After a slight lapse in news coverage due to a crowded content schedule, we’re back this week with highlights from the last couple of weeks. The news beat has been somewhat sluggish as we settle into the fourth quarter and move ever closer to the unrepentant shopping season. The crowning news item is the arrival of AMD’s remaining 2019 CPUs, including the highly-anticipated 16C/32T Ryzen 9 3950X.

There’s also fresh news on AMD’s continued encroachment on Intel’s x86 market share, Seagate keeping HDD development alive, and Samsung ending its custom CPU designs. Elsewhere within GN, we’ve recently — and exhaustively — detailed CPU and GPU recommendations for Red Dead Redemption 2, as well as pursuing a 6GHz overclock on our i9-9900KS.

The biggest news item this week came in the final hour of filming our weekly news show, and that's the Rockstar Games Red Dead Redemption 2 release for PC. It was a surprise announcement from Rockstar, but we now have a release date, information on updated graphics, and an eclectic mix of launch platforms listed for the PC launch of Red Dead 2. Additional news includes the ongoing lawsuit and countersuit between TSMC and GlobalFoundries, information on the Ryzen Surface products, Intel's X-series Cascade Lake pricing, Ryzen Pro 3000 CPUs, and the FCC's net neutrality rulings.

Rockstar games recently indicated through support channels that it has “received reports of lower framerate in GTA V and GTA Online after Title Update 1.28 on PC,” further stating that the company is investigating said reports.

This past week has been non-stop GTA V content, starting with GPU benchmarking and concluding with an unfathomable experience with phone support services.

Following publication of our investigative report that outed inexplicably poor call center performance, Rockstar reached-out to us with redoubled efforts to resolve uprooted support concerns. Yesterday's feature piece primarily highlighted a hangup policy – support agents claimed a “requirement” to hang-up on phone-in customers immediately after reading from a script. This occurred upon calling for status updates on tickets, which were consistently met with the same response:

Our most recent investigative consumer report set forth a goal to evaluate Rockstar Games' customer service phone and email support. The company has been under fire lately resultant of hacked GTA V social accounts, whereupon users have lost access to their GTA accounts (a $60 purchase) – and their ability to play the game – and have been placed on indefinite hold for a resolution. In the case of one reader who reached-out to us, we were informed that Rockstar customer support “hung up” on the reader, an action that we viewed as inexcusable if true.

We set forth in search of that truth. Our recorded calls (and this story) can be found below.

A week of benchmarking behind us, we've now tested most major aspects of Rockstar's new GTA V PC release. We've elected to adopt the game into our test methodology for future component reviews, given its wide performance demands and load balancing between the CPU and GPU. This final GTA V benchmark looks at CPU bottlenecking at various resolutions and settings; we pit the 3570K, 4790K, FX-8320E, FX-8370E, FX-9690, G3258, and Athlon 760K against one another.

The selection casts a wide net for core count and price points, hopefully illustrating where CPU bottlenecks may appear in playing GTA V.

GTA V shipped alongside an onslaught of graphics settings – none of which offer tool-tips – that can vastly control the fluidity of gameplay. In our recent and comprehensive GTA V benchmark, we tested multiple video cards for FPS at simple “max” and “high” settings, fluctuating resolution between 1080, 1440, and 4K along the way. That content now behind us, we took the opportunity to objectively benchmark various graphics settings for performance differences, then took a few screenshots for comparison of those settings.

This GTA V optimization guide assists in choosing the best graphics settings for frame-limited video cards, explaining the options along the way.

Following our GTA V benchmark from yesterday, we decided to embark on a mission to determine the impact of texture qualities on system performance and visual acuity. We took screenshots of identical objects at Very High, High, and Normal texture resolutions at 4K, then compared the textures in combined screenshots. During this process, maximum theoretical VRAM consumption and texture quality impact on FPS and tearing were also analyzed, resulting in a specific settings benchmark for GTA V.

The launch of GTA V ($60) saw the publication of our video card benchmark earlier today, which looked at the performance of various configurations playing the new open world game. In the process of testing video cards – and while speaking with others who've attempted to play GTA V – we found several bugs and crashes that require attention.

The game is better-optimized than most day-1 PC titles, something for which Rockstar deserves credit, but still falls short for a few users. This article looks at GTA V crash fixes, black screens, frame stutter / drops, and lag and offers some work-arounds and solutions.

There is some updated information on what games have solutions in place (or are getting closer to having something in place) to replace GameSpy's dying service. We'll continue to follow this to keep people up-to-date as companies announce their solutions. For our earlier coverage, check out the first article on GameSpy's death and the follow-up on Civilization and other games.

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