp;out=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F%3Frefsrc%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%252F%23!%2Fjameswalt1computerart%3Fref%3Dbookmark&amp;ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.overclock.net%2Fmessages&amp;title=Private%20Message%3A%20Maximum%20PC%20Rig%20of%20the%20Month&amp;txt=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F%3Frefsrc%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%252F%23!%2Fjameswalt1computerart%3Fref%3Dbookmark" target="_blank">James Walter</a>, who recently completed his latest build: <a href="http://www.overclock.net/t/1476225/sponsored-parvum-titanfall-completed" target="_blank">Parvum Titanfall</a>. Based on the design of the limited-edition <a href="http://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one/accessories/controllers/wireless-controller/titanfall-wireless-controller#fbid=yMhsQVkQSQu" target="_blank">Xbox One Titanfall controller</a>, Parvum Titanfall is a masterclass in clean, crisp PC building.&nbsp;</p> <p>From the moment James saw the orange, white, and black controller he was immediately inspired to create a matching rig. After finishing a <em>Robocop</em>-inspired, <a href="http://www.overclock.net/t/1426275/build-log-robocop" target="_blank">full-tower build</a>, he set out to find the right platform to work with. The Parvum Systems S2.0 was his final choice because of a proposed partnership: Parvum would provide a custom S2.0 built to James’s specs. With Parvum onboard, the project continued with Swiftech, Ensourced Sleeved Cables, Mayhem’s Dyes, and ColdZero.&nbsp;</p> <p>With plenty of hours logged in Titanfall, James decided to create something straight out of the Titanfall universe. A computer—”a sort of Dell of the Titanfall universe,”—that could very well have been made by Hammond Robotics. The military theme, serial numbers, and paintwork are the result of James’s initial decision. The custom-painted motherboard armor, radiators, and other parts mesh well with the predominantly white case. James used a Silhouette-brand craft cutter to fabricate all of the extra ornaments—serial numbers, barcodes, and the like. Little details like colored vinyl set into the grooves of the case and the Mayhem’s Aurora 2 Supernova liquid-dyed to a deep orange really complete the build.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/xVUmlFljBvs?rel=0" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>As beautiful as the rig is on the outside, the system itself is equally impressive when you factor in the sheer number of water-cooling components. There’s an EK CPU block, RAM block, and two GPU blocks as well as a Swiftech pump, a Bitspower reservoir, two EK radiators, and a bunch of fans. The system components include an Intel i5-4670K that sits on an Asus Gryphon Z87, 8GB of Corsair Dominator GT memory, two EVGA GTX 770 Superclockeds, a 250GB Samsung EVO SSD, and a Corsair AX860 power supply.&nbsp;</p> <p>The reception to the finished rig has been so great that James and Parvum will be teaming up again for another game-themed build. Stay tuned to <a href="http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&amp;jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_14084711173806&amp;key=7777bc3c17029328d03146e0ed767841&amp;libId=d1ae913a-6caa-4ef6-95d0-89833fb7b69c&amp;loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.overclock.net%2Fmessages%2Fmessages%2Fview%2Fid%2F2848026%2Fbox%2F7229559&amp;v=1&amp;out=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F%3Frefsrc%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%252F%23!%2Fjameswalt1computerart%3Fref%3Dbookmark&amp;ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.overclock.net%2Fmessages&amp;title=Private%20Message%3A%20Maximum%20PC%20Rig%20of%20the%20Month&amp;txt=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F%3Frefsrc%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%252F%23!%2Fjameswalt1computerart%3Fref%3Dbookmark" target="_blank">James's Facebook</a>&nbsp;for details on the upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare build.</p> <div><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></div> http://www.maximumpc.com/rig_month_parvum_titanfall_2014#comments James Walter Parvum Titanfall Rig of the Month rig of the month titanfall Xbox One Controller Features Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:38:52 +0000 Ben Kim 28373 at http://www.maximumpc.com Audacity Crash Course http://www.maximumpc.com/audacity_crash_course_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/audacity-logo_0.png" alt="Audacity Logo" title="Audacity Logo" width="200" height="200" style="float: right;" />Turn your PC into a music computer with the best free audio editor</span></h3> <p><strong><a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/audacity" target="_blank">Audacity</a></strong>’s been around for a long time—since mid-2000—and for good reason. It’s a relatively lightweight, open-source, and completely free audio editor that can handle pretty much every task you throw at it. Need to edit together a podcast? No problem. Looking to do some simple noise reduction? Looking to turn your PC into a <strong>music computer</strong>? Audacity’s got you covered.</p> <p>Although it’s available for free, it’s not exactly the most intuitive program. The interface isn’t necessarily dated, but it does look pretty spartan alongside programs like Adobe Photoshop and even Microsoft Office. Getting up and running with Audacity isn’t hard, but it does take a little know-how.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">The Toolbar</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/toolbar.jpg" alt="Audacity Toolbar" title="Audacity Toolbar" width="600" height="109" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The toolbar of Audacity is home to all of the app’s basic tools.</strong></p> <p>The first thing you’ll want to get familiar with is Audacity’s packed toolbar. It’s filled with tools, and fortunately, they’re all labeled. Hover over a button, slider, or drop-down box, and you should see a text label pop-up with the name of the tool. There are a lot of tools, but you really only need a small subset of them for all but the most demanding projects.