Intel’s past few weeks have seen the company enduring the ire of a large portion of the tech community, perhaps undeservedly in some instances -- certainly deservedly in others. We criticized the company for its initial marketing of the 7900X – but then, we criticize nearly everyone for marketing claims that borderline on silly. “Extreme Mega-Tasking,” for instance, was Intel’s new invention.
But it’d be folly to assume that Skylake-X won’t perform. It’s just a matter of how Intel positions itself with pricing, particularly considering the imminent arrival of Threadripper. Skylake-X is built on known and documented architecture and is accompanied by the usual platform roll-out, with some anomalies in the form of Kaby Lake X's accompaniment on that same platform.
Today, we're reviewing the Intel Core i9-7900X Skylake X CPU, benchmarking it in game streaming (Twitch, YouTube) vs. Ryzen, in Blender & Premiere rendering, VR gaming, and standard gaming.
Video on demand has become ubiquitous. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and even ISP-bound options offer some form of movies or TV in exchange for service charges. It is no longer the “future of TV” – it is TV. This is the reality of the modern, cable-cutter era, and it is only a matter of time until all traditional cable services are axed in favor of streamed-via-internet options. Cable television will die.
The same could be true for gaming. The data is bigger, the latency demands are greater – but these problems are conquerable and will only diminish as high-speed internet proliferates. Input latency is the most critical. The time from button-press to photon-on-screen dictates whether a game is playable; it's more significant even than frametimes. Long poll times or slow frame encode/decode will create a mismatch between the player's actions and the perceived outcome, resulting in frustration that we've all experienced at some point with server lag in traditional gaming.
System Integrator (SI) CyberPower launched its new Two Computers, One Case gaming PC at CES 2016, dubbed the “Pro Streamer.” The multi-system amalgam is housed within the Phanteks Mini-XL enclosure, a case outfitted with dual-motherboard mounting points for single-PSU operation of two complete computers. Outside of building an internally-housed NAS, local media server, or streaming pre-buffer rig, use cases are relatively slim for the Mini-XL. In this instance, the streaming rig is a sensible fit.
Four SKUs of Pro Streamer boxes exist, but we’re mostly talking about the lowest SKU, as that’s generally the differentiating factor between system integrators; if there’s a weak point, it’s always the lower-end SKUs with haphazard specification listings. For the Pro Streamer 100, CyberPower’s equipped the primary gaming PC (micro-ATX) with a Z170 motherboard, GTX 970 4GB card, 2x8GB RAM, CLC, and an i5-6600K; the secondary buffer machine is outfitted with a more modest Core i3-6300 CPU and stock cooler, 2x4GB RAM, and AverMedia Live Gamer HD capture card (a $200 device). These two builds are installed in the same Phanteks Mini-XL, landing the final price at $1900.
That’s the point of pain: $1900. For a single PC, $1900 easily affords a GTX 980 Ti (or two) and Core i7 processor, but the Pro Streamer setup is a two-PC solution with an ancillary capture card, adding substantially to build cost. This is effectively two computers.
The GTX 950 launch somewhat overshadowed a simultaneous GeForce Experience announcement. NVidia’s GeForce Experience platform promised the addition of new direct-to-friend game streaming, game sharing (pass controls to a friend), and an improved ShadowPlay overlay for Twitch streaming. As of today, GFE has shipped a beta version of its “Stream” and sharing functionality (naming is still subject to change, we’re told), both briefly discussed below.
Now that tax season is upon us, many of you may have some extra money to put towards upgrading or building a new PC. Let's put that extra cash to good work.
Since our last $511 Budget HTPC Build focused on getting the best SFF system for the least amount of money, this time around we decided to put together an SFF build with a lot more to offer. With an i5 processor and GTX 970, this build will be able to play most games out at ultra settings and will make for a great video editing and rendering rig.
At just over $1000, this mid-range gaming PC build plays Battlefield: Hardline at near-max settings (1080p) while offering room for growth. The system is built for use in living room environments (small form factor, optional controller) and is capable of editing and rendering videos. At its heart, that makes this build a versatile beast for YouTubers and high-end gamers who seek portability.
With the launch of the GTX 960 now firmly under way and our benchmarks posted, we've had enough hands-on time with the GPU to get a feel for its place in the world. The GTX 960 is firmly designed for 1080p gaming, an environment where it outputs impressive performance for the TDP.
This gaming PC build for under $1000 makes use of the new GTX 960, targeting 60FPS at high settings for most games. Our full GTX 960 review and benchmarks can be found over here, though some are embedded below.
During our NZXT office tour back in September, we spotted a tiny box in the corner of a conference room – something that wouldn't be given a name or explanation “until further notice.”
Last week's CES tour saw a revisit to NZXT, whereupon the company showcased its strikingly familiar “DOKO” streaming box. The unit serves as an input passthrough between a gaming rig and a living room gaming setup, effectively forwarding USB signals from the box (like gamepads or keyboards) to the LAN-connected PC.
Amazon announced Monday that the company negotiated a deal to purchase Twitch.tv for the small sum of $970 million. Google (YouTube) had been in negotiations since May to acquire Twitch, but were unable to close the deal. This gives Amazon the most popular avenue for game streaming. Although Google owns YouTube, Twitch reaches a very different market, and this can't be seen by Google as anything other than a slap in the face. It will be interesting to see if Google rises to the challenge and duels it out with Amazon – hopefully bringing their YouTube streaming service to a more complete status (corporate blood sport, how wonderful).
As video game streaming takes off on a tear, we see the relatively new concept of watching others play games increase in its global domination. Twitch.tv, the most prolific game streaming service, recently announced its traffic and demographic statistics for 2013 in its annual review. Some of the stats are shocking -- although perhaps least surprising is the growth of MOBAs in popularity. Let's tear-down the stats.
Twitch is now in the top 300 websites in the world.
By the beginning of 2012, Twitch.tv had just barely broken into the top 3000 websites in the world (source); entering 2014, Twitch is presently ranked 223 in the