What makes a product iconic? Design, functionality, styling, and innovation will get you part of the way there, but the true tests are how these products distinguished themselves from their competitors, how widely those traits were imitated by those competitors, and how history remembers their status. Here are some products that left their mark on the PC industry, whether in the form of full systems, CPUs, graphics cards, motherboards, cases or peripherals.
Today marks the arrival of AMD's successor to the Radeon HD 7990. The latter was a formidable rival for the GeForce GTX Titan but it faced poor frame latency performance and enormous power consumption figures. Later on the single-GPU R9 290X managed an even more impressive feat but that card was also 20% more power hungry and thus had a huge thermal output. So much so that we weren't sure if AMD was seriously considering two Hawaii XT GPUs on a single PCB.
Apparently so, as they are unveiling the Radeon R9 295X2, the most extreme graphics cards we have ever seen.
The biggest news for Mantle since being announced as a method of improving performance in games by allowing them to use your CPU and GPU more efficiently, has been support from DICE's Frostbite 3 engine (and by extension, Battlefield 4). Recently that support expanded to Eidos' Thief, while Crytek revealed at GDC 2014 that CryEngine will support it too. AMD says its latest update is of "tremendous benefit to a large cross-section of the gaming public" so we are keen to check it out.
World of Warcraft is considered a massive success, yet it's dwarfed by World of Tanks' 1 million concurrent players and 75 million total users. You can also find more than half a million people playing Dota 2 on any given day and League of Legends has over 7.5 million players online during peak hours.
While you may not need a Radeon R9 290X or a GeForce GTX 780 Ti to get the most out of these games, we're curious to see how hard those titles can push today's hardware.
Despite being built with the aging Unreal Engine 3, Thief touts some cutting edge rendering techniques that have put the game on our radar. Thief's built-in benchmark appears to do a good job of demonstrating a worst-case performance scenario, so if your system can average 60fps in the benchmark you should enjoy perfectly smooth gameplay from start to finish.
Marking the introduction of its Maxwell architecture, Nvidia has targeted AMD's $150 Radeon R7 265 with the new GeForce GTX 750 Ti. With fewer cores being used to get more performance, Maxwell consumes less power and improves Kepler's performance per watt. Does that mean AMD's newly relaunched Radeon R7 265 could be in trouble considering it's essentially a slightly overclocked and steeply discounted HD 7850?
Currently Kaveri APUs can be paired with one of two discrete GPUs: the Radeon R7 240 and R7 250. Both are sub-$100 cards that we wouldn't typically recommend gamers invest in, but when combined with the A10-7850K's on-die GPU, we could see performance that has bigger implications for value-oriented builders.