The PC version of Star Wars: Battlefront was made available through beta channels yesterday and, somewhat surprisingly, the graphics settings and assets appear to be fairly feature-complete. It's possible (even likely) that some final optimizations are in the pipe leading up to launch but, for now, the game's high-resolution, high LOD assets are a testament to its preparedness for benchmarking.

Star Wars: Battlefront fronts some of the most advanced, realistic graphics we've yet seen, rivaling GTA V and The Witcher 3 in intensity and technology. Battlefront makes heavy use of terrain deformation and tessellation to add the appearance of greater depth, smooth terrain elements, and create a landscape that scales impressively well at various view distances.

We deployed a suite of video cards to benchmark Star Wars: Battlefront in an exhaustive test, including SLI GTX 980 Tis, the Sea Hawk 980 Ti, GTX 980, GTX 970, 960s, 950, the 390X, 290X, 270X, and more. This Star Wars: Battlefront benchmark compares FPS of graphics cards at maximum (ultra) settings, high, and medium settings in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.

Disclaimer: This article makes no intentions to comment on gameplay value. We're strictly looking at visuals and framerate performance in Battlefront.

Fallout 4 is one of Bethesda’s most anticipated forthcoming games. We previously covered the Fallout 4 trailer and the follow-up E3 presentation; since then, though, there has been little substantial news. Bethesda did tweet that Fallout 4 has over 111k lines of dialogue, which is more than Fallout 3 and Skyrim combined, but that’s about the most that’s come out.

Just yesterday, Bethesda offered another peek at Fallout by way of Fallout 4’s recommended and minimum system requirements.

Liquid-cooled video cards have carved-out a niche in the performance market, granting greater power efficiency through mitigation of power leakage, substantially reduced thermals, and improved overclocking headroom. We've previously talked about the EVGA GTX 980 Ti Hybrid and AMD R9 Fury X, both of which exhibited substantially bolstered performance over previous top-of-line models. More manufacturers have seen the potential for liquid-cooled graphics, with MSI and Corsair now joining forces to produce their own 980 Ti + CLC combination.

This joint venture by MSI and Corsair sees the creation of a liquid-cooled GTX 980 Ti, using the existing Corsair H55 CLC ($60), an Asetek-supplied CLC. Depending on which company you're asking, the graphics card is named either the “MSI Sea Hawk GTX 980 Ti” ($750) or “Corsair Hydro HFX 980 Ti.” Both will have independent listings on retail websites. The cards are identical aside from the branding initiatives. The MSI & Corsair solution sees employment of what is typically a CPU liquid cooler, bracketing the H55 CLC to the GPU using a Corsair HG10 GPU CLC mount. EVGA's solution, meanwhile, uses a CLC with an extruded coldplate for GPU-specific package sizes, which could impact cooling. We'll look into that below.

For purposes of this review, we'll refer to the card interchangeably between the Hydro GFX and Sea Hawk. Our MSI Sea Hawk GTX 980 Ti review benchmarks gaming (FPS) performance vs. the EVGA 980 Ti Hybrid, temperatures, overclocking, power consumption, and value. The liquid-cooled 980 Ti cards are in a class of their own, exceeding base 980 Ti price by a minimum of $50 across all manufacturers. We're pitting the EVGA 980 Ti Hybrid against the MSI Sea Hawk in a head-to-head comparison within this benchmark.

EVGA has announced a "Face Off" program (not to be confused with the 1997 John Woo movie) that will provide a free aluminum replacement -- not counting shipping costs -- for the original plastic shroud of their Hybrid graphics cards. To be eligible, you'll have to provide an invoice to prove you already own either a TITAN X, GTX 980, or a GTX 980 Ti Hybrid graphics card. For those who actually do, there's no reason not to apply right now.

MSI DS502 7.1 Surround Headset Launches for $70

By Published October 07, 2015 at 9:26 pm

A large part of gaming is audio. Audio serves to better immerse players within the world or aid competitive gamers in footstep and shot reactions. A decent set of speakers or headphones is critical for deeper gaming experiences.

MSI today announced its latest headset lineup addition, the dragon-emblazoned DS502.

The commonality of RGB lighting in PC components seems to be ever increasing. Despite its rise to ubiquity, RGB LED lighting is still a feature that isn’t included in budget products; for this reason, products that incorporate RGB lighting at a reasonable price point are particularly interesting.

The Thermaltake Poseidon Z RGB is a programmable RGB keyboard currently available for a little under $100 at Amazon and Newegg, making it one of the cheapest programmable RGB keyboards available. And today, we’re reviewing the Poseidon Z RGB mechanical keyboard, following our previous acclaim for Tt eSports’ non-RGB predecessor.

The next Far Cry has been unveiled as "Far Cry Primal," Ubisoft's newest endeavor in a gritty, ongoing series of survival games.

Primal feels, at its surface, almost a little like Turok – just without the dinosaurs and 1997 graphics. The game sees a visit to 10,000 BCE, the Stone Age, and places emphasis on the prevalence of “massive beasts” like mammoths and sabertooth tigers. Given Far Cry's history, it seems like a prime opportunity to revitalize integration with HairWorks or other fur-enabling technologies, though there's presently no confirmation of this. We're hoping to visit graphics tech with Ubisoft in short order.

In this sixth episode of Ask GN, we're addressing user concerns regarding the recent Star Citizen & Escapist engagement, the relevance of RAM speed and density, PCI-e lane differences (chipset vs. CPU), and 4K gaming bottlenecks.

Our thanks to the engaged fans who have continually, for six episodes, submitted high-quality, thought-provoking questions.

You can find the full Ask GN episode below:

The recent banishment from US markets of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers has inspired us to research and document major CLC suppliers. In most industries – automotive, technology & computing, bike components – suppliers build a base product, receive input from a manufacturer, and then produce a slightly modified version of their core offering. Liquid coolers are the easiest example and the one about which we are talking today. This topic came about following some readers stating that they'd never seen an “Asetek” or “CoolIT” cooler on sale before.

Corsair, NZXT, SilverStone, Enermax, Fractal, and others sell liquid cooling products. These companies buy the pump, radiator, tubing, and liquid in an AIO (all-in-one) package from suppliers who specialize in the making of such items; the brands we know then provide varying degrees of product input to differentiate amongst themselves. NZXT, for instance, sells the NZXT X41 liquid cooler, a product sourced from Asetek but customized by NZXT. In this case, that customization includes software integration and variable pump speed control, alongside an RGB LED in the pump's faceplate. Even the CLC OEMs will source some of their components from the outside, like radiators.

First, a simple table to reveal suppliers of known liquid coolers in the industry, then we'll talk about how companies differentiate themselves. At the surface, all of this can look like a “sticker operation,” by which I mean it may look as if manufacturers put their “sticker” (logo) on a cooler and then sell it – but most folks do more than that when designing their variant of a product.

Riding the tide of the growing eSports trend, hardware manufacturer Cougar recently announced its updated 700M gaming mouse. The mouse is a refreshed 700M – released in 2014 – and has been given a fresh coat of paint under the company's “eSports” branding initiative. The company advertises tactility as a primary selling point of the 700M, which uses the somewhat ubiquitous Avago ADNS-9800 sensor.

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