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!
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?
Ultra HD is the next-gen PC resolution—here’s why you have to have it
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.
Minecraft is a veritable juggernaut in the PC gaming world, with a bustling mod community, dedicated Let's Play streamers, and hundreds of variations on play to keep things fresh. Nearly everywhere you go, even in department stores, you see the gaping mouths of Creepers, blank stares of Steve heads, and even diamond pickaxe styluses.
Six entry-level graphics cards battle for budget-board bragging rights
The video-card game is a lot like Hollywood. Movies like My Left Foot and The Artist take home the Oscars every year, but movies like Grown Ups 2 and Transformers 3 pull in all the cash. It's the same with GPUs, in that everyone loves to talk about $1,000 cards, but the actual bread-and-butter of the market is made up of models that cost between $100 and $150. These are not GPUs for 4K gaming, obviously, but they can provide a surprisingly pleasant 1080p gaming experience, and run cool and quiet, too.
Note: This article was originally featured in the May 2014 issue of the magazine.
Virtual water so beautiful, you'll be able to drown in it
Your fancy GPU maybe be able to render billions of pixels and triangles a second, but you’re not showing off its full technical power unless there’s something pretty to look at. You know what’s pretty to look at? Videogame water, specifically good videogame water.
We compare Wolfenstein: The New Order's low, medium, high, and ultra settings with pics and video
For this graphical analysis feature, we examine the graphical capabilities of Bethesda's Wolfenstein: The New Order. When the first-person shooter was released on PC, it had tons of graphical glitches, which included long load times and massive texture pop-in issues. Luckily, most of these problems have been sorted out with a few patches.
When your images aren’t up to snuff, there’s always photo-editing software
Photography can be impenetrable from the gear to actually shooting and then the image editing software is a whole other uphill battle. Even with Adobe introducing Lightroom as a lightweight Photoshop alternative, it can be daunting to see a screen full of sliders as a complete novice. To help get you from serial Instagramer to amateur photographer, here’s a crash course to making your images look great with just a few steps in Lightroom.
We’ll be honest—no one on our staff would choose a tablet or Chromebook as his or her primary portable over a full-featured laptop. Yet, we can’t deny that Google’s Chrombooks have been wildly successful sellers. The proper platform to put against Chromebooks? Surface RT. Yes, Microsoft’s original hybrid device that marked a break from x86, and one that people thought would be a game-changer. It wasn’t, but the Surface RT is still around and is now competitively priced at $300. That, folks, is Chromebook range, and makes it the perfect combatant to get into this slap fight.
Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of the magazine.