&nbsp;</p> <p>Make note of the playback controls—play, pause, record, et cetera. They’re essential to all audio editing since you’ll want to constantly be reviewing your work as you go along. Next, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your output and input devices set correctly. Both should be set to your Windows default devices—if they aren’t, make sure you select the correct ones in the dropdown. Once you get your audio into Audacity—we’ll cover that in a second—you can monitor your levels in the output and input level monitors (usually somewhere near the center of the toolbar).&nbsp;</p> <p>You’ll also want to make sure that you’re always aware of which cursor tool is currently selected. The standard Selection Tool is exactly what you’d expect; it’s a cursor that lets you mark your position on a track and highlight specific sections. The other essential tool is the Time Shift Tool which lets you move clips along the timeline.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Getting Audio Into Audacity</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/import.jpg" alt="Audacity Import" title="Audacity Import" width="600" height="439" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Importing is a cinch.</strong></p> <p>If you’re working with pre-recorded audio, getting it into Audacity is just a matter of jumping into the File menu and selecting Import &gt; Audio—hit Ctrl+Shift+I if you’re feeling fancy. Find your audio files and they should pop into Audacity as separate tracks.</p> <p>If, on the other hand, you want to record a voiceover or instrumental track directly into Audacity, all you have to do is check to make sure that your input levels are set appropriately (a maxed out slider is usually fine) and click the record button. Clicking stop will end the recording whereas clicking pause will let you continue recording on the same track.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Editing Your Audio</span></h3> <p>Now you can get down to the fun part: actually editing your audio. The tools and effects you’ll use will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish, but we’ll run through some basic tasks that most projects will require.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/remove_audio_menu.jpg" alt="Audacity Remove Audio" title="Audacity Remove Audio" width="600" height="331" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Remove Audio dropdown in the Edit menu will be your audio-editing brother-in-arms.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Most audio editing projects requires a fair bit of cutting, splitting, and rearranging sections of a track—or multiple separate tracks. Cutting, splitting, silencing, trimming, and deleting is all handled in the Remove Audio section of the Edit menu. The shortcuts are simple and worth learning since these are common tasks in any editing endeavour. Highlight the section of the track you want to manipulate and select the action you want completed. Trimming removes everything but the highlighted area on any continuous piece of audio. Cutting moves the selected clip to your clipboard, and shifts the remaining pieces over. A split cut or delete removes the selected audio, and preserves the empty space between the two remaining clips.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/effects_menu.jpg" alt="Audacity Effects" title="Audacity Effects" width="600" height="390" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Like a kid in a cand...audio effects store?</strong></p> <p>Most of the other things you’d want to do to an audio track is under the Effects menu. Here you can amplify, bass boost, change pitch, fade in and out, and normalize audio. Most of the effects are self explanatory and work as you’d expect. Some of the commands lets you select specific settings when you click on the effect.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/bass_boost.jpg" alt="Audacity Bass Boost" title="Audacity Bass Boost" width="321" height="178" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Pump up the bass!</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Bass boost gives you control over Frequency and the amount of Boost. Other effects like Fade In and Fade Out simply alter the audio without any confirmation. Pay attention the waveform and you’ll see it turn into a gradual fade. The expansive effects menu is one of Audacity’s greatest features. It’s the reason why the program has been a freeware staple since it's release.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Exporting the Finished Product</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/export_menu.jpg" alt="Audacity Export" title="Audacity Export" width="600" height="429" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Where and how you want it are your choice.</strong></p> <p>Once you’re done editing, you’ll want to get your audio out of Audacity into a format that works for your project. Audacity supports a pretty large number of formats, although exporting as an MP3 requires an external codec. If all you want to do is get your file out as a WAV, FLAC, or any of the other available formats, you just have to go to File &gt; Export and select where you want it to be saved and the format you want it in.</p> <p>MP3 file exports are available after downloading the LAME MP3 encoder. It’s completely free, but can’t be distributed with Audacity directly because of software patents. Head over to the LAME download page and download the “Lame v.399.3 for Windows.exe” installer. Start up the installer and don’t change the default destination of the program. Once it’s finished, try to export your Audacity project as an MP3 and you should be asked to find “lame_enc.dll”. Go to “C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity” and select the dll. Your project should export as an MP3 file and you’re ready to enjoy your finished product in an audio player of your choice.</p> <p>You probably aren’t an audio editing expert yet, but hopefully you’re well on your way to editing out unwanted noise, adding fades to clips, and editing homebrew podcasts with Audacity.</p> <p><em>Follow Ben on <a href="http://twitter.com/benjkim" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/+BenKimJ" target="_blank">Google+</a>.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/audacity_crash_course_2014#comments audacity audio editor beginners crash course freeware music computer Software tutorial Features Tue, 19 Aug 2014 23:02:33 +0000 Ben Kim 27534 at http://www.maximumpc.com Build a PC: Recommended Builds (August2014) http://www.maximumpc.com/build_pc_recommended_builds_august2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Budget, baseline, and performance PC builds!