Reviews http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/40/ en AMD Radeon R9 290 Benchmarks http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290_benchmarks <!--paging_filter--><h3>AMD's Radeon R9 290: A Mid-range Monster</h3> <p><img src="http://www.maximumpc.com/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290_flatangle_rgb_24in_small.png" alt="Radeon R9 290" title="Radeon R9 290" width="250" height="167" style="float: right;" />Today <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/amd">AMD</a> is launching the <strong>Radeon R9 290</strong>, which is the second card in its all-new Hawaii series of GPUs designed to take on <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/nvidia">Nvidia's</a> GK110-based super GPUs. This particular card is extremely similar to its big brother, the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290x_benchmarks">R9 290X</a>, but has slightly lower clock speeds and fewer stream processors, allowing it to come in at a slightly lower price point of <strong>$400</strong>. Though it was originally designed to take on the formerly $400 GTX 770, AMD is now positioning it to compete with the GTX 780 due to Nvidia's recent price drops on both cards to $500 and $329, respectively. Read on to see how it handles the heat, both literally and figuratively.</p> <h3>Little Hawaii</h3> <p>As the second, lower-priced Hawaii board you might assume this card has been neutered more than a made-for-TV version of The Big Lebowski, but you would be wrong. Thankfully, AMD has left almost everything from the R9 290X intact, choosing to only reduce its texture units from 176 to 160, its Stream Processors from 2,816 to 2,560, and its maximum clock speed from 1,000MHz to 947MHz. It still has the same 4GB of memory, the same 512-bit memory bus, and is otherwise the exact same GPU. It also has the same PowerTune hardware and software that lets you dictate maximum fan speeds and core temps. Before we jump in, let's take a look at the specs for the Hawaii cards along with their Nvidia counterparts:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/specs_take_2_0.jpg" alt="Radeon Specs" title="Radeon Specs" width="462" height="472" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>*We are putting an asterick next to the AMD cards' TDP because it's not a quoted spec but "standard board power."</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As the spec chart shows, this card is almost exactly the same as the R9 290X, just like the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/geforce_gtx_780_benchmarks">GTX 780</a> and <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/nvidia_geforce_titan_%E2%80%93_benchmarks2013">GTX Titan</a> in that you have two cards with the same die but one is a bit less powerful. The two cards are the same physical size at 11 inches, both require a six-pin and an eight-pin power connector, and both cards draw a bit over 300 watts too. AMD listed the TDP for the 290X as 250w, but it hedged that answer and never gave it as an official number, but rather an estimate. It didn't reply to our emails asking for the TDP of the R9 290, so we'll just put 250w there with an asterick.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><img src="/files/u302/amdrad_r9_290_flatangle_rgb_24in_small_1.png" alt="R9 290" title="R9 290" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The R9 290 is exactly the same size as the R9 290X at 11 inches, and it also features the same 250w-ish TDP. </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">PowerTune, TrueAudio, and XDMA</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Like it's larger, more-powerful sibling, the R9 290 comes with all the baked in features that define the top-tier of this generation of GPUs, namely revamped PowerTune controls, TrueAudio technology, and XDNA Crossfire. TrueAudio and XDMA Crossfire are exclusive to the R9 290/X series of cards, though the current iteration of PowerTune is found on all Rx based cards, and TrueAudio is also found on the $140 R7 260X board.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/powertune_1.jpg" alt="PowerTune" title="PowerTune" width="600" height="701" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The new PowerTune controls let you set maximum limits for fan speeds and temperature. We preferred the sliders though, as we found that moving the reticle in the map caused unpredictable results. </strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Briefly, AMD has changed the PowerTune interface found in the Catalyst Control Center to give you an easier way to control clock, memory, and fan speeds. It also now has a slider that lets you dictate the maximum fan speed and maximum temperature, just like Nvidia is doing with its GPU Boost 2.0 technology found in its 700-series GPUs. You can tell the software to force the card to run at 90C, for example, and it'll throttle the clock speeds in order to maintain those temperatures. Additionally, if you're sensitive to acoustics, you can also set a limit on the fan speed while letting the other settings run at maximum value as well. It's also provided a "2-dimensional heat map" which we found confusing. We also found in testing that moving some of the sliders too far would cause the entire system to hard lock and then experience trouble rebooting, so tread carefully here.<strong> By default the fan on the R9 290 runs at a maximum speed of 47%</strong>.<strong><br /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>TrueAudio</strong> is also found on the R9 290, and whether or not it'll make a big difference in the life of an average gamer remains to be seen as no games that use it have been released yet. Gordon wrote an extremely in-depth article about it however, so <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/everything_you_wanted_know_about_amd%E2%80%99s_new_trueaudio_technology_2013">head on over</a> to it and you'll have all your questions answered.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finally, <strong>XDMA </strong>is a new technology appearing for the first time in the Radeon R9 290 series of cards. It eschews the ribbon cable we've grown so un-fond of over all these years and instead uses hardware built into the GPUs and also lets the cards communicate over the PCI-Express bus. Though AMD had seemingly wrangled its frame pacing issues with its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_delivers_frame_pacing_fix_driver_update135">recent fix</a>, it's software-based and still available for R9 280X cards and lower. For the R9 290 series though, those changes are built into the drivers and handled through XDMA. The previous GPUs based on Tahiti and lower will still have to use the ribbon cable as there's no exclusive hardware built into the GPUs to handle that transaction, but this is not surprising. It is also reasonable to assume that going forward all new GPUs will use XDMA.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The main reason for XDMA is to handle the increased traffic resulting from the proliferation of multiple displays as well as 4k panels. If AMD continued using the old ribbon cable there simply wouldn't be enough bandwidth to drive the displays at 60Hz, so XDMA was both a necessity to prepare for the future as well as a great way to allow for smoother CrossFire at super-high resolutions. AMD claims there is no performance penalty at all to this configuration, but unfortunatley there's not really any way to run Apples to Apples testing since the Crossfire connectors are removed on the cards (though the electrical contacts are still intact). We also don't have a second R9 290X or R9 290 card to test Crossfire currently, but we hope to get a second card in soon.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/xdma.jpg" alt="XDMA" title="XDMA" width="650" height="362" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Only the R9 and R9 290X get the built-in XDMA engine for CrossFire over the PCIe bus. Hopefully it'll come to all of AMD's new cards in the future.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Hit the next page for what really matters - benchmarks, power, heat, and overclocking, and our final thoughts.</em></p> <h3 style="text-align: left;"> <hr /></h3> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Testing the R9 290</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Testing the R9 290 was a straight-forward affair as we had already tested the R9 290X, and this new card doesn't have any new features though it does have one semi-notable feature removed, which is the Uber and Quiet modes. The physical switch is still there on the edge of the PCB, and it still lets you toggle between two BIOSes, but it has no effect on fan speed. On the R9 290X the switch would adjust the maximum fan speed from 40 percent in Quiet mode to 55 percent in Uber mode. The R9 290 still has dual BIOSes, and one is write-protected while the other isn't.&nbsp; Otherwise there's nothing new that needs testing on this card that doesn't exist on the R9 290X, so let's get it on.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">To start off, let’s have a look at how things compare at 2560x1600:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u302/r9290_2560_1.jpg" alt="2560 Benchmarks" title="2560 Benchmarks" width="321" height="492" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves /> <w:TrackFormatting /> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF /> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> 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<w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" QFormat="true" Name="Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Closing" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Signature" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Default Paragraph Font" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Message Header" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Salutation" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Date" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Heading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Block Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Hyperlink" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="FollowedHyperlink" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Document Map" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Plain Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="E-mail Signature" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Top of Form" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Bottom of Form" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal (Web)" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Acronym" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Address" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Cite" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Code" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Definition" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Keyboard" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Preformatted" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Sample" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Typewriter" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Variable" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal Table" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="annotation subject" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="No List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Contemporary" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Elegant" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Professional" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Balloon Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="Table Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Theme" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Placeholder Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Revision" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="41" Name="Plain Table 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="42" Name="Plain Table 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="43" Name="Plain Table 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="44" Name="Plain Table 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="45" Name="Plain Table 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="40" Name="Grid Table Light" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 Colorful Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="Grid Table 1 Light Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="Grid Table 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="Grid Table 3 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="Grid Table 4 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="Grid Table 5 Dark Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="Grid Table 6 Colorful Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="Grid Table 7 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{mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst" style="line-height: 150%; text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 2560x1600 with 4X AA except for the 3DMark tests.