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Friday, August 26, 2016

Nvidia Gtx 1080 Review (Awsome)

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Speaking of super cool features limited to Nvidia’s new graphics cards, there’s Ansel, which Nvidia calls “an in-game 3D camera” and I call the supercharged future of screenshots.
Rather than simply capturing a 2D image like Steam’s F12 functionality, Ansel lets you pause a game, then freely roam the environment with a floating camera (though developers will be able to disable free roaming in their games if desired). You’re able to apply a several filters and effects to the scene using easy-to-use tools, as shown in the image below, as well as crank the resolution to ludicrous levels. Nvidia plans to release more filters as time goes on, plus a post-processing shader API so developers can create custom filters.
In a demo of Ansel running on The Witness, for example, I was able to jack the resolution to a whopping 61,440x34,560. Out of the box, the tool can support up to 4.5-gigapixel images

geforcegtx1080 0104
Nvidia’s Ansel will give you the ability to take a Kodak moment in a video game.

Creating a masterpiece like that takes Ansel several minutes to stitch together files of considerably large size, however. Ansel snaps up to 3,600 smaller images to capture the entire scene—including 360-degree pictures that can be viewed in a VR headset or even Google Cardboard—and processes them with CUDA-based stitching technology to create a clean, final picture that doesn’t need any additional lighting or tone-mapping tweaks. It’s also capable of capturing RAW or EXR files from games, if you feel like tinkering around in HDR.
Ansel’s a driver-level tool, and games will need to explicitly code in support for it. On the plus side, doing so takes minimal effort—Nvidia says The Witness’s Ansel support required 40 lines of code, while Witcher 3’s integration took 150 lines. The company also plans to offer Ansel for Maxwell-based GeForce 700- and 900-series graphics cards. Look for The DivisionThe WitnessLawbreakersWitcher 3ParagonUnreal TournamentObductionNo Man’s Sky, and Fortnite to roll out Ansel support in the coming months.

How Fast Sync fixes latency and tearing

The GeForce GTX 1080 has a big problem: It’s almost too powerful, at least for the popular e-sports titles with modest visual demands. Running Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveLeague of Legends, or Dota 2 on a modern high-end graphics card can mean your hardware’s pumping out hundreds of frames per second, blowing away the refresh rates of most monitors.
That puts gamers in a pickle. The disparity between the monitor’s refresh rate and the extreme frame output can create screen tearing, a nasty artifact introduced when your monitor’s showing results from numerous frames at once. But enabling V-sync to fix the issue adds high latency to the game as it essentially tells the entire engine to slow down, and high latency in the fast-paced world of e-sports can put you at a serious competitive disadvantage.

gtx 1080 fast sync

The new Fast Sync option in the GTX 1080 aims to solve both problems by separating the rendering and displays stages of the graphics process. Because V-sync isn’t enabled, the game engine spits out frames at full speed—which prevents latency issues—and the graphics card uses flip logic to determine which frames to scan to the display in full, eliminating screen tearing.
Some excess frames will be cast aside to maintain smooth frame pacing, Nvidia’s Tom Peterson says, but remember that Fast Sync’s made for games where the frame rendering rate output far exceeds the refresh rate of your monitor. In fact, enabling Fast Sync in games with standard frame rates could theoretically introduce stuttering. So yeah, don’t do that.
The results seem impressive. Here are Nvidia-supplied latency measurements tested with CS:GO.

gtx 1080 fast sync latency

Look for Fast Sync to expand beyond Pascal-based graphics cards in the future. “Expect [GPU support] to be fairly broad,” says Peterson.

GPU Boost 3.0

Nvidia’s rolling out a potentially killer new overclocking addition in the GTX 1080, dubbed GPU Boost 3.0.
The previous methods of overclocking are still supported, but GPU Boost 3.0 adds the ability to customize clock frequency offsets for individual voltage points in order to eke out every tiny little bit of overclocking headroom, rather than forcing you to use the same clock speed offset across the board. Overclocking tools will scan for your GPU’s theoretical maximum clock at numerous voltage points, then apply a custom V/F curve to match your specific card’s capabilities. It takes all the guesswork out of overclocking, letting you crank performance to 11 with minimal hassle.

