The Holiday Season is upon us, and with that comes Newegg’s “Techmas” deals as well as some price reductions over on Amazon. We found an EVGA 500B PSU, Corsair 200R mid-tower, Sapphire Radeon RX 470, and a 16GB kit of Avexir Core Series DDR4 RAM. These can all be found discounted for now, and can either serve as an upgrade in an existing build or core components in a new build.
There’s inherent FPS loss when using capture software, GPU-accelerated or otherwise. The best that software vendors can do is try to reduce loss as much as possible, but ideally without sacrificing too much video quality or too much compression capability.
A few months back, AMD finally axed its partnership with Raptr for the cumbersome Gaming Evolved suite. This move to greener – or ‘redder,’ perhaps – pastures immediately left AMD with a hole in its tools suite, namely a competitor to nVidia’s somewhat prolific ShadowPlay software capture tool.
Today, with the AMD ReLive update to the Crimson-brand drivers, AMD’s implemented its own solution to software capture for gameplay. The tool includes manually toggled capture, broadcast/streaming capture, and retroactive capture. This is a direct competitor to the ShadowPlay software from nVidia’s GeForce Experience suite, and performs many of the same functions with the same end objective.
We previously did this comparison with ShadowPlay versus FRAPS and AMD’s GVR, a solution that ultimately was subsumed by Gaming Evolved. It’s taken AMD a while to get back to this point, but ReLive is a fresh recording suite. In GN’s embedded video, we’ve got side-by-side capture comparisons between the two utilities, the impact on framerate when each is active, and a quick analysis of the compression’s efficacy. Much of this will also be contained below, though the quality comparison will require you view the video.
NZXT’s S340 Elite builds upon the S340, but has retooled a couple of components. Most apparent, its inclusion of tempered glass means the S340 Elite now aims to adopt an industry trend, with NZXT already invested in 2016’s other trend (RGB) through the HUE+.
The refreshed S340 Elite is priced at around $100, with the S340 non-Elite still at ~$70. This makes the Elite one of the cheaper tempered glass cases on the market, coming under the new Corsair 570X by $80, the 460X by $40, and under the Cullinan by $30. Three color options are available for the S340 Elite: Flat black, black with red accents on the cable management bar, and white and black. This is a place where NZXT excels; its designers know how and where to apply accents, and they help differentiate the options so that users can feel more unique in their system builds.
In this review of the NZXT S340 Elite, we’ll be looking at thermal performance, acoustics (noise levels), cable management, and overall quality.
MSI’s Trident claims to be the “smallest VR-ready PC,” and measures 346 x 72 x 232mm in size. The box is about the size of a DVR and can lie flat or stand, using an angled bottom and angled base to create a more artistic means of presenting itself. It’s a little unstable if you’ve got pets or kids, as there’s no locking mechanism for the stand and the unit to click together, but flat positioning is an alternative. You do lose some cooling potential when going that route, given the ventilation.
We’re reviewing MSI’s Trident 010, as equipped with the i7-6700 and GTX 1060 3GB and bundled with a 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD. The unit is marked at $1100 on Newegg, and retains the same diminutive form factor found in the entire Trident line.
Our benchmarks have gotten increasingly detailed for systems, and we’re now benchmarking more of the thermals (PCH, drives), noise levels, power draw, and gaming performance. Heuristic VR testing was performed on the Trident, but we still require some time to get VR benchmarking right.
It’s not yet time to pen a full, in-depth comparison between Intel’s forthcoming Kaby Lake chipsets, including Z270, H270, and whatever may become of the lower-end H- and B- lines. There’s still data we’re waiting on, and won’t have access to for a little while yet. Still, some preliminary Z270 & H270 chipset specs have been reported by Benchlife, including information on PCI-e lane count and HSIO lanes. This coverage follows the same format as our Z170 vs. H170, H110, B150, & Q150 differences article.
