Steve Burke

Steve Burke

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Elite: Dangerous is one of the best-optimized games we've tested this year, right up there with GRID: Autosport. The game is a member of the impending cluster of space sim and space-flight combat games actively being developed. Like Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous comes from the designers of a game that's decades-old, 1984's “Elite.”

With Elite: Dangerous' official launch, we've put the game on our GPU bench to test the FPS on various graphics card configurations, including an R7 250X, 270X, GTX 750 Ti, GTX 980, and more. In addition to our usual video settings tests, we ran Elite: Dangerous using AMD's VSR and nVidia's DSR (super resolution) to render output at 4K. These tests are representative of performance yield on a true 4K display. Our crash fix guide may be useful to those who are experiencing issues running Elite: Dangerous.

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In a somewhat unexpected turn for the firmly established Minecraft franchise, a new “Story Mode” episodic game is being developed by Telltale Games in collaboration with Mojang.

Story Mode will feature a narrative-driven approach to gameplay, likely utilizing Telltale Games' famous dialogue wheel showcased in The Wolf Among Us & Tales from the Borderlands. Mojang promises that the collaborative project will feel “as Minecrafty as possible,” noting that they're providing input during design and development.

elite-dangerous

The world of space simulators has experienced major throwbacks to the 80s and 90s lately, with the return of Chris Roberts (Star Citizen, Wing Commander, Freelancer) and David Braben (Elite) to the scene. Elite: Dangerous just went gold and started shipping in a finalized state earlier this week.

As with most modern games, Elite: Dangerous players are experiencing crashes to desktop, black screens, tearing, stuttering, server authentication issues, and FPS drops. We've got a few solutions in this guide.

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Video card manufacturer Gigabyte just announced its fully-equipped “Waterforce” GTX 980s, and they've set the MSRP to $3000. The Waterforce setup includes 3xGTX 980s pre-overclocked, each attached to an individual radiator; the three radiators then get mounted in the external watercooling box, which sits atop the PC enclosure. Pipe clamps, bridges, 5.25” external controllers, and mounting hardware are all included.

Insane.

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CIG's Star Citizen aims to revitalize the PC gaming space by fully utilizing every system component to its fullest potential, starting with multi-million poly-count objects that hit the GPU heavily. In our very first interview with CIG's Chris Roberts – a man who has managed to raise $60 million in crowd-funding – we discussed Star Citizen's emphasis on full system hardware utilization. Roberts told us “I've got eight cores – I want to use them.”

The game is currently in alpha, versioned at version 0.9.2.2. Star Citizen's persistent universe (the major multiplayer component) has yet to begin production and is still in the design phase, though the “Arena Commander” module is currently available for download to early backers. The next module in the release schedule will patch-in FPS elements, but the game's current alpha offers dog-fighting, free flight, hangar exploration, and “murray cup” racing.

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With the hard drive storage market slimmed-down to just a few major players – Hitachi now owned by WD – the market has felt relatively stagnant for the past year. Seagate recently announced that its SMR 8TB HDD, branded as an “archive HDD,” will soon be available for $260.

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In our review of Syber's new $1500 “PC console” pre-built machine, we criticized the box for using a loud, hot stock Intel CPU cooler in lieu of something higher-end. The unit exceeded TjMax when under 100% CPU load and regularly hit moderate to high temperatures while playing thread-intensive games. We complained that the system would be significantly quieter and cooler with better cooling options, and it looks like Syber listened to that feedback.

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In a bid to garner attention in the graphics market, AMD's Radeon graphics division has branded its newest Catalyst driver update simply as “Omega.” Unlike previous iterations, the new driver attaches a codename to symbolize the dramatic changes made to the underlying software. Catalyst Omega introduces direct competitors to NVIDIA technology (like DSR, seen here), offers greater Linux support, and hosts a suite of media playback smoothing options. We'll look into all of those here, along with some driver benchmarks.

Here's a quick overview, as provided by AMD (note that AMD's numbers differ from our benchmark numbers, shown and explained further below):

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Samsung announced the launch of its 850 Pro earlier this year, introducing 3D Vertical NAND (VNAND) to the SSD market. 3D VNAND doubles endurance over what triple-level cell (TLC) NAND devices allowed, but simultaneously increases density – two aspects of NAND that have previously been opposed. The density increase comes as a result of stacking the NAND vertically (like an apartment highrise vs. single-home neighborhood), similar in top-level concept to Intel's 3D transistors.

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The advent of affordable, low TDP, high-performance PC hardware has enabled configuration of living room gaming PCs that act as consoles once did. The difference, of course, is more versatile functionality and greater immediate upgrade potential, ensuring gaming at the highest settings possible while retaining DVR-replacement options. There's no argument that traditional gaming consoles – like the Xbox and PS4 – have their place in this industry, but diehard PC enthusiasts finally have affordable Small Form Factor (SFF) HTPC configurations.

We recently explored the possibility of a $665 DIY HTPC with moderate graphics performance, effectively serving as a budget console replacement with Netflix / streaming options. The entire system measured in at just 20.9” x 10.2” x 14.5” – easily hidden beneath the TV.

Today's review looks at a significantly more powerful option, featuring the GTX 980 (which we've called “the best video card available”) and an i7-4790K CPU. The “Vapor Xtreme” is CyberPower's latest venture, branded independently as a “Syber” PC, similar to Kingston's branding separation with its HyperX division.

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