Motherboard selection is mercifully less intimidating than picking a laptop for gaming. With boards, we can establish a set of criteria and narrow down the selection immediately to something more manageable; lower prices than other components also make selection somewhat easier to mentally justify. Our criteria for motherboard selection typically includes consideration of socket type, form factor, ability to overclock, and chipset
We've previously published chipset guides for both AMD's latest chipsets and Intel's Haswell chipsets, each of which shows the differentiating features between various inter-platform options. This buyer's guide looks at the best gaming motherboards for Intel's Haswell and Devil's Canyon processors, then AMD's FM2+ platform. AM3+ is not considered in this guide, given its age and our decision to abandon the platform in PC build guides. We've also opted to exclude X99 motherboards from this guide, given the added complexity and entirely different architecture.
We'll start with tables, then cover the things to look for in a motherboard, and then move on to our selections for this season.
This launch season has been one of the most hectic I can remember. The entire year has been a bit chaotic, actually; we had major GPU announcements, architecture changes (Intel & NVIDIA), several AAA game titles (Dragon Age, Warlords of Draenor, ACU, Far Cry 4, Call of Duty), and more. It's been non-stop games news for the entire year, and that's indicative of a healthy industry.
We recently benchmarked Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, both Ubisoft titles, and found that each game is fairly graphics-intensive and demanding of system resources. This ~$1000 DIY gaming PC build allows for near-max settings in Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, and with help from ShadowPlay, it'll stream to Twitch with relative ease.
CPU cooling and PSU manufacturer Be Quiet! has just announced its first high-end enclosure, the “Silent Base 800.” The company indicated to press earlier this year that it had plans to enter the enclosure market prior to the 2014 holidays, and it looks like that target date was hit.
The Silent Base 800 enclosure is advertised as offering “the perfect symbiosis of noise prevention and cooling performance,” which in non-marketing speak translates to “noise damped and ventillated.”
I don't think we've ever tested any AAA games without a follow-up “crash fixes” article. Bugs run rampant – especially for PC users – in most modern triple-A titles, and that remains true for Far Cry 4. After last week's Assassin's Creed benchmark and crash fix posts, we've returned with a Far Cry 4 crash fix guide.
This crash fix guide addresses Far Cry 4 white screens, failure to launch, black screens, CTDs, frame stuttering, & AMD issues.
Ubisoft launched all its AAA titles in one go for the holiday season, it seems. Only days after the buggy launch of Assassin's Creed Unity ($60) – a game we found to use nearly 4GB VRAM in GPU benchmarking – the company pushed Far Cry 4 ($60) into retail channels. Ubisoft continued its partnership with nVidia into Far Cry 4, featuring inclusion of soft shadows, HBAO+, fine-tuned god rays and lighting FX, and other GameWorks-enabled technologies. Perhaps in tow of this partnership, we found AMD cards suffered substantially with Far Cry 4 on PC.
Our Far Cry 4 GPU FPS benchmark analyzes the best video cards for playing Far Cry 4 at max (Ultra) settings. We tested lower settings for optimization on more modest GPU configurations. Our tests benchmarked framerates on the GTX 980 vs. GTX 780 Ti, 770, R9 290X, 270X, 7850, and more. RAM and VRAM consumption were both monitored during playtests, with CPU bottlenecking discovered on some configurations.
Update: For those interested in playing Far Cry 4 near max settings, we just put together this PC build guide for a DIY FC4 PC.
Server GPUs for HPC (high-performance computing) applications aren't exactly within the realm of our gaming coverage, but the Tesla K80 is worthy of note purely from a technological standpoint. Nvidia's new Tesla graphics accelerator hosts dual-GK210 Kepler GPUs capable of double-precision floating-point performance of approximately 2.91 TFLOPs, or single-precision FP performance at a staggering 8.74TFLOPs. Strictly for reference – because the Tesla is not comparable to gaming cards – the GTX 980 GM204 pushes about 4.6TFLOPs single-precision FP performance.
It's rare that we see innovation where suppliers already dominate a market. Keyboard switches are one such market: Cherry undoubtedly boasts the largest foothold with its colored MX switches, with Kailh grasping at part of that western stronghold. Most major keyboard manufacturers source switches from one of these two companies, including Thermaltake for its Poseidon Z (Kailh) and Rosewill for its Apollo (Cherry). Logitech decided to stray from these solutions, though it has made use of Cherry in the past.
We discussed Logitech's new “Romer G” switch solution in full detail at PAX Prime this year. The company invested in development of the new “Romer G” switch that debuted in the G910 mechanical keyboard we're reviewing today, primarily boasting greater endurance. Romer G switches have a shorter actuation depth (quicker key presses), a more damped feel, and a large, centrally-positioned gap for brighter LEDs that are magnified by a lens. Most switches host some sort of plastic or spring hardware centrally, constricting space for an LED (though Corsair came up with its own solution).
In this review of Logitech's G910 RGB mechanical keyboard, we'll look at the Romer G switch tech, specs, backlight programming, and overall quality.
There hasn't been a game release lately that didn't warrant a “crash fixes” post, to include Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Watch_Dogs. Assassin's Creed Unity now joins the ranks of buggy game launches, though it's not nearly as bad as some of the previous titles we've worked with. While reviewing the game and performing our GPU benchmark, we revealed several PC-centric errors and crash fixes that needed swift resolution.
This quick guide will look at Assassin's Creed Unity's black screen crashes, minimizing to desktop, CTDs, lag, stuttering, network connectivity issues, and FPS drops.
In a somewhat promising turn for the industry, Assassin's Creed Unity ($60) uses almost all of the VRAM we were able to throw at it. We'll get into that shortly. Regardless of the game's mechanics and value (reviewed here), there's no arguing that Assassin's Creed Unity has some of the most graphically-impressive visuals ever produced for a PC game. In coordination with nVidia and its GameWorks suite (detailed), Ubisoft implemented new Percentage Closer Soft Shadows, TXAA, and ShadowWorks technology to soften and blur lines between cast shadows. Not all graphics technologies require nVidia video cards.
In this GPU benchmark, we look at the best video cards for Assassin's Creed Unity for max (Ultra High) settings and other settings; our test pits the GTX 980 vs. GTX 780 Ti, 770, R9 290X, 270X, and more. Low settings tests are also included. Further, we checked RAM and VRAM consumption while playing ACU, hoping to further determine the game's most demanded resource.