pascal gpu boost 3

Nvidia supplied reviewers with an early, mildly janky copy of a new EVGA Precision X build that supports GPU Boost 3.0, and finding then pushing your card’s limits proved pretty straightforward. Settings let you choose the minimum and maximum clock speed offset to test, as well as the “step” value, or how much the clock frequency increases from one offset to the next. After my card repeatedly crashed with Precision X’s normal OC scanner settings, decreasing the step value increase from 12.5MHz to 5MHz calmed things down—but also caused the scan session to become abominably slow.
If I’d had time to let it run in full, I would’ve been left with a highly granular overclocking profile specific to my individual GPU. But because the tool landed my hands late in the testing process, I went the manual route, overclocking the GPU by hand with a copy of the Unigine Heaven benchmark. I’ll share the final results in the performance section.

HDR and DRM support

The GeForce GTX 1080 continues Nvidia’s tradition of supporting technology built for home theater PCs. After the GTX 960 and 950 became the first major graphics cards to support HDCP 2.2 for copyrighted 4K videos over HDMI, the GTX 1080 embraces high dynamic range video technology, a.k.a. HDR. HDR displays boost brightness to create more range between darkness and light. As simple as it sounds, the improvement in visual quality is borderline startling—I think the difference between HDR and non-HDR displays is much more impressive than the leap from 1080p resolution to 4K displays. AMD’s Polaris GPUs will also support HDR.
Pascal GPUs support HDR gaming, as well as HEVC HDR video encoding and decoding. Pairing the GTX 1080 (and its HEVC 10b encoding abilities) with an Nvidia Shield Android TV console (and its HEVC 10b decoding abilities) enables another nifty trick: GameStream HDR. Basically, you can stream a PC game from your Pascal GPU-equipped computer to your TV via the Nvidia Shield, and because both devices support HDR, those deep, deep blacks and vibrant colors will appear on your television screen just fine. It’s a smart way for Nvidia to leverage its ecosystem and skirt around the fact that HDR display support is limited to traditional televisions right now, though it won’t roll out until later this summer.
Currently, ObductionThe WitnessLawbreakersRise of the Tomb RaiderParagonThe Talos Principle, and Shadow Warrior 2 are the only games with pledged HDR support, though you can expect more titles to embrace the technology as hardware support for it becomes more widespread.
​Pascal GPUs are also certified for Microsoft’s PlayReady 3.0, which allows protected 4K videos to be played on PCs. Presumably thanks to that, Pascal-based graphics cards will be able to stream 4K content from Netflix at some point later this year. Embracing 4K video on the PC means embracing Windows 10 and DRM as well, it seems.

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The Nvidia GTX 1080’s port selection.

To push out all those fancy new videos, the GTX 1080 packs a single HDMI 2.0b connection, a single dual-link DVI-D connector, and three full-sized DisplayPorts that are DP 1.2 certified, but ready for DP 1.3 and 1.4. That readiness enables support for 4K monitors running at 120Hz, 5K displays at 60Hz, and even 8K displays at 60Hz—though you’ll need a pair of cables to run that last scenario.

New MacBook Pro to Boast Most Blazing USB Yet

Entire system backups that happen in seconds. Crazy powerful external graphics cards. USB 3.1 Gen 2 is super fast, which could open up all sorts of possibilities when the tech comes to the totally new MacBook Pro.
MacBook Pro USB 3.1 Gen 2
According to 9to5Mac, the beta of macOS Sierra provides clues that upcoming Macs will support USB 3.1 Gen 2, which has a rated speed of 10 Gbps. That's twice as fast as the current Gen 1 standard.
It gets a little confusing, but those blazing speeds could come through a USB-C port that supports not just USB 3.1 Gen 2 but also Thunderbolt 3, which offers even faster 40 Gbps connectivity. So a single port could output video to a 4K or 5K display while also delivering power and data.
Although the new MacBook Pro is rumored to feature an AMD Polaris GPU, those looking for more oomph could plug a Wolfe into its Thunderbolt 3 port. It's a Kickstarter device that contains either an Nvidia GTX 950 GPU or a GTX 970 card for the Pro model. The Wolfe is expected to ship in March 2017.
The new MacBook Pro is also expected to feature a new OLED touch panel whose controls change based on the application, in addition to a slimmer design and Intel's 7th-generation Core processor.
We should know more about Apple's new laptop and what you'll be able to do with its USB 3.1 Gen 2 powers sometime this fall.