</h3> <p>What time is it? It's time to Build a PC with our Blueprints! This month, we've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Budget Gamer, Mid-Grade, and Turbo. That's right, we're mixing things up again. No more rotation of four systems into three slots. For the foreseeable future, there will always be a budget system in our Blueprints section. Yay!</p> <p><em>Prices listed here reflect print time</em>&nbsp;and may not match the ones you find elsewhere online. In addition, Newegg has jumped on board to offer packaged deals for each of the builds below in an attempt to offer a better overall value. To see these bundle prices, click the "Buy or get more info at Newegg" button at the bottom of each build. Feedback is welcome. Tell us what you think!</p> <p><em>Note: Some of the prices/links listed below may not show up properly if this page is ad-blocked.</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;"><strong>BUDGET GAMER</strong></h2> <div style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u160416/210_elite_black.jpg" alt="NZXT Source 210 Elite computer case" title="NZXT Source 210 Elite computer case" width="242" height="300" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"> <div class="module-content" style="text-align: start;"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;" colspan="3"><strong>Ingredients</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Part</strong></td> <td><strong>Component</strong></td> <td><strong>Price</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Case</td> <td class="item-dark">NZXT Source 210 Elite</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146078&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$50</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>PSU</td> <td>Corsair CX500, 500 watts</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$30</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Mobo</td> <td class="item-dark">Biostar TA970&nbsp;</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138372&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$60</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113286&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$120</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU Cooler</td> <td>Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$35</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>GPU</td> <td>Sapphire Dual-X Radeon R7 265</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202096&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$163</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>2x 4GB G.SKILL Ares Series DDR3/1600</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231544&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$72</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>SSD</td> <td>Crucial MX100 128GB</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148819&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$80</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD</td> <td>Seagate Barracuda 1TB&nbsp;</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148840&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$65</a></td> </tr> <tr style="text-align: right;"> <td style="text-align: left;"><strong>Total = $675<br /></strong></td> <td style="text-align: right;" colspan="2"><strong>Click here to see the live bundle price:</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1806345&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-Combo-1806345-Budget-_-MaximumPC_BluePrint-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/omega_maximumpc/img/newegg.jpg" alt="buy online at newegg" /></a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">For the first time in a while, we have reached equilibrium at the budget level. Each part on this list is pretty much the best bang for your buck. You could put a closed-loop liquid cooler (CLC) in here, but the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO is too good a value to pass up at this tier. Might as well put the extra cost of a CLC toward something else. If you’re prepared to spend about $700, we’d bump the SSD up to <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/crucials_mx100_ssd_blazes_trail_550mbs_calls_it_mainstream_performance" target="_blank">a 256GB Crucial MX100</a>, which currently goes for $110. That’ll give gamers a lot more room to install their favorite games on a zippy storage device.</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;"><strong>Note:</strong><span style="line-height: 15px;">&nbsp;We apparently snagged a few of these items on deep discount at the time that we assembled our list, so the Newegg live price might be a little higher.</span></p> <h2>MID-GRADE</h2> <p><img src="/files/u160416/c70_green.png" alt="Corsair Vengeance C70 computer case" title="Corsair Vengeance C70 computer case" width="228" height="300" /></p> <div class="module-content" style="text-align: start;"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;" colspan="3"><strong>Ingredients</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Part</strong></td> <td><strong>Component</strong></td> <td><strong>Price</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Case</td> <td class="item-dark">Corsair Vengeance C70</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139013&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$108</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>PSU</td> <td>Silverstone Strider Gold S Series, 850 watts</td> <td><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256100" target="_blank">$100</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Mobo</td> <td class="item-dark">Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128707&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$175</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>Intel Core i5-4690K</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116899&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$240</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooler</td> <td>Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$35</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>GPU</td> <td>XFX Double D Radeon R9 280X 3GB&nbsp;</td> <td><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150678" target="_blank">$250</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>2x 4GB G.SKILL Ares Series&nbsp;F3-1600C9D-8GAO</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231544&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$72</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Optical