If the early information is to be believed, the Kaby Lake-ready platform primarily focuses its efforts on largely minor improvements, like additional HSIO lanes to support a burgeoning PCI-e-enabled SSD market. Z270 will move from Z170’s 26 HSIO (High-Speed I/O) lanes to 30 HSIO lanes, providing an additional 4 lanes for M.2 and PCI-e AICs (add-in cards). H270, meanwhile, will move from H170’s 22 lanes up to parity with the Z-series platform, also hosting 30 HSIO lanes. The additional lanes fall into the category of “general purpose” PCI-e lanes, resulting in the following configuration:
Rolling into the “people on the roads are crazy” season of the year – seriously, watch those bumpers – retailer sales are now switching their banners from “Black November” to… “Techmas.” I guess. That’s what Newegg calls it, anyway, for better or worse.
And so here we are, with our Sunday sales post, preparing for… Techmas.
I’ve seen worse. Regardless, the hardware deals aren’t as bad. Not as fire-sale-y as Black Friday, but not bad. We’ve spotted a Rosewill Cullinan (reviewed here) for $130, down from its $150 launch price, a Kingston UV400 SSD for $42, and a GTX 1060 GE72VR laptop for $1350 (down from a ~$1550 launch price).
As the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals start to wind down, we will begin to take a look at some games that are among the most popular on Steam. Some of these games were greatly reduced on the Autumn Sale, and while that sale has ended, Steam usually hosts a Winter Sale -- that’ll be coming up shortly.
For today, we’ve got a list of some of our top PC games for 2016 (including previous releases and sales). All the below games are available on Steam. This year's game releases felt a little lighter in the AAA category versus last year; at least, when considering last year offered GTA V and The Witcher 3 in rapid succession, but active sales have revived last year's titles alongside a couple major indie hits for 2016.
Here is the shortlist:
Withstanding the circumspect of PC players, Watch Dogs 2 has seemingly launched without a hitch. Mostly, anyway. The usual PC congregations of Steam and Reddit have been mostly devoid of the day one despair that is PC gaming in 2016, partially indicative that Watch Dogs 2 actually runs on a variety of hardware. Not easily, mind you, but it runs. What is more, we recently published our own benchmarks of the game using an assortment of 11 GPUs, from the 1050 & 460 to the 1080. Having found the game playable, albeit demanding, across multiple video cards, we’ll look at a build aimed at outputting reasonably fluid performance at elevated settings, but without going too far over $1000.
This gaming PC build will focus on running Watch Dogs 2 with the “Very High” preset at a resolution of 1080p, with a sustained 60 FPS average.
As an aside, the build will also place a slight emphasis on overclocking with air cooling, while exhibiting very low system noise. We’re also built to be multi-GPU ready, despite the presence of a GTX 1060 (no SLI support for 1060s). This is to ensure that, should you decide to change the video card setup down the road, the rest of the system will permit the change.
Ask GN is a little bit more personable than our usual reporting, given the nature of the Q&A style of content. Taking that as an opportunity to update everyone on our server migration, we’ve finally moved; it was a success. The new server has been operational for a few days now, and it’s faster, more stable (seriously – 0 downtime, whereas the other began crashing every few hours), and will soon™ be home to an updated front-end for the website. We will be rolling-out small changes over the next few weeks, and those will eventually lead to a full refresh.
Anyway, Ask GN was the original topic. We’re on episode 36, and this week addresses questions of DirectX 12 scalability, GameWorks & GPUOpen efforts, electrostatic discharge and management of ESD, and more.
There are two ends to a power supply cable: The device-side and the PSU-side. The device-side of all PC cables is standardized. ATX 24-pin, EPS12V, PCI-e to the GPU, SATA—the wiring is known, and it doesn't change. What isn't standardized, however, is the layout of the PSU-side modular cable headers. Some vendors might use 6-pin connectors for their PSU-side peripheral headers (identical to what's found on PCI-e cables, because it saves cost), others will opt instead for a wide-format pin-out for the same. Another still could use a bulky 9-pin block for universal connectivity, like some of EVGA's power supplies.
What can't be done, though, is mixing cables between all these units. Or at least, it shouldn't be done. Mixing cables between power supplies can kill them or kill attached components. Not always, but it can -- and when the wiring crosses in exactly the wrong way, the failure will be spectacular. Like ESD, just because you've gotten away with mixing cables doesn't mean you always will. Electricity is not a mystery; we know well how it works, and crossing the wrong wires will damage components.