Xbox One S Review (The Write Console In The Best Time)

The Xbox One S is the console that Microsoft should have made in the first place. Unfortunately, it's come at exactly the wrong time for any serious gamer.
But let's back up a bit. The Xbox One S (for "slim") was revealed earlier this year at the E3 gaming convention and is now available for sale in the UK for £349 .
That price stems from the fact its got two terabytes of on-board storage. Something that becomes well worth having after you've loaded it up with a few top-tier titles.
But be warned; according to Eurogamer the 2TB model is a limited edition and Microsoft has no plans to keep making them. Instead, it'll be the standard 500GB or 1TB models launching in Europe on 22nd September.
To be clear, the Xbox One S is not a brand new console. All the internals are (pretty much) the same as the original Xbox One - it's just been given a few performance tweaks and a flashy redesign.
Jeff Parsons
The power and eject buttons are now physical rather than capacitive
But why the wrong time? Well, Microsoft has already announced ANOTHER Xbox coming next year . That'll be bigger, badder and able to play games in 4K resolution and VR. Which begs the question, why would you buy this one?
That's what we're here to find out.


If, like me, you live in London (or any big urban conurbation) you'll understand space is very, very expensive. Therefore, any effort to reduce the amount of it that something takes up is a blessing.
Microsoft's Xbox One is a great console - but it's also a beast of a box with a gigantic power brick. It makes anyone with a living room of less-than-palatial proportions sink to their knees in terror.
The Xbox One S can be stood vertically
The S is 40% smaller with an integrated power brick. It can also be stood vertically which gives you plenty of new ways to sneak it into your setup. The arctic white look is also very fetching.
Round the back are all the necessary ports you need, although Microsoft has dropped the built-in support for Kinect. As if finally conceding that most people don't really care about motion sensitive gaming any more.


The Xbox One S can play content in 4K (a.k.a. Ultra HD) definition, providing you've got a 4K capable telly. So it doubles up nicely as a new blu-ray player if you're in the market for one of those.
Gaming is obviously the main draw though and it plays them flawlessly - whether they're Xbox One games or some of the backwards compatible titles for the Xbox 360.
Forza Motorsport 6
Forza Motorsport 6
Microsoft has even slightly remodeled the controller to add textured grip. And it can be synched with a Windows 10 PC as well so you can use it to game on that.

The company's tiled user interface is back and there's also it's Cortana virtual assistant built in. It's very easy to get to grips with and previous Xbox users won't have any trouble adjusting to the new setup.


The Xbox One is 40% smaller than the previous Xbox One
The ultimate question to ask about the Xbox One S is not whether it can do the job - it can - it's whether or not it's worth buying.
And that depends on what camp you fall into. If you're a serious gamer that already has an Xbox (or a PS4 for that matter) then there's really no point. Unless, I suppose, your landlord is downgrading you from a flat to a cupboard and you really need to save space. But barring that, it'd be a better idea to wait until Project Scorpio comes next year.

Jeff Parsons
The Xbox One controller has always been a strong selling point for the console
But, if you're a first-time buyer and not necessarily a heavy gamer then this represents a great purchase. Microsoft has stripped away the stuff you won't care about (Kinect, gigantic power brick) and included the stuff you'll want. Namely, the ability to watch Netflix in 4K and occasionally play a bit of FIFA 17 online.
And, if the £349 price still seems a bit much, the new models will likely be a bit more competitively priced.

Oculus Rift Games Vr Headset Review

It's taken four years for Oculus Rift to go from Kickstarter to a consumer edition ready to reviewed and critiqued – and it's generated near rabid interest in VR.
The HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard all owe their success in part to riding Oculus' coattails, but as we've sat around anxiously, ready to finally experience the Rift for ourselves, our expectations have perhaps risen too high.

The Rift rallying cry, 'Step into the Rift' is itself a sad understatement considering you aren't really doing that much stepping around. In reality, it's really more like wheeling if you're sitting in a desk chair that can roll about. While standing and sitting VR are both options Rift offers, the lack of walking doesn't make for a very immersive experience.
Where the Vive's barriers to entry are price and requiring lots of space to play, Rift's are also price and simply put, a need for a more well-rounded VR experience. It's certainly a lower cost than Vive at $600 (after shipping), but you have to also factor in the upcoming Oculus Touch controllers that are sorely missing right now, and of course, the PC set-up if you don't already have one.
But is it a deal breaker? We sat down and dived in to find out.