</span></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">At 2560x1600 the R9 290 trades blows with the more-expensive GTX 780, making it the better alternative considering it costs $100 less. The two cards were more or less equal throughout testing, though the GTX 780 was noticeably faster in Far Cry 3, which is odd considering this is an AMD title. The GTX 780 also held the upper hand in Unigine Valley, Metro, 3DMark, and Battlefield 3, with the other tests going to the R9 290. Of course, one area where the GTX 780 is a clear winner is in watts consumed and overall noise, as it was much quieter and also sucked less juice from the wall socket as well. This is nothing new, as the R9 cards run ridiculously hot, and though the R9 290 isn't annoyingly loud, it's certainly louder than the GTX 780. It also ran about 10C hotter than the GTX 780 as well. If the cards were evenly priced, we'd say the Nvidia card gets the nod due to its acoustics and power consumption, but given the $100 price disparity between the two we have to say the AMD card is the better value. Heat and power consumption don't matter that much on the desktop, and the R9 290 card is rock stable, so given its price advantage it takes the win in this category.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Now, let's look at how the R9 290 stacks up to all the cards in this class at 2560x1600.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2560x1600 Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/r9_group_bench.jpg" alt="R9 Group Benchmarks" title="R9 Group Benchmarks" width="524" height="492" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 2560x1600 with 4X AA except for the 3DMark tests.</span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">As you can see from this chart the R9 290X is faster than the R9 290 by quite a bit in many tests, and also beats the GTX Titan in several tests as well. None of this is new information, but when we ran the R9 290X tests before we didn't have enough time to test with Nvidia's latest 331.65 driver, so this chart represents the current leader board in the GPU world. It's all the fastest cards, tested with the latest drivers. You can see the R9 290X and Titan trading blows, which is a situation Nvidia hopes to correct with its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_announces_gtx_780_ti_launch_date_price_shield_update_and_780770_price_cuts_2013">GTX 780 Ti</a> launch later this week.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We also received some requests for a few benchmarks showing what this card can do at <strong>1080p</strong> going up against the less expensive GeForce GTX 770, so here they are:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>1080p Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/1080p_benchmarks_0.jpg" alt="1080p Benchmarks" title="1080p Benchmarks" width="326" height="428" /></p> <address style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 1920x1080 with 4X AA.</span></em></address> <p style="text-align: left;">Not much explanation is needed here as this card is the clear winner over the GTX 770 at 1080p. It is absolutly perfect at this resolution as it hits that silky-smooth 60fps target in most of the games we use for testing. Metro: Last Light barely runs at 30fps, but that's not too surprising as it can punish even the burliest GPU, and it's heavy use of PhysX favors Nvidia cards. Overall though, this card crushes it at 1080p, but costs $70 more than the GTX 770 so it's a trade-off for sure.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">4k Benchmarks</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Both Nvidia and AMD are pushing 4k big time with their latest GPUs, so naturally we've run some tests at this resolution. Games at 4K look absolutely amazing, but boy oh boy do you need some serious firepower to run any of the latest games at full detail. In fact, they are so demanding at this 3840x2160 resolution that we have to disable AA otherwise it is simply unplayable, even on these premium GPUs. As an aside, it's interesting to see what they can do at 4K but it's also not terribly relevant right now due to the cost of the panels. The panel we used in the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/dream_machine_2013">Dream Machine</a> cost $3,500, and the Sharp panel we used for these tests (which we believe is the exact same unit) costs $5,300, so we seriously doubt even hardcore gamers are running these bad boys yet. It is simply too bleeding edge, unless you can run dual or three-way Titans or R9 290X cards. We never though we'd say it, but that's even too rich for our blood. Regardless, here are the numbers:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4K Benchmarks</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u302/4k_r9_290.jpg" alt="R9 290 4K" title="R9 290 4K" width="333" height="428" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; color: black; border: none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: none windowtext 0in; padding: 0in; background: white;">Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows 8. All games are run at 3840x2160 with AA disabled.</span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">In our 4k tests there is not a clear winner as it's five wins for AMD, and four wins for Nvidia, though, once again, the fact that the R9 290 costs $100 less than the GTX 780 gives it an advantage considering their performance parity. The R9 290 is the clear winner is Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider (all AMD games, by the way), Battlefield 3, and Hitman, whereas the GTX 780 is only significantly faster in Metro: Last Light, which is an Nvidia title with physics that are not friendly to AMD's cards at all. All in all though, it's an impressive showing for a $400 GPU.</p> <h3>Power, Heat, and Overclocking</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Just like its big brother R9 290X the R9 290 ran hot, made a little bit of noise, and wasn’t able to be overclocked beyond its base "max" clock of 947MHz. AMD lists its clock speed as “up to 947MHz” and in testing that is how it goes, spinning up to 947MHz when it can, then backing off that clock a bit when temperatures get too extreme. Once it has achieved that delicate balance, it continues to throttle clock speeds up and down by 50Mhz or so under load always staying around 93 or 94C the entire time. Yes, it’s very hot, especially compared to Nvidia’s cards, which typically never get hotter than 83C or so overclocked, but the R9 290 was totally, 100 percent stable throughout testing. Once again we looped Heaven 4.0 over the weekend, and our test bed had no issues whatsoever. The R9 290 sat there at about 94C the entire weekend, and never crashed. Overclocking though, is out of the question. The card already runs hot enough to make the GPU throttle in stock trim, so it's not possible to push the card any further at its stock settings. We could have pushed the fan beyond 47 percent, sure, but it gets very loud very quickly, even at 50 percent, so we don't imagine most users will want to run this GPU at that noise level.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The stock cooling mechanism AMD built for this card does a good job of exhausting heat however, even though it looks a bit plain, especially in comparison to the sleek coolers on the GTX 780/Titan. When the card is hovering over 90C you can still put your hand one half-inch away from it and feel almost no heat whatsoever, so it seems to exhaust well and run totally fine despite its sky-high temperatures. We know it's weird seeing a card run at 94C, and it takes some getting used to. AMD has assured us that is how the card is designed, so it should be able to run at those temps for its entire life without issues. We certainly had no issues in testing, and it was always stable, so we have to give it a passing grade. Just like with the super-hot R9 290X we cannot wait to see what aftermarket cooling mechanisms do for this card's heat output and overclocking potential. Just like how you can overclock a GTX 780 to match a Titan, we're sure the R9 290 could be pumped up to match the 290X with enough cooling. We will have to wait and see if those cards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, Sapphire, XFX, and others ever materialize, but we believe they will, and we're excited to check them out when they do arrive, hopefully before the holidays.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;"><strong>Final Thoughts</strong></h3> <p style="text-align: left;">When AMD launched the R9 290X last week it was an assault on Nvidia's single-GPU dominance in the premium video card space, and it was a shot that certainly hit its target. The R9 290X exceeded the GTX 780's performance while costing $100 less, so that is a clear-cut victory for AMD. Undaunted, Nvidia responded by dropping the GTX 780's price down to $500, essentially wiping out the R9 290X's advantage in that matchup. The Titan is still threatened by the R9 290X though, but Nvidia doesn't seem to bothered by it, so for now it's leaving the Titan alone. Now that we have the R9 290 though, the GTX 780 is once again under some serious pressure from AMD because the 290 is just as fast, and once again, costs $100 less. If you have $400 burning a hole in your pocket, the R9 290 is clearly the fastest GPU at that price point. We didn't test it against the GTX 770 simply because that is a card we test at 1080p, and the R9 290 is a 2560x1600 card, but it would certainly be faster than the GTX 770 as well since it can beat a GTX 780 in many tests.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Overall, the R9 290 is another excellent GPU from AMD with a tremendous price-to-performance ratio that Nvidia simlply cannot match at this time. It definitely runs hotter and makes a bit more noise than it's next of kin on the green team, but for $100 we would bet most consumers would be willing to put on some headphones. Plus it's almost winter, so the heat will probably come in handy for a lot of folks. On a serious note though, we did not find the heat or noise created by this card to be a problem, so don't let it scare you off.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">From here we wait for two events to occur - the GTX 780 Ti launch later this week, which Nvidia is hoping will allow it to once again wrest control of the trophy for "fastest single GPU" since the R9 290X has muddied the waters a bit and put its Titan in peril, at least when it comes to gaming. Also, it's possible that the R9 290 launch will cause Nvidia to lower the price on the GTX 780 even further to be more competitive. As always we will have to wait and see what happens.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finally, there are still unknowns in both camps at this time. AMD has its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_r9_290x_will_be_much_faster_titan_battlefield_4">Mantle</a> API and <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/everything_you_wanted_know_about_amd%E2%80%99s_new_trueaudio_technology_2013">TrueAudio</a>, both of which are untested at this time. Nvidia has <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidia_announces_nvidia_g-sync_gamestream_and_much_more">G-Sync monitors</a>, ShadowPlay, its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nvidias_geforce_gtx_holiday_bundles_feature_free_games_and_shield_discounts2013">Holiday Game Bundle</a>, GameStream/Shield, and of course, better acoustics and lower overall temps due to Kepler's efficiency. We've yet to test frame pacing using AMD's new XDMA setup, but reports indicate it's finally as good if not better than Nvidia's SLI at this time. Regardless, both AMD and Nvidia have very unique and exclusive features at this time, making the choice between one camp or the other more difficult than it's ever been.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">All in all, we can't remember a time when competition has been as white hot and fierce between AMD and Nvidia as it is right now. AMD has really come out swinging for the fences with its Hawaii GPUs, which have already resulted in both price drops and a new GPU on the way in the form of the GTX 780 Ti. Whether or not today's launch of the R9 290 results in even more price cuts or GPU offspring remains to be seen, but one thing is certain -- it's an awesome time to be in the GPU market.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/amd_radeon_r9_290_benchmarks#comments amd r9 290 radeon Video cards Reviews Videocards Tue, 05 Nov 2013 06:17:58 +0000 Josh Norem 26610 at http://www.maximumpc.com CyberPower PC Syber Vapor Review http://www.maximumpc.com/cyberpower_pc_syber_vapor_review_2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A Steam box for the enthusiast</h3> <p>Much like what <a title="alienware" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/alienware" target="_blank">Alienware</a> did with its <a title="alpha" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_alpha_review2015" target="_blank">Alpha</a> console, <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/cyberpower">CyberPower PC</a> is transforming its <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/steam_machine">Steam Machine</a> into a Windows box (you can thank <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/controller_tweaks_prompt_valve_delay_steam_machines_until_2015">Valve’s delay</a> of its hardware initiative for that). CyberPower PC is branding its new line of PCs under its Syber Vapor line, which is an obvious nod to Valve’s “Steam” nomenclature. Unlike the Alienware Alpha, however, there is no proprietary 10-foot UI here. Rather, the Vapor boots directly into Steam’s <a title="big picture mode" href="http://store.steampowered.com/bigpicture" target="_blank">Big Picture Mode</a>. CyberPower PC is billing the Vapor as “the ultimate PC gaming console,” and with some minor quibbles aside, we think the company makes a pretty compelling argument.