Posted on 5th Jan 2017 at 10:49 by Jake Tucker with 4 comments
Christmas, for me, is a time to catch up on all of the great games I've missed throughout the year. I've dabbled with Tyranny, I've spent several hours driving into 1337 multiplayer hackers in Watch Dogs 2, but, for my money, the biggest surprise of the year has been Stardew Valley.
I've been playing it with my partner, and it's proven to be remarkably compelling. I didn't expect to be so invested in building our tiny San Junipero farm — pilfering the name from an episode of Black Mirror we'd recently watched — until we got a couple of days in and suddenly we were quite invested indeed. Farming is fun; you can fish if that's your bag, and apparently you can romance the whole village located next to the farm, but our sole interest in that place is trips to the local shop and having a rummage in people's bins.
Posted on 30th Dec 2016 at 09:59 by Antony Leather with 8 comments
If you thought 2016 was an RGB-fest, then wait until you see 2017. In fact, even as we say goodbye to this year, we're struggling to deal with all the lights given there's usually wine, cider or some other alcoholic substance close at hand this time of year. We jest, of course, but the short story is that NZXT has joined Corsair and Thermaltake in offering multi-coloured fans, courtesy of the Aer RGB range.
While NZXT's and Corsair's offerings are different in ways we'll get to in a minute, there are some similarities in the way they work. Specifically, they both require each company's RGB controller to work - you can't use motherboard RGB headers from the likes of Asus here, which is a bit of a pain. When we connected the Aer RGB's to an Aura-compatible Asus board, not a lot happened.
For the Aer RGBs, you'll need NZXT's Hue+ controller as well, and remembering that the triple set of Aer RGB 120mm fans we're looking at here already retails for £70, the added expense for the controller, albeit along with four 30cm RGB LED strips, at around £40 means that to kit your PC out with three RGB fans will cost over £100. You can do this with a trio of Corsair HD 120 fans for £70, including the controller.
However, there's one big difference between the NZXT Aer RGB fans and Corsair's HD 120s, which is that the former are fully RGB - you can select from the usual massive colour pallet, choosing practically any colour you like, while the Corsair controller is only able to cycle through a few colours and effects. A set of HD 120s can lay on some very funky effects, mind you, and can also spread these across the fans in wave effects down your PC - the same is true here with the Aer RGB fans, except they're more flexible with even more effects and colours to choose from.
To get them working, you'll need to power each fan with the usual 4-pin PWM connector, then hook up a separate cable to the controller. Thankfully, you can daisy-chain the fans rather than each one requiring a physical connection to the controller, so if you're connecting them in series along a radiator or multiple fan mounts, it's actually fairly easy to deal with the lighting side of things.
This is especially so given that NZXT includes 10cm and 50cm fan-to-fan/daisy-chain cables, so whether the fans are right next to each other or in the roof and rear fan mounts, you just need to run a cable from one to the other. Corsair's fans, meanwhile, require you to connect each fan to the controller, which is a bit of a nightmare if you're trying to build a clean PC.
The Hue+ controller uses a DC input that's powered from a standard 4-pin Molex connector, plus you'll need a free USB 2.0 motherboard header so software, in the form of NZXT CAM, can talk to the fans. All the cables you need are included and the fans come with a trio of resistor cables too, which is a nice touch.
The CAM software works well with Windows 10 but we've had issues with it on Windows 7 before now. In short, make sure the OS is up to date and all drivers are correctly installed, and you shouldn't have any problems. With the controller and fans connected, head to the Hue+ section at the bottom, click on 'Change Mode', and you should be met with the lighting channels, with the 'Edit Settings' button taking you through to the customisation.
Here you can select from 10 effects, with several such as Marquee and Covering Marquee sending light waves down the fans in turn, which looks rather cool. You're able to select from any colour you can create too, with some effects sporting multiple colour options as well as the ability to control the speed of the effects and how many LEDs are involved. You don't need to stop at the fans either - the effects can be synchronised with the four included RGB LED strips too, although you may need sunglasses as well in that case.
At face value, the Aer RGB fans seem expensive, but while they're certainly more pricey than Corsair's efforts, there's a lot more customisation on offer here plus a more polished package too. The fact you can daisy-chain the cables is a huge boon for cable tidying, plus you have access to the full RGB colour spectrum. You also get four RGB LED strips, fan speed reductions cables and all the cables you need. Well done, NZXT.
Posted on 22nd Dec 2016 at 11:01 by Jake Tucker with 0 comments
As I write this opening paragraph, a timer is ticking. It's The Guru, you see. He's only in Sapienza for another 60 hours, and then he'll vanish forever.
I'm tapping away at some work. In a little under nine hours I have to leave for a flight to Berlin and what constitutes Christmas holidays for a freelancer. Honestly, I want nothing more than to leave the work, finish packing, and go to bed, but then I'm reminded of the timer. 60 hours and The Guru escapes. I'll never get another chance to claim the contract on his head, and I'll never be able to claim the successful reward, either.
Posted on 8th Dec 2016 at 17:15 by Jake Tucker with 2 comments
Some friends and I have recently started up a Blood Bowl 2 league. The 10 of us started it last Friday night, and we're already halfway through the season, playing the games wherever we can fit them in, slid into a lunchtime or evening.
One thing has become clear: Blood Bowl 2 is the best eSport I've ever watched, and I say this as someone who's been sat in decent seats for CS:GO and League of Legends tournaments, basking in the atmosphere.
Posted on 28th Nov 2016 at 17:14 by Jake Tucker with 27 comments
On Friday, Hello Games broke a three month silence to announce a new chunk of content it's calling the Foundation Update. The Foundation Update works on several levels. First, it's a foundation for what's to come next; secondly, it includes the basics of base-building, building being something that you often need a foundation for.
Posted on 25th Nov 2016 at 13:46 by Jake Tucker with 12 comments
Whenever an immersive sim comes to market, people move as quickly as they can to try to get through it as quietly as possible, doing their best to pull apart the game's stealth systems and crouch-walk their way to the bragging rights of finishing the game without a single drop of blood being spilt, or an alarm raised.
Posted on 31st Oct 2016 at 17:52 by Antony Leather with 1 comments
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.
Posted on 28th Oct 2016 at 18:36 by Jake Tucker with 0 comments
I'd like to start by saying that I made a mistake.
Previously, I called Battlezone the PlayStation VR's killer app. I said that the tank-brawler, that I've written about plenty - including yesterday - was the best reason to own a PlayStation VR, but I was incorrect.
It's VR Worlds, the collection of fleshed out tech demos you can pick up for a cut price. The reason is simple: It shows you everything that VR can do, and even lets you play around with your Move controllers while you do it.
Posted on 27th Oct 2016 at 17:19 by Jake Tucker with 1 comments
When I first started playing around with virtual reality, I found many of the experiences were bitty, small experiences that didn't require much in the way of skill, and that I could easily meander through from start to finish with little effort or consequence. In many of the demos, damage was either impossible or turned off for the sake of the demo.
Posted on 17th Oct 2016 at 11:18 by Antony Leather with 36 comments
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.