Drive</td> <td>Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD Burner</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151266&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$20</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>SSD</td> <td>Crucial MX100 256GB</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148820&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$115</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD</td> <td>Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM003</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148840&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$65</a></td> </tr> <tr style="text-align: right;"> <td style="text-align: left;"><strong>Total = $1180<br /></strong></td> <td style="text-align: right;" colspan="2"><strong>Click here to see the live bundle price:</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1806344&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-Combo-1806344-Baseline-_-MaximumPC_BluePrint-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/omega_maximumpc/img/newegg.jpg" alt="buy online at newegg" /></a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="line-height: 150%;">The Strider Plus, a fully modular 850-watt power supply from Silverstone, is reasonably priced, so it replaces the 750-watt semi-modular Seasonic unit we slotted last month. The extra juice better prepares this system for multiple video cards down the road. <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/devils_canyon" target="_blank">Intel’s Devil’s Canyon</a> Core i5-4690K arrives, replacing the i5-4670K. The new one’s base clock speed is 4Ghz, which is 600MHz higher than before, and it will turbo to 4.4GHz. Radeon cards continue to fall in price, and the R9 280X is now within reach; it’s now a better value at this tier than a <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/gtx_760" target="_blank">GeForce GTX 760</a>. But the 250GB <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/samsung_840_evo_1tb_review" target="_blank">Samsung 840 Evo</a> at $160 is no longer competitively priced, so we’ve replaced it with the 256GB Crucial MX100, which isn’t as fast but is a much better value. </span></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="line-height: 150%;"><strong>Note:</strong> We apparently snagged a few of these items on deep discount at the time that we assembled our list, so the Newegg live price might be a little higher.</span></p> <h2>TURBO</h2> <p><img src="/files/u160416/phantom530-1.jpg" alt="NZXT Phantom 530 computer case" title="NZXT Phantom 530 computer case" width="300" height="300" /></p> <div class="module-content" style="text-align: start;"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead></thead> <tbody> <tr> <td style="text-align: center;" colspan="3"><strong>Ingredients</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong>Part</strong></td> <td><strong>Component</strong></td> <td><strong>Price</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Case</td> <td class="item-dark">NZXT Phantom 530</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146107&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$130</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>PSU</td> <td>Cooler Master Silent Pro M2, 1000 watts</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171076&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$180</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Mobo</td> <td class="item-dark">Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128707&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner">$175</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>CPU</td> <td>Intel Core i7-4790K</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117369&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner">$340</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cooler</td> <td>Corsair Hydro Series H100i</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835181032&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$95</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>GPU</td> <td>EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB 03G-P4-3784-KR</td> <td><a href=" http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130951&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$530</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>RAM</td> <td>4x 4GB G.SKILL Ripjaws F3-12800CL9Q-16GBRL&nbsp;</td> <td><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231315&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$150</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Optical Drive</td> <td>LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray Burner</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136250&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$70</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>SSD</td> <td>Samsung 840 Evo 500GB MZ-7TE500BW</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147249&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$260</a></td> </tr> <tr> <td>HDD</td> <td>Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001</td> <td><a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;222199927;45833272;q?http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148844&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-BOTB-_-NA-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank">$110</a></td> </tr> <tr style="text-align: right;"> <td style="text-align: left;"><strong>TOTAL = $2040<br /></strong></td> <td style="text-align: right;" colspan="2"><strong>Click here to see the live bundle price:</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1806346&amp;cm_mmc=BAC-MaximumPC-_-Combo-1806346-Performance-_-MaximumPC_BluePrint-_-NA&amp;nm_mc=ExtBanner" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/omega_maximumpc/img/newegg.jpg" alt="buy online at newegg" /></a></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">THIS BUILD PREVIOUSLY FEATURED a quad-core Ivy Bridge-E (IVB-E) CPU on the LGA 2011 platform, aka X79. With the zippy Devil’s Canyon CPUs available, we’ve switched to Intel’s Core i7-4790K. It’s a refresh of the company’s newer “Haswell” generation on the less expensive LGA 1150 platform. Since LGA 1150 is limited to 16 PCI Express lanes, whereas X79 has 40, the new mobo and CPU don’t handle three or more video cards nearly as well. But if you stick to “only” two video cards, you’d need a benchmark to see the difference between the two platforms. Like the i5-4690K, this chip starts at 4GHz and boosts to 4.4GHz. (We also don’t want to recommend an X79 system, since it will be retired within the next few months, in favor of the incompatible <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/haswell-e" target="_blank">LGA 2011-3, aka X99</a>.)