This month, we find out what it takes to run games at 4K, and do so using a sweet open-air test bench
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.
Note: This article was originally featured in the May 2014 issue of the magazine.
We play through the first 100 turns of Firaxis' next Civ game
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.
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.
Speed up your browsing experience with these nifty timesavers
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?
Audio editing has Audacity. Photo editing has 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.
The Cheat Engine whiz of Dead End Thrills opens up his archives for Graphics Porn
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 K-putt, 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.
An amazing machine that's straight out of Titanfall
This month’s Rig of the Month is a bit different. Instead of pulling from reader submissions, we’ve reached out to James Walter, who recently completed his latest build: Parvum Titanfall. Based on the design of the limited-edition Xbox One Titanfall controller, Parvum Titanfall is a masterclass in clean, crisp PC building.
Turn your PC into a music computer with the best free audio editor
Audacity’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? Audacity’s got you covered.
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?