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Why Intel needs a six-core mainstream CPU

Posted on 16th May 2017 at 12:09 by Antony Leather with 17 comments

Antony Leather
I have to admit that having more cores on a CPU has rarely been a reason for me to want to buy one or even to lust over leaked information or benchmarks in the past. I can still remember comparing dual-core CPUs such as the E8600 to the likes of the Q9650 in group tests and finding the massively overclockable E8600 was faster in games and many other applications, much to the surprise of my colleagues who were obsessed with core counts and were amazed that my main system ran an E8600.

That was nearly 10 years ago, of course, and while I felt somewhat vindicated at the time, things do change. Quad-cores are now the mainstay of enthusiast PCs and for good reason, since many games still don't make use of more than four threads. As such, Intel's overclockable quad-cores, such as the Core i5-7600K, usually offer the best performance you'll see in games, and there are many other tasks that do benefit from having at least four physical cores.

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Tags am4, amd, intel, ryzen, x99

How parenthood has altered my view of gaming

Posted on 5th May 2017 at 14:07 by Rick Lane with 30 comments

How parenthood has altered my view of gaming How parenthood has altered my view of gaming.

As some of you may know, I became a father for the first time just under a year ago. At the time I was concerned with a lot of different things. Would I be a good dad? How much was my life going to change? Could I cope with things like sleep deprivation, an inconsolable baby, and cleaning up nappies that resemble the Tough Mudder racecourse?

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Titanfall 2 proves Half Life 3 is possible

Posted on 12th Mar 2017 at 15:00 by Rick Lane with 28 comments

Titanfall 2 proves Half Life 3 is possible Titanfall 2 proves Half Life 3 is possible.

The chances of Half Life 3 happening become more remote with each passing year. At the beginning of 2017, Game Informer reported a source from inside Valve stating that Half Life 3 didn’t exist because nobody was interested in making it. According to the source, several attempts had been made to get Half Life 3 off the ground, with versions ranging from a straightforward FPS sequel to a VR game, but they all eventually ran out of steam (pun not intended) because Gabe Newell simply isn’t interested.

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Strafe is video game thrash-metal

Posted on 3rd Mar 2017 at 13:58 by Jake Tucker with 1 comments

Jake Tucker
Send More Paramedics were a horror film-influenced thrash band from Leeds, and their 2006 album The Awakening contained a track entitled 'This Crowd is Crushing Me'. It's a wall of noise and fury, and I mostly remember it because, seeing the band live back in 2006, someone broke my nose as the crowd — myself included — jumped around to it. It was chaos, and first-person shooter Strafe plays exactly how that memory feels. Strafe is bloody, noisy chaos and feels like the closest thing to video game thrash metal I've encountered.

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AMD isn’t planning to steal a little market share; it’s plotting a true enthusiast comeback

Posted on 24th Feb 2017 at 12:41 by Antony Leather with 76 comments

Antony Leather
I’ve been following the rumour mill of AMD’s upoming Ryzen CPU product range quite closely over the last few weeks, and I’m honestly amazed by what I’m seeing.

For starters, there’s the sheer number of products. The leaks pointed at nearly 20 different CPUs, with four, six, or eight cores and up to 16 threads. This isn’t a small move at gaining some market share, this is an entire range of CPUs. Obviously, the massively exciting thing is that, if the performance figures are to be believed, we’ll be seeing some real competition again and have real choice between AMD and Intel, especially as the AM4 boards for Ryzen seem to be on par with their Intel equivalents too.

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Tags am4, amd, ryzen

For Honor has brought Bushido back to games

Posted on 16th Feb 2017 at 15:53 by Jake Tucker with 4 comments

Jake Tucker
It's two on one, and I'm screwed. My character, the lumbering Raider, is sluggish in my inexperienced hands, capable of beating down the body in front of me with inexpert strikes but not up to the task of fighting two assailants at once.

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We missed Stardew Valley in 2016, and it's great

Posted on 5th Jan 2017 at 10:49 by Jake Tucker with 4 comments

We missed Stardew Valley in 2016, and it's great

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.

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Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans

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.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

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.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

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.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

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.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

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.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

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.

Hands-on with NZXT's Aer RGB fans Hands-on with NZXT's AER RGB fans

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.

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Hitman, I love you, but your Elusive Targets are getting me down

Posted on 22nd Dec 2016 at 11:01 by Jake Tucker with 1 comments

Jake Tucker
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.

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Blood Bowl 2 is the best eSports I've watched in 2016

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.

Blood Bowl 2 is the best eSports I've watched in 2016

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