&nbsp;</p> <p>Arguably, our biggest issue with the Vapor is that it’s... well, pretty big. Don’t get us wrong, at 13.8x13.5x3.8 inches it’s certainly a lot smaller than most gaming desktop PCs, but unlike Alienware’s much smaller Alpha, the Vapor is much too big for backpacks. It wouldn’t even fit in our Everki Beacon backpack, to which, as you might remember, we awarded a 9 Kick Ass and praised for being able to carry large 17-inch gaming notebooks. The portability problem is also exacerbated by the Vapor’s weight—it’s heavy. Whereas the Alpha was a tiny bundle of joy to lug around at 4.5 pounds, the Vapor is likely to strain backs, weighing in at 15 pounds.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/cyberpower_pc-2.jpg" alt="syber vapor review" title="syber vapor review" width="620" height="367" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>There are seven LED color schemes to choose from.</strong></p> <p>While it is a bit larger than Microsoft’s Xbox One, it looks more like a console than a PC. The version that we got is white with black trim, but it also comes in an all-black chassis. Even though we like the look of both, we prefer the black and white version a bit more for its contrasting hues. Both color variants offer LED lights on the front, with six colors schemes to choose from via a physical button on top of the case. The colors include red, blue, green, light-green, light-blue, and purple. There’s also an option to have the case cycle through all the colors automatically. There’s something of a Tron vibe to the chassis, but we kind of like it in this case (no pun intended). You can also turn off the LEDs if they don’t appeal to you.</p> <p>Even though Alienware’s Alpha was somewhat modular and allowed you to swap out the storage, RAM, and CPU, that’s about all you could change. With the Syber Vapor, it’s much less proprietary and just about as modular as any Mini-ITX system. It can take a single full-length graphics card, handle up to 16GB of RAM, and can house a standard SFX PSU up to 800 watts.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EFrL6-OhN94" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Syber Vapor boots directly into Steam Big Picture Mode</strong></p> <p>While CyberPower PC comes with a wireless controller, instead of going with the wireless Xbox 360 controller (like the Alienware Alpha), the Vapor includes a Logitech F710 gamepad. The button layout is similar to Microsoft’s equivalent, but the shape of the controller feels similar to Sony’s Dual Shock offering, in that there are dual sticks toward the bottom-middle of the controller. The F710 works OK, but we prefer the Xbox 360 controller, as it contours better to our hands. The F710 isn’t the only peripheral that CyberPower PC included with our unit, however. While some of the more affordable models in the Vapor line include a wireless mini QWERTY keyboard, our system came with Logitech’s K400 wireless keyboard. The K400 has a little touchpad to the right of the keys, so you can mouse around. CyberPower PC opted to include this because, unlike Alienware, it didn’t program its controller to emulate a mouse-and-keyboard setup. While we would have really appreciated this feature, and feel it’s sort of a cheap shortcut on CyberPower PC’s part, the inclusion of the K400 keyboard does open up the system as both a Steam box and a full-fledged Windows PC (You can get to the Windows desktop by exiting Steam). Whereas it was a bit of a chore having to rely solely on a wireless Xbox 360 gamepad to control the Alpha, the Vapor’s included K400 does go a long way to mitigate annoying installation pop-ups in Steam Big Picture Mode. On a related note, as hard as Valve has worked on BPM, it still has some issues to iron out.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/cyber_vapor.jpg" alt="Vapor PC" title="Vapor PC" width="620" height="620" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The case also comes in black.</strong></p> <p>When it came to our Vapor’s specs, we had little to complain about. While there are a couple of different configurations to choose from, CyberPower PC sent us its super-decked-out SKU, which includes components such as Intel’s 4GHz quad-core i7-4790K CPU coupled with Zalman’s CNPS8900 Quiet CPU cooler, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980, and 8GB of Corsair Vengeance lower-power DDR3 RAM clocked at 2,133MHz. All of this is sitting on top of an MSI Z97I AC Mini-ITX mobo and has a 450-watt Silverstone ST45SF-G SFX PSU. And for storage, our Vapor has a 120GB Kingston SSD and a 1TB 2.5-inch 7,200rpm HDD. All in all, this is nearly as much computer power as CyberPower PC can cram into this box. The cost of our unit? At the time of print, our particular SKU retails for $1,638 and while that certainly prices it well beyond the consoles, it’s actually quite a bargain. As a matter of fact, when we searched for all the individual components on Newegg to try and replicate the build ourselves, the total tab came out to be $1,807. So, you’re easily saving over $150 here, and you’re getting CyberPower PC’s one-year warranty on top of that. That’s some OEM voodoo right there.</p> <p>To see how it compares to a full-tower DIY system with the same components, we look at the desktop featured in the cover story of our February 2015 issue, which conveniently has the same CPU and GPU. As would be expected, the bigger chassis allowed our desktop to perform slightly better overall, with the Vapor trailing behind one to five percent in our graphics tests. The only graphics benchmark where the Vapor was actually able to outperform our desktop equivalent was in Batman: Arkham Origins, but we suspect it’s because of the newer GeForce drivers we’ve got running compared to the build we originally set up for the February issue. As a gaming machine, our Vapor is a beast and should be able to max out any game you throw at it with smooth framerates. If anything, our unit is overkill for 1080P, with the upside being that it’s a bit more “future proof.” One of our complaints about Alienware’s Alpha is that it didn’t support GeForce Optimal Playable Settings, which is great for console noobs who don’t want to finagle with adjusting graphics settings. With our Vapor, users can simply set everything to max. It’s a brute-force way of tackling a complex problem, but hey, in this case, it works.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/k400.jpg" alt="k400 keyboard" title="k400 keyboard" width="620" height="371" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Our Syber Vapor came with Logitech's K400 wireless keyboard</strong></p> <p>When it came to the CPU benchmarks, the Vapor trailed the desktop by 5 to 10 percent, but we suspect that mostly has to do with our desktop’s Kraken X61, which is a great CPU liquid cooler. The Vapor is definitely running high-end desktop parts, but its form factor tames its components ever so slightly. But let’s be honest here, a 4790K is overkill for gaming today.</p> <p>Considering the Vapor is meant to connect to your HDTV, all of the power in this box is moot if the user experience isn’t good. Because the Vapor runs Windows 8.1, users will have to go through the annoying Windows 8.1 setup process. Once we got that out of the way, we noticed that the Vapor scaled perfectly to our 1080p Samsung HDTV over HDMI. We couldn’t say the same about the Alienware Alpha, which required us to rejigger our display to fit the confines of the screen. Unfortunately, some games like SpeedRunners boot up in windowed mode, which takes you out of the illusion that you’re playing on a console. And speaking of booting, the startup process took 16 seconds to get to Windows, but then the Vapor automatically boots into Steam Big Picture Mode after that and kicks up the timer to 30 seconds overall. That’s not super-fast, but it’s much faster than the Alienware Alpha, which takes more than three times as long to boot. We have to say that we really missed being able to use the gamepad to emulate the mouse and keyboard, however, as that did work for Alienware’s box in a pinch. Really, who wants to go looking for their wireless keyboard whenever you’re playing a Steam game with only partial controller support? One thing that we really liked about the experience, however, is that our Vapor ran very quietly under load.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/f710.png" alt="Logitech F710" title="Logitech F710" width="498" height="319" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>CyberPower includes Logitech's F710 wireless controller</strong></p> <p>We had some relatively small minor issues with the build quality. The unit we tested was actually our second unit; the first unit we received was dead on arrival. But hey, that stuff happens every now and then. The replacement unit reviewed here had its top lid pretty much fall off out of the box; its single screw wasn’t secured all the way. We tightened it easily enough, but then when we placed the Vapor flat on its side (which is one of the ways you can orient the box), one of the rubber feet came off (there was enough adhesive on it to stick it back in place). Little issues like these make us question CyberPower PC’s assembly line.</p> <p>The Syber Vapor certainly isn’t perfect, and neither is Steam’s Big Picture Mode, but as a Mini-ITX gaming PC, it rocks, especially for the price. At this point, you literally cannot beat its price if you tried to DIY. In addition, it’s got enough horsepower to eat any 1080p game you throw at it. Yes, it’s relatively big and heavy, and a part of us would have preferred a smaller, cheaper, and more portable unit with a short GTX 970, but as it stands, this is still one pretty kick ass gaming PC.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Syber Vapor Specs</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/syber_vapor_specs.png" alt="syber vapor specs" title="syber vapor specs" width="615" height="273" /></p> <p><strong>Syber Vapor Benchmarks</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/syber_vapor_benchmarks.png" alt="syber vapor benchmarks" title="syber vapor benchmarks" width="587" height="333" /></p> <p><em>Our full-tower desktop PC uses an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 and an Intel Core i7-4970K CPU.&nbsp;</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/cyberpower_pc_syber_vapor_review_2015#comments alienware big picture mode console cyberpower pc Review Steam steam machine syber vapor Valve Gaming News Reviews Tue, 17 Feb 2015 22:40:49 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29436 at http://www.maximumpc.com Alienware Alpha Review http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_alpha_review2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A great console-sized PC stuck in the alpha stage</h3> <p>As great as PC gaming is, let’s face it, when it comes to gaming in the living room, consoles have the PC beat. Alienware and the Steam Machines were supposed to change that, but considering <a title="steam machine delayed" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/controller_tweaks_prompt_valve_delay_steam_machines_until_2015" target="_blank">Valve delayed its hardware initiative</a>, Alienware decided to releases its box early as a small Windows 8.1 PC, dubbed the <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_alpha_console_invasion_scheduled_holiday_2014"><strong>Alienware Alpha</strong></a>. While the PC does an admirable job of attacking the PC’s problem areas in the living room, as the name implies, it’s still (unfortunately) in a bit of an alpha stage.</p> <p>The chassis is black and small. Measuring 2.1x7.8x7.8 inches, the Alpha is closest in size to Nintendo’s Wii U console. At 4.5 pounds, Alienware’s little PC is also extremely portable. We had an easy time lugging it around to friends’ apartments with four controllers inside a backpack. Speaking of controllers, the unit comes with a black wireless Xbox 360 controller.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/alienware-alpha-1920.jpg" alt="alienware alpha review" title="alienware alpha review" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>Ports on the Alpha include two USB 3.0, three USB 2.0, one S/PDIF, and two HDMI (one for output and another for input). It is a little disappointing that there isn’t an analog headset port, but Alienware told us it was one concession it had to make to produce such a small form factor.</p> <p>The box’s aesthetics aren’t very flashy. It’s got some sharp angles, akin to Alienware’s gaming laptops, a glowing triangular LED, and a glowing Alienware power button. You can also customize the LEDs through Alienware’s UI. Overall, it will look nice sitting next to your TV.</p> <p>Inside the box, the Alpha is running a mobile GPU based on Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 860M, which was the same graphics card used in the <a title="hp omen" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/hp_omen_review_2014" target="_blank">HP Omen</a> gaming laptop we reviewed last month. Since this box has such a unique setup, the Omen seemed like the fairest candidate for a zero point to test against. Its GPU runs at 1,020MHz and has 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM clocked at 1,253MHz. Compared to our ZP, however, the Alpha’s performance was a disappointing 11 percent slower in our Metro: Last Light and 3DMark 11 benchmarks. It did perform 7 percent better in BioShock Infinite, however. Overall, the Alpha is nowhere near the most powerful gaming PC out there, but it should be able to run most AAA games on medium to high settings. It will, at the very least, be competitive with the next-gen consoles.