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Normally when we benchmark a first person shooter, finding a good portion of the game to test with is simply a matter of playing through the game until we find a section that is rather demanding. But with SimCity things were considerably more complex and time consuming.
A city with few sims will see graphics cards such as the GeForce Titan or GTX 680 render massive frame rates because they are not being capped by the CPU (yet). As with most simulation and strategy games, SimCity is CPU dependent and overclocking should result in a healthy boost if needed. More inside.
When you're not building and recruiting, you're following arrows and doing what the game tells you to do. There are optional side-quests, yes, but they're almost always marked on your mini-map, and they're way too easy to find and finish.
But it's still StarCraft. It's still a joy to go through the now-familiar ritual of training and killing, and even the easiest missions are designed with the attention to detail that we've grown to expect from this series. And even the easier moments exercise your mind in the way that only a real-time strategy game can.
Microsoft’s answer to the changing computing landscape is Windows 8, an operating system that attempts to balance the demands of traditional productivity-oriented desktops with the mobility of, well, mobile devices.
Hybrids thus appear to be the optimal home for Windows 8 as both aspects of the OS are in use and get to shine as they were designed to. That brings us to the Acer Iconia W510 hybrid tablet, which can be essentially converted into a full-fledged PC with its keyboard dock – no Windows RT here, folks.
Although this year's Tomb Raider reboot made our latest list of most anticipated PC games, I must admit that it was one of the games I was least looking forward to from a performance perspective because of previous titles' poor showing.
However, we were relieved to learn that Tomb Raider supports DirectX 11, which brings access to advanced rendering technologies such as depth of field, hd ambient occlusion, hardware tessellation, and super-sample anti-aliasing. Additionally, compared to the diluted console versions, the PC build offers better textures as well as AMD's TressFX real-time hair physics system.
To many fans of the original city building simulation series, the idea of an online multiplayer game that required even solo players to be connected to the internet at all times seemed like a recipe for disaster.
Maxis' latest creation is easily the most compelling SimCity I've played since the 1989 original. It's also a disaster.
The new GeForce GTX Titan carries a GK110 GPU with a transistor count that has more than doubled from the GTX 680's to a staggering 7.1 billion The part has 25% to 50% more resources at its disposal, including 2688 stream processors (up 75%), 224 texture units (also up 75%) and 48 raster operations (a healthy 50% boost).
It's worth noting that there's "only" estimated to be a 25% to 50% performance gain because the Titan is clocked lower than the GTX 680. Given those expectations, it would be fair to assume that the Titan would be priced at roughly a 50% premium, but that's simply not the case. Nvidia is marketing the card as a hyper-fast solution for gamers with deep pockets, setting the MSRP at a whopping $1,000.
The tablet market doesn’t look very different than it did a year ago from the perspective of who’s doing well and who’s not. Perhaps the most exciting developments came towards the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 from the usual big guys: Google released the Nexus 10 and updated the Nexus 7, Apple launched a smaller and cheaper iPad mini, while Microsoft went all in with the Surface RT and Pro.
As usual, we've compiled a comparative table with what we consider are the best options either currently available or announced so far, complete with metascores from our Product Finder engine and review links.
Crytek has given us another opportunity to hammer some hardware with the arrival of Crysis 3. Built with CryEngine 3, the engine has been updated with improved dynamic cloth and vegetation, better lighting and shadows, and plenty more.
Plus, PC gamers won't have to wait for graphical extras. Crysis 3 launched with high-resolution textures, DX11 support and plenty of customization options that set it apart from the diluted consoles builds. The result looks incredible and we get the feeling this will prove to be the game that folks who are heavily invested in multi-GPU setups have been waiting for. Here's hoping we aren't woefully disappointed.
The Crysis series of first-person action games mix stealthy sneaking with huge explosions, all draped across lush, exquisitely rendered environments. The games aren't really known for their winning personality, story or characters. They're known, first and foremost, for their sweet tech and using your suit's powers to stalk and kill.
