It may have started as a media center for the original Xbox, but XBMChas since evolved into a full-fledged application with a huge library of add-ons generated by diehard fans and users. Available on pretty much every platform you’d want to install it on—Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, and more—it’s a stellar way to get all of your content onto a big screen without having to deal with a mouse and keyboard, unless you want to.
We’ve been cataloging amazing video game screenshots in our monthly Graphics Porn feature, so we figured it’s about time we gave a quick primer on how to take stellar screenshots in your favorite games.
This goes beyond Print Screen and Paint. We’re not talking about hastily snapped screens of hilarious moments in Team Fortress 2 or a particularly well-designed cutscene. We do, however, consider utilities like Cheat Engine essential to the process.
Four different ways to download your favorite clips
Streaming YouTube videos can quickly eat up your precious cellular data plan. In fact, most people don't watch videos on the go because of limited data plans. A way around this is to download videos onto a PC, then copy them to your mobile device. We’ve rounded up four ways to download YouTube videos and chosen our favorite of the bunch.
3 free and easy tools to transfer your data from one drive to another
You just bought a brand new shiny SSD and want to throw it into your aging mid-tower PC. But wait, the horror of having to reinstall Windows again and all of your applications begins to set in. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of reinstalling Windows, you can use a simple cloning utility to clone your old drive to your new SSD. We’ve rounded up three free cloning utilities that are easy to use so you don’t have to go through the effort of reinstalling your OS and applications all over again.
Spring is in the air and it’s time to do some spring cleaning. This means cleaning your house, room, and most importantly, your PC! Of course, keeping your PC clean isn’t just a matter of aesthetics; it also helps keep your system from overheating.
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