</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">We’re also sticking with the GA-Z97X-UD5H motherboard at this higher tier, because its mixture of price, performance, and features is hard to beat. We could get a less expensive SSD, but money isn’t as strong of a concern at this tier.</p> </div> http://www.maximumpc.com/build_pc_recommended_builds_august2014#comments affordable august 2014 blueprint budget Build a PC cheap computer performance Recommended Builds Features Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:02:34 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 28371 at http://www.maximumpc.com 11 Awesome Tips and Tricks to Become a Google Maps Guru http://www.maximumpc.com/11_awesometips_and_tricks_become_google_maps_guru_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/google_maps_guru.jpg" alt="Google Maps Ninja" title="Google Maps Ninja" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Never get lost again with Google Maps</h3> <p>Assuming you have an Internet connection and can read this -- and who doesn't these days? -- then there's a strong possibility you're at least a little bit familiar with Google Maps. Maybe you use it to look up driving directions before heading to a concert at the other end of the state, or fire it up to find a gas station when the needle creeps uncomfortably close to E. But did you know you can use Google Maps for suggestions on what to do when you're in a new area? Or zoom in or out with one hand?</p> <p>Google Maps is constantly changing (for the better), with new and enhanced features being added at an almost breakneck pace. It's pretty mature at this point, but if all you're doing is typing in directions, you're missing out on just how slick this piece of software is.</p> <p>The good news is, you've come to the right place. <strong>We've put together a gallery of 10 gnarly tips and tricks that will level up your Google Maps-fu to Guru status</strong>. Let's get started!</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/11_awesometips_and_tricks_become_google_maps_guru_2014#comments directions gallery google maps navigation Software tips tricks Features Thu, 14 Aug 2014 22:07:55 +0000 Paul Lilly and Jimmy Thang 28226 at http://www.maximumpc.com 4K Monitors: Everything You Need to Know http://www.maximumpc.com/4k_monitor_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Ultra HD (UHD) is the next-gen PC resolution—here’s why you have to have it</h3> <p>Dream Machine 2013 had some bitchin' hardware, but most of it was available at retail for any well-heeled hardware hound. One part, though, was not available to the unwashed masses: its glorious 4K monitor. You see, 4K was an other-worldly resolution back in mid-2013, simply because it offered four times the resolution of 1080p—at a wallet-busting expense of $3,500.</p> <p>Now, though, 4K is available and relatively affordable, and all modern games support it, making it one hell of an upgrade. Over the next pages, we'll tell you all about 4K, show you what you need to run it at its maximum output, and explore 4K gaming benchmarks, too. But as sweet as it is, it's not for everyone, so read this guide before making the move.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/4k_04_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/4k_04_small.jpg" width="620" height="576" /></a></p> <h3>What is 4K?</h3> <p><strong>a slight misnomer, but catchier than ultra hd</strong></p> <p>To put it simply, 4K doubles the standard 1920x1080 resolution both vertically and horizontally to 3840x2160, which is quadruple the pixels. We can already see you folding your arms and scanning the page for a downvote button, saying, “That’s obviously not true 4K. It only sums up to 3,840 pixels.” “True” 4K resolution is a term used in the movie industry. When you hear about movies being shot in 4K, they’re typically shot at 4096x2160 with an aspect ratio of 17:9. On the PC side, we generally run with television makers, who have mostly settled on a resolution of 3840x2160, which uses the same 16:9 aspect ratio as 1080p. Despite this being far short of 4,000 pixels horizontally, television and monitor makers have all settled on 4K as the term to push, rather than Ultra HD. In other words, we don’t make up the buzzwords, so hate the game, not the player.</p> <p>In a historical context, 4K is simply the next rest stop along the path of technological progress. Way back in the day, we ran our displays at 640x480, then 800x600, then 1024x768, and then 1280x1024, and so on. As graphics cards became more powerful, we were slowly able to bump up our display resolutions to where they are now, which for a large majority of gamers is 1920x1080, or 1080p. Society has settled on 1080p as the go-to resolution right now, simply because those monitors (and TVs) are very affordable, and you don’t need a $500 graphics card to run today’s games at that resolution.</p> <p>Not everyone is average, though. Many enthusiasts today run 27-inch or 30-inch monitors at much higher resolutions of 2560x1440 or 2560x1600, respectively. That may seem like a step up from 1920x180, but a GeForce GTX 780 ti or Radeon R9 290X isn’t even stressed&nbsp; by 2560x1440 gaming. Factor in PCs with multiple GPUs, and you start to wonder why we’ve been stuck with 2560x1600 for more than seven years, as everything else has leapt forward. We won’t question that wisdom, but we do know that it’s time to move forward, and 4K is that next step. Looking ahead, the industry will eventually move to 8K, which quadruples the pixels, and then 12K, and so forth. In fact, some vendors already demonstrated resolutions way beyond 4K at CES 2014, including Nvidia, which ran three 4K panels at 12K using four GTX Titans in SLI. For 2014 and beyond, though, 4K is the new aspirational resolution for every hardcore PC gamer.</p> <h4>It’s All About the Pixels Per Inch</h4> <p>You know how every time we pass around the sun once more and it’s a new year, people joke about their “New Year’s Resolution” being some sort of super-high monitor resolution? Well, we do it, too, because as hardware aficionados there’s always room to grow and new boundaries to push. We want our hard drives to get bigger right alongside our displays, so the move into 4K is something we have been looking forward to for more than a year; as resolution scales up, so does the level of detail that is rendered on the screen. The official term for this spec is pixels per inch, or PPI, and it’s a good bellwether for how much detail you can see on your display.