But every time Crysis games get away from that core routine, things become less enjoyable. Crysis 3, unfortunately, spends most of its time lost in the weeds. There's plenty of hunting, but it's sporadic, and changes made to the formula combine with dodgy AI and odd level-design to make the whole thing feel uncomfortable.
The Pebble smartwatch for iPhone and Android is a prime example of the bizarre times in which we live. In an era of people increasingly telling time by looking at the corner of their computer's screen or their smartphone lock screens, Pebble wants to make the wristwatch everyone's preferred timepiece.
A humble Kickstarter project embraced by nearly 70,000 backers, Pebble is the most buzzed-about smartwatch yet. Have those early believers been vindicated by the release of a phenomenal product or are they just another cautionary tale of what happens when reality doesn't meet the hype?
Considering next-gen cards are still months away, we didn't expect to bring any more GPU reviews until the second quarter of 2013. However, we realized there was a gap in our current-gen coverage: triple-monitor gaming. In fact, it's been almost two years since we last stress tested games at resolutions of up to 7680x1600.
We're going to mix things up a little this time. Instead of using each camp's ultra-pricey dual-GPU card (or the new $999 Titan), we're going to see how more affordable Crossfire and SLI setups handle triple-monitor gaming compared to today's single-GPU flagships.
The third installment in the Dead Space series was released this month, and considering the game made our list of 2013's most anticipated PC games we thought we would check it out to see how it looked and performed.
Dead Space 3 might be a direct console port but it’s done right, at least as far as I can tell after a few hours of gameplay. The game might not have DirectX 11 features or a high resolution texture pack, but I personally found it to be quite enjoyable.
The BlackBerry Z10 is a sink or swim device that will likely determine if the company will manage to hold on to its dwindling market share and right the ship that sent it from first to worst in smartphone relevance.
The first smartphone to run the BlackBerry 10 OS debuts at a time when smartphones are as much about play as they are productivity, and this phone can thrive in this era only if it can strike a balance between entertainment and enterprise. Can the BlackBerry Z10 be the savior that BlackBerry so desperately needs?
Following the success of 2008's HAF 932 chassis, Cooler Master didn't waste any time adapting its High Air Flow design to various other form factors and price points -- many of which we've covered in depth. Along with its larger options, the company offers three mid-towers: the $50 HAF 912, $100 HAF 922 and $130 HAF XM.
While the cost of these cases varies significantly, they're all fairly similar in terms of stature in that their tall, rectangular profile resembles most other mid-towers. Mixing things up, Cooler Master's latest mid-size enclosure, the HAF XB, breaks the conventional mold with boxier dimensions -- in fact, the company describes it as a "LAN box".
The real joy of playing a game on PC is that, thanks to mods, your entire experience can be improved by the work of dedicated fans.
Because some mods are so extensive, transforming almost everything about the source title, we felt it was only fair to list 12 of the best of them here, since they may as well count as their own new games.
It's an exciting year for gamers -- not just because the industry has whipped up an appetizing menu of fresh releases, but because we're approaching the next console generation, which will inevitably come with interesting new software projects, and many of them are bound to hit PC.
As usual, we've assembled a list of the hottest PC games expected to hit shelves over the next 12 months. Our selection includes 35 games and 10 bonus mentions we're lukewarm about.
Most people can’t afford to spend a few thousand on a notebook computer, even if it's on a solid gaming machine that doubles as a desktop replacement. To that end, today we'll be checking out a portable from MSI that aims to deliver a solid gaming experience without the excessive cost.
The MSI GX60 comes packed with a quad-core AMD A10-4600M CPU clocked at 2.3GHz alongside AMD Radeon HD 7970M discrete graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, a 15.6-inch non-glare display operating at 1920x1080, 8GB of DDR3 memory in a 4GBx2 configuration, 128GB of flash storage used as the OS drive and a 750GB 7200RPM disk drive for storage.
