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performance articles

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Tested, Benchmarked

Equipped with his iconic night vision goggles and a new counter-terror agency, Sam Fisher has returned to foil another anti-US plot in Ubisoft's sixth Splinter Cell game. Blacklist attempts to find a better balance between stealth and action than its predecessor while reintroducing some franchise favorites.

PC gamers can look forward to a typical array of graphics options including TXAA antialiasing, soft shadows, horizon-based ambient occlusion and advanced DX11 tessellation -- all of which we plan to test with nearly two dozen graphics setups and a handful of processors.

LCDSysInfo for GOverlay: A $32 LCD gadget for PC enthusiasts and tinkerers

As a PC builder and gamer I find it fun and incredibly interesting to monitor many things in my set-up, from the temperature of my CPU and its fan speed, to the frames per second and GPU load in games, just to see how capable my PC really is.

Traditionally I’d use a bunch of programs to monitor all these stats, including SpeedFan and Fraps, gathering info through pop-ups or windows on a second monitor. Then I was sent an LCDSysInfo – a small 2.8-inch LCD gadget that can be configured to show various stats – and monitoring my PC became significantly easier.

Palit GTX 780 Super JetStream: Titan-like performance for less

We've only previously seen water-cooled GTX 780 cards pushed this far. However, Palit's GTX 780 Super JetStream is no ordinary graphics card as its massive heatsink and three large fans keep its core cool when under stress -- a solution that allows the card to outpace the Titan, according to the manufacturer.

In our review we put those claims to the test, in addition to testing triple monitor resolutions in GTX 780 Super JetStream SLI cards, standard GTX 780 cards and on the almighty Titan.

Company of Heroes 2 Tested, Benchmarked

It's hard to believe nearly seven years have passed since Relic Entertainment and THQ released Company of Heroes, a World War II-themed real-time strategy title that impressed the heck out of me and many other RTS buffs at the time. Like the original, Company of Heroes 2 is set in World War II but focuses on the Eastern Front.

The game takes advantage of DirectX 11 but also supports DirectX 9, and Relic's proprietary Essence 3.0 engine has a mess load of new features. Our test comprises nearly 30 different graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia, covering all price ranges, paired with an Intel Core i7-3960X to try and remove any CPU bottlenecks.

GeForce GTX 760 Review: Mainstream Performance

Nvidia continues to roll out the GeForce 700 series this week with the GTX 760 -- the generation's first truly mainstream product at $250. In other words, the GTX 760 has the potential to be today's most relevant option for someone who needs a new graphics card.

Assuming Nvidia doesn't throw us a curve ball, we expect the GTX 760 to deliver performance comparable to that of the HD 7950 with a price tag that's closer to HD 7870s -- a situation that would invariably benefit anyone shopping for a mid-range GPU.

Metro: Last Light Tested, Benchmarked

When the Metro 2033 was released in 2010 it contributed to raise the PC graphics bar making good use of the latest DirectX 11 rendering technologies. Metro: Last Light follows its predecessor roots by using a heavily customized and improved version of the 4A Engine.

Furthermore, the developer has continued to cater to loyal PC gamers who have considerably more power than console gamers at its disposal by including a richer gaming experience visually as well as a benchmark tool for measuring your system's performance.

Building a Thin Mini-ITX PC: Small and Silent Performance

The idea behind the Thin Mini-ITX form factor, besides the obvious which is to create seriously compact computers, is also to allow for DIY all-in-ones (think of little PCs you can attach to the back of your monitor). Having that said, we don't fully intend to go the all-in-one route in this article, but are aiming to build a powerful Thin Mini-ITX system that can be used in the office or at home as a media PC.

This is what our finished system should look like: extremely compact, powerful, and near silent operation, as in no-moving-parts silent. For less than $700 including a 256GB SSD, we believe you'll love what the final product will look like.

GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Review, SLI Performance Tested

The GTX 650 Ti was our favorite $100 - $150 graphics card last year, as it thrashed the Radeon HD 7770, its direct competitor. Then last month AMD decided to attack the $150 price point with a new HD 7790 GPU, but the reaction didn't take long to arrive.

Just a week later Nvidia officially countered by releasing the poorly named GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost, now the third graphics card to carry the GTX 650 name. At $170, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost sits between the Radeon HD 7790 and the 7850. In terms of performance, we actually expect the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost to be a lot faster than the GTX 650 Ti, even when it's based on the same GK106 architecture.

BioShock Infinite Tested, Benchmarked

Three years having passed since BioShock 2 and the dawn of a new console generation on the horizon, BioShock Infinite has taken the opportunity to mix things up. Along with DX11 effects, folks playing on PC can look forward to higher resolution textures and a healthy range of customization over settings like anti-aliasing, texture detail and filtering, dynamic shadows, post-processing, and so on.

Our Bioshock Infinite test comprises 24 DirectX 11 graphics card configurations from AMD and Nvidia covering a wide range of prices, from the affordable to the ultra-expensive.

Radeon HD 7790 Review: Aiming straight for the $150 segment

The latest member of the Southern Islands family, the new Radeon HD 7790 is designed to fill the gap between the Radeon HD 7770 and 7850. Set to precisely target the $150 price tag, the HD 7790 should be an affordable solution that provides good value to gamers on a budget.

The HD 7790 is set to go head to head against the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, which represented the best value in this bracket. To sweeten the deal, AMD is also offering a free game bundle of Bioshock Infinite for a limited time.

SimCity Tested, Benchmarked

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.

Tomb Raider Tested, Benchmarked

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.

Crysis 3 Tested, Benchmarked

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.

Dead Space 3 Tested, Benchmarked

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.