</p> <p>To see how PPI varies according to screen size, let’s look at a few examples. First, a 24-inch 1920x1080 display sports roughly 91 pixels per inch. If you bump up the vertical resolution to 1,200 pixels (typical on some 16:10 ratio IPS panels), you get a PPI of 94. If you crank things up a notch to 2560x1440 at 27 inches, the PPI goes to 108, which is a small bump of about 20 percent, and probably not very noticeable. Moving on to 2560x1600 on a 30-inch panel, you actually get lower density, arriving at a PPI of 100. To put this in the context of a mobile device, the Google Nexus 5 smartphone has a 4.95-inch display that runs a resolution of 1920x1080, giving it a crazy-high PPI of 445. The iPad’s 9.7-inch screen delivers a PPI of 264, and the iPhone 5’s PPI is 326 pixels. Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement on the PC, and 4K is a step in the right direction.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/nvidia-geforce-gtx-4k-batman-arkham-origins-4k-versus-hd_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/nvidia-geforce-gtx-4k-batman-arkham-origins-4k-versus-hd_small.jpg" alt="The difference between Full HD 1080p and 4K is huge, and noticeable. " width="620" height="337" /></a></p> <h4>Pixel Peeping</h4> <p>Now, let’s look at the PPI for a few of these fancy new 4K monitors that are coming down the pike. We’ll start with the model we used for <a title="Dream Machine 2013" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/dream_machine_2013" target="_blank">Dream Machine 2013</a>, which is an Asus PQ321Q. With its resolution of 3840x2160 spread across 31.5 luscious inches, its PPI is a decent 140, a noticeable increase from a 2560x1600 display. Not enough for you? Dell has a new 24-inch 4K monitor dubbed the UP2414Q that shrinks your icons for you while retaining their sharpness. Still, it has the highest PPI yet for the desktop panel at a skyscraping 185 pixels. Slightly below the Dell is a new Asus LCD named the PB287Q, which at 28 inches has a modest PPI of 157 pixels. Keep in mind that in some cases, this is a 50 percent increase in the number of pixels per inch, so when you tally that up across the entirety of the display, it equals quite a few more pixels, which results in a lot more detail that is visible even to the naked and semi-clothed eye.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Why it’s a big deal</h4> <p>Just like going from a 24-inch 1080p monitor to a 30-inch 1600p monitor is a life-changing experience, so is going to a 32-inch or smaller 4K panel. The level of detail you can see on the screen is surprising, and when you fire up Battlefield 4 for the first time, you’ll most likely be staring at the screen with your mouth open, and not just because the server dropped you again. Gaming at 4K looks simply incredible. And unlike television, where there’s a dearth of content, almost all PC games support the resolution, and some developers are even including higher resolution textures now, too.</p> <p>Of course, both Nvidia and AMD are also pushing 4K because you need one hell of a GPU setup to push those pixels around. Since 4K is still extremely new and not quite ready for prime time, the hardware required to run it is in the same embryonic stage, which translates in layman’s terms to “almost there but not quite.”&nbsp; Even a GeForce GTX Titan with its 6GB frame buffer or a Radeon R9 290X and its 4GB frame buffer can barely eclipse 30fps at 4K with all settings maxed. Sure, you can turn down some of the settings and get a flagship GPU to run pretty well at 4K these days, but we’d rather castrate ourselves with a soldering iron than turn down the eye candy. We didn’t spend $3,500 on a monitor, or have our friends die face-down in the muck, to turn down graphics settings, so we’re not budging on that. With all settings turned up, gaming at 4K is truly cutting-edge, and is really the only application that currently stresses today’s crop of high-end GPUs, aside from a multi-monitor setup. Today, getting any single GPU to run 4K at the magical 60fps is not possible. There’s even a telling statement on the Nvidia website: “In order to power games at this resolution (4K) with settings turned up, NVIDIA recommends GTX 780 SLI or better.”</p> <h3>Is 4K 'Retina'?</h3> <p>First off, you have got some balls to compare a glorious 4K display to a marketing term such as "retina display." However, for the sake of argument, we'll humor you. As noted elsewhere, a 4K display can have as many as 185 pixels per inch (PPI), which is almost double what is found in today's 1080p displays. However, the term "Retina" as coined by The Jobs is usually more than 200 PPI for a notebook, and more than 300 for a mobile display. You see, a PPI rating's significance all comes down to how close you are to the display. Apple defines a Retina display as having enough pixels that the human retina can't distinguish between them, which is quite easy to pull off at a distance of 16 inches, but much less so at six inches.&nbsp; Therefore, mobile displays, which are held closer to your face, oftentimes have crazy-high PPI ratings. Interestingly, despite being the first to heavily push high-PPI displays, Apple has been out-Retina’d these days. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a PPI of 441 PPI, and the Sony Vivo Xplay sits at an insane 490 PPI. The iPhone, with its rating of 326, actually isn't even in the top ten of high-PPI devices. Still, if you ask the average Joe, he’ll say Retina is better. The bottom line: At a far enough distance, everything is a retina display, because pixels are indistinguishable.</p> <h3>Go Big or Go Home</h3> <p><strong>Full HD, Ultra HD, HD HD—what does it all mean?</strong></p> <h4>HD 720p</h4> <p>A resolution with more than 700 horizontal pixels was the original “HD” resolution and was used to sell a zillion television sets the world over. On a 1600x900 20-inch display, you get a reasonable PPI of 92.</p> <h4>Full HD 1080p</h4> <p>After vanilla HD came Full HD, which cranked it up a notch to 1920x1080 resolution. Full HD is just a marketing term, though, as there’s no HD-sanctioning body. Full HD on a 23-inch panel delivers a PPI of 96, so, not much better than HD.