Cold rain drizzles outside. Inside, everything is pink, round, and frilly. The first floor of this otaku (geek) retailer is plastered with release info for new PC games—adult PC games. The shop is located in Den-Den Town, Osaka's geek and gaming district, on a street known as "Ota Road", short for "otaku road". It's easy to stumble into shops like this and find an array of dating games, some of which are erotic.
The vast majority of these games are not exactly mainstream in Japan, but their presence is palpable in a geek neighborhood like this. But what Western gamers think of PC games—the games from developers like Valve and Blizzard—aren't. It's not that those Western PC games don't exist; they just don't smack you in the face.
Windows 8 received a decent amount of enhancements on the desktop side that I tend to appreciate versus running Windows 7. One such area of improvement is notification management and how it handles updates and system restarts. Running the final version of the OS for a few months now, it’s been a painless affair until this past weekend.
Unable to boot all of sudden, after some troubleshooting I settled on the idea that it wasn't a hardware problem. With a long history of dual booting different versions of Windows over the years, finding a corrupt MBR, boot sector, or Boot Configuration Data (BCD) is nothing new, but it took me longer than usual to come to a solution.
This week, U.S. President Barack Obama asked Congress to dedicate $10 million toward studying the effects of violent media—including games. In the wake of last month's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school—and the revelation that killer Adam Lanza had enjoyed shooter games like Call of Duty—violent video games have again become a significant topic in national conversation.
Have researchers found any links between video games and violence? Will violent video games really make kids more aggressive? Or are we wasting time and money?
In the decade we have been publishing TechSpot, we have watched Apple resurge from the joke that G3 and G4 machines represented, to the Apple 'Mac vs. PC' debate -- during a time the company had better luck selling MP3 players than computers -- to today's ubiquity of Apple products in all forms of computing devices.
During the past 10 years Apple has systematically attacked and conquered from several fronts. Here's a brief recount of those winning products, and where it applies, the industry incumbents that for one reason or another failed to innovate or at least failed to beat Apple at breaking products to the masses first.
This touchable, classy ultrabook is targeted right at the road-warrior, power-hungry, super-user. The S7 is an expensive machine. The starting price hovers near $1400, but our Core i7 configured spec clocks in at $1650. For the price customers do see a superlative spec sheet and a beautifully designed body.
I know what you're thinking. The S7 had better be amazing for that kind of money. Don't worry, with a few qualifiers, the Aspire S7 easily ranks among the top Windows 8 machines. Is that enough to justify the cost?
Cooler Master recently launched yet another enthusiast-friendly CM Storm chassis, the Scout 2. Despite its relatively low $90 price tag, the Scout 2 has plenty to offer, including ergonomic steel-reinforced carrying handles, USB 3.0 support and room for up to two SSDs, nine fans and any graphics card around.
Although we reviewed several Cooler Master enclosures in 2012, it's been a year since we laid hands on a new CM Storm-branded case, so it'll be interesting to see how the company's latest offering holds up in the increasingly competitive sub-$100 territory.
As the year comes to an end it's time to look back at the most interesting and relevant tech stories of 2012. Numerous trends consolidated during 2012: Apple’s dominance in the sector, mobile growth, fast-paced releases on the smartphone world, the Windows 8 launch, only to name a few.
This year we have divided stories in 12 heavily packed categories, with nearly 500 hand-picked headlines total. Feel free to jump around between your favored topics, but try not to miss the tech culture section where we revisit some of the most entertaining stories we covered this year. Here’s our take on 2012…
Since Microsoft introduced Windows Phone 7, they have tried in vain to introduce a legitimate competitor to the Apple iPhone. They have also failed to unseat an army of Android devices. Nokia's entry was an all-in gamble that was supposed to platform among the elite of smartphones, but being the most popular of the bunch didn't translate to commercial or critical success.
In the Nokia Lumia 920, Windows Phone 8 has a worthy competitor to iOS and Android. It continues the design philosophy that made the original Lumias the most popular Windows Phone handsets. It also features brand new software that is faster and more robust than its predecessor. Will a winning hardware foundation and vastly improved software secure the Lumia 920 a place among the elite?
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