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/alpha_tv.jpg" alt="alpha tv" title="alpha tv" width="620" height="342" /></p> <p>One aspect of the Alpha that we feel isn’t up to snuff is system RAM; our unit only offered what we feel is a minimal 4GB. Sure, the majority of games should run fine on 4GB, but that’s beginning to change with newer titles. We think Alienware should up the Alpha’s base RAM to 8GB. Luckily, you can upgrade the RAM to 8GB, though you’ll need laptop RAM to do so.</p> <p>You can also upgrade the storage with any 2.5-inch drive. If you’re like us, you’ll really want to do this. Our unit came with a 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive, which was embarrassingly slow. It took the Alpha one minute and 35 seconds to boot up, and then another 35 seconds to boot up into Steam Big Picture Mode. If you’re loading a really big game, it’s only going to lengthen the wait.</p> <p>At the heart of the console is the Alpha’s i3-4310QT CPU. Despite the box’s size, it’s actually a quad-core desktop CPU running at 2.9GHz. You can upgrade this to a quad-core i7, too. And you may want to, considering this i3 gets beat up by 30–54 percent compared to the HP Omen’s mobile i7-4710HQ processor. While dual-core CPUs are fine for the majority of games, for a little more future-proofing, we would have preferred at least a quad-core i5 chip.</p> <p>Of course, the hardware means very little if the software isn’t properly optimized to take over the living room. While the Alpha is running Windows 8.1 underneath, Alienware has wrapped its own user interface around it, which you can navigate with a controller. The Alpha UI also allows you to launch directly into Steam Big Picture Mode, which comes pre-installed. Because some Steam games only offer partial controller support, Alienware has done some super-nifty software tweaks to allow you to use an Xbox controller like a mouse in a pinch. You can do this by pressing down on all four shoulder buttons and pressing down on the left stick. This will allow you to navigate past any pop-up window boxes.</p> <p>The Alpha isn’t perfect, however. One of the taglines Alienware is using for the Alpha is that it “combines the freedom of PC gaming with the ease of a console,” but the slogan doesn’t always ring true. We encountered some resolution issues. For instance, in Shadow of Mordor, it defaulted to 1280x1024 resolution on our 1080p TV and had no in-game option to adjust it to 1080p. Some games that allowed us to adjust the resolution ended up blacking out the screen when we cranked it up to 1080p. Meanwhile, some games would open up off-center in a windowed mode by default. When we tried to boot up Skyrim, it gave us an error message that read, “Failed to initialize renderer. Your display doesn’t support the selected resolution.”</p> <p>The consoles also allow you to watch Netflix, and the only real good way to do that on the Alpha at the moment is to boot it up to the desktop mode, but here you’ll need to have a keyboard/mouse plugged in. Because of that, we really recommend getting something like <a title="k400" href="http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/wireless-touch-keyboard-k400r" target="_blank">Logitech’s wireless K400 keyboard</a>, which pairs well with the Alpha.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/alpha_010.png" alt="alpha review" title="alpha review" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>Another area in which the consoles have at a little easier than PC gaming is that console gamers don’t have to tweak their settings. Nvidia has a solid workaround to this problem with its GeForce Experience, but unfortunately the Alpha does not support GeForce optimal playable settings, which is a shame considering many console noobs might not know which graphical knobs to twist.</p> <p>At $550, the Alpha certainly isn’t cheap, especially when you look at its specs and compare it to the consoles. And the Alpha has a bunch of little software hiccups to overcome. Despite these problems, however, when the Alpha works, it’s awesome. Steam has a surprising number of fun local co-op games like Broforce, SpeedRunners, and more. Alienware’s box does a great job of bringing PC games to the living room. Sure, you could build a cheaper, more powerful system, but Alienware has spent a decent amount of R&amp;D trying to solve the software/UI issues. Yes, the box is in a bit of an alpha stage right now and isn’t the console-killer it set out to be, but we hope that Alienware continues to make future iterations of the Alpha. As it stands, the Alpha is a good machine for the PC vet, but not a perfect solution for the console noob.</p> <p><strong>Alienware Alpha Specs</strong></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/alienware_alpha_benchmarks.png" alt="alienware alpha benchmarks" title="alienware alpha benchmarks" width="620" height="373" /></p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/new_spec_chart.png" alt="alienware alpha specs" title="alienware alpha specs" width="615" height="249" /></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_alpha_review2015#comments alienware alpha review console Hardware small gaming pc steam machine Valve Windows Gaming News Reviews Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:21:34 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29316 at http://www.maximumpc.com Samsung Portable SSD T1 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/samsung_portable_ssd_t1_review2015 <!--paging_filter--><h3>The little engine that could</h3> <p>With the US still lagging behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to the availability of high-speed Internet, there's still a lot of need for high-capacity external storage. It's also a good idea to have local system backups. A few years ago, your choices were mostly clunky 3.5-inch drive enclosures that needed external power. We've since graduated to sleek 2.5-inch units that get their juice straight from USB 3.0 cables that shuttle bits between the drive and your PC. Today, Samsung is taking it a step further with the Portable SSD T1, an external solid-state drive that can operate in the neighborhood of SATA III speeds.</p> <p>An enterprising gearhead can get most of the T1's functionality by purchasing an internal SSD and a drive enclosure that supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol). In short, UASP lets an external storage device use commands normally reserved for internal storage devices. The two key differences between UASP and standard USB are the ability to deal with data requests in an arbitrary order, and the ability to process multiple data requests at once. This can boost your performance by hundreds of mehabytes per second, putting UASP drives in a completely different performance class from USB 3.0. As you might imagine, this also requires a more sophisticated USB controller on the motherboard, and a driver for your operating system. Your mobo manufacturer customarily provides drivers or software to enable the UASP function of its USB controller.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/samsung_portable_beauty_620_corrected.jpg" alt="Samsung Portable SSD T1" title="Samsung Portable SSD T1" width="620" height="413" /></p> <p>The Portable T1 has an additional advantage, however, and it's not the compact dimentions. It has integrated drive encryption. When you plug it into your PC, it will ask you to set a password for your new drive. You don't have to set one immediately. You can do it later by double-clicking the turquoise gear icon in your system tray and clicking on the arrow next to the drive's security status. Your password can be up to 22 characters, which isn't as long as we could like, but the only way to reset it is to wipe the drive. This is actually a good thing. An external drive whose encryption can be bypassed with a physical switch or a call to customer support isn't all that encrypted.</p> <p>You can set up all kind of fancy encryption with that SSD that you've put into a UASP enclosure, but it's not going to offer encryption out-of-the-box. It needs third-party software to interact with the drive before it's secured. Having this built into the drive is a big advantage for non-expert users. If you don't need encryption, or you don't mind the logitistics of using third-party encryption software, then getting your own internal SSD and a UASP enclosure is definitely more cost-effective; the 250GB version we tested has a list price of $179.99. The 500GB version comes in at $299.99, and the 1TB is $599.99. They may end up selling for much less than the list price, which happens frequently with PC components. But it's starting out on the high end. Right now, you can get a 960GB Sandisk Ultra II internal SSD for $350 from NCIX US, and a UASP enclosure from Amazon for less than twenty bucks (which comes with a USB 3.0 cable). Most internal SSDs in that size range hit between $400 and $450, but the price difference is still pretty significant.</p> <p>Its performance isn't too shabby, either. Without UASP, the drive will transfer data in the neighborhood of 200MB/s, which is very respectable. It still leaves the Sandisk Extreme Pro at the top of the heap when it comes to external storage speeds. That's ironic, because it's just a thumb drive. The Portable T1 has 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities, though, so there's that. The Extreme Pro's largest size is 256MB.</p> <p>With UASP in the mix, the Portable T1 leaps ahead of the pack, with a sustained read speed of 433MB/s, and a sustained write speed of 355MB/s, according to CrystalDisk Mark. But your results will vary. When paired with an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard, we couldn’t manage a sustained read speed of more than 350MB/s. When we plugged it into a USB 3.0 port on the back of a Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H, we could read at around 450MB/s, but the write speed maxed out at only 85MB/s. We tried another port on the back, and the sustained write speeds jumped up to 355MB/s. It's not the drive's fault, but it is disappointing to see this much variance from one USB controller to another, even on the same motherboard (which will sometimes use multiple controllers). PCMark Vantage also locked up while attempting to test this drive, but it reports a somewhat abstract score, rather than actual performance numbers, so it's not critical to our understanding of the drive's capabilities.</p> <p>The Portable T1's cable is also extremely short, measuring only about four inches long. This is perfect for laptop users, but desktop users will have the device basically dangling off one the ports on their case. We also regret to report that it uses a bright blue LED to indicate connectivity, though it's a small one, thankfully. It doesn't look like the electronics industry is in any hurry to return to the red LEDs we used for decades that never distracted the retina. On the bright side, it continues to push the envelope of external storage performance. In that light, our benchmark chart compares the drive to internal SSDs, since it completely outclasses non-UASP external drives. It's still not ideal for sustained high-bandwidth things like HD video editing, but it's a surprisingly snappy little unit otherwise.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/samsung_portable_ssd_t1_review2015#comments external drive Portable T1 Review samsung solid state drive ssd storage UASP USB 3.0 Reviews SSD Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:06:33 +0000 Tom McNamara 29278 at http://www.maximumpc.com HP Omen Review http://www.maximumpc.com/hp_omen_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3>A good sign</h3> <p>The word “omen” generally connotes bad juju for most people. For some longtime PC enthusiasts, however, it evokes fond memories of Voodoo PC’s old beautiful and powerful desktops. While HP isn’t bringing Voodoo PC back from the grave, it hopes to pay homage to the Omen namesake by rebirthing it as a modern gaming notebook.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u99720/hpomen.jpg" alt="HP Omen press shot" width="492" height="366" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Omen isn't the most powerful notebook, but it's one of the most polished.</strong></p> <p>Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the 15.6-inch HP Omen is one sleek-looking laptop, with its machined-aluminum chassis. The anodized black finish coupled with its thin 0.8 inch body gives the notebook some added sex appeal. It’s also really portable for its class, weighing four pounds, 11.9 ounces.</p> <p>While we were a little dismayed to hear that it uses a 1080p monitor, something we’ve seen dozens of times over, this isn’t some mediocre display. It uses an IPS panel that features a 72 percent color gamut, which provides beautiful, saturated colors. It also sports a touchscreen, which makes it the first gaming laptop we’ve reviewed that offers one.</p> <p>We were generally pleased with the keyboard, which offers seven customizable color zones that you can tweak using HP’s Omen Control Panel software. The keys themselves offer a satisfying amount of travel and feel quite tactile, as a result. You also get a column of six macro keys on the left side of the keyboard, which is rare to see in a notebook of this size. We weren’t enamored of the Omen’s trackpad, however. Measuring 5.5 inches across, it’s so wide that we often found our resting fingers interfering with our swiping gestures.</p> <p>On opposite ends of the trackpad are a pair of LED lights that pulsate with the sound of your audio. It’s a unique touch that gives the notebook added flair. The speakers themselves are quite good and offer decent volume firepower. Despite being licensed by Beats Audio, a company known for its bass-heavy emphasis, the audio here is balanced.