Mass Effect Andromeda is set to release in North America on March 21st, while Europe will see a March 23rd release date. BioWare today released their minimum and recommended PC specs, as suggested by Bioware Manager Aaryn Flynn in our Everything We Know article. We have posted a screenshot of the system requirements from the official Origin page for Mass Effect Andromeda.

According to the official Origin page, an i7-4790 or AMD FX-8350 CPU and 16GB of RAM are recommended, alongside either an nVidia GTX 1060 3GB or Radeon RX 480 4GB graphics card. This is for “high” settings at 1080p. The minimum system requirements call for an i5-3570 or AMD FX-6350 CPU and 8GB of RAM, with either an nVidia GTX 660 3GB or Radeon 7850 2GB graphics card. As for required hard drive space, users will need at least 55GB free in order to install Mass Effect Andromeda.

In this week’s episode of Ask GN, we go over a few final Ryzen questions prior to the imminent launch and reviews. We also cover some thermal questions, SSD endurance questions, and compatibility basics for PC hardware.

Of course, the looming news item is still Ryzen and its eventual review. The processor will ship on March 2, at which time it would be safe to assume reviews should be live. We already posted coverage of the AMD Ryzen tech day (thus far) in both video and written formats, if you’d like to get up to speed. Our AM4 chipset comparison is also live over here.

Following months of nonstop leaks and speculation, AMD today has officially announced its Ryzen R7 lineup, base specifications, and pricing for 8C/16T products. AMD is expected to follow-up later with lower-end SKU launches – if the leaks are to be believed, that’d be R3 and R5 – leaving today’s focus entirely on the 8C/16T “R7” lineup. The three primary CPU SKUs announced are the R7 1700, R7 1700X, and R7 1800X (in order of price/performance), each of which we hope to test in short order.

To get the immediate question out of the way: The processors will be made available on March 2 (shelf availability) at the following prices:

GamersNexus received a tip from one of its readers regarding anti-virus utility Avast! detecting “VBS:Malware-gen” threats on seemingly random websites. We’ve independently corroborated this report and have encountered VBS:Malware-gen threat warnings on numerous sites, including Twitch.tv, Amazon, Reddit, and (at something of a random cycle) seemingly every other website. Upon running a scan of the system, Avast! will locate hundreds, if not thousands, of files which are allegedly infected by this VBS:Malware-gen threat. Some of these files include critical system .dlls and program files that will break major components of installs if quarantined or deleted. Do not begin deleting or quarantining files en masse as a result of this threat detection.

We are nearly fully confident that this is a false positive, though we’re not sure what precisely the issue is. A few forum posts have popped-up in the past few days regarding this issue, for instance:

We're traveling for an event today, which means the bigger review and feature content is on hold until we're back in the lab.

The last few days have yielded enough intrigue and hardware news to warrant a separate content piece, anyway. AMD and nVidia, as usual, have largely stolen the show with head-to-head events on February 28, working to snipe coverage from one another. Also on the video card front, JPR reports that add-in board sales have increased for 4Q16, and that attach rate of AIB cards to systems has increased year-over-year. Somewhat related, new RX 460 cards from MSI offer a half-height form factor option (pricing TBD) with the 896 core version of the Polaris 11 chip.

 

Watch Dogs 2 CPU Benchmark - Threads Matter

By Published February 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm

With Ryzen around the corner, we wanted to publish a full CPU benchmark of Watch Dogs 2 in our test course, as we’ve recently found the game to be heavily thread-intensive and responsive to CPU changes. The game even posts sizable gains for some overclocks, like on the i5-2500K, and establishes a real-world platform of when CPU choice matters. It’s easy to bottleneck GPUs with Watch Dogs 2, which is something of a unique characteristic for modern games.

Watch Dogs 2 is a familiar title by now at the GN test bench, and while we’ve published a GPU benchmark and a more recent CPU optimization guide, we never published a comprehensive CPU benchmark. We’ve gathered together all our results here, from the 2500K revisit all the way to Kaby Lake reviews (see: 7600K review & 7350K review), and analyzed what exactly makes a CPU work well with Watch Dogs 2 and why.

In this Watch Dogs 2 CPU benchmark, we’ll recap some graphics optimization tips for CPUs and test whether an i7 is worth it, alongside tests of the 7600K, 7700K, 6600K, 7350K, FX-8370, and more.

Hardware Sales - i5-7400, Z270 Motherboard, 16GB DDR4

By
in Sales
Published February 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Newegg is having a President’s Day Sale with some savings to be had on things like a GTX 1070, a Kaby Lake i5, and a 16GB kit of DDR4 RAM. All sales run through at least end of today, so if any of these are of interest, you’ll have a little bit of time to act.

AMD Ryzen Stock Coolers (S1, S2, S3), ASUS X370 Boards

By Published February 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

We’ve got a lot of Ryzen news confirmations leading into the product’s inevitable launch, and will today be focusing on the stock coolers, ASUS X370 motherboards, and die shots of the Ryzen architecture.

And there’ll be more soon, of course!

We previously noted that some motherboards at CES contained text indicating support for an AMD “S3.0 Radiator,” which we could then only assume would be a stock cooler bundled with high-end Ryzen CPUs. This was plainly on display at CES, though we couldn’t get any official information on the cooler from AMD.

The original Sandia & Coolchip style coolers spiked interest in a market segment that’s otherwise relatively stagnant. With a whirling aluminum block serving as both the fan and the heatsink, the cooling concept seemed novel, dangerous, and potentially efficient. That’s a mix to cause some excitement in CPU coolers, which are otherwise the expected mix of metal and air or, if you wanted to get really crazy, liquid, metal, and air.

That concept largely vanished. We haven’t heard much about the use of Sandia-inspired designs since 2014, and certainly haven’t seen any majorly successful executions of either Sandia or Coolchip coolers in the CPU cooling space. Nothing that took the market by force and demanded eyeballs beyond initial tech demos and CES showcases.

Thermaltake decided to take its own stab at this type of cooler, working with Coolchip on technology implementation and execution of the Engine 27 unit that was at CES last month.

Thermaltake’s Engine 27 is $50. It’s a 27mm form factor cooler, meaning it’s one of a select few that could fit in something like a SilverStone PT13 with its 30mm requirement. The direct competition to the Engine 27 is SilverStone’s NT07 and NT08-115XP, the latter of which we’re also testing. This Thermaltake Engine 27 review looks at noise and temperatures versus the SilverStone NT08-115XP & Cryorig C7.

BitFenix’s new flagship case is the Shogun, a “super mid-tower” compatible with up to E-ATX boards, and a thematic successor to the similarly simplistic Shinobi mid-tower. We haven’t covered a BitFenix enclosure since we named the Pandora one of the best mid-range cases of 2015, and we were curious about the company has changed since its LED-laden efforts.

BitFenix made a name for itself with the Prodigy small form factor case a few years ago, and has been trying to recreate that success ever since. The new BitFenix Shogun case is what we’re reviewing today, priced at $160 and targeting the (“super”) mid-tower market with its mix of aluminum, steel, and glass. The case primarily differentiates itself with a slightly user-customizable layout internally, something we’ll talk about in this review.

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