Oculus Rift: Initial set-up

You don't need a lot of space to use an Oculus Rift but you'll want to clear away plenty of desk top and again, have a rolling chair. This makes it all easier to place the sensor and to look around in VR.
In the box you get an Oculus sensor, Oculus remote, Xbox One controller and headset. There are no giant papers to tell you what's what like the Vive. Instead, you simply head to Oculus' setup site where various prompts lead you through the process.
It's all pretty simple regardless of the prompts since it's only an HDMI and a few USB cords to connect up, sensor configuration and you should be good to go.
Generally it's not a ton of cables to plug in and deal with but regardless, I've laid out the steps on how to set up the Oculus Rift which should make it even easier. It's been nice not having to figure out where to put sensors or deciding if I want to drill holes in the wall. Lack of space also isn't an issue with Rift since there aren't games that require walking around.

Oculus Rift: Design and comfort

There's no doubt the Oculus Rift is a sleek device, and perhaps even more eye catching than the Vive. It's also come a long way from its SDK days with Oculus sourcing soft and stretchy materials for the headset. It's also lighter than the Vive, making hours of using it fly by unnoticed.
There's only one cord that runs out from the side of your head which makes it easier to adjust the top and sides with the velcro straps. Because you're not walking around, the cord also doesn't interfere with gameplay. It could get rolled on with your chair since it's still pretty long, so be wary of that.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has said at a press event that, "it feels like you just put on a pair of glasses" when wearing Rift. That's not exactly the case if you already have glasses like I do, and comfort can actually be a bit of a problem.
After fiddling with the straps, and pushing my glasses a bit forward while wearing Rift, the fit isn't too bad and comfier than my demo times during press events. There's a bit of spring action that the Vive doesn't have which does make it a slightly easier process. Still, sometimes it feels like a fight to figure out the best way to adjust (and readjust) the Rift in order to find the best fit.
Some people with glasses who used my Rift had a much harder time trying to adjust the straps to make it comfortable.
To make sure faces of all shapes and sizes can wear the Rift, the headset is built to accommodate for various noses. Being a person with a small nose, that means my Rift sadly has a considerably large gap right below my eyes. It's been annoying during VR time, but it's also kind of useful to see through if I have to find a controller or change a computer setting. Still, it's saying a lot about the light leakage if I can do all that with a Rift strapped to my noggin.
The earpieces look dinky, but don't be fooled. They're quite the spatial sound powerhouse when in use, and fit over my ears quite well. The pieces are also easily adjustable for different ears, and if you want to keep one off to talk to a person in real life. They're also optional if you want to switch them out for other headphones.

Oculus Rift: Performance

The Rift offers a 2160 x 1200 resolution, across the two OLED displays on board, working at 233 million pixels per second with a 90Hz refresh rate.
The important thing is that it has been bright and dense enough to generally avoid the dreaded 'screen door effect' that plagues lower-res displays. I also only noticed brief moments of screen door, much like my time with Vive, and wasn't bothered by it. Other than that, the display remains crisp and clear. The cartoon colors on Lucky's Tale are positively vivid while space in ADR1FT and Eve:Valkyrieare stunning. It's the exact same specs as Vive so it's hard to notice a difference between the two - which isn't a bad thing.
The sensor is able to recognize if you've turned your body more than 180 degrees. The sensor sits about 10 inches above your desk and can be tilted up or down, depending on your preference. Tracking worked well which is what I expected since there isn't a lot of movement involved. But for the games like Valkyrie where I'd turn my head to look around, it was done without the lag I've experienced before playing previous versions of Rift.
The refresh rate is also the ideal sweet spot which developers have found causes little to no amount of motion sickness - but again, this is wholly dependent on the game. While I felt fine most of the time in Rift VR, certain titles like Eve: Valkyrie could only be played for half an hour or less before I felt like upchucking my lunch.
Other games like Chronos or Lucky's Tale were made a bit differently so the camera isn't swooping around and scenes are shot from a God-like angle. Both were still fun and immersive and I was able to play for hours without feeling nauseous.
There are ways to figure out whether a game will make you feel sick, at least according to Oculus standards. When going through the library, you can sort by comfort level, alphabetical or most recent. Comfort level isn't clearly explained unless you're in desktop mode but it's easy enough to guess what the categorization is - while wearing the headset, a small symbol appears on the bottom left of the thumbnail image if you're sorting by comfort. A green circle denotes the most comfortable experience, a yellow square is moderate and a red diamond is intense.