</p> <p>Unlike the sexy chassis, the specs of the laptop aren’t super fancy. It uses a 2.5GHz i7-4710HQ processor for its CPU. For its graphics card, HP went with the GeForce GTX 860M, which is the de facto GPU for thin gaming notebooks. The base model comes with two gigs of GDDR5 VRAM, but ours included four. In regard to system RAM, configs starts out at 8GB, which is fine in most instances, but our maxed-out unit came with 16GB.</p> <p>CPU performance was pretty average, performing ever so slightly faster than our Alienware 14 zero-point’s 2.4GHz i7-4700MQ processor. In GPU perf, we saw respectable gains between 20 and 60 percent. In short, our graphics tests reminds us that the 860M is a midrange card. It will run the majority of modern games at high settings with smooth framerates, but don’t expect to max out games here.</p> <p>While the laptop’s performance didn’t blow us away, neither did its fans (pun intended). The Omen isn’t silent, but it’s very reasonable under load. We’d go so far as to say HP found the perfect balance between performance and acoustics. The laptop is able to keep its cool by using dual fans that pull in cool air from the bottom, which it expels through the back. A benefit of this design is that gamers won’t have to worry about warm wrists.</p> <p>When it came to battery life, the laptop was pretty average. The first time we ran our video-rundown test, the notebook lasted a mediocre 172 minutes. When we turned off all the fancy LED lights, we got an extra half hour. Our biggest concern with the Omen really pertained to storage. While we love the fact that it uses the faster M.2 PCIe standard, we’re a little put off that it doesn’t support traditional hard drives. This means you’re topped off at 512GBs. Luckily, the drive is really fast, and allowed the notebook to boot up in 11 seconds.</p> <p>The Omen may not be the most powerful notebook out there, but it’s extremely polished and well-designed. Everything from its looks, portability, and thermals are top notch. While our decked-out unit cost $2,100, if you’re looking for a more affordable configuration, we recommend going with the $1,800 model, which includes a 512GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, and an 860M with 2GB of VRAM. It’s still a pretty good Omen.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/hp_omen_review_2014#comments Gaming Hardware HP Omen laptop notebook Thin voodoo pc Gaming Reviews Notebooks Wed, 17 Dec 2014 22:45:39 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29111 at http://www.maximumpc.com Logitech K830 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/logitech_k830_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><span style="font-family: Calibri;"><span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 22px;"><strong>A premium HTPC keyboard with backlighting</strong></span></span></p> <p>People don’t just buy desktop keyboards, they have long-term monogamous relationships with them that last years. Hell, some editors we know just celebrated their fifth-year anniversary with their desktop keyboard (the traditional gift is wood, by the way).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/files/u187432/keyboard.jpg" style="text-align: center;" /></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The K830 is good but suffers from mushy-key syndrome.</strong></p> <p>It’s not that way with HTPC keyboards, though. No, HTPC keyboards are more like those “business” trips to Thailand. Just look at us for example: Over the last few years, we’ve not only stepped out with an assortment of no-name Bluetooth keyboards, we’ve also had flings with Logitech’s DiNovo Edge, DiNovo Mini, the K400, and even the K700 from Google and Logitech’s ill-fated Google TV product.</p> <p>The latest so-so pretty keyboard to catch our eye is Logitech’s K830. And what a beauty she is. Slightly wider than the K400 at 14.5-inches, the K830 has a feeling of heft and quality that the budget K400 lacks. The sexiest aspect of the K830 is its subtle white LED backlighting. The lighting has four steps: off, low, medium, and high, and once switched on, the volume and mute buttons also light up. Logitech also did the right thing by also illuminating all the characters of the keyboard. A lot of far more expensive gaming keyboards fail to do this, forcing you to guess which shifted keys to press for $#%^, among others.</p> <p>Also much improved is the trackpad, which has a luxuriously smooth surface and is slightly larger than the K400’s. Although we will say if Logitech had pushed the trackpad further into the corner of the keyboard, it would be easier to use the trackpad one-handed, as with the K700. In Logitech’s defense, the K830 is also a little too heavy to one-hand it for long sessions.</p> <p>With the power consumption of the LED, the possibility of running off of AAA alkalines is out—instead, Logitech uses a lithium ion, which charges through micro-USB. Logitech says that gives the K830 about ten days of runtime. That’s pretty poor when you consider that the K400 is rated to run for 12 months off of a pair of AAA’s. Realistically, though, you’re not going to be using the keyboard to type for ten days straight, so we’d expect more along the lines of a month or more, depending on the back-light levels.</p> <p>That brings us to us to the biggest ding against the K830—the actual keys. While the keyboard looks drop-dead sexy next to the K400 and K700, the keys are down-right mushy and just no fun to type on. Yes, you typically won’t be typing more than “Maximum PC No BS podcast” in the search bar of Youtube, but it’s a bit of a heart-breaker that the K830’s key action is its worst aspect. If you’re looking for hot keyboard action for typing-heavy duties, we’d recommend scrounging up an old K700, honestly. We will laude one thing Logitech did, though: The function keys have dedicated functions for such things as launching the browser and search rather than the function + F8 you’d typically find.</p> <p>One other thing to note, the K830 uses Logitech’s Unify USB dongles to connect to devices. Unify lets you run multiple devices simultaneously, which is great. What’s not great are so-called “smart” televisions that don’t support standard USB HID devices. We tried, for example, to hook the K830 up to a new Sony 65-inch Bravia 65W850A and had no joy despite the three USB ports on the set. So, if you intend to use the keyboard with your “smart” TV, we recommend you read the manual first.</p> <p>The last hang-up is the price. At $99, the K830 is far more expensive than its current siblings. But we will say one thing, it certainly looks better and feels better than them, too. It’s also not that expensive when compared to the Dinovo Edge, which sold for $200 minimum when new. Still, it’s not perfect. If Logitech could just combine the keys of the K700, move the trackpad a little farther into the corner, and shed a few grams, this could be the ultimate HTPC keyboard. As is, it’s good but not great.</p> <p>$99, <a href="http://www.logitech.com" target="_self">www.logitech.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/logitech_k830_review_2014#comments htpc keyboard Logitech K830 wireless Keyboards Reviews Wed, 17 Dec 2014 20:55:39 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 28916 at http://www.maximumpc.com Wolfenstein: The New Order Review http://www.maximumpc.com/wolfenstein_new_order_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/wolf_1.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS ??&quot;; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Our hero has seen some stuff since he escaped from Castle Wolfenstein.</span></strong></p> <p>Gamers may argue over who was the first to do a 3D first-person shooter, but no one denies that Wolfenstein 3D was a historic experience. Made back in 1992 by a little company called Id Software, it set the tone of the FPS for years to come and can still be purchased today. But in the time since, the rest of the industry has caught up and passed it in nearly every way. To do an FPS now means competing against multi-billion dollar companies using hundreds of people working around the world. So, how does Wolfenstein 3D’s legacy survive into the modern era?</p> <p>They’ve already tried twice now, with Return to Castle Wolfenstein in 2002 and Wolfenstein in 2009, the latter of which the franchise’s current owner Bethesda does not recognize as canon and declines to distribute. This is not a minor grievance, since The New Order is a direct sequel and reintroduces three characters and their backstories. Until Bethesda changes its mind, we’re missing a pretty big puzzle piece of a story-driven game.</p> <p>And it’s a pretty good story, too. It begins in 1946, in an alternate World War II where the Nazis are winning, thanks to inexplicably advanced technology. Part of the game is about figuring out where their edge came from, but the bulk of it is just fighting the global war machine that they have become by 1960. That jump in time is thanks to a certain incident involving our hero B.J Blazkowicz. He eventually returns with a vengeance, though you’ll probably be scratching your head over how it was possible, considering the nature of his absence. The game provides no answers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/wolf_3.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;MS ??&quot;; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">B.J. calls his stealth kills “commando hugs.”</span></strong></p> <p>There are a few Big Dumb Action Movie plot holes like this that are difficult to ignore, given how story-driven the game is. But the characters of The New Order are generally well-rounded, with convincing dialog and voice acting. While the 1992 original was a shooting gallery with a general theme, The New Order has a cinematic narrative, complete with love interests, plot twists, and dramatic tragedy.</p> <p>Most of it is played out using in-game cutscenes, but you can also explore the different areas of the game for newspaper clippings, overheard conversations, and other bits that add layers of detail to this eerie and unsettling alternate Earth. This fleshes out the world’s alternate history, but it’s also that much more jarring when parts of the plot don’t slide neatly together. Still, the developer provides a better story than we’ve come to expect from an FPS. MachineGames may be a new name, but many of the team members come from Starbreeze Studios and worked on the Chronicles of Riddick games.</p> <p>As you might expect, then, our friends know a few things about gunplay and explosions. The action in Riddick should be familiar to anyone who’s picked up a shooter in the last five years, with partially regenerating health, checkpoint saves, health packs, iron sights, and collectibles. MachineGames mixes it up by compelling you to kill a Nazi commander first, who will call in reinforcements until you eliminate him. You can stealth around to a certain degree and take alternate routes for better vantage points. There’s a perk system that rewards you with things like extra grenades or faster weapon reload times, tailored to your play style. And there are a few weapon upgrades scattered around, sometimes hidden in secret spots. The scenery and enemy types evolve at a good pace, as well. The firefights feel pretty conventional at first, but there are enough tweaks here to elevate it above mindless shooting.</p> <p>It would be nice if the enemies were more observant of each other, though. Too often, I was able to dismantle the opposition by sniping the commander with a silenced pistol, before he’d alerted anyone. No one seemed alarmed by his slumping corpse, allowing me to ninja my way from one enemy to another with a mixture of silenced shots and knife kills. (Non-lethal combat is absent, but killing Nazis usually doesn’t trigger moral quandaries, anyway.) There’s no multiplayer in The New Order to balance things out in the enemy-smarts department, but its absence allows the developer to devote more time and energy to the single-player experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/wolf_2.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: left;"><strong>He can dual-wield a variety of weapons, almost all of which have an alt-fire mode.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, when the game doesn’t give you the option for stealth, it can get really hairy. A few times, you’ll be dealing with multiple waves, with no checkpoint in sight. The game doesn’t allow quicksaves (nor does it use Steam’s cloud save system, nor could we detect the location of the save files themselves), so you’re at the mercy of MachineGame’s difficulty curve, which gets pretty steep in the last act of the story.</p> <p>Speaking of architecture, The New Order is a pretty good-looking game. Textures are detailed, people animate and speak convincingly, the color palette is varied, and MachineGames appears to have fun with the world’s retro-futuristic technology. Your graphical options aren’t explained very well in the settings menu, but you can at least tweak your field of view, which is important for gamers who tend to get nauseated when playing a shooter. Bethesda has strongly recommended a CPU with eight processing threads, but we didn’t experience a material difference when we disabled Hyperthreading on our 4770K or 3770K. With a stock GeForce GTX 780 Ti and all game effects maxed out, we got about 55 frames per second in the opening sequence at 2560x1600, regardless of CPU status. You can apparently disable or lower some settings without much visual impact, like shadow resolution and depth-of-field.