</p> <h4>Quad HD</h4> <p>Though usually not referred to by its proper name, Quad HD refers to a panel featuring 2560x1440 resolution, which is four times the pixels of HD. A 27-inch panel at this res features a so-so PPI of 108.</p> <h4>Ultra HD</h4> <p>This is actual 4K resolution, meaning 4,000 horizontal pixels. It is four times the resolution of Full HD, and features a PPI of 144 pixels on a 32-inch panel. The term refers to how professional film is produced and projected though, so it’s not really a PC term since PC displays are slightly less than 4K at 3840x2160.</p> <h3>4K confusion cleared up</h3> <p><strong>How to pick the right 4K monitor</strong></p> <p>It used to be easy to pick a monitor when your biggest decision was choosing between an IPS or TN panel, and your choice at the high end was either 24 or 30 inches. Today, it isn’t so easy. Besides the thorny question of whether to choose an IPS model for its superior color accuracy and off-axis viewing or going with a speedier TN panel, you now have to factor in very high refresh rates, pixel density, resolution differences, and even such technology as Nvidia’s new G-sync. We can’t pick for you, but we can help you make your decision.</p> <p>As with all things in computing, there is no one-size-fits-all product. How much monitor you need depends on your specific usage. Are you a gamer? A content creator? A multi-tasker? On a budget, or a baller like Carlos Slim?</p> <p>For a professional or advanced amateur editing photos or video, the color accuracy of TN panels still isn’t good enough. Today’s budget 4K panels, such as Dell’s $699 P2815Q or Asus’s $799 PB287Q, both use TN panels, so pixel peepers will want to move along. The Dell P2815Q also features a major flaw in that its refresh rate is limited to 30Hz at its native resolution. For professionals, the only real answer for now is to go big (and expensive) with the Asus 32-inch PQ321Q for $3,000, or go dense with the 24-inch Dell UP2414Q for $1,300. The Asus model uses an IPS panel from Sharp with indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) to help it pack the pixels so closely. The Dell is also an IPS panel, but other details of the panel technology have yet to be disclosed. Both will hit 60Hz, but you’d better have a gnarly GPU or two if you want to use these panels for gaming. The Dell’s pixel density is to die for, with 183 pixels per inch. That’s about double that of a standard 24-inch 1920x1080 panel. There are PC panels that are denser, but not in a desktop form factor. Remember: You’ll need bionic vision, too, if you intend to use these monitors without scaling cranked up a few notches, because windows and icons will look like miniatures—and we’re not happy with how Windows scales up right now.</p> <p>That brings us to the refresh rate debate. For gamers, 60Hz IPS or TN panels are OK, but if you’ve ever played on a 120Hz panel with a powerful GPU pushing it, you know just how beautifully blur-free they can be. We dare say it, if we gamed more than we edited photos or videos, we’d take a pass on the lowly 60Hz panels. The problem with high-refresh monitors has been their pedestrian resolution of 1920x1080 in 24 inches. There are 120Hz 27-inch monitors as well, but their 1920x1080 resolution gives them a remarkably low pixel density of just 81 PPI. Asus thinks it has the gamer’s ultimate fantasy monitor with its new ROG Swift PG278Q. This 27-inch TN monitor has a respectable resolution of 2560x1440 and a refresh rate of 120Hz. While its pixel density doesn’t approach that of a 4K monitor, the 120Hz refresh may compensate for gaming purposes—for those with hefty GPUs.</p> <p>For those with lesser graphics cards, though, the Asus Swift monitor also boasts Nvidia’s new proprietary G-sync technology. (The Titan, 7-series, and several 6-series are supported in G-sync.) This tech syncs the monitor’s refresh rate to the GPU’s rendering, translating to smoother and sharper images, even if the frame rate dips below 30fps. G-sync, of course, won’t work with AMD cards, but for gamers not hung up on color accuracy or off-axis viewing, the ROG Swift might be the ultimate monitor right now in the green camp. And yes, we know AMD has talked of FreeSync—the free method to sync refresh with GPU rendering. It’s just not clear if FreeSync will work with desktop monitors yet, although it is promising on laptops, which are typically fairly low-powered in the graphics department.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/rog-swift-pg278q_right_small_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/rog-swift-pg278q_right_small_0.jpg" alt="The Asus ROG Swift is the first 2560p monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate." title="Asus ROG Swift" width="620" height="603" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Asus ROG Swift is the first 2560p monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate.</strong></p> <p>What about a 120Hz panel that also runs at 4K? That’s coming too, but remember that you’ll need an inordinate amount of graphics grunt to push twice the pixels of a single 4K panel.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>What you'll need to run 4K</h3> <p><strong>We hope you got a huge tax refund</strong></p> <h4>You'll need new cables</h4> <p>If you're like us and have been running DVI or dual-link DVI for the past—oh, we don't know, forever?—4K requires a different connection, as the Digital Visual interface tops out at 2560x1600 at 60Hz—far short of 4K’s needs. To run 4K resolution, you will need to run either DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 2.0. For those on the DisplayPort train, version 1.2 is available today and will let you run 4K at 60Hz when using a Multi-Stream Transport (MST) mode. In MST mode, the graphics card generates several signals, or "streams," which are combined over the DisplayPort cable in order to run the panel at 60Hz. If you were to use a DisplayPort cable and run the panel in Single Stream Transport (SST) mode, you would top out at 30Hz. If you're more interested in running HDMI for some reason, it’s more complicated. A single HDMI 1.4 connection is only able to hit 30Hz at 4K resolution, which is unacceptable. Some posters on our website have said "30Hz is fine for porn and web browsing," but we disagree. Just dragging a window around the screen causes it to shear and stutter in a manner similar to how it looks when you run your PC without graphics drivers installed. Some monitors and GPUs allow dual-HDMI connections to achieve the bandwidth needed, but it’s a kludge and few support it. The fix for HDMI will come with HDMI 2.0, which will easily allow 60Hz at 4K, as well as multi-channel audio, but no monitor nor any GPU we know of currently has the new interface. So, be sure to verify what your panel supports before buying; if you get a 30Hz panel, you will be very, very sorry. And forget about trying to game on that thing.