Kingston's rebranding effort to build their HyperX line of business has extended beyond memory and SSDs, reaching into gaming peripheral components like headsets (Cloud II reviewed) and mouse pads. Our previous mouse pad reviews have looked at the Thermaltake Draconem and Razer eXactMatX, both of which are hardened, alloy pads offering grip from corner brackets or an under-mat. HyperX's alternative makes use of a softer cloth surface, deploying a rubberized underside for grippiness; the softer solution is something we've grown fond of over the past year, favoring them for their more gentle nature when dealing with teflon feet of high-end mice.

Need For Speed is one of the longest-standing racing genres in gaming history, rooted in high-speed police chases and later adding detailed car customization. Need For Speed Underground heavily focused on high-octane street racing, featuring dyno tuning, car tweaking, and import-styled visuals. NFSU2 offered an open world experience on the nighttime streets of various cities.

Generic American Consumerism Holiday #57 has arrived, and as such, e-tailers are dumping their inventory at low prices. There's a huge amount of sales through Newegg and Amazon right now, but we've picked-out a few of the more gaming-targeted ones. You can browse additional sales, like other video cards, PSUs, and CPUs, on Newegg over here, Amazon's are here.

The launch of the Witcher 3 introduced a couple of game graphics options that aren't very commonly available in settings menus. Photographers may be familiar with the likes of chromatic aberration and vignetting, but not many games have offered these items for tweaking in the past.

We recently benchmarked The Witcher 3 for GPU performance and remarked that the game was horridly optimized, taking the opportunity expand on the graphics settings in a limited fashion. Since this posting, CD Projekt Red has released a new game patch (1.03) that drastically improves PC performance on various video cards; AMD is expected to release a Catalyst 15.5 beta driver update that focuses on the Witcher in the near future.

This Witcher 3 optimization guide defines the best graphics settings for improving FPS in the game, seeking to explain each option in greater depth. We independently benchmarked various game settings on a Titan X (to eliminate bottlenecking on the hardware) and took a graphics settings comparison video, found below. Although screenshots can get some of the job done, a comparison video is critical for a game like The Witcher; CD Projekt Red's newest RPG makes heavy use of temporal filters, which means that the filters make the most impact over time (seen through movement, which isn't conveyed in a screenshot). We'd encourage checking out the video for just a few comparisons of the many options.

Johan Andersson, a Frostbite developer under EA, today posted a photograph of AMD's new liquid-cooled video card. It is already known that the R9 300-series video cards are due for release in the summer – likely June – and that the flagship devices will be liquid cooled, but little has been officially announced. The pictured Pirate Islands card is assumed to be a 390X.

The Witcher 3's bombastic launch included bonus, spill-over fanfare surrounding the use of nVidia's GameWorks middle-ware in Project Cars. AMD spewed fire, telling Ars that GameWorks “completely sabotaged” AMD's performance, further stating “it's wrecked our performance, almost as if it [were] put in to achieve that goal.” This implication of an nVidia-branded torpedo to AMD's performance garnered attention on reddit and other social networks, following a week of similar postings related to Project Cars. We decided to do some of our own research.

First, it's worth noting that we've already invested countless hours into graphics testing in The Witcher 3, and we're still conducting further settings performance analysis for every option.

During the GTA V craze, we posted a texture resolution comparison that showcased the drastic change in game visuals from texture settings. The GTA content also revealed VRAM consumption and the effectively non-existent impact on framerates by the texture setting. The Witcher 3 has a similar “texture quality” setting in its game graphics options, something we briefly mentioned in our Witcher 3 GPU benchmark.

This Witcher 3 ($60) texture quality comparison shows screenshots with settings at Ultra, High, Normal, and Low using a 4K resolution. We also measured the maximum VRAM consumption for each setting in the game, hoping to determine whether VRAM-limited devices could benefit from dropping texture quality. Finally, in-game FPS was measured as a means to determine the “cost” of higher quality textures.

Not one recent triple-A PC title has launched without its share of crashing, flickering, mouse acceleration / smoothing, or other issues. In our time benchmarking the Witcher 3's PC performance, we encountered a couple of resolvable issues pertaining to the game's stability.

Benchmarking the Witcher 3 proved to be more cumbersome than any game we've ever benchmarked. CD Projekt Red's game doesn't front the tremendously overwhelming assortment of options that GTA V does – all of which we tested, by the way – but it was still a time-consuming piece of software to analyze. This is largely due to optimization issues across the board, but we'll dive into that momentarily.

In this Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt PC benchmark, we compare the FPS of graphics cards at varied settings (1080p, 1440p, 4K) to uncover achievable framerates. Among others, we tested SLI GTX 980s, a Titan X, GTX 960s, last-gen cards, and AMD's R9 290X, 285, and 270X. Game settings were tweaked in methodology for the most fair comparison (below), but primarily checked for FPS at 1080p (ultra, medium, low), 1440p (ultra, medium), and 4K (ultra, medium).

That's a big matrix.

Let's get started.

We normally upload a “benchmark course” video to the site's YouTube channel, dedicated to showcasing just a small part of our extensive testing methodology for each game benchmarked. The previous title we tested was GTA V, and with the launch of the Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt, focus shifts to CD Projekt Red's new game.

This video walks through our benchmark course used during video card benchmarking for the Witcher, an exhaustive process that seeks to uncover the best graphics cards at various settings. We've only got four video cards left in our test tonight, which will be followed-up immediately by an article with FPS charts and other data. More performance articles will follow shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, take a look at the game's hi-fidelity graphics at 4K resolution:

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