</p> <p>Frankly, our expectations for this game were not high. It’s pretty rare that new life is breathed into something that’s been around for so long. The trailers were long on story but short on action. The studio was new and didn’t have much clout, despite the pedigree of some individual members. And we did find a few things in the game that we wish had been done differently. But overall, MachineGames delivered the best Wolfenstein yet, and it is a welcome addition to our shooter library.</p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: .0001pt;">$60, <a href="http://www.wolfenstein.com" target="_blank">www.wolfenstein.com</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/wolfenstein_new_order_review_2014#comments game Review wolfenstein: the new order Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:12:00 +0000 Tom McNamara 28919 at http://www.maximumpc.com Linksys WRT1900AC Review http://www.maximumpc.com/linksys_wrt1900ac_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/linksys.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">The WRT1900AC’s design is a throwback to the 12-year-old WRT54G, the best-selling router of all time.</span></strong></p> <p>Don’t be fooled by the old-school styling of the Linksys WRT1900AC—it may look like a blast from the ancient past, but it schools the modern competition, including our previous favorite AC router, the Asus RT-AC66U. The new Linksys model is faster, easier to set up, and has more ports to play with.</p> <p>In regard to the physical design, Belkin, which owns the Linksys brand, intentionally modeled the WRT1900AC after the WRT54G, supposedly the best-selling wireless router model of all time. The WRT1900AC is similarly shaped, with a familiar blue-and-black color scheme, but noticeably larger and with twice as many antennas protruding out (four versus two). They’re removable/upgradeable and configured in a 3x3 array, meaning it supports three spatial streams in each direction. Linksys also baked in beamforming support, which allows the router to concentrate its signal on active clients for a more reliable connection.</p> <p>Belkin took a risk by going the retro route—true geeks with fond memories of the WRT54G are likely to wet their pants with excitement over the return of an iconic design, whereas everyone else may have a tough time accepting the attention-grabbing aesthetic. Those who bypass the WRT1900AC based on looks will be doing themselves a disservice because there’s not a faster consumer model on the market. As indicated by the model name, this is a Wireless-AC unit. It’s rated for up to 600Mb/s on the 2.4GHz band in 802.11n mode and up to 1,300Mb/s on the 5.4GHz band in 802.11ac mode. You can’t add these signals together for a super-connection of sorts, however, even though router makers love to advertise the combined theoretical throughput.</p> <p>Linksys outpaced the Asus RT-N66U in almost every speed test, including a clean sweep on the 2.4GHz band in 802.11n mode. When we switched our focus to the 5GHz band and 802.11ac performance, the WRT1900AC ran nearly 14 percent faster at close range and almost 19 percent quicker in our Dining Room test, which is farther away and separated by a wall. Asus went down swinging and took two of the five 802.11ac tests, including a victory in the long-range Backyard run, though we suspect it was automatically switching to 802.11n mode at that distance.</p> <p>Wired and physical connectivity options consist of four Gigabit LAN ports, a USB 3.0 port, and an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, all of which are found on the back of the router. File transfers over USB 3.0 are blazing fast—it took just over 33 seconds to transfer a 3GB file from a Lexar JumpDrive P10 flash drive plugged into the router’s USB 3.0 port to our test PC, and 40 seconds to fling the same file in the opposite direction.</p> <p>Linksys bills the WRT1900AC as a “Smart Wi-Fi” router. Setup is super easy, and once you’re up and running, you can use the router’s smart capabilities to log in remotely from a browser on a connected device or via an Android or iOS app. This is particularly handy when tapping into the new Network Map, which provides a visual of all devices connected to your network. Between the two, you can monitor your home network when you’re away, and if necessary, set parental controls if little Billy is staying up later on the Xbox than promised.</p> <p>Speaking of which, it took some finagling with Port Triggering settings in order to access Xbox Live and watch streaming video from Hulu and Netflix without hiccups. We didn’t have this problem on the RT-N66U, but if you run into trouble, the proper port-triggering settings are easily found on the web.</p> <p>While setup is quick and easy, there’s not a ton of low-level control compared to other high-end AC routers we’ve tested, at least not out of the box (the WRT1900AC is compatible with open-source firmware). We’re also put off by how Linksys handles guest accounts. You can only choose a single password for both the 802.11n and 802.11ac guest bands, and users who hop on will have to enter that password in a web browser every time they initiate a new connection, even if they’ve saved the connection. Since it’s advisable to use a strong password, this means you’ll be inputting it for them each time they come over, unless they’re able to memorize your alphanumeric combination.</p> <p>Our minor gripes are hardly reason to turn down this router, though the price tag will scare some folks away. At $280 MSRP, it’s not cheap. However, the WRT1900AC is easily the best router available.</p> <p>&nbsp;$280, <a href="http://www.linksys.com" target="_blank">www.linksys.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/linksys_wrt1900ac_review_2014#comments Linksys WRT1900AC Review Router Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:02:06 +0000 Paul Lilly 28918 at http://www.maximumpc.com Age of Mythology: Extended Edition Review http://www.maximumpc.com/age_mythology_extended_edition_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/mythology_1.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;"><strong>Allow me to strike my most stoic pose while I bobble my limbs around to convince you that I am speaking.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ah, revamps. Ah, Age of Empires. We can remember, with much fondness, the rise of Ensemble Studios’ great entry into the real-time strategy world of the 1990s. In an era otherwise dominated by the RTS heavyweights—Command and Conquer, Warcraft II, and eventually Starcraft—Age of Empires offered up a unique, resource-driven spin on the typical rush-or-turtle gameplay of its peers.</p> <p>The look and feel of Age of Empires was quite a bit different than what was being offered elsewhere, including its “upgrade through epochs” style of gameplay, the game’s huge number of civilizations one could pick to play as (all with unique bonuses and technologies of their own), and the introduction of game-ending “Wonder” buildings that one could create—warning all playing that they better come stomp you quickly before the building timer counted down.</p> <p>Capitalizing on the popularity of the Age of Empires series at the time, Ensemble Studios opted to release the spin-off title Age of Mythology in 2002. We’re not quite sure why Age of Mythology: Extended Edition has been revisited by the company some 12 years after the initial release of the game, but we do applaud Ensemble Studio’s efforts at keeping classic games relevant. We just wish that they did a bit more for this second go-around.</p> <p>That’s not to say that Age of Mythology: Extended Edition is a picture-perfect recreation of its predecessor. There are actually quite a few improvements designed to make the game more relevant for today’s times. Twitch is integrated directly into the game itself, should you be of the broadcast-your-base variety, as is Steamworks. Mods can be quickly found via Steam Workshop and downloaded directly into the game, multiplayer matchmaking is tied directly into Steam itself, and all the other fun Steam features—badges, clod saves, achievements, trading cards, etc.—join the party, as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/mythology_2.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;"><strong>In typical <span style="background-color: #ffffff;"><em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style="background-image: none; background-repeat: repeat; background-attachment: scroll; background-position: 0% 0%; background-clip: border-box; background-origin: padding-box; background-size: auto auto;">Age of Mythology</span></em> fash</span>ion, you can upgrade the heck out of just about everything.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ensemble Studios has also thrown in a few graphical updates, bringing a day/night rotating cycle into one’s skirmishes, as well as upgrades to the game’s water, shadows, lighting, and antialiasing (to name a few). We confess; we didn’t go back and fire up the 2002 version of the title to see just how everything has changed (nor do we think we could likely even get it to play nicely with today’s Windows 8 operating system). And since a GoG.com doesn’t have a version of the game—for those unaware, that’s a website that sells retro games redesigned to work with today’s operating systems sans hassle—we don’t really have a basis of comparison for the visual tweaks Ensemble Studios has made.</p> <p>What we can report, however, is that even with all of these upgrades, Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, still very much feels like a 12-year-old title. The game’s single-player mode, split into three distinct campaigns, comes with plenty of missions to play. However, they isn’t really anything that greatly moves us given the confines of the game’s engine—perhaps creative back in 2002, but a bit dated for today.</p> <p>The game-engine-driven cutscenes look horrible. In-game units don’t look bad per se, but they do look blocky and artificial. Even with the alleged improvements to the game’s shadows, units and buildings still looks like sprites that have been crudely pasted onto lower-quality backgrounds. The new water effects look a bit more natural but, in general, it’s hard for Age of Mythology: Extended Edition to ignore its age. Even the UI buttons and icons look pixilated, which, to us, seems like a pretty easy area to tweak.</p> <p>Navigating through the UI, especially to trigger various combat options for your armies, is every bit as annoying as it was the last time we played this title. On top of that, there are some critical RTS problems we wished that this upgraded version would address. For example, we find it troublesome that you’re limited in the number of total units you can assign to a hotkey; we’re pretty sure that limitation went away within the genre years ago.</p> <p>As for the gameplay, it’s the same ol’, same ol’ as that which you may have played a decade ago. In a conventional single-player matchup, you’re using your resource-generators (villagers) to give you food, wood, gold, and “favor,” the latter being the means by which you conscript more powerful mythological elements into your armies via your local temple.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/mythology_3.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;"><strong>You basically get one “ultra-badass” god power to summon per game. We especially like opening a rift to Tartarus.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In typical Age of Mythology style, you have to balance what your villagers produce against the need to build more houses to support your armies, against the need to perform all kinds of upgrades to make your fighting force more formidable. You’re also doing your best to scout out the enemy army so you can better align the game’s rock-paper-scissors tactics in your favor. If you’re playing against a big cavalry nut, for example, it’ll be worth your while to max out on the units that excel against horsies.</p> <p>Also thrown into the mix is an intriguing upgrade path for your civilization—a staple of the franchise that, in this case, asks you to pick the allegiance of one of two gods each time your civilization advances to a new age. Each god, as you might expect, comes with its own unique bonuses and powers to benefit your economy and/or warmongering. Eventually, you’ll reach enough upgrades to grant you the ability to construct the ol’ game-winning “wonder” building for your race or, if you’re feeling feisty, you’ll be able to “find” a giant Titan that will kick all sorts of ass on your foes.</p> <p>We’re a bit bummed that the game’s other deity-driven feature feels a bit stymied. Your limited to the number of times you can use up to four, specialized “god powers” in each game; that doesn’t feel very godlike to us, though we somewhat respect wanting to keep Age of Mythology a bit more balanced and/or less insane.</p> <p>While we find the core game interesting, we also found ourselves getting a bit bored by the same kind of gameplay that we’ve already devoted plenty of time to—the curse of publishing classic games in the modern day, we suppose. That said, there’s enough retro pleasantry to make Age of Mythology: Extended Edition worth its asking price were publisher Microsoft Game Studios to slap a $10 tag on it and call it a day. At $30, Microsoft’s game plan is downright insane; we didn’t feel as if we got $30 worth of value out of what amounts to a buffed version of a classic.</p> <p>Unless you’ve been pining away for a more compatible, Steam-friendly version of Age of Mythology for years now, we recommend you wait for the next, greatest Steam sale before plunking down on this digital-only title. This is a modern-day refresh, not a modern-day remake. One of these is worth much more than the other, but that’s not what you’re getting here.</p> <p>Price: $30 digital, <a href="http://www.ageofempires.com/AoM.aspx" target="_blank">www.ageofempires.com/AoM.aspx</a>, ESRB: T</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/age_mythology_extended_edition_review_2014#comments Age of Mythology: Extended Edition game Review Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 05:48:26 +0000 David Murphy 28917 at http://www.maximumpc.com Enermax Liqtech 240 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/enermax_liqtech_240_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/ernemax.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">This cooler uses the company's new "Twister Pressure" fans, purportedly an upgrade from its older T.B.Silence units.</span></strong></p> <p>If there's anything we've learned about hardware companies over the years, it's that diversity is the key to survival, much like life in the jungle. For companies like Enermax, that seems to mean branching out beyond the power supplies and case fans that it's built a reputation on. In recent years, the company has expanded into the CPU cooling sector, and the Liqtech 240 is its latest new hotness. But we'll tell you right off the bat that this 240mm closed-loop liquid cooler is not a mold-breaker. Then again, a company doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel to be successful.</p> <p>One major element we look for in a CLC is ease of installation. The Liqtech 240’s heatsink's Intel brackets were already installed, so that saved us a step. For our LGA 2011 motherboard, we just had to insert a set of bundled screws into its backplate, apply some thermal paste on the CPU, and secure the heatsink on top of the CPU with a set of bundled nuts. (The radiator attaches to the case with another set of bundled screws.) The bracket nuts have integrated springs that are a bit stiff, so we needed a screwdriver to provide enough force, a hand to hold the nut, and another hand to hold down the heatsink. That's not great math for one person, so it took a little trial-and-error before we were able to fasten a few of the nuts. Not a deal breaker, but we've seen better implementations.</p> <p>The radiator fans have a switch on them with three settings for fan speeds. We used the highest setting, allowing fans to range from 500rpm to 2,500rpm based on PWM instructions being sent by the motherboard. Interestingly, this is a whopping 700rpm higher than the version of the fan sold at retail, and the blades are solid black instead of translucent. Unfortunately, the switch is impossible to reach once the fan is installed, so you'd better choose wisely. On the bright side, the fan cables have a high-quality braid and attach to a braided and bundled Y-adapter, so that they can be controlled by a single 4-pin header. Also, the radiator has pre-installed silicone strips that act as gaskets to absorb vibration and thereby reduce noise. The CLC's tubing is on the stiff side, but that's a trade-off made to reduce evaporation of the coolant inside. It's clear that a lot of thought has gone into the Liqtech, from design to build quality. All that's left now is performance.</p> <p>The Liqtech's fans idled at a much lower speed than we usually see—about 550rpm. This is going to make the CPU run a little warmer when there isn't a load, but a few degrees Celsius in this range doesn't make much difference to the life of the chip. What matters is how well the cooler works under load when compared to ambient room temperature, and the Liqtech 240 passed that test with flying colors. With the fans set to "quiet," its load performance is less than 1C warmer than the Corsair H100i, which is arguably the bar-setter at the 240mm tier. That's practically within the margin of error, and an excellent showing.</p> <p>We give more weight here than with the "performance" setting, which is customarily too loud to deal with for an extended period of time anyway. The Cooler Master Nepton 280L has the best CLC performance that we've seen so far, with the only caveats being the poorly placed fan switch and its 280mm radiator won’t fit in a number of cases. For its size, Enermax's Liqtech 240 is no slouch.</p> <p>$110 (street), <a href="http://www.enermaxusa.com" target="_blank">www.enermaxusa.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/enermax_liqtech_240_review_2014#comments Enermax Liqtech 240 gpu Review Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 05:30:42 +0000 Tom McNamara 28915 at http://www.maximumpc.com Asus ROG Matrix Platinum Radeon R9 290X Review http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_rog_matrix_platinum_radeon_r9_290x_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/asus.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">At 5.5 inches in height, small-form-factor builders should check their case dimensions before snagging this card.</span></strong></p> <p>In the world of video cards, we generally have three tiers of design. There’s the stock or “reference” version from AMD or Nvidia, then the cards with proprietary cooling, and finally the cards with both special cooling and even redesigned circuitry on the board itself. The Republic of Gamers (ROG) line from Asus has long been reserved for the company’s most premium products, with ROG video cards getting a “Matrix Platinum” tag to further distinguish them.</p> <p>A certain degree of the difference will be pure marketing, no matter which company you’re talking about, but Asus does some indisputably meaningful things to its ROG cards. In the case of the 290X, they give it a cooling system that extends the length of the card from 11 to 11.5 inches, versus the stock model. There’s also a black metal backplate, though the plastic-ness of the fan shroud is a bit of a puzzle at this price. And they made it about 5.5 inches tall, versus 3.75 inches. It’s a big boost in surface area, to allow for larger heatsinks and fans. Unlike the Sapphire Vapor-X 290 OC that we reviewed last month, this ROG Matrix card isn’t extra-wide, so you can place a second card right next to it.</p> <p>The extra size of Asus’s card is also to make room for additional voltage-regulator modules, or VRMs. It has a whopping 14 of them. Not all VRMs are made equal, but we have experience with the company’s Super Alloy Power (SAP) modules, and spreading power through 14 channels allows each VRM to run cooler, potentially increasing its lifespan. Since the card is wired for up to 75 more watts than the reference model (based on it using two 8-pin PCI Express cables instead of one 6-pin and one 8-pin), more channels are welcome.</p> <p>And we see the results borne out across the board. Out of the box, the ROG Matrix card does not meaningfully out-perform the stock version—when it comes to frame rate. But Asus has an immediate advantage in the noise department. AMD’s stock 290 and 290X were notoriously loud, and the GPU ran at up to 94 degrees Celsius. But the Matrix 290X never murmurs above a gentle hum, and we didn’t see it exceed 85 degrees at its default settings.</p> <p>Additionally, this card has some the most extensive tweaking options we’ve seen. Usually, you’re limited to overclocking the GPU and the RAM, and maybe increasing the “power target,” which determines the maximum wattage given to the card. But with this ROG Matrix card, you also get access to GPU voltage, VDDCI (which affects mostly the shader cores), VRAM voltage, and VRM clock. Freshly installed, the GPU runs at 1,050MHz, compared to a maximum of 1,000MHz on the stock model. Armed with our tweakage, we were able to hit 1,100MHz.</p> <p>Here, we cracked the 10,000-point barrier in 3DMark’s Firestorm test—territory customarily reserved for Nvidia’s GTX 780 Ti, which retails at $700 on up. The ROG Matrix also beat it in Tomb Raider, though it still felt short in Batman: Arkham Origins, which tends to favor Nvidia cards. As this issue went to press, the MSRP was hovering around $630, but Asus hoped to bring that down to $600 by the time it shipped, which would put it level with the company’s more mainstream “DirectCU II” model. This is about $100 more than a GTX 780, but this is the first time that we’ve gotten a stable 290 or 290X overclock this high.</p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 150%; font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">$639 (street), <a href="http://rog.asus.com" target="_blank">http://rog.asus.com</a></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/asus_rog_matrix_platinum_radeon_r9_290x_review_2014#comments Asus ROG Matrix Platinum Radeon R9 290X gpu Review Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 05:15:07 +0000 Tom McNamara 28914 at http://www.maximumpc.com Alienware 17 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_17_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/alienware.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: 11.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial; color: black; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">The Alienware 17 comes equipped with an 802.11ac network card. </span></strong></p> <p>This desktop-replacement-of-a-gaming-notebook might look familiar to you if you’ve read our January 2014 issue. It does, after all, use the same 16.2x11.7x1.9-inch chassis as the older Alienware 17 we reviewed back then, and this version also weighs over 11 pounds. But while it may look the same as its predecessor, it has been updated with some very key components that make it stand out.</p> <p>Its most notable upgrade is its graphics card. Now sporting Nvidia’s new flagship GeForce GTX 880M GPU, like the Asus RoG Nomad we reviewed in the June issue, this video card packs a 954MHz graphics clock and a 1,250MHz memory clock. One difference that separates Alienware 17’s 880M to the Nomad’s equivalent is that it has 8GB of GDDR5 memory, twice that of Asus’ GPU. Alienware said it chose to go with more memory so that in-game textures would load faster.</p> <p>Despite the larger frame buffer, the Alienware 17 performed roughly 2 percent to 5 percent slower in our GPU benchmarks. It did still manage to kick the crap out of our zero-point, however, which happens to be its smaller Alienware 14 sibling. In our graphics benchmarks, our ZP gaming notebook lost by an ugly 96 percent to 122 percent. It was like bringing a knife to a gunfight.</p> <p>Equally formidable is the Alienware 17’s CPU. Housing Intel’s new mobile 2.9GHz Core i7-4910MQ quad-core, this Haswell chip has some serious chops and can Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz. It performed 13 percent to 16 percent faster in our CPU tests, which are good gains for what is essentially just a CPU refresh. Rounding out the package is a 256GB mSATA SSD coupled with a 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive and 16GB of low-voltage DDR3/1600. Despite the low-voltage RAM, however, the Alienware 17 wasn’t power-efficient enough to last as long as its older 14-inch counterpart. It should, however, have enough juice to play movies over 3.5 hours long.</p> <p>The rest of the nuts and bolts we’ve seen before. The Alienware 17 still carries all the fancy lights of its predecessor with its crazy AlienFX lighting system, which Alienware says has over 10 trillion lighting combinations across its 10 programmable color zones. Furthermore, the chassis maintains its signature futuristic sci-fi look with its anodized aluminum LCD cover and magnesium alloy base. The good thing about keeping the same chassis is that the notebook maintains its excellent build quality. There is no flexing here. Another design element that we appreciated is the venting setup, with the exhausts located behind the laptop. Many notebooks vent hot air towards the side, which can play hell on your forearms. Unfortunately, the Alienware 17’s fans do rev up quite a bit under load, so it isn’t as silent as Asus’ Nomad (which is creepily quiet).</p> <p>The keyboard was less troublesome and maintains the notebook’s great build quality by sitting atop a reinforced aluminum plate, which provides a solid typing experience and also prevents crumbs from falling into the notebook’s innards. One thing we didn’t like so much about the typing experience has to do with the laptop’s height. Since it’s such a fat chassis, the keyboard is elevated over one inch off the table, which forces your forearms to dig into the front of the chassis. This can be uncomfortable during extended play sessions.</p> <p>Unlike the Alienware 14, the Alienware 17 does not sport an IPS panel, but rather opts for a TN display. Luckily, it’s one of the better TN solutions we’ve seen. Coupled with its anti-glare finish, the monitor offers excellent viewing angles. Still, considering our build cost a whopping $3,400, there’s really no excuse for not including an IPS panel. For that much money, we want the more accurate colors. In addition, in an era of super-high-res laptops, it’s a little disappointing that this super-expensive notebook is still sticking with 1080P.</p> <p>The Alienware 17 is a good laptop, but it’s overpriced. The 17-inch Asus RoG Nomad we reviewed in the June issue offers comparable performance, double the SSD capacity, more RAM, is quieter, and cheaper to boot. Unless you care deeply about Alienware’s unique LED system and need an 802.11ac network card, we suggest going with Asus’ equivalent.</p> <p>$3,400, <a href="http://www.alienware.com" target="_blank">www.alienware.