Oculus Rift: Games

There's no doubt Valve has a larger catalog of games than Oculus but the impending release of Touch should even the score. Despite the numbers, the games on Steam aren't exactly the polished, well thought out titles you find in the Oculus store. This is due to many of the games being exclusives so developers have the financial back of social media giant Facebook.
While some take issue with this, including HTC who doesn't believe in exclusives, the quality is not something that can be refuted. Most games span two to five hours, or if you're going slow, you can hit around eight - at least according to Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price, developer of Edge of Tomorrow.
Pricing is still all over the place as the industry is trying to find its footing. I found that some games weren't worth $20 and, at the top end, $60 just seems like a lot if you aren't going to get much gameplay. But at the moment, I feel more comfortable shelling out for the Oculus exclusives than the promised installments on Steam.
Speaking of gameplay, there isn't a lot of head movement in general for the titles I played so there wasn't a heavy amount of swiveling my head around or turning my chair 360-degrees. When I did turn, it was just to look at scenery and not keep up with gameplay. In all honesty, I'm on fence about this kind of experience. On the one hand, it's not sweat-inducing and relatively comfortable not moving around with room-scale VR. On the other, it doesn't really taking advantage of what virtual reality can offer and it's not room-scale immersion either.

Don't get me wrong, the games are still beautiful but I'm not sure if I want to just sit and stare in one direction while in VR - I can do that without a headset already.
Part of the problem lies with the lack of the Oculus Touch controllers. Perhaps if I was able to use my hands to interact with the virtual worlds, I'd feel part of the VR worlds, but using the Xbox One controller (or Oculus remote) and staying stationary for the most part, ends up being a mediocre experience.

Oculus Rift: Extra features

Aside from the games, Oculus offers up various apps like Discovery VR which lets you explore shipwrecks and places around the world through 360-degree videos. In fact, most of the apps are video based experiences or 360-degree photos, which is reminiscent of the Samsung Gear VR homefront. Kismet is the one exception that is both a horoscope app and a mini-game against an AI. There's also a Hulu app but Netflix is noticeably absent from the mix for now.
There's a small selection of short films and film-like experiences (nine in total) that have been screened previously at festivals as well like InvasionButts andHenry, but also a few I hadn't personally seen before likeLost and ABE VR.
Everything can be chosen from inside the headset through Oculus Home which is simple to navigate and should be familiar if you've used Gear VR. The interface is designed slightly better than Vive's since everything is neatly laid out in front of you.
You can also buy and download games from the headset but sometimes, you'll have to switch to desktop mode (i.e. take the headset off) to finish installations. This part can get annoying especially if you've adjusted to the perfect fit.

Oculus Rift: Closing thoughts

There's no doubt Oculus revived the virtual reality industry and made it what it is today. Heck, there probably wouldn't be an HTC Vive or PlayStation VR if Rift never made it out of Palmer Luckey's imagination. But that doesn't mean it's the best headset you can get.
I was firmly in the Rift camp for a long time, following the company's movements and getting my hands on every demo I could find, but now that it's at home, I find myself less inclined to use it.
At best, there are moments I can see days where I don't want to use Vive to walk around in VR and would rather use the Oculus Rift to sit and VR. Considering it's a matter of switching around cables, it wouldn't be a difficult task to rotate HMDs. But not everyone has that luxury. Not every one can even afford one headset and/or a PC to go along with it.
Later in the year when PS VR comes out, it'll be a tougher decision considering you'll generally get the same sitting/standing experience without much movement and walking around. PS VR is also cheaper especially if you already have a console, controllers and camera.

When it comes down to it, if choosing a VR headset is financially feasible, I would only recommend the Rift with heavy caveats. You can't walk in VR, there's still an unknown date for Touch controllers and it simply isn't as immersive when playing games. That said, if you truly want something easy to set-up that offers a wider range of experiences than a Gear VR or Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift is for you. When the Touch controllers finally arrive and more games are on the table, I'm hoping Rift will be a better experience. Whatever the case, I'll revisit the headset and see whether my feelings remain the same.