Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) turned 10 years old this month, so we took a look back at some of the best games using the engine. Available for licensees since March 2004, UE3 represented a huge leap for the Unreal Engine. It boasts support for pretty much every platform—mobile, Windows, OS X, and all of the consoles. It's so popular with developers that even the FBI decided to license the engine for a training simulator.
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: Baseline, Performance, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful system for gaming and content creation at 1080p, Performance beefs everything up across the board, and Ultra lets the dogs out.
Microsoft isn’t returning the beloved Start Menu to Windows 8 anytime soon. But hope is not lost, thanks to these handy third-party tools!
Beyond all of the colorful tiles; the bolted-on Modern user interface; the giant, full-screen apps and panels; and the inability to boot to the desktop—to name just a few of our gripes—there’s one issue above all others that’s guaranteed to universally frustrate Windows 8 desktop users: the Start Menu.
Note: This article was originally featured in the September 2013 issue of the magazine.
Before the Internet came into its own, finding something to do to cure boredom was a task in and of itself. At work, you could count the holes in the ceiling, crumple pieces of paper and practice your cubicle hook shot, or get lost in a game of Minesweeper, all the while hoping your boss wouldn't wander by.
Note: This article was originally featured in our Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine.
A ferocious free-for-all among the top web browsers
The landscape is evolving and you can either change with it or be left behind. This is the position browser makers find themselves in as cloud computing and touch interfaces take center stage, as Windows 8 with its vastly overhauled UI continues to wiggle into more homes and businesses around the world, and as web developers push increasing amounts of rich content at site visitors.
Note: This article was originally featured in the December 2013 issue of the magazine.
The Mission While we typically follow a standard formula for Build It every month, sometimes it's nice to deviate a bit from the norm and explore different types of systems that are a bit more unconventional. One such system is the type of build we use at Maximum PC HQ for testing hardware, known as the open-air test bench. We have several of them deployed throughout the office alongside our standard-issue desktop PCs, and both types of machines serve an important purpose. The standard desktops are great for YouTube and Reddit, and occasional “work,” while the open-air test benches are used for most of our component testing since they let us swap a video card, CPU, SSD, RAM stick, or even the entire motherboard with minimal effort. When you’re using an open test bench setup on top of a desk, you’ll never again have to dig through the guts of your computer while on your hands and knees, with a flashlight clenched in your teeth. All you need to set up one for yourself is a basic set of spare parts, and it will let you operate like a civilized gentleperson, from the comfort of a chair, without breaking a sweat.
Note: This article was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.
The convenience of cloud storage is undeniable: your data and media at your fingertips from any Internet-connected device—what’s not to like? And there’s certainly no shortage of options to choose from, most of which are totally free up to a certain capacity. The trick is deciding which cloud service to use. After all, there are notable differences between them. Some are ideal for security mavens who want to preserve their anonymity (and the anonymity of their data). Others are better for folks just looking for a massive dumping ground for a ton of data. And still others are geared toward those keen on sharing all sorts of files with their friends and colleagues. In this roundup, we’ll break it all down for you and identify the strongest cloud storage services. We’ll also show you how to encrypt files that you store online and how to combine multiple cloud-storage accounts into one unified pot.
Note: This article was originally featured in our November 2013 issue of the magazine.
Back in the day, to get any real power in a notebook, you needed to have a massive chassis to house all the most beefy mobile components. But today, with Intel’s smaller, more power-efficient Haswell processor and shrinking mobile video cards, this is no longer the case. The advent of these new parts means it's now possible to get serious performance without sacrificing portability, hence the growing number of capable gaming notebooks measuring 15 inches or less. The trouble is, with so many portable gaming options, which one do you choose?
Note: This article was taken from the December 2013 issue of the magazine.
Every PC user should know how to program, and there’s never been a better time to learn
With the huge variety of computing devices all around us, it’s important to remember what it is that’s special about a full-fledged personal computer. We think the main difference can be summed up in one word: mastery. No matter how much time you spend with an iPad or an Android phone or in a web browser, you can never truly master it. There’s just not enough there to learn. But the PC? That’s different. The PC goes deep.
Note: This article was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine
You are your own worst enemy, indeed. In this month’s matchup, we pit Windows 8.1 against its predecessor, Windows 8, in not so much an outright battle, but a comparison of some of the more notable tweaks that Microsoft has slapped into its first refresh of the controversial operating system. Just make sure you tell your system to stop hitting itself, OK?
Note: This article originally appeared in the Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine.