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Archive for Antony Leather

3D Printing with Asus ROG feat. Z170 Pro Gaming/Aura

Posted on 31st Oct 2016 at 17:52 by Antony Leather with 1 comments

Antony Leather
While we're not printing replacement organs just yet, 3D printing is proving very useful in prototyping and also in PC customisation. We've seen numerous PC mods sporting 3D-printed components and one or two that had entirely 3D-printed cases as well.

Asus has taken things one step further and begun offering an array of 3D-printed components that can be attached to motherboards. You can download the files and print them yourself or send them off to one of an increasing number of third party printing companies.

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Thoughts on the cost of Nvidia graphics cards

Posted on 17th Oct 2016 at 11:18 by Antony Leather with 36 comments

Antony Leather
I think it's fair to say that as well as the graphics market having been pretty interesting for the last few years, Nvidia has also been quite dominant. So much so, that it has seen fit to alter prices in the industry as well as performance, with both moving upwards quite considerably.

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What do you want from a motherboard?

Posted on 11th Oct 2016 at 17:37 by Antony Leather with 38 comments

Antony Leather
As a prolific upgrader both before and during my time as a tech journalist, I’m well aware of the choices anyone reading this likely makes when they’re on the hunt for a new motherboard. Probably the biggest factor is price, but even then you might be looking for certain features. Given the huge variety or perks that come with current motherboards, though, just what drives the modern PC enthusiast to buy a motherboard?

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I believe it's time for a PC case revolution

Posted on 12th Sep 2016 at 10:59 by Antony Leather with 28 comments

Antony Leather
Two different areas of PC technology could have some big influence on the PC over the next few years. However, they might not be the areas you think. I'm not talking about graphics cards or CPUs but hardware that's often not that interesting - storage and power supplies.

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Non K-edition baseclock overclocking fiasco: Is it good or bad for Intel?

Posted on 31st Dec 2015 at 16:24 by Antony Leather with 19 comments

Antony Leather
When reports of substantial overclocks being achieved on non-K edition Intel CPUs surfaced a few weeks ago, my initial thoughts didn't immediately leap to motherboard manufacturers having found a very interesting and potentially cost-saving backdoor.

In fact, at first, I thought quite the opposite - that Intel may even have left the option there for motherboard manufacturers to find or even colluded with them months ago. The possible reasons for this? Poor Skylake sales being one of them, although, despite current high prices and initial lack of availability both of the CPUs and motherboards, I don't think sales are bad enough to warrant this - far from it.

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Is 2016 a make or break year for AMD?

Posted on 23rd Jul 2015 at 10:36 by Antony Leather with 51 comments

Antony Leather
There has been some pretty grim reading surrounding AMD in the last few days. The fact it's now worth just a quarter of what it paid for ATI back in 2006 may sound pretty devastating, but even just a year later in 2007, the company was actually worth less than the $5.4 billion it paid for the GPU giant, so things have clearly been on a consistent downward spiral.

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Some questions about our new CPU cooler test systems

Posted on 30th Apr 2015 at 10:15 by Antony Leather with 59 comments

Antony Leather
We're currently in the process of building numerous new test systems here at bit-tech and before we leap in and start churning out reviews with our awesome new hardware, I wanted to reach out and get some feedback on a couple of questions involving our CPU cooler systems.

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Is Nvidia's GTX 960 really a disappointment?

Posted on 28th Jan 2015 at 11:16 by Antony Leather with 27 comments

Antony Leather
It's taken a while to arrive but the eagerly-awaited sub-£200 version of Nvidia's Maxwell-based graphics cards is finally here. However, the GTX 960 is not quite what we were all expecting.

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Battle of the GPUs: Is power efficiency the new must-have?

Posted on 17th Nov 2014 at 08:47 by Antony Leather with 46 comments

Antony Leather
Even just a year ago, having a hot-running graphics card such as AMD's R9 290X, was par for the course. Admittedly, there have been hotter and cooler examples of 'the must have' GPU over the years but in general, if it's good value and performs well, I'm usually sold.