</p> <h4>The monitors</h4> <p>We're still in the beginning stages of 4K monitor growth. Throughout the year, you should see 4K panels offered from all the usual suspects. The good news is that prices have already dropped from the $3,500 mark down to under $1,000, and we expect many more manufacturers to be offering panels in this lower price range. Whether or not we'll get an affordable 4K IPS panel is a different story. Although, for gaming, TN is fine. The Dell 24-inch IPS panel is relatively affordable at $1,299—just don't expect to see it hit the $500ish prices of today's 27-inch and 30-inch panels until at least 2015, if not later.</p> <h4>The GPUs</h4> <p>If you thought purchasing a 4K monitor was financially painful, you ain't seen nothing yet. That transaction was merely foreplay for the real pain and suffering that will occur when you have to buy enough graphics firepower to run that display at its native resolution on today's games. As we stated earlier, Nvidia itself recommends at least two GTX 780 cards in SLI, so that's $1,000 worth of GPU, on top of the $800 to $3,500 for the monitor. The cheapest way to get into the 4K ballgame at this point would be to buy two Radeon R9 290 cards—assuming you can even find them for sale anywhere—which will set you back $800. Or you could get two GTX 780s, which will cost you roughly $1,000. You can pretty much forget about anything less powerful than these $400 to $500 GPUs though, as we can guarantee you they won't pack enough of a punch to drive a 4K display to anywhere close to 60Hz. Even the last generation of dual-GPU boards, such as the GTX 690 and Radeon HD 7990, aren’t up to the ask on their own.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/nvidia-geforce-gtx-battlebox-sli-bridge_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/nvidia-geforce-gtx-battlebox-sli-bridge_small.jpg" alt="In most cases, the price of a 4K monitor will pale in comparison to the GPUs needed to game on it." width="620" height="512" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>In most cases, the price of a 4K monitor will pale in comparison to the GPUs needed to game on it.</strong></p> <h4>4K benchmarks</h4> <p>Before you look at the benchmark chart below, we recommend that you walk over to your PC and put a blanket over it. Seriously, it doesn't want to see you staring at these benchmark numbers. When you see how incompetent even the most high-end GPUs on the planet are for running 4K, it will probably make your PC seem, well, inadequate. What we mean is, look at these numbers. Even a $700 GeForce GTX 780 Ti can only hit 23fps in Unigine Heaven 4.0 with everything maxed out, and it hits only 19fps in Metro: Last Light. If there's one takeaway from this benchmark chart, it's this: Most of today's high-end GPUs are still not capable of running 4K at an acceptable level of performance. We're sorry, but that is a fact. Sure, all these games are playable—some more than others—but none of these cards, or combinations thereof, could hit 60fps in any of the games we chose for benchmarking. For this generation of GPUs, this is the reality.</p> <p>Since 4K is gaining so much traction, it's very likely that whatever is coming from AMD and Nvidia will be better equipped to handle this resolution, and we certainly hope it is.&nbsp;</p> <p>We've heard nothing about what AMD has up its sleeve, as we expect its Hawaii cards to have a long shelf life. The impending Mantle API update should give the cards a shot in the arm, so to speak. As with Nvidia, though, the current generation is barely capable of running 4K, so we can expect the next-generation cards to be much more capable. The good news is that by the time these newfangled cards arrive, we should have a whole flock of new 4K panels on offer, so it'll be glorious times for well-heeled PC gamers.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 620px; height: 265px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>Nvidia GTX 780 Ti</td> <td>Nvidia GTX 780</td> <td>Nvidia GTX Titan</td> <td>AMD Radeon R9 290X</td> <td>AMD Radeon R9 290X Crossfire</td> <td>Nvidia GTX Titan SLI</td> <td>EVGA GTX 780 ACX SLI</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Driver</td> <td class="item-dark">332.21</td> <td>332.21</td> <td>332.21</td> <td>13.12</td> <td>13.12</td> <td>332.21</td> <td>332.21</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Unigine Heaven 4.0 (fps)</td> <td>23</td> <td>23<br /><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> <td>21</td> <td>18</td> <td>17</td> <td><strong>37</strong></td> <td>30</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Unigine Valley 1.0 (fps)</td> <td class="item-dark">30</td> <td>30</td> <td>28</td> <td>26</td> <td>23</td> <td><strong>37</strong></td> <td>16</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Tomb Raider (fps)</td> <td>28</td> <td>26<br /><strong>&nbsp;</strong></td> <td>25</td> <td>27</td> <td><strong>52</strong></td> <td>44</td> <td>44</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Metro: Last Light (fps)</td> <td>19</td> <td>17<strong><br /></strong></td> <td>17</td> <td>18</td> <td><strong>29</strong></td> <td>26</td> <td>26</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Battlefield 4 (fps)</td> <td>40</td> <td>36</td> <td>35</td> <td>38</td> <td><strong>64</strong></td> <td>60</td> <td>57</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Batman: Arkham Origins (fps)</td> <td>44</td> <td>43</td> <td>41</td> <td>38</td> <td><strong>66</strong></td> <td>57</td> <td>57</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Hitman: Absolution (fps)</td> <td>44</td> <td>39</td> <td>40</td> <td>44</td> <td><strong>75</strong></td> <td>55</td> <td>55</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. Our monitor is a 32-inch Sharp PN-K321. All games are run at 3840x2160 with no AA. <br /></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> http://www.maximumpc.com/4k_monitor_2014#comments 1080p 3840x2160 4k april issues 2014 HDTV monitor resolution tv uhd ultra high definition News Features Wed, 13 Aug 2014 21:28:53 +0000 Josh Norem 28140 at http://www.maximumpc.com