Back in the day, one keyboard reigned supreme -- the IBM Model M. A buckling spring keyboard that informed supervisors how hard their cube-slaves were working due to its loud sound upon actuation. But these wonderful times did not last forever. The membrane switch was developed, which was far cheaper as a result of using a rubber dome instead of springs to register keypresses, and since that day mechanical keyboards grew more scarce.

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Until recently.

The mechanical keyboard industry has been expanding. Fast. Cherry MX mechanical switches are the primary switches sold, but there are competitors in the marketplace. Tesoro has been expanding into the North American market with their mechanical keyboards, adding yet another name to the myriad of brands currently on digital shelves. Interestingly, like some other brands  -- Razer and Thermaltake included -- Tesoro is using Kailh mechanical switches in their keyboards instead of standard Cherry MX or Topre switches.

DDR4 will see its consumer debut in Intel's X99 HW-E platform, though Broadwell is sticking with DDR3 for now. As the memory manufacturers ramp-up for X99, we're starting to see specs roll out for updated product lines; the most recent is Corsair's Dominator Platinum high-end OC memory, with a new iteration of Vengeance LPX shipping alongside it.

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DirectX 12 has been discussed by nVidia and Intel for a while now, with AMD only responding occasionally to recommit to Mantle. The API is still far away for gaming uses -- at least a year -- but it's making the rounds at SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver.

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Intel demonstrated a Haswell-equipped tablet running graphics stress test software that toggled between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. During the demonstration, the company was able to yield nearly a 70% performance increase in Dx12 over Dx11, jumping from 19FPS to 33FPS. Intel attributes this gain largely toward reduced overhead in the API (putting developers "closer to the metal," as Mantle does), then pointed toward multi-threaded rendering optimization.

First, a note: We've got a full review of this card coming within the next week, so stay tuned to the social pages for benchmark performance (twitter / facebook / YouTube).

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ZOTAC announced today the availability of a new GeForce GTX 750 video card in their graphics lineup. The new "GTX 750 ZONE Edition" video card is cooled entirely passively, strictly using an aluminum heatsink and copper coldplate (with copper heatpipes) for all dissipation. Fans are not outfitted on the GTX 750 ZONE card at all. Judging from the press shots, it looks like two ~6mm copper heatpipes and an aluminum sink are mounted to the board. The ZONE is a dual-slot 750.

The new school year is upon us, and there's not much better time to build a PC that will enable both school-related tasks and also some light gaming. We put together a budget build that will not only allow the user to write those essays and build PowerPoint projects, but also play games like League of Legends, WoW, SW:TOR, and many other games that do not demand a great deal of power from the GPU. For only $414, you get a great PC that should be ideal for the student gamer.

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This DIY gaming PC build guide aims to assemble a cheap, ultra-budget LoL and schoolwork system for under $500. As a bonus, a mini-ITX form factor ensures potential for use as an HTPC build or living room gaming PC / future DVR replacement.

SSD benchmarks generally include two fundamental file I/O tests: Sequential and 4K random R/W. At a very top-level, sequential tests consist of large, individual files transfers (think: media files), which is more indicative of media consumption and large file rendering / compilation. 4K random tests employ thousands of files approximating 4KB in size each, generally producing results that are more indicative of what a user might experience in a Windows or application-heavy environment.

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Theoretically, this would also be the test to which gamers should pay the most attention. A "pure gaming" environment (not using professional work applications) will be almost entirely exposed to small, random I/O requests generated within the host OS, games, and core applications. A particularly piratical gamer -- or just someone consuming large movie and audio files with great regularity -- would also find use in monitoring sequential I/O in benchmarks.

This article looks at a few things: What types of I/O requests do games spawn most heavily and what will make for the best gaming SSDs with this in mind? There are a few caveats here that we'll go through in a moment -- namely exactly how "noticeable" various SSDs will be in games when it comes to performance. We used tracing software to analyze input / output operations while playing five recent AAA titles and ended up with surprisingly varying results.

UPDATE: Clarified several instances of "file" vs. "I/O" usage.

Raptr has just posted its Most Played PC Games for July 2014, and from the looks of it, things only get better for the best of the best. Playtime for the top four games has increased 30 percent overall.

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League of Legends got a boost from its Doom Bots of Doom enhancement that increased the AI difficulty to an uncomfortably high level.

DOTA 2’s The International Tournament brought up attention and participation, particularly in mid-July.

Scott's taking a break this weekend for vacation, so I'll be filling-in for the regularly-scheduled hardware sales round-up. This weekend, we spotted an ASRock Z97 Extreme4 board marked down to $130, 27" Acer IPS panel for $195, and Tt eSports Poseidon Z keyboard for $70.

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This test was spawned out of a general lack of equipment in the GN lab. We've got a few monitors available for testing, but of the three best units (120Hz displays), only one natively operates at 1920x1080; the others -- fabled unicorns among monitors -- run at 2048x1152 and 1920x1200.

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The 1920x1080 120Hz display isn't always available for our game GPU benchmarks, making it desirable to use one of the larger displays at a lower-than-native resolution (for consistent / comparable testing). In effort of honest benchmarking, we decided to double-check an existing suspicion that forcing lower-than-native resolutions would not negatively impact FPS or produce synthetic artifacts that do not exist at native resolutions.

The hypothesis says "nope, should be identical performance other than visual scaling." Let's see if running a monitor at a non-native resolution will negatively impact testing with artifacts or lower FPS.

Steam Update Allows Hiding Unwanted Games

By Published August 08, 2014 at 5:24 am

The disappearing act performed by the physical retail games world has left us wanting some core functionality back -- like throwing away unwanted things. Steam support will delete games from an account at the request of the user, but that requires an awful lot of effort, especially because it's Steam support.

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Steam's most recent client beta update finally adds an option for hiding unwanted items. "Hide this game in my library" will be the newest available option upon updating to the beta client; the option can be found from the existing "Set Categories" menu. Hidden games will be visible removed from the Steam library, but can be accessed by enabling the hidden filter.

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