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/alienware_17_review_2014#comments Alienware 17 gaming laptop Review Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 05:02:21 +0000 Jimmy Thang 28913 at http://www.maximumpc.com Steelseries H Wireless Review http://www.maximumpc.com/steelseries_h_wireless_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/headset.png" width="620" height="360" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SteelSeries Wireless H certainly looks and feels like a feels like a top-of-the-line headset. Its design is mercifully subdued, with an all-over black color scheme that looks great even if you’re not in the middle of a LAN party. The design is livened up with some very subtle orange accents, and a variety of handsome textures (rubber, leather, matte and gloss plastic) that look and feel superb.</p> <p>Build quality of the H Wireless is exceptional, as well. The earcups swivel flat so that you can wear them around your neck between matches, and rock in place along the other axis, so they fit securely against your head. For a heavier headset, we found the Wireless H very comfortable even for gaming sessions lasting over two hours.</p> <p>The most important feature of the H Wireless is, of course, that it’s wireless. Where many wireless sets use a small USB dongle to accomplish this, the H Wireless comes with a little wireless receiver that connects to your PC and sits on your desk. It takes up some valuable space, but it’s nicely designed and looks especially cool when its crisp, white OLED display is powered up. The receiver offers the full suite of high-end Dolby headphone audio processing, as well as a handy feature that can automatically balance game audio and voice chat volume. The various configuration options that you can fiddle with on the receiver can also be changed remotely, using a click-wheel on the side of the headset—a very handy feature that we’d like to see more sets adopt.</p> <p>The other main function of the receiver is to charge the H Wireless’s two swappable lithium ion batteries. Unlike many wireless sets, which have to be plugged into a USB cable to recharge, the H Wireless has an actual removable battery pack, accessed by lightly twisting the plastic cover on one of the earcups. Because the set comes with two batteries, you never have to worry about running out of juice and having to plug in mid-game.</p> <p>In terms of sound quality, the H Wireless offers what you’d expect from a crazy-expensive gaming headset. It sounds just about as good as any gaming set we’ve ever tried, with exceptional clarity, sound separation, and good bass response. Like a lot of wireless headsets, the overall volume level is a tiny bit lower than optimal, but it still delivers plenty of power for an immersive experience in games and movies.</p> <p>The H Wireless sounds great when listening to music as well, though the usual caveat applies: If music is your main priority, you can get a better pair of headphones in this price range if you look at the audiophile market instead of the gaming one.</p> <p>All in all, the H Wireless is an incredibly solid gaming headset, with a lot of great features and no major drawbacks. It works with game consoles, as well, so you can use it for all the gaming you do in your house. The only real problem is that it’s just so expensive. At $300, this set is a full $100 more expensive than a lot of really, really nice cans. If you’re thinking about dropping that much money on a headset, we wouldn’t discourage you—just make sure that you actually need everything that the Wireless H offers.</p> <p>&nbsp;$300; <a href="http://www.steelseries.com" target="_blank">www.steelseries.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/steelseries_h_wireless_review_2014#comments Steelseries H Wireless Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 04:45:26 +0000 Alex Castle 28912 at http://www.maximumpc.com Origin PC Genesis Review http://www.maximumpc.com/origin_pc_genesis_review_2014 <!--paging_filter--><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u187432/origin.jpg" width="620" height="350" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst" style="text-align: left;"><strong>The Genesis can be configured with the GPUs on the left or right side, and vertically or horizontally.</strong></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst">We all know the PC OEM business is a commodity parts game with every vendor having the exact same access to PC hardware as everyone else. It’s a bit like trying to impress the <span style="mso-fareast-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold;">paparazzi<strong> </strong></span>on the red carpet with the same off-the-rack dress as every other starlet.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>That’s why in every OEM’s life comes the time to design their own custom chassis. That time, it appears, has now come for Origin PC and its truly unique modular case.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>We’ve seen modular case designs before—the most notable being Cooler Master’s HAF Stacker series—but Origin’s case goes beyond even Cooler Master’s design. The Genesis can be configured as a midtower or a full-tower case by bolting on an expansion bay that can support radiators or hard drives. Unlike the HAF Stacker’s Lego-like feel, the Origin’s design is far more integrated. In fact, you’d never know the bottom was bolted in place. Even more impressive is the ability for the case to be configured with the motherboard tray in a horizontal or vertical direction and on either the left or right side of the chassis.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>Some have pooh-poohed such flexibility as unnecessary, but it can work wonders for someone who wants to hardware-peep the machine but keep the system on the left side. Don’t think you can reconfigure it on the fly though—the case orientation is decided <span style="background-color: #ffffff;"><em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style="background-image: none; background-repeat: repeat; background-attachment: scroll; background-position: 0% 0%; background-clip: border-box; background-origin: padding-box; background-size: auto auto;">before</span></em></span> it’s built into.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>While revolutionary, it isn’t perfect. There are a couple areas on the top of the case feel like the natural choice for picking up the case to move it. If you do, you’ll break it. Origin clearly labels these as no-lift areas<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>but we’d rather see these beefed up before a tragedy occurs. We also had clearance issues trying to get our dual-link DVI cable to fit with its large cable choke. These chokes are pretty common to dual-link cables, so you’ll have to resort to DisplayLink if you want to make it work. The case door is also “oversprung,” in that Origin embedded two springs to assist in opening the door. Unfortunately, the springs are so strong, the door will often pop completely off the side of the case and smash into the ground.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>The case is also surprisingly compact. Whereas custom cases, such as Digital Storm’s Aventum II or iBuypower’s Erebus XL, are large enough to create their own gravitational fields, the Origin case is almost petite. That didn’t stop the company from shoehorning in a massive amount of hardware, though. You’ll see the full details below, but we’ll give you the notable highlights here: a Core i7-4960X overclocked to 4.4GHz–4.8GHz, four GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards, and an Asus Rampage IV Extreme Black Edition board, all of it custom-cooled with a Origin’s Cryogenic liquid cooling using a lot of Koolance hardware.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>Of course, performance counts. And the Genesis trades blows with Digital Storm’s Aventum II that we reviewed in January. The Aventum II’s CPU sat at 4.7GHz while the Genesis mostly runs at 4.65GHz. That makes the two damned near equal on CPU tasks. In gaming though, the Genesis takes the lead as the Aventum II didn’t pack liquid-cooled 780 Ti’s; they weren’t even available back then. That gives the Origin Genesis the records—although not by much—in the gaming benchmarks. The Genesis even, in fact, surpasses last year’s Dream Machine with its liquid-cooled 4-way GeForce Titan setup, so it ain’t no slouch.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>One thing we must note: Our machine came with a Corsair AX1200i PSU. It’s a beefy platinum-rated PSU and we had no issues, but at the wall, we saw the load sit at or near 100 percent load all of the time just running Heaven 4.0. Origin says actual gaming will use far less power than synthetic stress tests, but it has also since upgraded to Corsair’s new AX1500 PSU. In fact, the pricing actually reflects the upgraded PSU.<span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;</span>Overall, we like the case, love the flexibility, and laud Origin for creating something fairly revolutionary for a case enclosure. It’s not perfect, but add in the top-notch performance and superb attention to detail and you have a truly unique machine.</p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> <o:TargetScreenSize>1024x768</o:TargetScreenSize> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpMiddle"> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} --><!--[endif] --><!--[endif] --></p> <p class="MsoNormalCxSpFirst">$10,265; <a href="http://www.originpc.com" target="_blank">Origin PC Genesis</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/origin_pc_genesis_review_2014#comments gaming pc Origin PC Genesis Review Reviews Fri, 14 Nov 2014 04:06:02 +0000 Gordon Mah Ung 28911 at http://www.maximumpc.com Func HS-260 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/func_hs-260_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Func’s foray into gaming headsets starts on solid footing</h3> <p>Func’s not a new brand, per se—the company has been making gaming peripherals since the turn of the millennium. However, until just over a year ago, it was only known for mousepads, so its recent foray into mice and keyboards represents quite a step up, at least in terms of ambition. Now, with the HS-260, Func is ready to complete the trifecta and take on gaming headsets as well.</p> <p>If the HS-260 is any indication, Func’s got the makings of a gaming peripheral contender. It’s not without its flaws, but as a freshman effort the analog HS-260 is very promising.</p> <p>To begin, the HS-260 is well-constructed. It’s a big set, with circumaural earcups that are large enough to provide plenty of room for even the biggest-eared among us. The plastic band is adjustable and pivots lightly where it meets the earcups, making for a flexible fit. The construction is all plastic, but all the materials feel solid and durable.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/mpc100_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/mpc100_small.jpg" alt="The HS-260’s audio cable and microphone are both replaceable, and can be plugged in on either side." title="Func HS-260" width="620" height="668" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The HS-260’s audio cable and microphone are both replaceable, and can be plugged in on either side.</strong></p> <p>The design of the HS-260 is quite nice, with muted grays and matte blacks, plus just a hint of chrome to liven things up. The only touch of color in the whole set comes from the orange accents on the braided audio cable. If you prefer your accessories slick and a little on the understated side, this set definitely fits the bill.</p> <p>The HS-260 comes with interchangeable fabric and leatherette earcups, so you can pick whichever finish you prefer. We found both nicely padded and very comfortable. The set feels good overall, though it’s seriously heavy for a wired unit without built-in sound processing or multiple drivers or any of the other features that tend to weight down headsets. The headband is padded, but not by quite enough, and the “clamping” or inward lateral pressure of the headset is a little lower than average, leaving most of the weight bearing right down on the top of your head. All those factors combine to cause a mild headache after a couple hours of wear.</p> <p>This is not a feature-heavy design, but those that are present are nicely implemented. The HS-260 has a single control on the set itself for volume, along with ports for the removable cable and microphone. The audio cable is braided, but lacks an in-line remote, which has become a fairly common feature. There’s no software at all to go with the analog-only HS-260, so you’re pretty much at the mercy of what your sound hardware can output. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to your particular circumstances.</p> <p>Performance-wise, the HS-260 doesn’t do much to stand out from the crowd. Like most gaming headsets, it’s heavy on the bass, though the overall sound is a little lacking in power. We found ourselves needing to turn the volume up higher than usual to get a really immersive sound, and then some static would work its way in. The highs and mids are passable, but indistinct—for music, especially, the HS-260’s balance is a little off.</p> <p>That’s not to say that there’s anything bad about the HS-260’s sound quality—in fact, there’s really nothing bad about the set in general. It’s feature-light, and physically heavy, but it’s a solid headset overall and a surprisingly confident first effort. There’s not too much to make this particular unit stand out from the pack, but we’ll be watching to see what Func comes up with next.</p> <p><strong>$80,</strong> <a href="http://www.func.net/">www.func.net</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/func_hs-260_review#comments Func HS-260 gaming headsets Hardware July issues 2014 Review Headphones Reviews Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:06:17 +0000 Alex Castle 28737 at http://www.maximumpc.com