This is especially true with me as I usually rip the stock cooler off a new graphics card straight away and fit a waterblock, so heat has never really bothered me. The exceptions were excessively inefficient models such as Nvidia's GTX 480, which weren't that fast and could heat your average Olympic swimming pool. Equally, AMD's dual-GPU offerings have often generated too much heat and been overkill for my needs.

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AMD and Nvidia need to step up to the 4K challenge

Posted on 30th Sep 2014 at 09:30 by Antony Leather with 125 comments

Resolution, particularly pixel density, is the new frontier when it comes to gaming graphics. There’s little doubt, certainly from my first hand experience, that 4K offers huge advantages in sharpness, even on 24in and 27in monitors – not just on super-large screens.

Some may disagree here, but to me, I’d welcome more pixels than my current 24in 1,920 x 1,200 main monitor offers. As I have two screens, I’ve also considered investing in a super-wide screen too.

AMD and Nvidia need to step up to the 4K challenge
LG's 34UC97 is a curved 34in super-wide monitor that sports a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 - Click to enlarge

There are some fantastic-sounding options here in the ultra high resolution department as well. LG and AOC have 34in 3,440 x 1,440 monitors plus Dell and LG have recently announced their own curved versions (WANT). The prospect here for immersive, high resolution gaming is pretty compelling but the extra screen real-estate is useful for all manner of other tasks too. I’ve played with super-wide monitors before as well, as you can read about here, and despite older 30in models only sporting 1,080 vertical pixels, I didn’t find this too restrictive when editing photos and the like.

AMD and Nvidia need to step up to the 4K challenge
AOC's u3477Pqu super-wide 3,440 x 1,440 monitor will retail for around £500 in October - Click to enlarge

However, there’s one major issue stopping me splashing some cash on a new ultra HD monitor. This is the fact that I’d need to invest twice as much again in the graphics department to be able to get playable frame rates in games. I’ve never been one to tone down graphics settings in order to get playable frame rates; this is partly the reason I find myself writing about PC hardware for a living, apart from the fact I caught the upgrade bug two decades ago.

However, even if I was prepared to drop a little in terms of detail settings, this still wouldn’t be enough to allow even a £400 single-GPU graphics card to handle all the latest games, never mind my aging GTX 660 Ti. Even Nvidia’s latest effort – the GTX 980 was a long way from achieving playable frame rates in Crysis 3 in our review; you’d need to opt for a monster such as AMD’s R9 295X2 in order to get some headroom at 4K.

AMD and Nvidia need to step up to the 4K challenge
To be able to play all current games at 4K, you need to invest in multiple GPUs or AMD's R9 295X2 - Click to enlarge

Something else that concerns me, though, is that there’s not much effort going on to address the main issue here, which is that higher resolutions are going mainstream. Windows 8.1 achieved a lot in terms of 4K scaling, though there are a few more issues to iron out, not least of all by software companies with their own program scaling.

However, we’re nearly at the point where it makes absolute sense to aim for 4K in a mid to high-end system, rather than a super-high end one as is the case at the moment. This doesn’t mean I think those of us with limited wallet power won’t consider splashing out £300-400 on a 4K-capable graphics card, but the fact is that once 4K monitors fall in price further, mid and high-end enthusiasts will have a bit of a problem on their hands.

AMD and Nvidia need to step up to the 4K challenge
Nvidia's GTX 980 can play some games at 4K, but doesn't offer much headroom - Click to enlarge

They can afford a 4K monitor, but not the graphics card/s to power it in games. We haven’t had such a big reason to upgrade our graphics card since Crysis landed but AMD and Nvidia need to do more to make these ultra high resolutions more attainable outside of super-expensive systems. In the past, you've needed to invest heavily if you game on triple screens, for example, and I think this needs to change.

4K is waiting to take off, be it in super-wide or standard aspect ratio monitors. In addition, true 4K gaming is also something the latest consoles lack. So this is also a huge opportunity for PC gaming to take a giant leap forwards and offer something tangible when it comes to a better gaming experience.

In short what we need is a GTX 970-type graphics card that can handle the latest games at 4K – something in the region of £250-350 – not the £700 odd that you’d currently need for something like the R9 295X2. So come on AMD and Nvidia, rise to the challenge and give us more reasonably-priced 4K-capable graphics cards.

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