Lately, we've been tossing around the idea of doing a Build It story that uses a custom liquid-cooling loop just because they are fun to play with, and when properly designed, have many tangible performance benefits. But since this is Maximum PC, we asked ourselves, “Why not take it one step further and submerge everything in liquid?” After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Note: This article was originally featured in the January 2014 issue of the magazine
A dual R9 290X card isn't here yet, but the 7990 is the next best thing
The Mission The ongoing war between Nvidia and AMD for supremacy over the PC gaming landscape has been like the Hatfields and the McCoys of enthusiast computing: long, bitter, and deeply entrenched. AMD's Radeon HD 7990 is the company’s biggest salvo yet, combining two HD 7970 GPUs onto one card. It didn't come out until spring 2013, though, which was long after Nvidia's own dual-GPU behemoth, the GeForce GTX 690, had dug in its heels. And it wasn't until mid-summer that AMD began to address the stuttering issues that marred its multi-GPU setups. With AMD's R9 series arriving in October 2013, this crown jewel didn’t really have much time to shine. Today, we'll try and change that, pitting this Cadillac of a card against nothing less than Battlefield 4, with everything maxed out and running at 1920x1080. With the previous Battlefield regularly favoring Nvidia cards, this might seems like enemy territory. But this time, AMD is working closely with the developer to make sure nothing goes awry. And in December, BF4 will be the first game to feature Mantle, which AMD has positioned to replace Microsoft's DirectX API. In the end, the HD 7990 could set the bar.
Note: This article was originally featured in the Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine.
Resize multiple images at once for free with IrFanView
Resizing images can be a monotonous task, especially, if you're trying to change the resolution/size of more than 100 images. Luckily free batch imaging software IrfanViewcan batch resize photos quickly and easily. For those who don’t know what batch processing is, it's taking a group of photos and editing them all at once using the same set of editing commands. For example, if you want to edit a group of 1920x1080 images and resize them to 1280x720 or simply want smaller-sized images to email/store on a small USB stick, you can have IrfanView reduce the size of all the images at the same time, so you don’t have to do it for each individual photo. Considering the program is free to use, we wanted to show you how you can quickly save time and energy editing your photos.
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.
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
Have you ever downloaded a large 20GB+ game on Steam only to find out that it won't run due to corrupt or missing files? Fortunately for you, we've created a brief how-to guide on how to resolve these issues so you don't have to come up with an intricate work around or have to re-download your games. As a matter of fact, there are only seven easy steps to fixing this issue!
Everything you need to know before installing Steam OS
Valve recently released its Beta version of SteamOS, based on the Debian distro of Linux. Naturally, we were intrigued by its release and wanted to take the new OS for a test run. We’ve put together a guide on how to install the operating system, and also provide you with our hands-on impressions of Valve's software.
NOTE: Before beginning, we highly recommend that you back up everything on your system before attempting to install SteamOS, as the installer in this guide will erase your entire drive.
Things you need to know to become a PC hardware expert
Knowledge is power, and when it comes to PCs that’s especially true, because only by knowing how your components’ specs actually affect performance can you get the maximum power you need for the type of computing you do—and avoid being seduced by features that sound impressive on the box but won’t do squat to improve your experience. Knowing your stuff has other benefits, too. An in-depth understanding of what makes all your parts tick enables you to better troubleshoot problems, upgrade in ways that make sense, and converse with other nerds in your own secret language. Turn the page to begin your crash course in PC spec-speak.
Note: This article was originally featured in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
This month, we build an affordable AMD-based gaming rig to find out just how good (or bad) a CPU/GPU combo can be
The Mission We've put together some spendy systems recently. Hey, there’s a reason this mag is called Maximum PC. However, it’s caused a few readers to wonder if we drive gold-plated Humvees to work. As if! We have chauffeurs for that kind of thing. The fact is, we like the challenge of building to a rig’s optimum potential, at any price. So this month, we turn the tables and go full-on budget build.
Note: This article was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine.
We tackle the five most pressing problems in each major component category!
It’s happened to us all. You get home from a long day at work and you want to blow off some steam with an hour of gaming or maybe browsing the web, but when you tap your mouse button or punch the power switch, the unthinkable happens. You’re SOL.
Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2013 issue of the magazine.